Oh yes I’m back on one of my favourite rants. (If you don’t want to take it too seriously I made a quiz about it!)
So, I’ve been coming into contact lately with a lot os transgender people, ideas etc. And I have loudly espoused the view that transgender is one of those things I have absolutely no empathy with as I am rather secure in my gender. Anyone who’s known me for more than a month has to have known that this is total bollocks.
But trans is a really difficult concept for me. I’m not entirely sure why this is so. I mean, how often have I loudly declared that I am not of either gender but my own? To be honest not often lately. Recently, well, since Japan I think, I’ve actually become slightly more comfortable with the notion of being a girl. Because really, isn’t gender identity something we construct for ourselves? I am not defined by the company around me, I am defined by me.
I think the reason I have become somewhat uncomfortable with the whole notion of transgender is because sometimes it really does feel as if they are people letting society dictate who they are (I mean, you look at the hoops you have to go through if you want to change your sex on the NHS). Also, when someone of either gender decides to express themselves through transvestism chances are, (and I’m talking external to the context of pride events or clubs or whatever) they dress in tune with a normative dress code. Society defining a gender role again, albeit one that is different from your born gender role. But, if you’re trans, then surely you aren’t allowing society and the external to define you because, you are defining for yourself that you are not what your body is telling you you are.
How much am I defined by society? How much of the last twenty-five years has been society gradually wearing away at me until I say, yes, yes ok, I have periods and breasts and all the rest, I am a girl. Ok! I’m not sure, but I do know that it’s taken me a while to be comfortable with letting myself say ‘I’m of the this one gender’. Female is this pre-determined thing. It’s a label with, what seem like, these huge connotations. I’m not sure that I’m still entirely comfortable with claiming that I’m a girl.
Gender identity is something that interests me a great deal. Once again, I’m pulled up by the notion that there are two. I don’t feel as if I fit into either. I’m not sure though, that I can proclaim myself to be ‘Mish’, an entirely separate from the rest of you label. I don’t think though, I can proclaim myself to be inter-gender, or even for that matter, genderqueer anymore than I could say ‘I’m asexual’. I am very girly, but sometimes I’m really not. And sometimes I find myself identifying with a particular gender identity that I have no words for, but that I see, cutting across physical notions of sex.
I think that this really is the crux of my current lack of empathy with transgender people. most trans people I have recently come across feel that they are the ‘other’ gender within a two-gender society. I don’t feel that there are only two genders. Maybe I have been exploring my female side, maybe this comes across sexually as well because I am becoming more interested in men sexually (perhaps this is down to there simply being no women in my sex life). However, when it comes right down to it I can’t see there being only two genders, we have this concept inherant in our language that there are boys and there are girls but I’M NOT. And I’m sure I’ve seen other people who aren’t too.
Because trans is the obvious place to say ‘two genders’ and to express yourself gender speaking I guess maybe I though that within the trans community (not sure community quite covers what I mean) I would find more instances of people who thought a little like me as regards gender. Instead I found a reaffirmation of boy/girl. In communities that have historically recognised more than one gender, it usually comes down to recognising men who behave as women traditionally do (or at least thats how you express it in this language)… well I’m sure as damn it not a man behaving as a woman. The closest I’ve got to finding it is in the Native American culture, two spirits. But to describe my gender has having a male and a female doesn’t cover it either.
So I guess I’m back to being a Mish again.