Transgender, or not?

I’ve been thinking a lot about who, and what, I am lately, trying to figure out how to explain my complex mix of identities, genders and sexual preferences to people who don’t live inside my head.  It’s hard enough to explain it to myself, honestly.  I’ve been practicing with Roxy for over a year now, finding and refining terms and descriptions, names and desires.  It’s time to start practicing with a wider audience.

I mentioned in a previous post that I watch my blog stats for referring links, and the other day, I found Transifesto on that list.  I hopped over there to see if Matt Kailey had referred to my blog or something like that.  He had added me to the blogroll and that made me smile.  He’s got a lot of tabs across the top of his page, linking to various pages of resources and other helpful information.  One that caught my eye, but that I hadn’t read before was Trans-lations.  This page has some terms related to gender variance.  Matt’s a writer and words are important to him, so he is very specific and careful about the words he uses and in laying out the reasons why.

I read through them and one surprised me.  In reading the definition for transgender, I realized it described me.  I don’t think of myself as trans anything, unless it’s in transgressing the gender binary.  These are excerpts from that definition that struck home with me:

  • Refers to a person whose gender identity and physical body (sex) are not in alignment or do not agree, either all or part of the time.
  • Refers to a person who transgresses the gender norms of Western culture’s binary gender system (two-gendered system), either all or part of the time and either intentionally or unintentionally.

This really caused me to sit back and think.  Like a lot of people, I’d been following the informal, popular definition of transgender as being analogous to transsexual, someone who has has taken steps to transition in order to bring their physical body in line with their gender.

By the academic definition, I am a transgender person.  However, I still won’t be using that term much.  I emailed Matt about this term vs. the term I use, genderqueer.  I told him that I was hesitant to use a term that was so widely misunderstood, that I didn’t want people to think I was in transition or planning to transition.  That’s important to me, it’s part of my identity:  I am of mixed gender and I plan to stay that way.  I use the term ‘genderqueer’ to indicate that transgression of gender norms, without confusing people about physical transitioning.

Of course, genderqueer is a fairly new term, so using it may also lead to confusion.  Matt doesn’t include a definition of genderqueer, though he told me during our email conversation that he likes the term.  I’ve poking around the internet, looking for some sort of gender terms list that includes genderqueer.

Wikipedia says, in part:

Genderqueer (GQ) and intergender are are catch-all terms for gender identities other than man and woman. People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as being both man and woman, as being neither man nor woman, or as falling completely outside the gender binary. They may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, one or the other, or neither.  Genderqueers may have any sexuality/sexual identity, any physical sex, and may or may not identify as trans.

The FTMGuide says, simply:

genderqueer: A person whose gender identity is neither male nor female, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders.

From The Lesbian Life:

A genderqueer person is someone who transgresses boundaries of gender identity. This term is growing in popularity because it is seen as more inclusive than transgender and transsexual.

Knowledge Crush offers this definition, which I really like:

A genderqueer person is part of a group of people who reject heteronormativity, the traditional two-gender system.

And we could go on and on, searching on ‘genderqueer definition’ brings up a lot of hits.

Genderqueer fits me pretty well.  It doesn’t cover all aspects of my complexity, but with respect to gender, it’s a term I don’t feel the need to qualify.  I still may need to define it for people who aren’t familiar with the term, but it doesn’t have multiple popular meanings in the way that ‘transgender’ does, meanings that don’t necessarily apply to me.

Genderqueer is just the beginning of how I describe myself, but it’s a good start.  In an upcoming post, I will explain more about how my male and female identities co-exist and interact within me, and with those around me.  This blog is credited to Kyle, the name of my male identity.  If we’re going to be more accurate, however, this blog is mainly the creation and ongoing product of Casey, my butch female side.   This post is a coming out of sorts, though folks who have been reading this blog and UncommonCuriosity for awhile have probably seen it coming.  Roxy has been mentioning Casey more and more, which is natural as she has a relationship with all of me and referring to me only as ‘Kyle’ isn’t accurate.  She’s published a post today talking about the two of me and how she’s come to know and love us both.  I have to give her a lot of credit for being supportive and understanding over the past year and a half as I’ve sometimes stumbled and fumbled in my attempts to articulate who and what I am.  And now everyone gets to come along for the ride.

For some of you, all of this may be a revelation, it may cause confusion or maybe you’ll just smile and say “yeah, I already knew” but no matter what your reaction is, I appreciate you sticking around.  Next Friday, I’ll publish “Who are you, What are you?” a post that will dig deeper into the two of me, exploring the origins of my gender identities and some more details about who and what I am, in the plural and singular sense.

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported license.

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15 Responses to Transgender, or not?

