Sunday, 5 December 2010

On the instability of trans and cis

Sometimes I experience myself as trans. Mostly I don't.

But the far more common experience is that other people expect me to identify, or experience myself as trans, which I might not do at that particular point of time. I have experienced myself as more or less constantly trans, but that was before transition. These days, I experience myself more or less constantly as myself, and perhaps I might say I experience myself rather often as cis.My bodily configuration matches my hormones that matches whatever it is my brain seems to want that matches what other people expect of me wrt social roles that matches whatever it is that makes me feel comfortable in my skin. You could call that experience an experience of being cis.

Well, unless you insist on bringing the ciscentric notion of sex assigned at birth. Which I don't.

My experience and other people's expectations of what I am don't always match. The weird thing is, the expectations of people who don't know about my past do, in fact, match my lived experience very very often, almost constantly. The people who know me well - perhaps I should say the single person who knows me in the Biblical sense - her experience of me matches mine pretty much always, with no exceptions I can notice.

Trans and cis are not stable. This is not to say that trans and cis aren't useful political categories, but they take us only so far, and I'd rather not lock myself up in a cage with a cis-derived label on it. "Trans" was invented by cissexual people; it's not our word in the strict sense, and while "cis" levels the playing field somewhat, the pair still doesn't derive from us and our experiences. It's still ciscentric language, meant to other us and meant to remind us of our second-class status, of the assignment slapped on us at birth.

See also Iden-bugger-tity. [ETA link]

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