Wednesday, May 14, 2008

GAY STUFF: Trans-identity

My dear friend LH the other day was drunk and waxing poetic on the idea of trans-identity. She posits that most transgendered individuals, and, by extension, most transsexuals are not real. She has extensive history with trans-identified persons; I would call her a bit of an expert, at least from a FTM perspective.

But the idea got me thinking. There are a couple of things that, perhaps, I have been uncomfortable saying or stating publically due to my attempted belief that people are just people and we should leave them at that. It is the right of the individual to decide, exactly, what their own identity is and how they choose to express it. It's not my place to judge, right???

Except there seems to be a lot of transidentified persons in the world who are not actively seeking a "solution" to it.

There are a couple of things that strike me:

1) First of all, it bothers me that "Gender Identity Dysphoria" is the only "psychological illness" (per the DSM-IV) that is "cured" by a physical surgery. In order to be approved for that surgery, in fact, you have to have a psychiatrist diagnose you with GID. That's troublesome -- though I understand there are other mental problems that have biological bases, and I would not be surprised if there are surgeries in the future to deal with autism, depression, and a multitude of other mental illnesses.

2) Second of all, trans-identity is just that ... an identity. Who cares??? The fact that people can now come out as trans is indicative of a mood shift even within the culture as a whole for gender dysphoria, as there is a burgeoning community to support the identity. (LH argues that if you would not have gone through the surgery in the 1950s then you are not truly trans.)

3) Is surgery really necessary for an identity or for the continuation of identification??? Probably not. Would there be a surgery to make me more justifiably gay??? (I can't imagine that would be, although the rash of drag queens altering their bodies to perform better as female fascinates me, as is it truly dragif you have teh body of the opposite gender??? But it is all about performance of gender...)

4) This blog apparently requires lots of quotation marks and question marks and ellipses.

5) Is the creation of the trans-community merely an extension of discomforts around alternative gender performance ... a separation from the traditional, for example, butch/femme dichotomy of lesbians? And, in the world of gay men, the drag queens embracing their feminity but unable to understand themselves as a super-effeminant man within a culture that accepts only heterosexuality as the pinnacle of homosexual desire.

6) The sexualization of alternate gender performance... hm. Fetishization, more specifically.

I believe the fifth point is most salient to the discussion, as the role of gender within a community of sexual minorities is one that is becoming louder and louder in public discourse. I have been labelled, in the past, as "same gendered loving" because there are attractions to male-identified biological females (I know one of them is probably reading this blog these days). The label was placed on me because I seem to date (and be attracted to) more masculine presenting persons, while presenting as more effeminant, more "gay," myself. However, I do not present as female, I still ultimately present as a male, a gay male. So I am attracted to my same gender, but not my same sex. But that does not diminish my homosexuality.

But, again, the question comes down to that gender question -- I am not "str8 acting" or "masc" as they post on the "dot com" ( or on craigslist. I can't even fool myself anymore.

A dear friend of mine from college has recently come out as "non-male, non-female." He does not identify as trans, but, rather, he identifies outside of gender... gender neutral, perahps, but performs publically as male. What does that mean? He has no desire to alter his sex, but he knows that his sex-gender ratio is not 1-1. Is there pressure for him to actively identify as trans? Or, does he now fall into this somewhat unusual terminology that has sprung up "genderqueer" -- that is, a rejection of the two gender dichotomy. However, the rhetoric around it seems to create a triad of gender identities -- male, female, and genderqueer. I would rather subscribe to the notion that there is an ongoing spectrum of gender identities, much like we have with our sexualities and a large group of other identities.

But this is of minimal importance to the discussion at hand.

The question remains: is there such thing as trans-identity, or is fake, created out of the ability tocreated and the need to be different, to somehow squeeze oneself into an existing pattern? "It's there, I'm gender dysphoric, therefore that's where I belong."

The question is moot. Because, guess what, it's not my place to judge. Identity is your own, and, if people choose to identify as trans, that's fine... if it really means that they are crying out for some sort of acceptance because their "home community" (gay/lesbian/bi) is now rejecting them based on a more heteronormative approach to gender -- "men act like men" and "women act like women" -- than that's a fault of that communities', not of the individuals that are affected by it.

For me, I identify as genderqueer. I think...

...for now.

Because, in the end, as there is a wide spectrum of gender identities and variants, there is also the possibility for an individuals life to move all over the spectrum throughout their lifespan.

And that, my dears, is the essence of diversity, neh? (Sorry, been reading Shogun)

PS -- And if you choose to sexualixe, fetishize (or de-sexualize, or de-fetishize) me based on my chosen gender, then i have one thing to say: FUCK OFF.

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