Say It Loud!
I’m Transgendered and I’m, uhhh, confused!
(Apologies to James Brown)
We are those lost between the boxes, struggling with a balance that for most people is very well defined. When we fill out a form we look at the 2 boxes under gender– male & female– and have trouble choosing just one.
We know our physical sex. We know our socialization, what sex role we were trained to play. We know our sexual preferences. We know what society expects of us. We know that it is not right.
Sex is a pretty binary thing. With the exception of a few true hermaphrodites, sex is fixed. But somehow we know that gender is not fixed, is not some simple on/off issue. We are men and we are women, at the same time.
This is not an easy concept to grasp for one who’s gender and sex roles seem to fit well. This aspect of life is pretty simple. But for one who’s mind hums with the internal dissonance of transgenderism, it’s not so simple.
Everbody has some understanding of the limits of their gender role. Few have an understanding of the powerful internal pressure created when you know your gender role is somehow wrong.
If the internal pressure is powerful enough, you can change your sex to match your internal gender. If the pressure is there, but not very strong, you may be satisfied with occaisonal forays into crossdressing.
If the pressure is there, but is balanced with other pressures, like the love of your family, a certain comfort in being a male, a joy in carreer, or a range of other issues, then you are caught between a rock and a hard place. You find yourself split, trying to find a balance between male and female in a world that doesn’t have a clear definition of such a role.
We work to find such a balance, each in our own way. Some resist the traditional duality of crossdressing by refusing to take a femme name, trying to find a balanced personae. Some live full time as a woman, but stop when they realize that does not express all of them. Some live full time, but resist having SRS. Others have regular routines of living as a woman, but spend most of their time as male. Because there is no accepted norm for transgendered people, we all must find our own way.
There are enormous pressures, both inside and outside the gender community to have us find a role that conforms more with the norms in our society. We may be told that we are just refusing to surrender to our femininity, or that we should start acting like a man. Even inside the gender community, many are uncomfortable with “gender freaks,” those who stand between the traditional gender roles.
But still we resist. Most try to find a way of behaving that is gender neutral, finding the balance between male hierarcical power and female connection power. This is not often simple, as tools that work well in one gender often appear inappropriate when done by the other. One of us, living full time, has said that she act as a woman, and is stunned when it works for her.
We try to find ways to express ourselves, but get caught in the male female duality that we were trained to believe. One old saw goes “In the war between the sexes, men see crossdressers as traitors, and women see crossdressers as spies. In either case, they want to kill them.” While this may not be accurate, as many transgenderists have found acceptance, it is what we were taught, and it scares us.
One TS has related three questions to be answered before you decide if you are TS
–Would you continue to pursue this if you were blind?
–Are you willing to give up all sexuality if necessary?
–Are you willing to give up your lifestyle and connections?
While many of us would have no problem with the first two questions, we have trouble with the third. We understand that to be connected is to be alive, and breaking the connections, the history we have now. We are leaders, we are fathers, we are connected
We know what it means be raised as a male, and that lets us help boys. We don’t know what it means to be raised a girl, and that creates barriers between us and women. We understand the rights and obligations of “members of the patriarchy,” and while we may disagree, this creates barriers between us and those who have never been members of the patriarchy, namely women. We see life from both sides, and have trouble agreeing with politcally correct statements of opression, as we know the influences of both sides.
Is it a blessing or a curse to be given the gift of seeing both sides? While it makes one a richer person, it also means that you can never be quite so sure about your choices, your decisions.
Many of us put deliberate blocks in the way of our being completely accepted as women. A male attitude, a few extra pounds, a too glossy look are all things that could be eliminated if we had the desire to become women. As transgenderists however, they provide a statement of our transgendered status.
Society sees gender roles as directly related to sexual preference. Men worry about being “caught” by a “false woman,” and women often feel men who express their feminity are out to “catch” men. To transgenderists, the words heterosexual and homosexual lose their meaning, being replaced with the simple understanding of a preference for men or women.
We try to find ways that let us be somewhere between the fixed, formal gender roles. Some of us, living full time as women, know that women have a great deal more flexibility in “gender appropriate” behavior. A woman in jeans and a t-shirt is more accepted than a man in a gown, for example. This does have it’s roots in the power of the patriarchy, and since women were out of the formal power structure they had less to lose, but it is still true as women take more formal power in our society.
We are transgenderists. We understand society’s confusion about how to treat us, as we are confused about how to live our life. We know that “gender benders” appaer to be a threat to all that is good and simple and black and white in society. We see the pictures Pat Roberston and Jerry Falwell show when they mention homosexuality, not nice normal gay guys, but drag queens in scary sexual poses.
We are transgenderists. We live in a “no-person’s land” undertanding that gender roles are not fixed and firm, but rather a spread of options. We are as confused as anyone else about the terrain of this land.
But we are driven to explore it, to find the balance we need in our lives, in our souls.