Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Taking an exception to separating sexes and genders and whatnot

I've become less and less satisfied with the way trans sexes and genders are talked about even in "progressive" circles: my main point of objection being the separation of a person's sex and gender into several unconnected, or very loosely connected, entities. Biological this. Chromosomal that. Psychological whatever. And it doesn't happen to non-trans people: it's trans people who are singled out for this treatment.

For the record, I have one sex and one gender and they are one and the same: I'm a woman. There's no meaningful way to "multigender", or "multisex" me: the concept of me having more than one sex or gender doesn't make any sense to me.

Nor have I ever messed about with my gender, or my sex. They are what they are. I've messed about with my body, but my sex? No way, no how.

My perception has changed, however, and so has other people's: what has changed is the way people, myself included, think about my sex. Somewhat. My thinking has changed a great deal, other people's, much less: and this is where the divvying up of sexes and genders comes into play.

There's of course the "classical" sex-change speak: it's so silly it doesn't need further comment.

The one that needs some commenting is the newer form of "i-want-to-cling-to-my-cissexual-privilege" that talks about biological sexes and chosen genders and all that. Now I'm not against the concept of being able to choose your gender. But I also think that the reality of most, if not all, transsexual people is that we cannot choose our gender, or sex. We are what we are, and it's not our sexes or genders that have to change, but the thinking of other people, and we might want to do a thing or two to our bodies, too. Precisely because we cannot change our sexes. We really need to make ourselves intelligible to other people. We really need to make our bodies match our sexes and genders. To coin a phrase, it's not a man in a dress, it really is a woman with a penis.

Why is this multi-sex talk needed? Why are the acronyms MTF and FTM so very much in use even today?

It's about cissexual privilege, I'm afraid. It's about clinging to the concept of birth-assigned genders trumping anything else, even reality. It's about desperately calling a woman a man against all evidence to the contrary - it's about holding up the cissexual power structure where people who dare raise their voices against cissexual oppression are branded as untermensch.

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