Visions appear in my minds eye of middle aged librarians peddling furiously to stop tenth grade student Toby Carmichael from calling the sea the neutral it. Men in crisp white shirts ask to see your papers making sure everything is labeled and in order.
Suddenly you are stopped at the corner of tenth and main by two of your classmates. They begin to harangue you “why didn’t you use they? You know they is gender fluid! You have to respect that.” The other says “and I feel hurt you didn’t notice I was feeling a gendered today,”
Alright. I’ve had some fun, but I have serious points to make. I want to say right up front that I personally don’t think there’s any such thing as feeling like a girl or a boy in terms of mind state. How the body interacts with the mind is a different discussion, but in my mind I’m just me, are you not just you? But I can’t really speak for others, maybe there’s a little part of their mental state that constately registers it outside of body image.
I only see maleness or femaleness in my behavior with another. Left alone on a desert island it is not clear to me what woukd have happened as a result of being trans. Would the mental discomfort at my physical state have been as strong without observers and arbiters making decisions? What constitutes gender presentation when there’s no one to interact with?
I transitioned, and others tell me they transitioned to feel whole and right. This seems reasonable, and a desire to be treated as we present doesn’t seem unfair. Note though that I never asked anyone outside of a few close family members to use female pronouns before I was full time.
It’s also worth recounting that what gets me upset about misgendering is largely how it strikes at my insecurities. I’m getting better at laughing it off, mostly because I’m growing more confident in who I am.
Last, the most I have ever wanted a third party to do is to very quietly let someone know if they’ve misgendered me. I’d be rather upset to know that anyone not actively trying to cause pain was offered it, where would the justice be in that?
This led me to thinking about the whole gender queer, gender fluid thing. I understand the premise and the better part of wisdom is not judging. I can see where it can be true.
What I don’t get is the point of adopting new pronouns for it. I have trouble with that for a couple of reasons after setting aside the issues with mangling language.
First with the argument. “We’re beyond the binary” well what is that supposed to mean? I’m all for thinking of gender as a continuum, even thinking of a persons gender as not being fixed. Yet gender exists in relation to others, not floating apart. We signal it in a thousand different ways. That’s changing all the time, really?
The reason for it being an issue at all for trans people is the confusion that comes from prior history, social disapproval and mixed gender cuehs. I suspect that if we, trans men and women, were entirely confident the we would shrug more of it off, but it also leads to exposure in unsafe environments and discrimination because we are needlessly outed.
None of this is true if you’re gender fluid or non binary in some other way. Dressing androgenously isn’t going to get you beaten up or arrested, thrown out f housing or fired, real consequences we actually still face in much of the US, not to mention much worse in places like Russia.
It is a dilution of these legitimate issues with one that is almost impossible for anyone to comprehend outside of the LGBT community and academia. To the general public it seems like all of it is just one big mass of political correctness that should be ignored.
But in terms of others it becomes the I knew X for ten years before he became Margery every morning at nine am problem but worse . Each new person is to figure this out? Does Marge wear gender neutral clothing? bacause normally that’s a big part of how we figure it out. Then they are expected learn new grammar rules applied to old words and it all sounds wrong.
Maybe this would be more understandable and impactful if the effect on the non binary person was more obvious beyond the intellectual.
Before I went full time people used he and him and his with me all the time. It’s taken me three years to get almost fully comfortable with she and her and hers. The former really never bothered me presenting male and having the opposite internal gender. I’m having trouble working up the energy to not just say get a life to those new pronouns.
Sometimes I hear rumors of people taking about third sexes and genders and I just want to remove my skin. We do live within certain actual realities. One of them is that there are only two normal bio formations for reproduction and anything more than slightly afar, say a genetic issue like turners, creates a sterile individual. Two sexes it shall be until we ever need something more than ova and sperm to start a life.
As far as gender, I simply refuse to consider anything off the male female line for the same reason I look like I think you’re crazy if you tell me you’re trans feline or trans racial.
With that its six am, and I’ve jumped the shark. Have a beautiful day, I’m going back to sleep.