I want to talk a little bit about being me, or perhaps how I am trying to be more me. This is not an essay of answers or advice but more a collection of thoughts that I wanted to share. It meanders a bit and has no conclusion.
I did not choose to be transgender. No one does. That is sort of the point. We have no influence over how we are born. Why are my chromosomes not very slightly different – the way they should have been? This question goes round in my mind a lot. After all, so many people have it right, so why is it wrong for me? Why do I have to put so much effort into something that so many others get without even thinking about it? And my body will never be exactly right, just an approximation of what it should be.
There are many things about the way we are born that we do not get to choose. And I am super privileged and in a way really have absolutely no right to complain. My body is not how it should be, but I can try and use what technology is available to try to make it closer to how it should be. It is not like I can just go “oh well, perhaps it will be better the next time I am born”. But there are so many ways my life could be much much worse – sometimes I wonder if I am being selfish.
I have spent literally so many years building up my confidence and bravery to try and make myself more me. Secrets are scary. A large part of becoming braver and more confident has been gradually unhiding the aspects of myself I long felt I had to keep secret at all costs. The more people who know about an aspect, the less scary it is to express it and be a little bit more me.
I hate it when people make false assumptions about my gender and pronouns based only on my body and voice. Its super upsetting, like they are deliberately trying to tell me “you fail at being you”. But I will not do things just to appease strangers’ assumptions. Just because I am trans. Just because it is expected of me. Every change I make, either socially or to my body, is because I want that change. I am working to make me more me and to become more comfortable in my body, not to align to some expectations or stereotypes. Whether I “pass” or not is not my fault and I will not let anyone make me feel guilty or ashamed for what I did not get to choose.
However my genetics were assigned, I would not describe myself as either a “woman” or a “man”. ‘Cos, at least to me, these words do not really have any useful meaning. For example, the OED defines “woman” as “An adult human female“, and then defines “female” in a purely biological reproductive sense which is clearly inappropriate in the context of people. So while I am sure nearly everyone will claim to know what “woman” and “man” mean, they are likely only able to explain them based on example and expected (social) behaviour. Kinda disappointing, right?
I accept that aspects may be considered feminine and/or masculine, but these are adjectives not nouns. They describe only an aspect, not the whole. They describe, not prescribe. So while I am happy for people to use the more correct of “woman” or “man” (i.e. how I am, not how I was assigned) to describe me, I will not use it to describe myself. But that is just how I see it and how it works for me. For others, it is likely different.
Words to describe gender have sort of the same problem. I have a word that, out of all the gender words I know, I feel fits me best. But it is only really useful to me. To other people it may mean something different.
There is also this term “nonbinary” that has popularity and I do use it to describe myself when an approximation is sufficient and simplifies things. However nonbinary is not a gender but a category of genders. And it describes what a person is not, not what they are. So there is some work needed here to find a better set of words, or perhaps we should just stop trying to jam quite so much into single words just so they can be used as labels.
And there is this frequently nagging doubt: Do I describe myself as nonbinary because I am never going to pass as the binary gender I want to? If I was truly nonbinary, how could I not pass? Does worrying about passing as a binary gender contradict with being nonbinary? Am I scared that because I have not exhausted every possible option to “fix” my appearance, I might be (seen as) a fraud? Am I not “real” enough? If I had been born as I should have been, would I still describe myself as nonbinary? The impossibleness of this question does not stop me worrying about it.