It’s pretty frequent that I can’t sleep. Something I’ve dealt with for decades, and I’m only decades old. My usual habit is reading for a bit, even though staring at something like my phone’s screen hinders me falling asleep. Bah.
Last night I decided I’d read a bit on gender identity, maybe find a blog I like—maybe that’s how you found yourself here at some point. If that’s the case, I hope you’re able to get some sleep.
After what I read, sleep became more difficult.
It wasn’t the gentle cooing of conservative bloggers calling trans folk perverts and deviants. I can read that every day in the comments section on Yahoo! Sports. I’m used to that, and being non-binary, I’m a kind of nuance I don’t expect them to get. That’s fine. I can live with that. It’s why I don’t completely express as feminine in public.
It was more the invective from certain feminine quarters that disturbed me.
I consider myself a feminist—the notion that women are equal is not a radical concept. I also know we have a long way to go before women are treated equally, with the length of that path meaning there should be more popular social urgency for the task. There’s nothing controversial in stating that.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the strength of pushback against gender identity in the sense of it being a personal sense. It was more described, in what I read, as being appropriation by men in that sense. And that feminists have been fighting against prescribed gender roles for ages (very true), so the notion that you are something beyond a societal construct and biology and have this third path of an identity is moot (I disagree).
I read yesterday a bit about a kerfuffle along these lines on Forethought Blogs from last summer. I missed that part of the party, but it seemed to be a case of trans versus feminism in a radically condensed summary, something that I had never much thought of as an issue.
I think we all should be fighting for equal rights for women. Period. That should be a given. We should not have disparities in pay or in position. But we do, which means we have work to do. But I also believe we should have an alliance in this sense, exploring the borders of gender identity in society at the same time. Yes, there’s fashion and appearance, but there’s also division of work. Think of how hard we have to fight just to convince young women that STEM careers are, indeed, for them and for anyone. The message that something isn’t for boys or for girls exclusively is inherently one of gender identity. We’re all trying to break free of stereotypes and assumptions, and I think we all get to where we want to be within that frame.
But I also don’t know. Again, as someone who can adopt the position of privilege by expressing as male, I can’t speak for anyone else in this fight. All I can describe is what I see and how I feel. And how I feel is this: I’ve always been different from the ways other boys behave and express. Most of my friends are usually women. And I like some of the elements of fashion and makeup that help me to express as this kind of in-between human. Is that merely taking societal assumptions and then remixing them? Maybe. I don’t know. But it also feels like an inherent part of me.
Whatever this creature that is me actually is.
One last one: I read an article that was rather sharp in noting that you can’t be a lesbian if you have a penis. I get that. I’ve described my identity to more than one person, though, as imagining a lesbian in a man’s body. Every woman I’ve dated/hooked up with has been bisexual. Not by design—it’s just wound up that way. It’s where my attractions tend to go. And my biology is what it is, but so is how I feel, how I view myself. I’m not appropriating the term lesbian: I know that in our society it means a woman who goes for other women. I’m not appropriating the term woman, either, as I know I’m not, either in my sex or in my gender identity. I’m biologically male, I plan to stay that way. But my identity? That’s kind of another issue, a hazy place.
And honestly, all of this is hazy. I’m concerned for anyone making definitive statements about these issues, drawing lines in sand and othering anyone. It is a place of confusion and of discomfort. To borrow a line from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, we should get comfortable with our discomfort. No one’s hurting anyone else here. We’re exploring. And throughout our history, we’ve found amazing things when we’ve done that, whether it’s looking through an eyepiece or breaking free from Earth’s gravity. Let’s just see what we find here without breaking off into tribes.