Some Like It Trans

By Cyberquill 06/03/2015Leave a Comment
Geraldine and Daphne Jenner

Geraldine and Daphne Jenner

Earlier this year, at a time when the nation’s attention was conveniently diverted by the various shenanigans of Brian Williams and Bill Cosby, a cabal of diabolical legislators in Florida, quietly and under the public radar, proposed “one of the most viciously sadistic, hypocritical bills the legislature has ever considered,” namely a law that would “forbid trans people from using the public bathroom that matches their true gender.” (You can read more about this iniquitous inequity here.)

No matter how deeply under your rock you may have been hiding for no matter how long, by now it has most likely been brought to your attention that there exists an intangible quality termed “true gender” that may or may not correspond to whichever biological sex you happened to have been born with.

(Actually, the Connecticut legislature has just approved a bill that would allow transgender people to amend the sex listed on their birth certificates even without proof of “gender reassignment surgery,” provided they have undergone some other “appropriate treatment” for “gender transition.” Somehow, any of these treatments would retroactively change your sex at birth so that, for all intents and purposes, you were already born the way those appropriate treatments for gender transition were designed to help you become later on. By this line of reasoning, of course, I should be eligible to run for president after all, for my having undergone and completed the process of naturalization as an adult would mean that I was indeed born a U.S. citizen. If this Connecticut bill is passed, I’ll have grounds to sue for being barred from entering the 2016 presidential race.)

In short, whether you are a man or a woman is nowadays determined less—in fact, not at all—by inherent physical characteristics commonly associated with one sex or the other, but it is merely a function of what you know yourself to be in spirit. (In fact, the only reason to undergo gender reassignment procedures in the first place is because you already know who you are, and therefore you are precisely that, treatment or no treatment.)

Obviously, in an enlightened society like ours, a society that prides itself of retiring old-fashioned stereotypes, it would be grossly retrogressive to demand that women act and dress like women (whatever exactly that may entail), and that men act and dress like men (whatever exactly that may entail), or else to strip them of said gender designation. Externalities are not what “true gender” is about. True gender is about that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that transcends physical manifestation, although the two may coincide.

The old adage that “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck” may still apply to our feathered friends, but to suggest that “if she talks like a woman and hoards shoes like a woman, she’s a woman” smacks of, well, stereotyping, and that’s a big no-no in this day and age. In an enlightened society it is neither sufficient nor necessary to conform to anyone’s expectations when it comes to who we really are.

Accordingly, of late we are inundated with pictorials displaying women made up as men and men made up as women, all designed to “shatter our preconceived notions of gender” or some such aspirational ideal.

Fine. Let’s emancipate ourselves of those preconceived notions.

And now, since our evolved state of enlightenment precludes us from expecting that men and women hew to their traditional roles in conduct and attire—must you watch ballgames, guzzle brew by the six-pack, and worship motorcycles in order to qualify as a man? how often must you don mascara and how many purses, if any, must you own in order to qualify as a woman?—based on what exactly might we legitimately question anyone’s stated gender identity, be it in conformity or at odds with that person’s biological sex? Recall that along with our preconceived notions of gender, there goes the argument that unless you dress the part, you’re an imposter.

The politically correct and enlightened answer, of course, is to never question anyone’s stated gender identity—we haven’t walked in that person’s shoes, so who are we to judge?

It follows that anyone, no matter how biologically male, ought to be allowed to use the ladies room if she insists on being female in spirit, and vice versa.

To this you may respond that I’m making a mockery of the issue, for it surely takes a heck of a lot more than merely claiming to be a particular gender in order for one’s claim to have validity.

But more what? Medical treatment? What if someone cannot afford medical treatment? Is an indigent woman trapped in a male body somehow less of a woman unless or until treated by a physician? Doesn’t such a requirement contradict the concept of “true gender” that manifests in spirit not body?

Or more conforming to external stereotypes, such as gait, dress, or demeanor? Doesn’t it seem oddly prejudicial and celebratory of unreconstructed pigeonholing if our willingness to buy into a given tale of gender transformation rises in proportion to the number of preconceived stereotypes that person fulfills that are widely associated with the gender s/he desires to project?

What if you encountered a tomboyish lesbian happily trapped in a male body? Would you not believe me and, God forbid, force me to use the men’s room? If so, shame on you!

Because in what ways, other than physical, am I not a woman in your who-never-walked-in-my-shoes estimation? And why does one have to suffer from and seek treatment for a disease (“gender identity disorder” or “gender dysmorphia”) in order to be deemed credible in one’s assertion that one’s true gender doesn’t match one’s body? Who says that such incongruity must necessarily cause pain for the patient? Some people like mismatching furniture. I certainly do, depending on the nature of the mismatch (some mismatches match and some don’t; an I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it kind of situation).

Plus I hate beer, I couldn’t tell you more than three sports teams off the top of my head, I’m a lousy driver, I couldn’t change a tire to save my life, and I recently binge-watched all 78 episodes of Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva, and every single one of them made me cry (yes, actual tears running down my cheeks), on average during several scenes per episode—how manly is that? (My only quibble with the show was the ending. When Grayson died, he should have returned as a woman. It would have added a nice gender-transformational touch if Jane/Deb had fallen in love with a female Grayson instead of with the dude on death row.)

Granted, I don’t dress like a woman, and I’m quite comfortable in my male body. But in terms of soul and spirit—and that, we are told, is where “true gender” is happening—I’ve always felt way more female than male. An ex-girlfriend once pointed out with puzzled bemusement that women had a curious tendency to share with me details about their menstrual cycles. That’s because, generally speaking, girl talk comes more naturally to me than guy talk. No guy ever discusses football or motorbikes with me, because after five seconds he’ll realize he’s talking to a card-carrying dunce in those areas.

