Let’s Define Some Terms
Gender: (noun) the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones).
Sex: (noun) either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.
1. relating to, using, or expressed in a system of numerical notation that has 2 rather than 10 as a base.
2. relating to, composed of, or involving two things. “testing the so-called binary, or dual-chemical, weapons”
1. the binary system: binary notation. “the device is counting in binary”
2. something having two parts.
Gender Fluid: (noun) Gender Fluid is a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl. A person who is Gender Fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more boy some days, and more girl other days. Being Gender Fluid has nothing to do with which set of genitalia one has, nor their sexual orientation.
Gender identity: (noun) is a person’s private sense and subjective experience of their own gender. This is generally described as one’s private sense of being a man or a woman, consisting primarily of the acceptance of membership into a category of people: male or female.
Gender identity disorder (GID) or gender dysphoria is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe people who experience significant dysphoria (discontent) with the sex and gender they were assigned at birth. (I have a lot to say about this later in this post. In the meantime, just remember that these are the same “experts” who for so many years considered homosexuality a mental disorder.)
Cisgender: (adjective) denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex; not transgender.
adjective: having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness. “He is outstandingly handsome and robust, very masculine”
synonyms: virile, macho, manly, muscular, muscly, strong, strapping, well built, rugged, robust, brawny, heavily built, powerful, red-blooded, vigorous
noun: the male sex or gender. “the masculine as the norm”
1. having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness. “a feminine frilled blouse”
synonyms: womanly, ladylike; girlish; soft, delicate, gentle, graceful; girly “a very
noun: the female sex or gender. “the association of the arts with the feminine”
A Rule To Remember
This is the perfect time to remind you that unless I specifically quote or cite other sources, everything on this blog site is my own opinion. I do not nor can I speak for anyone other than myself, so don’t use my words as an “all trans people are like this.”
Just like every other person on the planet, we are individuals. We have our own thoughts and feelings, and no one can presume to speak for any group. Besides, my opinions, thoughts, beliefs and feelings change over time.
This post is a perfect example of my changing ideas.
Who Am I?
All ideas of existential angst aside, I am a trans woman; that is, I was born into a male body, but I identify as female. I don’t consider myself “a woman trapped in a man’s body” (although at one time I did, before my knowledge increased). I did have a couple of women friends say that I was a lesbian trapped in a man’s body once. And that was prescient, since I hadn’t yet come out or, indeed, realized who I was.
So I identify at various times as wife, mother, daughter, sister, and grandmother. But that’s not really who I am; after all, I also call myself a writer, blogger, photographer, and baker. All these things are only parts of who I am: they are not who I am.
For the longest time, once I understood the reasons I never felt as if I quite “fit in,” I considered myself a trans woman. Later, as my views evolved, I started to understand what it meant to be gender fluid. To paraphrase an old candy commercial, “sometimes I feel like I’ve nuts, sometimes I don’t.” In other words, although I mostly identify and present as female, there are still times when the boy comes through. So in this sense, I guess I’m gender fluid.
Not that I have ever been comfortable with the gender binary. It’s like the Kinsey scale as it pertains to sexual identity. Alfred Kinsey discovered that the majority people identify not as exclusively heterosexual or exclusively homosexual, but rather somewhere along a continuum of sexualities.
Science today is discovering that the same thing holds true of gender—which is, after all, merely a social construct. And to me, all that being gender fluid means that I’m quite comfortable living on a continuum…
…most of the time:
Gender Identity Disorder, and Why It’s Frustrating
I consider the fact that my gender doesn’t match my sex to be an unfortunate fact of life. And fortunately, there are things I can do to bring my sex more in line with my gender. Indeed, I am already doing some of those things: I take a testosterone blocker, and I take estrogen supplements. All well and good.
But even with new insurance “reforms,” all too many of us are locked into a Catch-22. I’m referring specifically to sex reassignment surgery (initialized as SRS; also known as gender reassignment surgery (GRS), genital reconstruction surgery, sex affirmation surgery, gender confirmation surgery, sex realignment surgery, or, colloquially, a sex change).
Why do I call it a Catch-22? Because in order to obtain necessary treatment (indeed, it is life-saving in so many cases), we have to claim that we have a recognizable and diagnosed disorder, in spite of the fact that very few of us who experience it consider it to be a disorder.
Consider: if you had been born with amblyopia (aka lazy eye), you could simply consult with an ophthalmologist, schedule your surgery, and have it corrected. You wouldn’t be required to consult with a psychiatrist both before and after your surgery, nor would you be required to live for a full year as someone with normal vision before you could get the surgery.
But that is exactly what I would have to do before I could get my necessary surgery. Why do I say it’s necessary?
According to surveys, 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population has self-reported a suicide attempt, with that number climbing to between 10 and 20 percent for lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents. By comparison, 41 percent of trans or gender non-conforming people surveyed have attempted suicide.
The most recent, comprehensive data on suicide attempts was gathered by The Williams Institute, in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Its report, Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults, analyzed responses from 6,456 self-identified transgender and gender non-conforming adults (18+) who took part in the U.S. National Transgender Discrimination Survey. The results are staggering. (http://www.vocativ.com/culture/lgbt/transgender-suicide/)
In the case of trans gender people, SRS can truly be a matter of life or death. And yet in order to qualify for it, I have to live as a woman for a full year before I am eligible. I would have to see a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist both before and after my surgery. And above all, I would have to “admit” that there is something wrong with me mentally.
This is the only type of reparative treatment that has these kinds of requirements.
What it All Means
To me, in practical terms, it means that I am no longer worrying or wondering about who I am: I accept myself as I am, with all my questions and wonderments. And having accepted me, I like myself. I’m comfortable with myself. Above all, I respect, admire, and love myself—and none of this is affected by any labels other people may hang on me.