you bring up an interesting point. it’s true that many trans people feel as though they were born in the wrong body, or that they knew they were really a boy or girl. but there are many others including myself who dont really identify with that phrasing. I think it has a lot to do with how I was raised, never really experiencing the pressure of gender roles in my early youth. I didn’t start to feel that unhappy until puberty, and I couldn’t have told you what that meant back then, in fact it took me a good decade to figure out what that meant.
also, there are many who view the trans and gay movements more as a fight for general gender and sexual expression. we embrace the gray, do not believe in binary gender, and acknowledge that trans culture has existed for an extremely long time and in all kinds of societies across the world. so there can be no set definitions really, but if you find strength in identifying with a certain group, there’s no lack of choices. there are men who see themselves as men but dress as women, there are people who believe they have two spirits of different genders, there are butches who like to be called he but take pride in being women. and so it can be a very long process to understand and define yourself. many people end up custom designing their own phrase for ‘what they are.’ but I think the best way to deal with that is to live like it’s your last day and not be afraid to believe in what your feeling. possibilty is nothing to be afraid of.
god, nearly every time i read your blog i’m impressed with the depth of your understanding of these issues and your compassion and understanding for the people involved. plus, you have really good taste: of montreal and hedwig and the angry inch are both on my “awesome things” list. (not to mention harry potter. of course harry potter.)
i had a boyfriend once, a pretty straight guy, and we were having this conversation about identity. racially, he’s kind of in between: from two very americanized hispanic families, one mexican, one puerto rican. he speaks no spanish, looks “white” (however you define that), and has (as far as i know) never been to puerto rico at least, but he identifies strongly as latino. we were also talking about geekhood: i am a geek and proud of it, and though others have tagged me with this negatively, i embrace the label as my own. he, however, has many geeky attributes (reads comics, loves kevin smith movies, etc) but doesn’t really think of himself as a geek. and i, being feminist, bisexual, and somewhat gender-uncertain (and basically just fascinated with lgbt/queer issues in general) challenged him with some questions about his own gender. cause beyond the ambivalence of his race and his geekiness, he struck me as somewhat contradictory gender-wise, yet not aware of it. on the one hand, his friends in high school were mainly girls, and he’s very sensitive (loves silly romantic comedies and listens well to your troubles), and he avoids conflict and tries to mediate things, like a lot of girls instinctively do (because they’ve been raised to be “nice”…leading to all sorts of passive aggressivenes…but i won’t get into that). but then again, he makes fart jokes with the best of them, and is pretty butch in appearance, and does the chivalry thing to a fault. there were many components of his personality that seemed typical of both genders, and in much more equivalent proportions than i usually see. so, i asked him about it as we were talking about the rest of this identity stuff. and he said that he pretty much had decided in high school that he was a culture of one, a race of one, that he’d created this identity…and that included his gender. i loved that idea, that you could create your own race, gender, etc. all these things that our culture puts pressure on us for, and it just sort of rolled off him. he wasn’t really all that interested in lgbt issues because it had never really mattered to him what other people saw him as, and he was, after all, biologically male and interested in girls, so no problem there. but creating your own gender…i think that’s a pretty enlightened idea. not everyone has to be male, female, or strictly transgendered. nobody creates brick walls except yourself, in the end. society just makes you think they’re really there.
on a related note, there’s this novel i’m reading about a kid who goes back and forth between genders. the author does a very good job of writing the main character as a boy at the beginning, then as he (the character, at this point, still mostly uses male pronouns for himself, so i shall as well—mostly) starts getting more into his identity as “valerie” he seems more and more like a girl (which is sort of indefinable and definitely fluid) at least when he’s using that identity. and for a long time, he doesn’t want to be forced to choose one identity over the other, because they both are valuable to him. they both have advantages: as tuck, he is comfortable with his geeky tendencies, doesn’t get glanced at twice in a computer store, and can hang out with “the boys” as one of them; while as valerie, she has fun babysitting, goes on dates with her boyfriend, and is accepted as “one of the girls” among his female friends. the novel downplays political correctness and concentrates on how this individual navigates gender in his own life, but the author’s pretty good about putting in some nice epiphanies about the nature of gender and sexuality, and how much or how little they factor into one’s personality, one’s value as a person, how one is treated, and the decisions one has to make in life. it’s a good novel, so far, and available online (actually i don’t know if it’s even in print); the writing’s not particularly elegant, but the characters feel real, and their ups and downs are compelling. it’s called (somewhat jokingly i think) “the saga of tuck.”
very blog entry, once again. keep it up; i’m all ears. (or is it eyes?)