Saturday, May 14, 2016

Trans Nonconformity

Just came across this article today - Telling Trans Stories Beyond 'Born in the Wrong Body' - from the excellent SSEX BBOX series and I wanted to share it with you, because it's something I believe in. Sharing trans stories is supposed to build awareness and create community, but we've constructed a stereotypical experience that ends up being limiting to all those out there that don't fit the mold of "being transgendered". We must be careful, when stepping outside of one box, not to simply create another around ourselves. People's genders and sexualities come in a rainbow of colors, and there are not just six (or even seven) colors in the rainbow. The rainbow is infinitely colorful!

"For the longest time, I didn’t think that I counted as trans because I thought you had to hate your body in order to be part of the trans community."

And what kind of a message is that? I support a new conception of "being transgendered" that doesn't rely on the gender binary, and celebrates the diversity of ways that a transgendered person can present themselves - their identity and their body - to the world. Whether that means adopting a male persona, a female persona, neither, both, something in between, or something else altogether.

"And with all this bathroom nonsense happening, I feel like the people who are going to be disproportionately affected are gender-nonconforming folks."

This, absolutely this. Still tied to the gender binary. A or B. Male or female. What if you don't even know what your gender is? It's easy to say "let your genitals lead the way", but that doesn't make using the restroom any more comfortable or safer for nonconforming individuals. All these bigots who insist that you're either male or female, and you have to use this or that bathroom, are not simply being principled, they're actively supporting hostile environments for nonconformists. They're prioritizing the principle of conformity to a certain, arbitrary standard, over the comfort and safety of human beings just because they look or act different. This attitude is "natural" in a sense, and it's been popular for most of human history, but from an enlightened, humanitarian perspective, it's wrong - pure and simple.


  1. Wow, very illuminating. I'm glad to see there's more to the trans label. I often feel that the labels I have would be contested by most. Bisexual for example. I'd take a C- woman over an A+ guy. I'll never have the kind of emotional connection with any man that I have with women. But I'll take an A+ guy over a D- woman. I'm sexually attracted to men and women, so bisexual sounds like the right word to me. But most would probably preclude me on account of the vast overwhelming discrepancy between the strength of the two attractions.

    Personally, I feel like when people compartmentalize it into 1,000 different categories, that's the wrong approach. And that's the way the community is today, with a different buzz phrase for every tiny divergence in your orientation or gender. That just makes us even more obsessed with labels than before, isn't that counterproductive to the cause? Instead, I favor the broadening of labels to encompass a wide variety of related concepts.

  2. I guess you could say I see some value in both approaches. It's nice to find a word that describes you, that's different from the word that people who are not like you use to describe themselves. At the same time, I agree with the goal of inclusivity that is served by encompassing individual diversity under a blanket term. Perhaps we could have both. Like how not all rectangles are squares, but squares are a type of rectangle. You can identify as a square or some other kind of rectangle (e.g., trapezoid), but then you can still all come together under the umbrella of rectangle acceptance.

    On that note, I really like this new term I've seen in a few places to replace "LGBT". Instead of tacking on more and more labels (Q, I, A, and so on), each one causing the term to become even more unwieldy, I think that "GSM", which stands for "gender and sexual minorities", is much better as a blanket term. I have to admit that I also like how its ambiguity also tacitly includes minorities that aren't *officially* represented by the LGBT community (yet). That's actually why some people don't like it - "you creep, homosexuality is NOTHING like bestiality!" But I think what the future holds for us is more inclusion and not less - and if I'm wrong, then I'd prefer to stick to my principle of tolerance. Members of any minority have a special responsibility to be more accepting towards other minorities, because they know what it's like to be marginalized and discriminated against. I don't accept the "there might be flies on /those/ guys, but there ain't no flies on us" mentality.