  1. Pingback: Poly « Uncommon Curiosity

  2. Roxy says:

    I’m really excited that you’re coming out, baby. It’s true – I fell in love with both of you, and it was getting harder and harder to try to squeeze that into just talking about one part of you. I’m really proud that you’re taking the risk of exposing yourself as you truly are because it’s a hard thing to do for any of us, and even more so when your truth falls outside of what many people are used to.

    I love that I’ll get a chance to celebrate everything you are, in all your complex beauty, and that, just maybe, if there’s someone else out there who feels like this but doesn’t know how to express it, they’ll find you and realize they’re not alone.

    I love you, Casey. I love you, Kyle. You’re the awesomest. 🙂

  3. I think it’s important to embrace all of the people in our heads. No one is just one person, the same to everyone in every situation. But it does get confusing sometimes, especially when they conflict. (My biggest conflicts lately have been between Slut Me and Responsible Me.)

    Good luck on your continuing adventure of being all of you! And I will still be following. 😀

  4. Femme Gender says:

    Good post K, really look forward to the next one! fimg X

  5. This difference between transgender and genderqueer and the varied meanings of transgender has been on my mind a lot as well, I really appreciate reading your view on things.

    Also, Casey makes a lot of sense. Happy Coming Out! Looking forward to the next post. =)

  6. Nadia says:

    I appreciate reading your take/thoughts on genderqueer versus transgendered. As a cis-woman it’s taken me a while to start understanding the trans or genderqueer experience. I’m still outside of it, but I try to better understand. I’ve started noticing in little ways how my feelings and behavior can seem a bit more feminine at times and masculine at others – even within the cis experience. I think it’s wonderful that people are starting to live as they are – not what society dictates them to be because of their genitals. And as always I hope this doesn’t some way offend – I know a cis person talking about trans is walking into a potential landmine of insult.

  7. I’m so glad to see you writing this. I’m glad to see people clarifying, exploring, and adapting their definitions and ideas about gender, because thinking outside the gender binary is really still a very new thing. I’m also glad to see that you’re going to openly begin to explore how all of this applies to you, and I look forward to reading where this journey takes you, and us, as your readers.

  8. ulla says:

    Ooooh you and roxy gotta read “nearly roadkill” you guys will love it.

  9. PDO says:

    Congratulations to you and your coming out. I appreciate your willingness to ask questions about yourself and society’s labels and keep the conversation open.

    In the interest of keeping the conversation open, and not commenting on your situation AT ALL because I don’t know you, I have a “queery” and I’m wondering what your take on this is:

    To what extent are we buying into society’s norms when we use terms like genderqueer and announce that we are rejecting the binary gender system? If we say we reject the label “lesbian” because we are more masculine than that label entails (as that label applies solely to womyn) are we not buying into the society norms of what it means to be a womyn or a lesbian? That is, why must me reject the binary gender system? Why can’t we just redefine what “normal” womyn and “normal” lesbians are/do/think? By rejecting the label all together, are we not essentially accepting what that label means? Why is it that a “normal” womyn or a “normal” lesbian cannot wear men’s clothes, pack, or hold a “traditionally” man’s job?

    Again, I’m not commenting on your situation in any way, but I start to think about this stuff because I’m contemplating that by breaking off into so many factions, we may be diluting the power that lesbians and womyn hold when they pull together to try and effectuate change for the group as a whole.

    Am I making any sense? I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I’ve been thinking about this for a while and your post opened a door to my contemplative purge today.

    I’ve written a whole post addressing the questions you bring up here.. check it out

  10. jolie says:

    This was a great post, and I have to thank you for the link to Transifesto, too. I’m going to be doing some reading there for sure.

    Also – I finally got you and Roxy updated on my blogroll. 😉 Congratulations on coming out as YOU, which is the important thing.

  11. Holden says:

    Great post Kyle. It’s always good to hear how other’s describe their gender and be able to learn more in the process.

    Look forward to the next post and congratulations on coming out.

  12. ulla says:

    i just dropped the same comment over @ roxy’s place – wondered if you guys had heard the term “pangender”?

    identity is such an exciting field.

  13. Johnny says:

    Great post man, really sweeps past all the BS and gets to the heart of things. Nice.

    I dunno, I guess I just don’t think of myself in terms of labels. I’m just…me, you know? Humanity is a multitude of perspectives and lifestyles; to try and narrow it down, for me, seems impossible.

    Ah well, to each their own. 😀

    I know that labels are problematic, they can be useful, but are also limiting. I’m a writer, always trying to come up with ways to express how I feel and the process I’m going through to become me. I use words, labels and categories to help me in that expression.

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