Nothing in our lives is defined. We try to assign definitions, but the truth is that everyone views things differently. Being transgender, most of us, start out calling ourselves one thing only to change it over time trying to define ourselves, not for us, but for others. I have seen time and time again where we fumble trying to explain to others who we are. I am a woman. But before that, I called myself many things. As a child, I was “gay” because I knew I was not like others and the only reference I had was the gay male stereotype, the effeminate man. Even a centerfold in playboy who was a “boy” didn’t give me adequate knowledge of the label to use. As a young adult, I was a transvestite, because it was the only label I had, no internet to find my labels, just the people around me to misinform me. And more recently, as an older adult, I am finding that the labels we use to define ourselves also separates us.
I understand the need to define, I understand that labels are part of the human experience. And I will be trading one label for another label. However, it’s a label that is more general and encompassing, rather than one that helps to create division. It’s going to piss people off, one side, the other side, TERFs and so forth. I can’t help how others feel. I can only control how I feel. I am a woman. I’m not cis, I happen to be transgender, but those labels are subsets of women, like women and men are subsets of humanity. (See? Told you it would piss off TERFs) We all, trans and cis, exist within the label of womanhood and I don’t feel the need to define the minutia of my existence, even if others do.
I’m not shunning my transgender label, it is a part of me, but it’s not all that I am and to say I am a “Transgender woman” is a disservice to who I am. I don’t wake up knowing I am transgender, I wake up knowing I am a woman. I’m not intentionally trying to even piss off TERFs. I get what they are saying, I don’t agree, but I understand that they are not happy with including others outside their definition of womanhood into the fold. I don’t like TERF attitudes, because it’s trivial and transgender women only reinforce their equality, rather from detract from it. Imagine how pissed men are at us, pretending to be them at birth, pretending in our youth out of ignorance or to survive in a world that would love to kill us without restriction. The labels we give ourselves are of our choosing, assigning labels to others is a play for power. So, if you label yourself as a transgender woman (or man), I fully support you. It simply isn’t how I choose to label myself. I’m not passing, my voice is horribly male, and no woman looks at me and says, “she is cis”. I’m not avoiding that I am transgender, there is no avoiding it, I live in it.
When I come out to work, likely this week, I won’t be just telling them I am a woman. I can’t leave it at that, they want finer definition, despite others not having to define who they are to the Nth degree. Others don’t have to specify who they are to their employers, “gay male” or “lesbian female”, seems demeaning right? Having to separate yourself from other males and females is marginalizing. Same here, having to drill down to transgender woman seems unneeded, but it’s where we are at now. I will have to sit there and tell them I am a transgender woman, I will be referred to as “that transgender” and marginalized for having that label. Not only that, I will end up having to explain to them what “transgender” is and how I was never a man. I end up showing them photos of me as me, but for them it will be “me dressed as a woman”. They will never understand, but I will fumble trying to get them to understand, marginalizing myself the entire way. This is where we are now.
So, I am a woman. I happen to also be transgender, I also like computers, D&D gaming, goats, dogs and cats. I love to oil paint and I enjoy classical music as well as classic rock. I am a lot of things, a mother and wife, I am a confidant and best friend. I agonize on how to label myself for others, what label do I put on my Twitter feed, my Facebook account, to those I speak to. But, these are my feeds, accounts and my spoken words, so I am deciding on how I label myself for others, take it or leave it. I am a woman.