a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
"Embrace the power of 'and'" 
18 February 2013 18:08 - "Embrace the power of 'and'"
This is a very long overdue post about gender and me.

Here are the things I'm pretty sure about:

* I'm part of the asterisk in "trans*". Transcendent, perhaps. Sometimes transmasculine. Certainly transgressive. But I'm not transgender; that term as it's currently used implies a whole bunch of things that aren't applicable to me.

* The best pronoun to use for me is "Rose", because it's always accurate. "They" is acceptable. "He" and "she" are both inaccurate in significant ways, and deprecated in this release. I'd rather be mistaken for male than for female, but that's mostly because the latter happens so much more often.

* My gender is inclusive, variable, situational, and complex. About the only things it never includes are being cisgender and being heterosexual. I am queer and genderqueer, and those things manifest differently from one situation to another.

* Broadly speaking, I don't identify as a woman or as a man. There are situations where I am... let's say "politically female", because as a FAAB1 person who's usually read as female, I get the short end of the patriarchy stick in many respects; but I'm also aware that by shifting away from being female-identified I am taking on some of the privilege of masculinity. (The simplest illustration of this is that I almost never get cat-called on the street anymore.) So when I say "we" to mean "people whose sex/gender is approximately like mine", I'm usually referring to trans* or genderqueer people.

1. FAAB = female-assigned at birth, i.e. possessed of a body that this culture thinks of as female.

* There are times when I feel and behave like a woman, a man, a sexless genderless androgyne, a dapper dude, a butch dyke, a gay boy, a drag king, or the belle of the ball. I really like employing and exploring aspects of binary sex and gender. Today I shaved my chin, went to the barber to have my head buzzed, and then stood at the ironing board in my jeans and white t-shirt, ironing a dress shirt to be worn under a vest. I did all these things as conscious performance of masculinity. But when my mother introduces me to people as her daughter, I don't correct her. In some ways this post has been waiting until I could work my way around to an understanding of my gender that includes the phrase "my mother's daughter". It is still tremendously important to me that I am part of my family's tradition of strong, smart, artistic, quirky, loving women. So that's what I mean by my gender being inclusive.

* My gender is also inclusive of my history as a female-identified, female-presenting person. I know some trans* folks have felt trans* since childhood. I... have no idea whether that's the case for me. Whether through nature or upbringing, I have always had a mix of what this culture thinks of as masculine and feminine traits, and that's all I know about that, really.

* I'm not planning to change my name, take hormones, or have surgery. None of that negates my sense that for the last few years I have been what might be called "in transition". And I still am. My gender is a work in progress.

* My identity shifts have not in any way undermined my romantic relationships. Josh and Xtina have been tremendously, tremendously supportive, going out of their way to appreciate me as I am, reassure me when I doubt my attractiveness, get used to uncommon pronoun usage, have thoughtful conversations with me about how their orientations intersect with my gender identity, and otherwise be awesome. There are no words for how grateful I am to them.

What this means for you:

* In print or in speech, please use "Rose" or "they" as pronouns for me, and refer to me in gender-neutral ways: as a person rather than a woman or man, as J and X's partner rather than their husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend, as someone you admire rather than as your hero or heroine, as neither "sir" nor "ma'am". I'm not going to death-glare you for slip-ups; I make them too. But please try.

* It is perfectly fine to describe me to anyone as genderqueer or (in print) trans*. Please don't refer to me as trans or transgender. That asterisk is important. Update, 2015-01-26: my approach to this language has changed, and I'm now entirely comfortable being referred to as genderqueer, nonbinary, trans, or trans*.

* If you want to compliment my appearance, it's best to default to a gender-neutral phrase like "Wow, that outfit looks great on you" or "I love how you've tied your tie". If I'm deep in the dapper mindset, it can be very jarring and uncomfortable for me to be called pretty, or vice versa, and I don't expect anyone to be able to tell from the outside where my head is in that regard.

* If you feel tempted to divide the world up into men and women, remember you know someone who's neither/both, and adjust your worldview accordingly.

You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is comment count unavailable.
19 February 2013 03:06
I gotta say, this post is probably not the right place for you to talk about how hard it is for you that people like to be referred to in certain ways.
19 February 2013 03:17

I honestly didn't mean that it was any sort of hardship for me. I was trying to acknowledge the constant learning process, and forgot when to shut up again.
2 March 2013 17:40
If it helps, it's no easier for those of us in the asterisk, either.

I was on a panel at last WisCon that involved talking about trans*-ness. The panel decided among ourselves that we didn't want to cover 101-level stuff, so we thought we'd make a handout, and refer people to it if they needed basic info.

OH MY BOB the levels of disagreement we discovered even among FOUR PANELISTS on the nature of what should be included and how it should be talked about! I was amazed. And awed. And a little scared. :-> Terminology that I feel a strong identification with was viewed by other panelists as blatantly insulting, and so on.
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