Discuss your relationship with the term transgender.
My relationship with the term transgender started as a new word that might include ‘me’. I prefer the term ‘trans*’ and see it as an umbrella term for the sex and/or gender diverse community, that I sometimes feel I belong to. At one point I wasn’t sure that I belong to the trans* community as in my mind I was genderqueer and not transgender. I feel that I am perhaps as much trans* as I was a dyke if that makes sense (which it probably doesn’t). For a while I felt that trans* meant that I had to want to change something specific for my body, that I needed to be on a journey that started with A and ended at B. I also felt that I couldn’t call myself transgender because of a long list of what a transgender person is seen as, and at times discriminated against by it’s own community when you’d don’t follow that particular path. I assumed that transgender meant going from one gender to another, wanting surgery, changing your name and sex on your birth certificate, feel disgusted at your own body, have an early awareness of “not feeling quite right in one’s skin” and be 100% sure of everything – all of the things I am not.
The term ‘transgender’ became more than just a word, it was also a way of being seen when genderqueer felt invisible. People understood trans* but they didn’t understand why I wanted to keep parts of myself a change others, or why I wasn’t 100% sure about my own transition when others couldn’t wait to start hormones or to change their name. Transgender, for me, meant change…
But what if the term ‘transgender’ could encompass my experience of being genderqueer and my own unique trans* journey? If transgender didn’t mean a, b, c and d that I think my relationship with it wouldn’t be one to try and fight against. I think we are getting there – for genderqueer to be included in the trans umbrella, but throughout my own journey and running training the queer in gender is still not fully understood. People seem to be ok with understanding FTM but when a trans* partner asked me about my transition they didn’t quite understand why I was still using my old name and not wanting chest surgery. Is it because people want clear defined boxes and categories – isn’t everything easier if you can simply put it into a tidy box? Yes it might be, no challenge needed and people can go along with their lives, but challenge is needed to show that we are all different and that difference includes a wide range of labels and individuals.