Nobody but your lover or your doctor needs to know what you have between your legs. What you have between your legs doesn’t define you, doesn’t need to belong to public knowledge unless you make it so.
Choosing to reveal your current genital configuration is a deliberate choice. When you allow discussions of your genitals with anyone either than someone who is your doctor or is awfully close to being your lover, you are trying to keep yourself located firmly in the heterosexist view of gender.
“Yes, I have a penis under this dress, so I am really a. . . ” or “I do not have the privilege that I believe comes with a penis” or any other attempt to locate your essential identity with your current genital configuration is a political assertion that is out to locate you in sexist expectations and turn your back on transgender liberation.
Even when you discuss the process of modifying your genitals to anyone who isn’t also in the market to change theirs, you suggest that somehow, changing the shape of your crotch will change who you are. You place power in the penis or in the lack of it.
The political basis of trans is simple: who you are is defined by your heart and revealed by your choices, not located in the current shape your reproductive biology.
Sure, you have the right to shape your body in ways that are aesthetically pleasing to you, ways that help it function better for your choices in fashion and in intimacy, but you are not your body.
Reshaping your body may give you permission to make specific choices more easily, may change your relationship with your audience, which may change your view of the world, but it doesn’t change who you essentially are.
For anyone who has felt defined and constrained by their reproductive biology from birth, who has struggled with the assumptions and expectations placed on their body, who has felt the cruel sting of gendering that demands you act in ways that are culturally assigned to people with bodies like yours, this can be a hard leap.
You have been defined by your body, so doesn’t your body define you? No, you have been defined by the demands placed on people with your biology, not by the biology itself.
If your biology defined you, your trans heart wouldn’t have kept calling you to choices and desires that were seen as inappropriate for people with a body that went though puberty like yours did.
You are who you have always been, whatever the shape your pee-pee is. Now, though, you choose to act from some inner truth rather than the cultural assumptions written on your biology. You tell the truth about your nature rather than try to lie about your body.
Talking about current genital configuration as if it matters is a political act, an act that supports heterosexist demands, trying to curry favour with others who have been taught to believe that we are defined by our biology.
Your discussion of your genitals with other than a lover, a doctor, or someone else in the process of managing their bits is a blow against the politics of transgender liberation.
And your discussion of anyone elses genital configuration is totally beyond any decency or sense of respect and dignity. Their body is not yours to disclose, unless they have given you specific and detailed permission.
This is true no matter how much anyone else is curious about your body, no matter how much they want to gawk, or how much they feel entitled to pull your panties down and take a good look.
Giving them a free show, even verbally, reveals you as juvenile and graceless. Giving them a paid show reveals you as a sex worker, not that there is anything wrong with that.
If our genitals don’t define who we are, why should we want or need to reveal them in polite company? Isn’t just letting our choices reveal us a much stronger stand politically, one that offers dignity to every trans person, whatever stage their body is at?
I know that we live in a culture where bodies are often on display, where people shape and preen them to attract attention and other things. As transpeople, we feel the power and the pull of those fashions, of the gendered cues that come from skin and shapes.
Politically, though, isn’t our most fundamental tenet that we are not defined by our bodies, and we most certainly are not defined by the heterosexist cultural expectations that divides bodies into binaries by reproductive biology, layering crushing assumptions onto our crotch?
Disclosing or refusing to disclose your genital configuration is a political act. By that choice, you tell the world how important you believe genitals are in defining who someone is in the world.
I know where I stand on that question; on the side of trans liberation.
For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices. -- Audre Lorde