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Rethinking The Term "Transgender"

Rethinking The Term "Transgender"

This is exceedingly personal. While I'm writing about gender identity, I'm presenting my own perspective on my own experience,which in no way should this be taken for a political statement or manifesto. 

I've been thinking about the word "transgender" quite alot lately. Although I wouldn't dream of denying my own history, I'm no longer certain that I can identify with the term, and here's why: the American Heritage Dictionary defines the term "gender" as "sexual identity," not biological sex. The selfsame dictionary defines the prefix "trans" as "across; on the other side; beyond."

In that light, let's examine the word "transgender."

Across gender: this would mean encompassing more than one gender.

On the other side of gender: this suggests that there was some initial place from which an original gender identity was formulated prior to being changed; while I'm certain this is applicable to many who identify as "transgender"—and for the sake of argument, I'll include myself, it doesn't match my own experience in that, I always knew I was female regardless of what the doctor stamped on my birth certificate. This brings us to....

Beyond gender: while I've known many who legitimately identify as "genderqueer," or outside the male/female dichotomy, I do not. I identify as female and I always have, regardless of my presentation at any given time.

So you see, it's a conundrum: if when asked about my identity (this kind of thing comes up in conversation more often than I'm comfortable with) I simply say "I'm a woman," it will be read one of two possible ways: either more or less at face value (I'm extremely thankful for "passing privilege"!), or that I'm challenging the socially accepted definition of the word "woman" itself. For my part, both apply. While I was not born with ovaries, I was born with an XXY chromosome and a female gender identity, and while I have had to utilize medical and cosmetic intervention for the purpose of aligning my external gender presentation with my internal identity, I'm not alone; there are millions of women the world over who for one reason or another suffer from hirsuteness (typically male pattern body and facial hair growth), have no ovaries, etc. Would any concientious person tell them that they aren't women?
Perhaps I need to come up with a new term, one that more accurately fits my identity. Maybe, the next time some probing questioner asks me what I am (and I feel safe to answer truthfully), I'll reply, "I'm a woman who's gender was initially misunderstood", or, maybe that's too long winded and will lead to too many other probing questions.

Maybe instead, I should simply say "I'm a woman," and leave it at that.


Check out Evie's blog HERE.