David and Goliath

I’ve been feeling a bit ‘vulnerable’ as of late with respect to my ‘needs’ with all of this trans stuff. Perhaps what I need most is to be recognized by (or recognizable to) other people. People see a me, make their assumptions (mostly incorrect in all likelihood) and I’m dropped in a box.

It was suggested that if one takes the ‘gender-fucking’ route – i.e. the refusal to admit the power of the gender binary (whether inspired biologically or socially) – then one willingly adopts the position of David against Goliath – requiring a hell of a lot of ‘chutzpah’ to carry it off. However, there are those of us who do what we do because of who we are. It’s not a ‘refusal to admit the power of the gender binary’ – quite the opposite. I fully acknowledge the power that the gender binary has in society: I am painfully aware of it. And here is the simple fact of it: It does not work for me.

I want it to – really I do. It would make life so much easier: for me, for others – just all around the board. But I wound up melting down years ago because I desperately clung to the idea that I was (or had to be) a man. And when I sorted through all of this crap, I found that while ‘woman’ fit better, it wasn’t right either. So what do I do? Pick a side ’cause that what I’m supposed to do? ‘Cause it will make everyone else happy?

I know I get dropped into the ‘gay male’ box from discussions I’ve had with people. They usually are quite surprised to find out I’m married, have kids and that I’m not gay. I don’t want to be recognized as gay. Sometimes it’s the ‘woman’ box in which I land. While I’m flattered by this, and it’s a nice box in which to hang out, it still assumes things about me which are not accurate. Then there is the ‘man’ box. Getting ‘sired’ grates on me in so many ways and again, makes inaccurate assumptions about me.

I suppose there is that rare occasion where I’m recognized as trans-something – but I’ll likely never really know: does anyone really openly acknowledge someone else as trans? Probably not. And genderqueer? Even less likely.

If one chooses to ‘diagnose’ me, then I get DSM-IV diagnostic code 302.6: Gender Identity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (GIDNOS). That’s the ‘gender freak’ box – the catchall for those who can’t be properly sorted. I can’t say I’m jonesing to be recognized as that either.

‘Gender-fuck’ has become yet another box into which I get tossed. I’m beginning to loath the reduction of my identity to ‘gender-fucking’. For me, this implies a type of hyperbole: the purposeful attraction of attention and desire to illicit a reaction from others. It is very much a decision, a choice – and it need not have anything to do with being trans.

I’d say that I get tossed into the ‘gender-fuck’ box almost exclusively by other transpeople. It’s no secret that transpeople can often be more radically supportive of the gender binary than the Cisgender are. For some reason, those of us who do not ’embrace’ the binary are perceived as some sort of threat. By turning my identity into a piece of performance art, I’m essentially ‘neutralized’ – read as ‘marginalized‘. I don’t want my identity marginalized any more than anyone else does – especially by my supposed peers.

If there is anything I’m not doing, it’s ‘willingly adopting the position of David against Goliath’ here. I don’t want to be here in this f’ing gender void. I mean, honestly, who would choose this? This isn’t ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’ – it sucks. How the hell do I explain this to people without them thinking I’m a complete whack-job? The muggles don’t get it – the LGB contingent don’t get it – other transpeople don’t get it. One of the few things that keeps me from caving under the combined weight of all this is that there are others who identify as I do.

Perhaps, then, the lot of us are deluded? I don’t know – but I wonder sometimes…

I have resolved myself to the fact that I likely will never have recognition that matches my identity. And while being ‘out’ and ‘visible’ have been largely positive experiences, it has also served to magnify this discontinuity – reinforcing just how pervasive and invasive the gender binary is.

“The thought of a possible life is only an indulgence for those who already know themselves to be possible. For those who are still looking to become possible, possibility is a necessity.”

I wish I could chalk what I do up to chutzpah – but the reality is that for me, it’s survival.

Time to reload my slingshot…


One Comment

  1. Posted July 2, 2010 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    I really like your post. I know this is years later, but I’ve only just stumbled upon your blog. I think it’s well-written, almost painfully honest, and there’s just something about it–I simultaneously know what you mean and feel (very, very respectfully) that you may be wrong. I think–maybe hope–that you’re wrong about the trans community. Absolutely, there are those who are more rigid gender defenders than many cispeople. And I would never try to dismiss your experiences or interactions you’ve had with queer and trans people.

    But I’d like to think that it could be different. And maybe this is just me being young and naive (I’m 22). But maybe society can change. I know other trans folk, and bois, and genderqueers, and transmen, and butches–and we all know that there’s more to gender than the binary. And that transgressing the binary isn’t just about gender fuck as performance, or making a political point or statement. I’ve talked to cispeople as well who also understand that. I think there’s hope for the future.

    I respect you so much. I’ve come to realize that I don’t identify as a woman or a man. And that makes life difficult, even though I’m young and just graduated from a really liberal college and have so much in my favor. It must be so much harder for you, being a true adult, married, with kids. And I get what you mean, about it being survival, not chutzpah. That doesn’t lessen my respect, although I wish (for your sake, for my sake, for everyone’s sake) that life were different, and people were different, and survival weren’t so painfully hard.

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