I’ve gotten some great feedback from people on my post discussing the idea of ‘transition’ — or something verby — to describe the process genderqueers go through to become themselves. I’ve seen transition for transsexuals described as a process to gain wholeness, to align their physical bodies more closely with their gender identities.
There’s a lot mixing and boiling and mashing together in my head about gender and identity lately, even more than usual, if you can believe that, but I want to focus just on terminology for this post. If this were a workshop and we could all sit around and talk about this, maybe with a whiteboard, we might start by putting some words and definitions up to get us thinking and discussing.
Transition: n, movement, passage, or change from one position, state,stage, subject, concept, etc., to another. v, to make a transition.
That’s what the dictionary says, anyway. Nothing there keeping us from adopting that word if we want. We have other resources to look to as well. Matt Kailey’s vocab list, Trans-lations, has a definition for ‘transition’ that’s a bit more on target:
Transition: refers to a process that includes changing or correcting the body or physical sex to match the gender identity through hormones and/or surgery, name change, legal paperwork changes, social adjustment, and other changes and adjustments necessary to live in the gender that matches the identity.
OK, that would still technically work for me and some of you, besides. So we could use the word transition and be correct. We’d also probably be misunderstood, since most of the people who have any awareness about transgender people and transitioning would assume you were moving from one gender position to another. So I propose we take a look at some other words, words that might further our ability to communicate clearly rather than cause us to spend a lot of time explaining what we don’t mean.
Integrate, Integration: v, to bring together or incorporate (parts) into a whole; to make up, combine, or complete to produce a whole or a larger unit, as parts do; to unite or combine. n, an act or instance of combining into an integral whole.
Transform, Transformation: v, to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose; to change in condition, nature, or character; convert. From Math: to change the form of (a figure, expression, etc.) without in general changing the value. n, the act or process of transforming.
Align, Alignment: v, to arrange in a straight line; adjust according to a line; to bring into a line or alignment; to bring into cooperation or agreement with a particular group, party, cause, etc. n, the proper adjustment of the components of an electronic circuit, machine, etc., for coordinated functioning; a state of agreement or cooperation among persons, groups,nations, etc., with a common cause or viewpoint.
I’m really leaning toward ‘integration’ at the moment. MN spoke up for this in comments and I think it might fit what Z was thinking better, too. We shall see, hopefully they will comment again. I also love the geekiness of integration, that appeals to me. The next term, ‘transform’ could also be useful, it has the ‘trans’ prefix that links it to transition, transgender, etc. It also speaks to changing form and appearance. I threw the mathematical definition in because I like the idea that we don’t change in value as we transform. ‘Align’ and ‘alignment’ have some promise, though I don’t think we’re going to get arranged in a straight line. The idea of bringing my various parts and identities into cooperation, of coordinating their function with a common cause is appealing.
In that funny way life has of bringing you things when you ask for them out loud, Maddux of Neutrois Nonsense left a comment on my last post and pointed out that they have created and is leading a Non-Binary Transition Workshop at some gender focused conferences this year (Maddux, is Gender Odyssey on that list?). Speaking of which, Gender Odyssey is coming in August and I’ll be going for the first time. I’m so looking forward to that.
OK, so what do you all think about these options? Do any speak to you? If so, why? Have you thought of other terms we can use to talk about non-binary moving-toward-wholeness? Looking forward to hearing from you.
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