In trying to guide myself through my transition, I find role models to be indispensable. Learning about success stories keeps me going when I get discouraged and think what I want to achieve is impossible. Unfortunately, I can count the number of genderqueer persons with a male history who can serve as a role model on one hand. Kate Bornstein, Riki Wilchins, and the anonymous author of ThirdWayTrans are inspiring, but I’d ideally like to find and connect with people who were able to end up with an integrated transgender identity without taking the transsexual path. Here are a few of my role models.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the cis-trans binary and I think it would be helpful to create a scale which expressed gradations of intensity of transgender feelings between the two poles.
When I was a teenager I struggled to reconcile my lemming-like crushes on girls with my furtive desire to wear lipstick and look in the bathroom mirror while I shoved a shampoo bottle up my ass through a pair of frilly panties I found from god knows where. After mixing a pint of booze with a joint and my mom’s ambien to dissociate from it all I have a hard time remembering the details. I also struggled to reconcile my dislike of kissing a boy with the satisfaction of craning my neck and extending my tongue out to lap up the cum that had dribbled out of my mouth onto the ash-covered upholstery of the same boy’s car. I was desperately grasping around for a rope that would lead me out of the quicksand of anxiety lining the bottom of the hetero-homo canyon. Instead of a rope, I found a compass: the Kinsey scale.
I appreciated this post a lot. However, I think you’re misunderstanding what genderqueer means. You have not listed the most relevant question of all: “Am I male or female?” The answer to that question is also “Mu.” And genderqueer is precisely this non-identity.
My last post “Perceptual Narrowing and Culturally Mandated Emotional Crippling of Children” described how our society stunts our development and domesticates us into docile, obedient subjects by flooding our senses with gender. One of the outcomes of this process is that we can only see two sexes—male and female—when the truth is that we are simply blinded to the broad spectrum of human sexual diversity.
People with XXY chromosomes, androgen insensitivity, ambiguous genitalia, and other visible, physical manifestations of both male and female characteristics demonstrate that humans are not a completely sexually dimoprhic species. These “intersex” people are often treated by the medical community as defective, and frequently subjected to genital mutilation (a.k.a. “surgery”), but there is no evidence that they are not just healthy members of the human tribe. It is only the perceptual narrowing of gender that limits our understanding of them to being between the two “real” sexes. The truth is that they are just one of many sexes which are miserably crushed into obscurity by the collapsing of human sexual diversity into an oppressive binary hierarchy.
During early childhood, our brains are sensitive to a broad array of stimuli and amenable to adopting a wide variety of cognitions and beliefs. As children develop, these perceptual abilities are narrowed through a neurological process called synaptic pruning. Infants’ neurons are all wired together in a redundant manner, but as a child matures many of these connections are abandoned. The initial redundancy in the brain allows the infant to respond to any environment, while the subsequent specificity allows the child to respond best to the particular environment into which it was born. While aiding learning, this process also results in the loss of ability to make certain observations that would have been possible in another environment.
If anyone ends up reading this blog, I’m sure it will not be long until someone creates a stink about my using gender-agnostic pronouns for transgender people. In order to head that controversy off at the pass, I’ve decided to explain at the outset my reasons for writing this way.
The fact is I use genderless pronouns for everyone in written language regardless of nir morphology, gender identity, expression, or assignment at birth. (I’m trying as much as I can to do the same in spoken language but it’s more difficult to keep it up. I also prefer the term gender-agnostic or genderless to gender-neutral because these terms do not assume that male and female are “opposite” sexes, like acids and bases that can be canceled out into a “neutral” solution.)
Here are my reasons for using genderless pronouns for everyone:
- It eliminates the problem of speshul snowflake pronouns. I don’t need to tell you my “preferred pronoun” and hope that you parrot it back to me. And you don’t have to maintain a roster of a dozen different pronouns for all of your friends.
- It focuses on what I can control rather than playing the victim. I can’t realistically expect that anyone is going to call me anything other than “he.” But it will probably be pretty obvious I don’t like it if I’m constantly using a genderless pronoun for everyone else. Continue reading