11 June 2010

When The Transwoman Becomes A Stranger

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  The very title of this blog is starting to seem strange, almost alien, to me.

Maybe that was the whole point of everything I've done for the past eight years (almost).  I'm having a harder and harder time thinking of myself as anything with the prefix "trans" on it.

The funny thing is that I've come to this point partly because of two unlikely influences who would probably hate each other. Actually,  one would hate the other.  The other might just keep a kind of clinical distance.

One of the people I've mentioned is the author of "The Dirt From Dirt."  No, I didn't meet her, and have no wish to do so.  She is a "butch," which I respect as being a particular kind of woman.  (Some people would say the same thing about me.  I wouldn't disagree with them.)  That is probably the only point on which I agree with her: I don't see "butches" as women who want to be men but won't, for whatever reasons, go through the transition.

To her, biology is destiny.  If you were born with XY chromosomes, or just happened to end up with an "M" on your birth certificate because the doctor decided that you were one, well, then, you're male.  She hates and resents them because of their privilege, yadda yadda yadda.  While I know that male privilege exists, I've learned that you don't hate someone for having privilege they did nothing to get.  If you're going to hate, save your animus for those who use their power to unfairly take advantage of other people.

What she hates even more than biological males are transmen, especially if they lived as butches or simply lesbians before making his transition  She sees them as traitors who, in their treachery, support the hetero-normative gender binary.  (Say that three times fast.)  To her, they're impersonating men and people like me are impersonating  women.  Worse still, in her eyes, is that we're imitating what she sees as the most exaggerated behaviors attributed to the gender in which we're living.

I can honestly say that she's not describing me.  I'm not one of those trans women who shrieks and demands that men hold doors open for her as she's tottering on four-inch heels.  On the other hand, I do some things that most people wouldn't regard as terribly feminine, and I make no apologies for doing so.

My other influence on my thinking is a woman who doesn't want to be identified in my writings or anywhere else.  She's married and has dated only men in life.  Yet she won't call herself "straight" or "heterosexual."  Instead, she simply sees herself as a sexual being and calls her sexuality "fluid," as I call mine. She says that "homosexual" and "heterosexual" are descriptions of behavior rather than names for identity and that people use those terms, as well as "bisexual" as ways of fitting people into boxes.  And, really, the reason why I've done what I've done is that I never could fit into the boxes.  (With the weight I've gained, there are a lot of things I don't  fit into!)

So, the woman I won't name is the polar opposite of Dirt:  She does not rail against the gender binary, yet she won't reinforce it.  (She also seems to recognize the notions of homo-, hetero- and bi-sexuality are extensions of it.)  On the other hand, Dirt claims to hate male privilege, yet she unflinchingly supports the very thing that allows it to exist:  Rigid definitions of gender and sexuality.

Now I've come to realize that if any trans label ever applied to me, it's "transgendered," the adjective, not "transgender," the noun.  But even "transgendered" and "transwoman" are not completely accurate descriptions of me, or many other people to whom they're applied--any more than homo, hetero and bi are.

As I told the woman whose name I won't divulge, I have used the term "bisexual" only as one of convenience to describe myself.  Or, more accurately, it's the only term most people understand in anything like the way I've ever understood it that even remotely applies to me.  And, I would say the same thing about "transwoman" and my gender identity.

I guess the best way as I could describe myself would go something like this:  I am a woman who came to be who I am through different experiences and other means than other women have come into themselves.  However, it is in part because of those experiences that I am a woman:  I was in the world of maleness, but I am not of it and was not fully part of it.  And, partly because I am a woman, my sexuality is fluid, for I think that a woman's sexuality is inherently more fluid than a man's.  That is not to say that women are more likely to be gay or bi or whatever, but that heterosexuality, as most people understand it, is not as integral to women who live as straight women as it is to straight men.  (Actually, I think that no one more staunchly believes in the gender binary and traditional notions of hetero- and homo-sexuality  than a man who's on the "down-low.")

So...Am I going to change the title of this blog?  End it?  "No" to both questions.  I have used this blog to talk about my experiences during a time of transition in my life.  I was, when I started this blog, living as a woman but was still making my transition to femaleness.  And I am still learning what it means to actually overtly live as a person whom I could be only within myself for much of my life.  I cannot forget any of those experiences:  They have made me what I am.  And I hope that someone has been learning from, or even entertained by, them.

Therefore, even though I'm continuing this blog, I probably won't post in it as frequently.   I probably will write more in my Mid-Life Cycling blog, which, in some ways, is another chapter of this one.