[TW: Slurs, some censored so I could write this out]
One of the common criticisms the trans community makes of cis feminism is in regards to the myth of the “universal female experience”. I personally am realizing that I have unknowingly subscribed to a myth of a universal trans female experience. This myth is based on my own, genuine experience: I knew I was female since the beginning. I disown most established trans language in favor of terms like CAMAB and CAFAB. I don’t believe in pure sexual dyadism or terms like “male-bodied”.
While these parameters genuinely fit most trans women I know personally, they don’t apply to everyone. Applying them to everyone else isn’t helping me interact with the greater trans community. It’s causing unnecessary arguments and unproductive battles of trigger versus trigger. It is still important to debunk the myths surrounding the binary essentialism of “male” and “female”. It’s important to deconstruct cis language and find our own. It’s important to empower ourselves. But it’s also important to recognize the trans community has a wide range of perspectives. What’s most important is that we respect each other, and define ourselves without projecting onto others.
Just as some people knew they were trans since birth, some didn’t. Some trans women are also genderqueer or female non-gendered. Some binary-identified trans people consider themselves “gender variant”. Some people identify as MtF. Some people describe themselves as male-bodied. Some people identify as transmisogynistic slurs, including she**** and tr***y. Some people identify as transmen and transwomen, regardless of how intensely that lack of a space sets off my OCD (I’m sad to say that is not hyperbole).
I’ve failed to handle these truths many times, and some of them I still struggle with. But my perspective is becoming a very strong “let people identify themselves”. I’m adjusting my rhetoric to accommodate this. Rather than telling others what to say and what not to say, I find it more helpful to explain the range of experiences trans people have. Some trans women aren’t “born male”, but some are. Some find MtF insulting, others don’t. A similar range of experience (on different subjects) exists among cis people regarding their own genders. What’s important is that we respect the individual and support each other as a community. The message changes from “Don’t make x assumption about me, because trans people aren’t like that”, to “don’t make x assumption about anyone, because people are individuals”. If there is one truth with the power to disarm stereotypes, it’s how different we can be from each other, even those of us who use the same labels.
This shift in perspective is hard. It’s possibly one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced when writing “for the community” and not just myself. This process is also messy. While I am learning the theory, in practice I am certainly no expert. Most of us have sore spots, sensitive topics, and certain words we just cannot bear to hear. Words that have been weaponized so many times we can’t take it anymore. We get angry at each other, we get triggered, we fly off the handle. Sometimes because the offending person is intentionally malicious, other times unintentionally malicious, and sometimes it’s just a plain old misunderstanding. Regardless, the pain is real. The problem often is that, even if we all speak the same language, we don’t necessarily speak the same language. Sometimes we use the same word to mean different things, or use different words to mean the same thing. These mismatched meanings become layered on top of each other, creating a confusing glut of mixed messages.
[Discusses sexual assault.]
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Since we know this is a topic that hits close to home for a lot of VPers, we’d like to organize a blog carnival to give people a chance to share their stories as well as to bring them all together in one place.
Read more at VaginaPagina: http://vaginapagina.livejournal.com/20788673.html#ixzz1r2d5Hkdp