Towleroad and JoeMyGod are way too gay for me, but the contributors on Bilerico are all over the map, men and women and trans people of various identities and ideologies (but leaning heavily toward scholars and activists). Nancy Polikoff, my anti-marriage hero, is a regular contributor. I don't agree with every writer, but, because I find myself so often at odds with the "gay agenda," I like that Bilerico gives space to dissidents.
Recently, though, there was a profoundly stupid post, by a brand new contributor, which more or less berated people who identify themselves as trans, dismissed the very idea of transgender. (I would link to the post, but it's been removed.) Just why the post ended up there is -- despite reading three days of apologizing, explaining, defending, condemning, and then firing the guy -- somewhat of a mystery to me. It was just so ignorant and insulting, and on a blog that seems to take some pride in the fact that it includes trans voices and, for that reason, I would guess, has a substantial trans readership.
But it sparked a conversation, and that's good. Apparently, most of the Gs, Ls, and Bs still have a lot to learn about the Ts.
I especially appreciated this post -- a sort of "Trans 101" -- for its directness and simplicity, for giving us an armature to hang the conversation on, a place to start. My comment and the response I got from the person who wrote the post are below:
So I think I might start calling myself trans. It is more accurate than gay. I have had a life-long internal dialogue about my gender. I didn't know how to be a boy, couldn't walk like them, couldn't tip my chin to say hello. At home I would put on my mother's makeup and wrap towels around myself and tuck my penis between my legs. Even so, I never had the kinds of feelings many transexuals describe of knowing they were girls (or boys, for FTMs). It was acting, just as much as putting on jeans and carrying my books at my side was acting. I wouldn't have used these words at the time, but when I remember how I felt about myself when I was a kid, and even into early adulthood, I felt genderless. I never exactly felt like a girl, but I certainly didn't feel like a boy. My boyness was a tenuous and fragile puppet show.
This is great. I love the work you've done to begin creating a taxonomy.
But I wonder where old-fashioned homos fit in this. You have the category "gender variants" ("not heterosexual: this is you"), which would seem to include all homos, but you shy away from explicitly including them under that label. Am I misreading?
I would like to push your argument further and say that we are all trans. Even the homosexuals whose presentation conforms to their biological gender in every way except their erotic orientation.
It's queer orthodoxy to say that gender identity and erotic orientation are two discrete phenomena. I'm always trying to make the argument that that is not true. As I see it, homosexual orientation, in and of itself, is in some meaningful way the same thing as transexuality. They both transgress expectations of gender appropriate behavior. I.e., if you are male and attracted to other males, you are behaving in a way that is only appropriate to women.
I've struggled a lot in the last several years with what to call myself, because "gay" has come to signal a lifestyle I don't want to be a part of. "Queer" is simultaneously too raw and too academic. Even though the way I look is pretty straightforward gender-appropriate male, can I be trans? Is there anything problematic about me calling myself trans?
The real difference as I've gotten older is that I've realized, maybe, that it's always a puppet show, even for the straight boys, and I have come to feel more comfortable being male, to enjoy pulling the strings. There are things about me that are stereotypically male and there are also things that are as girly as it gets.
Nature, nurture, blah, blah, who knows -- why do we feel the need to scienceify everything in order to believe it's true? -- I very much like being both male and female, being something in between.