So why, pray tell, should I have to use male locker rooms? My more-female-than-male spirit clearly doesn’t belong there. I cannot stand high-testosterone environments. Stag only? No thanks. I’d rather skip the sauna than spend time in a hot room with a bunch of sweaty naked men. Ugh. And because I cannot fathom why so many guys do not seem bothered by such environs, I figure I’m not a “true” guy. Ergo, I must be a “true” something else, and there’s only one other option.

Yet it seems that—even in the eyes of those who advocate that access to bathrooms, locker rooms, etc., ought to be granted on the basis of “true gender” rather than biological sex—I shall remain relegated to using male facilities primarily because I fail to exhibit enough stereotypically female external characteristics à la Caitlyn Jenner on the latest cover of Vanity Fair in order for me to be taken seriously when I say that my soul is at least 70% female and that, therefore, I feel I shouldn’t be forced to use restrooms that match the lesser part of my soul.

Notwithstanding the dilemma of attempting to phase out superficial gender stereotypes while at the same time applauding their existence by cheering trans-lebrities like the aforementioned Mr or Ms Jenner for going full monty on them (hair, makeup, couture—the whole shebang), when it comes to the thesis that soul/spirit transcends innate physical attributes, I see no reason why the right to self-identify—and the concomitant right to be accepted, socially and legally, as that which one self-identifies as—shouldn’t transcend gender itself and apply to other fields that reflect personal identity as well.

Rapper Chet Haze, the son of actor Tom Hanks, recently got into hot water over his habit of using the n-word, generally considered the proprietary prerogative of African-Americans for referring to one another without derogatory connotations. Mr Haze has defended his language by declaring that “hip-hop isn’t about race; it’s about the culture you identify with.” So because Mr Haze, in spite of his Caucasian features, self-identifies as African-American, he feels he has a right to say or write that word as often as he pleases.

Unless we doubt Mr Haze’s sincerity, and if we are perfectly down with referring to Bruce Jenner as “Caitlyn” and “she” from now on, whence our hangups about accepting the Hanks spawn’s trans-ness in the ethnicity department and giving him a heartfelt pass on saying “nigga”?

Director Cameron Crowe caught some major flak for casting Emma Stone as an Asian lady in his movie Aloha. Why didn’t he pick an Asian actress to play an Asian character, as would have been the ethnically and culturally sensitive thing to do?

Depends on how you define “Asian.”

I don’t know much about Emma Stone. I have no idea what ethnicity she self-identifies as. I’m guessing she views herself as Caucasian in accordance with her physical appearance, in which case the outrage over her being cast as an Asian woman seems justified on some level (at least provided we, once and for all, bury the concept of “colorblind casting” as an outdated affront to racial sensitivities—yet why do I have a hunch that the very folks that whinged the loudest about casting a non-Asian as an Asian are the ones that would most enthusiastically welcome a Middle Eastern Hamlet or a black James Bond?).

But what if Cameron Crowe had given the part to an actress that was biologically Caucasian but Asian in spirit, i.e., a “true” Asian, as it were? Why would such an actress be any less Asian than a biological Asian? If she were, then by the same logic Caitlyn (formerly known as Bruce) Jenner would be less of a woman than is, say, Emma Stone, a woman in biology as well as in spirit.

When I was a kid, like most urchins raised in German-speaking countries before the advent of satellite TV and the Internet fragmented the collective focus and greatly diversified the pool of available heroes, I worshiped Winnetou, chief of the Apaches, a fictional character created by the German adventure novelist Karl May and boosted in popularity by a series of German-made Western movies shot in Croatia in the 1960s.

I wanted to be Winnetou, to which end I owned a couple of Native American outfits, a wig, a tepee with bamboo poles my parents made for me, a wooden hobby horse, a tomahawk (with a rubber blade), bow & arrows, several toy rifles (Apaches did have firearms), and sundry other Indian accouterments that I would frequently don or play with.

By the time I graduated high school, though, I had sort of grown out of the trans-Apache thing and reluctantly accepted myself as but a lowly, run-of-the-mill paleface in keeping with my innate exterior.

But for the sake of argument, imagine that I had not grown out of it; that, on the contrary, my Native American identity had solidified with age—should I then fully qualify under the law as a Native American and be entitled to whatever benefits and entitlements may come with such heritage, such as preferred college or university admission so as to slip in under some “diversity on campus” provision or the like?

If I genuinely felt like an Apache (the Indian, although the principle would hold for the helicopter or the server software just the same) and, in order to satisfy potential doubters, wore my Apache spirit on my sleeve by rocking Apache garb and riding about on a New Mexican thoroughbred without a saddle, in whose place would it be to tell me I’m not an Apache? Wouldn’t it be transethnophobic to the max to question my true identity just because I was born in Austria to Caucasian parents and my facial features don’t exactly scream Native American? (Neither do Pierre Brice’s, incidentally, yet this blue-eyed Frenchman rose to become the world’s most famous Apache besides Geronimo—talk about a colorblind casting outrage!)

As I have indicated before, I solemnly swear that I am not an Apache. Not because I wasn’t born as one (that would only matter to transethnophobes), nor because I don’t dress like one (that would only matter to stereotypephiles), but because, frankly, I haven’t really felt much like an Apache ever since my early teens.

More than half of me, though, does feel like a woman—to wit, a lesbian that forgoes high heels and likes to rock pants—rather than a man.

The spiritual half, and that’s the dispositive one.

So tell me again—why can’t I shower with the girls?

Related Post: Why Can’t I Shower with the Girls?

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