Just Another Binary

I’ve been curious about the redundancy of social media arguments over transgender rights and how they impact females. The same discussion points over and over again. The same questions and answers from each side. The same results. In one of my own “discussions”, I was asked quite pointedly did I believe whether or not Trans* reinforced the gender binary. I replied yes.

In a recent NPR broadcast, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=202729367, many of the same discussion points were raised in the story and comments following the radio transcript. The biological realities. The passionate self-identification. Conflicting issues on both side of identity and expression laws. I felt there were several points of honesty raised, however, which have been missing from other discussions I’ve seen.

Specifically, a late-transitioning male (he “went woman” in his late 40s/mid 50s) who acknowledged his hyper-femininity; admitted that he clung to all the trappings of stereotypical female social construct; and explained how much he resented younger transgenders pushing for concepts such as bi-gender, gender queer, gender fluid and genderfuck. He wants his turn at “being a woman”. While he did not acknowledge that patriarchal gender stereotypes were detrimental to the rights and freedoms of females, he did recognize that the roles and expectation placed on women were constricting. But he enjoys that structure. This is what he wants – lower expectations, vanity interests, girl talk, romance. Those things of which males believe females are capable.

And my reply stays the same. Yes, I believe Trans* reinforces the gender binary. Men who transition to transsexual consistently display this behavior. They haven’t had their chance to be a girl and they don’t care how old they are or how pathetic they appear, they are going to do “being a woman” right! “Right”, of course, being defined in their male eyes. Patriarchal stereotyping. Gender reinforcement.

Alternatively, there was a lot of coverage of the non-binary transgenders, who genuinely feel that they are breaking barriers and forging a new Multi-gendered society. Eliminating biology, sociology and medical science. Proud of the variety – appropriated two spirits, bi-gendered, redefined intersexed, multisexed, polyamorous, ungendered. So many new and different possibilities, each unique and special, all gathered together into a new tribe. The Others.

The Others, against The One. Because there must always be a One in order for the Other to exist. http://othersociologist.com/otherness-resources/ And where there is no One, The One must be created.

Cis.

The Others. A Trans Nation, united against Cis. Polarized in their opposition. Not moving forward, not diversifying, just opposing. Just another binary.

The problem is that very few people identify themselves as “cis”. Probably a minority that is just as small as those who identify as Trans*. I personally have only met 2 or 3 females in my life (lived in 3 countries and 15+ US states) who identify with the stereotypical female gender role. We all agree that we have the same biological sex, but we also all agree that our interests, personalities, and mannerisms vary greatly. Some enjoy hunting in the woods while they are disguised as trees. Some enjoy knitting. Some wake up every morning of their adult life to bathe, style their hair, apply makeup and transfer personal items from yesterday’s purse to today’s in order to match their shoes. Some crawl out of bed, brush their teeth and ride a bicycle to work. Some stay home with children. Most don’t. Some love a rainy day on the couch with a good book. Some hike 5 miles uphill through heavy undergrowth with a 40 pound kayak and gear on their back so they can “run da shit” at high water after the same rainstorm. All of these variables interchange. There is no one way to be a female.

When you call all these females who are happy being them-in-all-their-contradictory-intersectional-selves “Cis”, you mis-label us. You force us into the gender binary patriarchy defines as woman.

My reply stands. Yes, I think Trans* reinforces the gender binary.

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3 thoughts on “Just Another Binary

  1. Answer: no, at least not more than anyone else reinforces stereotypes by doing whatever they are doing while being perceived as whatever they are perceived as. Noted on another of your posts, I am perceived as female. So I perpetuate the idea that females can be Caucasian, 5’9″ 150lbs in dark shirts and ripped jeans, getting straight A’s in college, with dark messy hair in a ponytail and a bit of light makeup if the situation demands it… and that females can drink, dance, volunteer, play video games and attend church and work out and read books.

    Being trans is about feeling comfortable in your own skin. Being female is about having a mostly female body. Therefore, being a trans woman is about being more comfortable in a mostly female body (usually because the male one felt foreign.

    As for being the “right kind of woman,” that’s for every individual woman to decide for herself. Including me… I’d never be so pretentious as to tell another woman she’s not a real woman just because she doesn’t meet a criteria for *insert reduction of womanhood to a single aspect of humanity here*

    Like chromosomes… or infertility… or “tomboyishness”, or being a homemaker, or being a ceo, or being a sex worker, or being conventionally “unattractive.” This isn’t a judgement call, but perhaps you might do well to reflect on constant male gaze judgement of us by our appearance relative to how you categorize and label others even against their will.

  2. for science:

    The problem is that nobody is reducing womanhood to anything, apart from those who attempt to define themselves by societal constructions of femininity, or who think it is possible to ‘feel female’. That’s you, by the way. I’m talking about you.

    Woman means adult human female. That’s it. The list in your final paragraph is disingenuous as all hell. It is a mismatch of things people do try and force women into, things women get attacked for being, and oh look, right there at the beginning you slip in the *actual thing that defines female* as if it belongs in a list of stereotypes. And fuck you for lumping female infertility (a fucking *medical condition*) in with *being male* as if they are one and the same thing. Don’t pretend that wasn’t what you were insinuating.

    There isn’t a single genuine word in your comment.

  3. I found this informative. Yes, i know a transwoman who is very much against gender fluidity, and who wants to keep things as they are so she can play our hyper femininity. I think your right, many MTF are lead by fetish, think about it. A lot of those types tend to be older, the younger ones aren’t fetishing femininity as much. Instead their trying to push against the gender binary and be themselves. Maybe the social construct of gender is getting close to the trans* scene, through the younger ones. A lot of the genderqueer, gender fluid and bi gender think the gender is inside themselves, because there looking at things through a gender politics analysis. There is a clash between the older trans people, some call themselves trans separatists and queers.

    I think some of the changes between the older and younger trans are to do with changes in societys gender over the past 50 years. It points to trans having a social origin. If it was innate and biological, then it would not be changing in this way. Why are so many younger tw not getting the op? If its becoming more socially expectable not to, and thats the reason why less are doing so, then again it points to social origins of gender dysphoria.

    Post feminist backlash is blocking young people getting any feminist analysis of what gender is.

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