Trans Masculine/Feminine: The Recreated Binary

I can only speak on the term trans masculine and how it erases CAF (coercively assigned female) trans people like myself. Thus, the majority of this piece will focus on those erasive and binary aspects of the general usage of the term trans masculine.

 

I do not feel safe in trans masculine/trans male spaces. Despite identifying in some ways as a trans guy (my identity is complicated), I know these spaces are not for me. I am not masculine. I am what I consider to be high femme. I prefer feminine clothing and dress. I embrace my feminine characteristics such as my speech patterns, movement, and hand gestures. I’d be considered camp and flamboyant by gay male standards of femininity. My personal style is more close to drag queens than it is to other trans men. I am not trans masculine.

Trans masculine spaces, in an attempt to be inclusive of people like me, have shut people like me and many others out. They tie the ideas that to be trans and have been CAF, one must also be masculine. These spaces are overwhelming dominated by masculinity, as the name implies, to the point that feminine people like me are pushed out. Our identities and ‘transness’ questioned not only by the terminology but by the members as a whole.

They continue the binary and cissexist notion that to be trans, if one is CAF, one must be masculine in some way. They tie maleness to masculinity, often in excess. Even the non-binary aspects, are tied to maleness as masculinity is tied to that idea in society. If we wish to escape the binaries of society, we need to unravel that connection. We need to remove masculinity from male, femininity from female. Another discussion for another time.

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22 Years: My Body

I have lived in this body of mine for 22 years. I know most of the ins and outs of it. I know what feels good, feels bad, makes me sick, makes me happy, or makes me sad. I know when I am getting sick and I know when something is wrong. I have lived in my body for 22 years now and in a short time, I will have lived in it for 23 years. In fact, I have had this body for even longer than that, but it was not really complete at that time, even now, my body is incomplete.

However, when someone asserts they know more about my body than I, they are asserting they have more intimate knowledge of the body I have spent 22 years residing in. When someone asserts that how I label my body is incorrect or wrong, they are saying they have more knowledge of my body than I do. In fact, many people base their arguments on my body based on what a doctor spent three seconds looking at when I was born, my genitals. These people are asserting that this doctor, who only knew me for those mere moments, knows me better than I do after 22 years in this body.

My body is my own. When people assert that they know more about my body and how to label it, they are removing this fact. When people argue that I am ‘female-bodied’ as opposed to male-bodied, they are stripping me of my bodily autonomy. They are removing me of my right to exist as I am and as I have learned who I am. When people assert their labels over my own, they are telling me that they have more intimate knowledge of the body I have spent 22 years in. Many of these people are people who have never met me. Many of these people have only interacted with me through words and text. These are people who have never even seen the body they are trying to describe, they just simply know I am trans*.

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My Body Is My Own

My body is my own. My body is no one else’s. My body is my own to do with as I please. What I do with my body, consensually, does not harm anyone else. My body is to do with as I please. I say this as a trans* person. I say this as someone who has to have doctors upon doctors tell me how I can use my body to make it more of my own. I say this as a person with body mods, which society dictates makes me a rebel and an outcast. I say this as someone who in the future wishes to cover HIS body with ink and art, which society tells me, makes me stupid.

My body is my own. I have every right to do with my body as I please. To say anything else is oppressive violence. Seems like a strong word, but it is truth. Dictating how a person uses their body and controls their body is the very way oppressors take away power. They dictate what people can and cannot do with their body. They take away their right to own themselves, since they cannot make up their own choices about their own flesh and blood. This is oppression, this is violence. They make laws against our bodies. They institutionalize their control over our bodies. They invade our very bodies as much as they can, forcefully and violently.

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Trans 101: Misconceptions

There are a ton of misconceptions, incorrect facts, half-truths, and a myriad of other problematic information about trans people floating around in the media, academics, word of mouth, and so on. In fact, these misconceptions are often perpetuated by mainstream media and academia. For example, Orange is the New Black which is touted to be extremely positive towards its portrayal of trans people with its trans woman character, Sophia, has its problems. Sophia has had bottom surgery and has been on hormones for a while, I will not spoil any of the plot, but the show ends up showing Sophia sprouting chin hairs and experiencing breast shrinkage due to issues accessing hormones in prison. Neither of these actually happen to trans women who have had some form of bottom surgery. However, the show incorrectly shows Sophia experiencing secondary sex characteristics that are typically male due to her lack of hormones. While minor, these types of misinformation plague the trans community and society at large, creating a lot of confusion and misconceptions about trans people, transition, and their lives.

I am going to dispel some of these misconceptions and misinformation throughout this piece. I have split it into three parts:  Identity/Sexuality, Surgery/Transition, and Choices/Binary/Enforcement. There will be things that fit into several or all the categories. I picked the best category I felt for each option.

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Double Standards

Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny, cissexism, femmephobia

There lies a double standard in feminism and society on a broad scale, not just radical feminists of the TERF variety, that holds trans* people to an entirely different set of qualifications than their cis counterparts. It’s interesting how feminism is about freedom of expression and freedom to simply be without policing. Yet at the same time, police exactly how one should be a feminist and a “real” person. Trans* people’s bodies are not seen as our own. In an age where we fight for bodily autonomy, trans* bodies are still at the mercy of others, whether it be doctors, therapists, other medical professionals, or fellow people. Trans* bodies are not allowed to exist as their own and hinge on the validation of others for their existence. We are not allowed to be in control of our own lives, bodies, and identities in the same way that cis people are.

These double standards exist is different degrees and different ways for trans* people. Trans women, trans men, and non-binary people are held to different standards, even among themselves. Feminists and those who proclaim to be all accepting (or even openly discriminatory) highlight these differences quite explicitly. For example, it is easy to see how many feminist spaces are dominated by more masculine or butch people. Even among trans* circles, genderqueer, genderfluid, trans men, masculine of center, or trans masculine people who are FAAB, dominate discourse and discussion (heck, even butch cis women). These people are often celebrated for forsaking the gender binary and transgressing it while at the same time, trans women, trans feminine people, and even feminine cis women are seen as promoting stereotypes and binary oppression. Femme people, across all gender categories, are seen as tools of the patriarchy who have succumb to media and social pressures and thus, have submitted to these forces.

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