Monday, December 19, 2011

Transgenderism and Gender Fluidity (Not Safe for Work - Sexuality)

I'd like to think I can say I haven't struggled with this topic because I have a pretty good sense of self, but that wouldn't be true.  I think I get more hung up on the terminology more than anything.  Gender-fluid, gender-queer...both of these things fit me...and then they don't.  I always had an inkling that a part of me was supposed to be female, but at my core I am probably a male with some female sensibilities.  What does that make me?  I don't know.  And I think that as we move forwards, my transgender identity is going to shrink because these things that I identify with are going to be applied to a specific gender less and less.  So I'm left with something that not only doesn't fit, but also may not be long for this world.

Perhaps I should take a step back and define Transgenderism. To most people it means boys who want to be girls and vice versa, but it actually encompasses a lot more. You can be considered transgendered if:
  • You feel you’re the opposite gender as your biological sex (and in some cases have the brain chemistry of you preferred gender despite your anatomical representation)
  • You’re born with multiple sets of sex organs.
  • You’ve undergone a transition from male to female or vice versa, whether it includes changing clothing, taking hormones, undergoing surgery, or all of the above.
  • You crossdress.
  • You consider yourself to be both genders, or without gender (This is me a little.)
  • Your gender varies from day to day.
  • You don’t feel like you fit the stereotypes of one gender or another well enough to identify as such. (This is perhaps where I fit best.)
It’s that last one that really gets to me because I think it at least partially describes every human being that has ever existed. A lot of the things that make you one gender or another are based on arbitrary rules. Men wearing their hair shorter than women, or women wearing dresses. We see these things and they help us identify someone as male or female, but more and more we find out that that’s very vague, and ultimately untenable.  And there's no real reason why those things have to apply to either gender at all.

So I’m like…yeah I’m a guy…I guess, I mean I have the correct anatomy (big anatomy)…but I’m partial to thongs, and androgynous clothes (i.e. pants and shirts) cut and sewn to fit women, and I like pink (pink, not douchebag frat boy salmon) and I like girls that look and act like men. And I hate working on cars and I hate action movies. I prefer romantic comedies and love stories. But I play sports and am one of the toughest people I know. And one of the most emotionally empathetic and sensitive. It's like trying to put together picture with pieces from a bunch of different pictures.

I'm not sure if a recent incident has crystallized things for me, or muddled them even more.  I was asked to fill out a form today that had spaces to indicate race and gender.  I figured I could leave both questions blank, and am fairly certain I am legally allowed to do so.  However the proctor would not take my form until I filled them out, going as far as to tell me, “you would put down male and white.”  My jaw almost dropped at that one.  How stupid do you have to be to work in human resources, where you’re trained all damn day on sensitivity, to take one look at someone and say, ‘oh, you’re white.’  Are you fucking kidding me?

Obviously what is more applicable to me is the gender aspect of that…which…whatever.  Even though it was an incredibly (INCREDIBLY) offensive thing to say, I’m not sure there is much that offends me terribly on a personal level.  I think I was more aghast at her stupidity, and then disappointed at her stupidity than anything.  It adds another complication to a gender identity that is currently unclear.  I have to admit that seeing things put into a rigid black and white (or perhaps pink and blue) format made me extremely uncomfortable.  The more I had to check male or female on each form, the worse I felt.

At the end of all this, I feel as I often do when trying to tackle gender identity, overwhelmed.  There is so much there to dissect, and so little of it clear.  It sucks to not be able to put a finger on a part of yourself, but perhaps it's best to move forward with that in mind.  After all, as we continue to try to categorize people, we realize further how futile that really is.

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