Genderqueer AND trans

June 18, 2014 § 5 Comments

That’s a labelling I’ve been seeing an awful lot lately: “trans and genderqueer” – “genderqueer and trans”. Not as a description of a person – but as a way of including two different groups.

I’ve been here before.

Certainly, some genderqueer people don’t feel themselves to be trans – this isn’t to suggest that that doesn’t hold true.

But, in that desire to simplify and dichotomize that we apparently can’t resist, it seems increasingly common to encounter the idea that genderqueer people cannot also be transgender, or transsexual, or have a trans history, or any other unique engagement with the trans umbrella. Not just online – more and more frequently I’m meeting people on the queer scene who suppose that my being genderqueer is the ‘limit’ on my transness.

As though there’s a slider, with ‘transsexual’ on one end and ‘genderqueer’ on the other, and the ‘more trans’ you are, the further along the spectrum you go.

As though the totality of our lives only gets one word.

As if that word itself cannot contain multitudes.

I see that the use of the phrase ‘trans and genderqueer’ often comes from a place of inclusion, of wanting not to offend and erase.

But this is a reminder – don’t, by including that ‘and’ forget that many of us are the ‘and’.


§ 5 Responses to Genderqueer AND trans

  • Honoria says:

    I call myself an androgyne (a term seldom contested by nay-sayers) a state of mind and body that one may – but need not necessarily – enter by an act of will, by what I shall call a transsexual process, taking hormones for example only, a radical act containing elements of finality. This style of androgyny is like Gottfried Benn’s ‘absolute poem’ – ‘, the poem without faith, the poem without hope, the poem addressed to no one, the poem made of words assembled in an interesting way” and is without clinical flavour. It is a modus vivendi, a contract with the self from which there may or may not be any way out. Androgyny – this androgyny – is the outcome of a quest for personal authenticity. It is the physical, emotional, and artistic expression of that authenticity, and so exists independent of categories and nosology. It can, of course, be denied, but it cannot be argued out of existence. It simply *is*.

  • Jamie Ray says:

    I see, amongst some young trans men, a substitution of transgender for transsexual, and a closing of the umbrella. Being embarrassed by transgender people who can’t or choose not to pass. A distancing that is similar to what happened in the lesbian and gay movement when they wanted the butches and queens to assimilate.

    No one who is secure in their transgender identity should question whether anyone else is trans enough or “really transgender”. It is not “what we look like” but “how we experience ourselves” that makes us transgender.

    • Honoria says:

      Perhaps our people are becoming more conservative, less secure around identity, less confident around variation, more inclined to tow the line, as the world around us drifts inexorably to the right.

      “The Times are Chang’d, and in them Chang’d are we:
      How? Man as Times grow worse, grows worse we see.”

  • Philippa Cowderoy says:

    I have deja vu – I used to have this argument with an ex which resolved when he transitioned and realised that yep, he was still genderqueer. Long time ago, now. Genderqueer was often constructed in explicit opposition to what was still mostly “transsexual” back then. We hadn’t quite lost the accursed notion of “primary transsexual” either, though.

    Round and round we go…

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