Also known as, “OMFG no, I have to do a trans post.”
“But I’m … not … a cheerleader” is also a sentiment I feel whenever a trans or queer person assumes I am “cisgender” or “privileged” because I don’t think I am trans or “identify as” queer.
Believe this, even me in a dress (which happens now and again, usually with shorts underneath, with dresses I’ve picked because they’re comfortable and easy to just throw on instead of choosing separate pieces) or a skirt (which happens, also with shorts beneath, because I like the breeze I get from loose bell or a-line skirts) — or me with long hair, which I’m growing out as an embracing of primitivism, a rejection of queerdom, and because I like the way it turns wild and crazy when I don’t brush or care for it at all — or even me with haphazardly applied, chipping fingernail polish (it’s happened and I refuse to feel ashamed) — is a hell of a lot less “feminine” than your average drag queen.
I’ve worn high heels maybe a handful of times in my life, all of them vintage models (the kind with the thick heel, not stilettos), each time when I was in my twenties, and each time for some kind of job. Each time I found them uncomfortable. I’ve never once plucked my eyebrows. I stand “like a man” (with feet side by side, and my shoulders up, other than when I was being ‘an indie kid’ and rounded them in appropriately emo self-efficacy; I’m being facetious, really I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to conceal my breasts by slouching).
Combine this with my “masculine” personality traits, and my homosexual tendencies, and you have the perfect recipe for being thrown to the trans wolves.
I was thirteen when people first started to suggest I was “different.” I don’t think there was a concept of or word for trans in my hometown, so I assumed people were telling me I was a lesbian. It offended me, only because it seemed offensive to assume there was one certain way for lesbians to be. So it wasn’t until I was fifteen and my uncle decided to undergo later-life SRS and live as a woman that the juggernaut really got in motion.
My father and stepmother, who had minimal contact with me, were mildly horrified at uncle Paula’s decision, but in the name of liberal acceptance they soon learned the jargon even if they didn’t understand it. It took them a little while, but at some point I feel they decided that perhaps this strange, unexplained “transsexuality”, which was apparently innate and thus probably genetic (right?), was the reason their estranged step/daughter didn’t behave in traditionally expected ways.
Now, I’m reasonably sure that my mother told them to shove off and STFU. Because my mother is badass, and, all of her possible shortcomings aside, would protect me with her life. We don’t always agree, but I love my mother. Just as an aside.
At the same time, because of this other influence, by the time I reached queer theory, I’d heard enough peripheral whispering that I really started to wonder: Was I a man inside?
I’d certainly always wanted to be treated “like a man”, in terms of being considered intelligent and independent. In my teens, I wanted to be accepted as “one of the boys.” I was good at things that men were thought to be better at, like spacial relations and concrete thinking. I’d preferred gender-neutral toys, like wooden animals, plastic musical instruments, Etch-A-Sketches, dinosaurs, things I could make out of fabric, and just plain my imagination, to my Easy-Bake Oven or fashion dolls.
I’d certainly rejected femininity. I felt uncomfortable with my breasts, my period, and my female body. I didn’t want to get married or have babies. One of my lifelong best friends who I’d always admired and wanted to emulate, came out when we were teenagers as a butch lesbian, which everyone knows (ha!) just means “a wannabe man.”
Voila! Trans! And the queer group agreed! I even picked a male, although ambiguously androgynous, alternate name and everything.
The problem with that is … well. Where do I begin?
Any right-thinking, non-conservative person knows that a child’s choice in toys has no reflection on his or her physical sex, not even if they believe in a “brain sex” that is different from “genital sex.” Gendered children’s toys are propaganda. Hey, I’d never liked toys, such as militaria and other assorted glorifications of violence, marketed specifically towards boys either (not only because in a perfect world I’d be a pacifist: my Christmas list when I was six or seven years old read “a pony, a [specific] jigsaw puzzle, [a specific book title], a [certain stuffed toy], + world peace forever!!”).
Any woman who’s looked around herself knows to be self-conscious of, and even afraid because of, her female body. Female bodies are vulnerable: to rape, abuse, attack. To pregnancy, transmitted disease, and death. The male medical establishment has yet to come up with a way to ameliorate menstrual pain and discomfort, and on a deeper level, our periods are a reminder of our fertility — thus our vulnerability. And our breasts, in addition to being terribly objectified body parts and thus a magnet for leering creepers, are the most obvious physical indication marking us as Other. Most women know that to be female is to be open to attack.
Women who are aware on any level are also aware that marriage and children are big yawning traps that bind you to another human being for life and leave you at numerous extreme disadvantages: physically, mentally, emotionally, economically. Many women don’t wish to get married or have children (although many women end up doing one or both anyway, my mother being one of those women).
Not only is the idea that butch lesbians are “failed men” or “wannabe men” ridiculous, it was even verifiably untrue in the case of my friend. As she had a first name that was difficult to shorten, we always greeted her as “Hey, man,” and “Man” kind of became her second, affectionate name. She also enjoyed the irony, as she was a proud butch (“Yeah, I’m a girl, and I’m gonna kick your ass!” was her favored exclamation as she prepared to pound some bully into the dust).
Of COURSE I looked up to Man. I STILL look up to Man. She was a hero, especially for our little town.
As far as my aptitude at things that men are traditionally supposed to outperform women at: I was precocious. When I was very young, say seven or eight years old, I read in a book that girls were supposed to be good at some things and boys at others. I immediately deduced that the “girl” set wasn’t as cool as the “boy” set, and decided: Fuck that, I’d teach myself to be good at boy stuff! It wasn’t that hard: I was alone, without video games, for most of my childhood, so I did a lot of thinking and didn’t allow “You’re not supposed to be good at that” to deter me. I literally influenced the development of my own brain, in an attempt to avoid later discrimination.
(If I may? Suck on that, assholes who believe in “brain sex.”)
So I’m not trans. Nobody “is” “trans.” Leaving aside the fetishists and paraphiliacs for the sake of continuity: Some men act in ways that society considers “feminine” or “effeminate.” Some women act in ways that society considers “masculine.” All people experience some kind of dissonance between their prescribed gender roles and their actual selves. (I consider laser hair removal and breast augmentation to be perfect examples of this dissonance even in a population that would typically be derided as “comfortably gendered” or “cisgendered.”)
Trans and SRS are commonly prescribed to “cure” homosexuality: If you’re attracted to someone of the same sex, don’t worry, if you “change your sex”, you’re no longer of the same sex! Same if you don’t display the expected affinity for things and behaviors considered innate to your sex: you can change sex and now you’re normal!
It’s a sad state of affairs that people feel the need to resort to surgery instead of embracing their own (and others’) differences — but that’s not going to happen, is it? Silly me.
Face it, born women are not all willingly submissive fuck-robots with huge tits and a fuckhole that goes to nowhere; born women tend to get uppity with things they want and the needs they have and stuff. Also about not getting pregnant, the bitches. Not even the ideal type of male-fantasy women (ie, Pam Anderson, Sasha Grey) could live up to the pornified, dominance-submission-based male fantasy. So a class of people had to be created to keep women in line, keep them either always trying to measure up to the standard or constantly needing to insist they aren’t really mentally or physically defective (“men born into the wrong body” — because a woman’s body is always the wrong body, isn’t it?)
All I can say is: Yeah, I’m a girl, and I’m gonna kick your ass.