Would You Still Be Trans* If Gender Roles Didn’t Exist?
I got this question sent to me on Facebook, and I’ve been mulling it over for the past couple of days. I’d like to put what I’ve come up with so far, and then have anyone else who has something to add chime in please. Everyone’s voices count.
Out of curiosity do you worry about people in your offline life who are uncomfortable with your gender and sexuality finding the blogs you write about it?
And, a question on clarification from a trans* person’s perspective: How do you explain that transgenderism would exist with or without gender roles, and why it’s wrong to ask if they still would if gender roles didn’t exist?
Okay first: yes. Of course I worry about people who are uncomfortable with my gender and sexuality finding the blogs I write about it– but I also worry about the people in my offline life who are uncomfortable with my gender and sexuality reacting to the fact that I have a girlfriend, who is–amazingness incarnate. And about their reaction to me binding. And the thing is, all of these worries are valid but– I have a choice to make. I can either live my life in such a way that I am toned down, in order to keep myself safe, or I can deal with the inevitable backlash.
I choose backlash. For one thing, I’m very very lucky– it hasn’t been all that bad, lately. For another, I know I can handle backlash and I know there are some people who are coming after me who will have some of the same issues, who may not be able to. So, if I can forge the way for them even a little bit– then my life has mattered. For a third, toning myself down is like snuffing a candle. I can do it, but it kind of gets rid of the point of the candle.
Yeah, I’m babbling. Because it’s the second question that I’m not sure how to unpack, all the way. Howdo I explain that transgenderism would exist with or without gender roles, and why it’s wrong to ask if [it] still would if gender roles didn’t exist?
Well, first, I’m not actually offended by people asking me if I would be trans* if gender roles didn’t exist. I think it’s a fair question, if I’ve opened the dialogue and in some ways made my identity public property as a tool for education. I mean, most of the stuff we say on a regular basis is about how gender is constructed, it’s a social identity, it’s wholly separate from your biological sex– why wouldn’t someone who doesn’t have the experience of being trans* wonder if eradicating the rules of sex-tied gender roles would change something?
Second, I am quick to explain that I am not all that concerned with typical gender roles, and that I think of my body as having a deformity, or a birth defect, rather than as “not being the right gender.” I am the right gender. I just have a birth defect that made me grow boobs. In cismales, this is known as gynecomastia. In trans* folk, we call it “estrogen.” So I could wake up tomorrow and we could be living in a matriarchal society where ciswomen ruled the roost and gender roles were completely flipped, and I’d still want to chop my breasts off because they’re just not right. And they make my body look alien to me.
Third, I always always always disclaim: This is only me.