But anyway, it's made me want to make a post about being transsexual, and what transsexuality means to me.
A few months ago, when I was helping my sister paint her house, she gave me the third degree on the subject. That's my sister's job in my life, and I appreciate it. From a young age, she's been the one to challenge me and make sure I was doing the best I possibly could and was always thinking. She made me read until I loved it, encouraged me to get voice lessons if I was "serious about this singing thing", and always made me think for myself. So, the third degree was welcome. She asked me one question that weekend that I don't think I did a very good job of answering at the time, but I think I've gotten a better handle on since. The question went something like this:
"What is the need for transitioning, unless you're conforming to a gender stereotype? Why not redefine what it means to be female, instead?"
At the time, my sister had me off my centre of gravity a little, and I bumbled for a sensible answer, but I think I've got one now.
It's all well and good to talk about redefining your personal characterizations of gender. One day, I hope our society doesn't need gender and gender roles, it just needs people. Maybe we wouldn't have transsexuals, then, just people who were free to express themselves in whatever way they found most comfortable. But while it's lovely to think in these "if only" abstracts, we still have to live in the now.
I would love it if I didn't have to transition. By choosing this, I'm choosing therapy, voluntary medical procedures, a lifetime of hormones, the legal issues of my name and gender, huge expenses, possible discrimination that could hurt my future in so many ways, and more. It would be much easier to keep things the same, and redefine what it means to be female. But I have to look at my life as part of a social matrix. No man is an island, and I am no exception.
Our society is built on differences. Collectively, we define ourselves by what we are not. We adhere to a strict binary. Male and female. Young and old. Good and evil. Us and them. Of course, there are those who buck these narrow definitions. Shakespeare was a master of proving how similar two groups really were, when you looked beyond the surface. However, to move through society you still have to identify yourself to a binary, in some way. Portia was still female, even after she'd proved she could save her friends in court, dressed as a man. In order to move through the world, she had to fall back on a definition that gave her a position, even when she had proven she could be something else, too. No one is completely masculine or feminine. We merely choose where, on the sliding scale, we feel most comfortable.
So what I'm saying it this: Breaking the definitions of society would be wonderful. In the meantime, I've got to graduate college, get a job, and make a life for myself. And until humankind evolves to the next plain, where there will be no men and women (just wankers), I've got to carve out my place within its confines. And for me, the place where I fit is not female, but male. It would be great if I didn't have to choose, but such is life.
And to those, feminist or not, who feel like transsexuals simply perpetuate gender stereotypes, I'd say we don't do it nearly as much as most cisgendered individuals. Call me a conformist, but being a man (well, a young man anyway, I'm only twenty) makes me comfortable. It makes me happy. It makes me more myself. Cutting my hair short and wearing men's clothes isn't about anyone standards. It's my summer of now, made glorious by this son of York, out of the winter of my discontent.
And yes, I believe I'm a transguy, not just a guy, because I will always have two decades of being female in my past. That's my history, and even if there are situations where I'd rather not disclose it, I'm not ashamed.
There's a group of feminists who don't welcome transsexuals into their circles. Michigan Women's Music Festival comes to mind. They feel threatened by women who were born male-bodied, like their male privilege is still fueling them, making them dangerous, violent men. They see female to male people in an even worse light. We must hate women so much, to make ourselves into men. And of course, the old argument about gender stereotypes. I'm sad for these people, who are so busy claiming oppression yet still have the time to oppress me. And as far as the stereotypes are concerned, we're working with what we've been given.
I know I am.