There is a lot of dialog going on right now on many of the blogs I follow as to what it means to be trans and are non-binary folks finding a place under the trans umbrella. one of my favorite posts is from Today I am a Man http://mantodayblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/n-for-nonbinary-lgbtq-beyond/ (I should add this post brought a lot of dialog and controversy amongst other trans people -controversy that Rimonim should not have a say in it at all given his binary male identity. I think we all have something to add, personally, and his post was the first to get me thinking. So thanks Rimonim!!)
Rimonim began by posing the question of whether an N needs to be added to the LGBTQ+++ acronym. His feeling is that trans (the T in the acronym) is an umbrella for all trans people, be them identifying as a man, a woman, or something in between.
I do feel trans, and I do feel non-binary. However many of the people I interact with need a label for me. Do I call you he now? neither he nor she fits me quite honestly. This whole discussion has propelled me into deeper self discovery of who I am and what it means for me to be trans. I am trans because I do not feel like a woman. In my most recent post I spoke to there once being a third sex which we have eradicated from our language and understanding of the sexes. It seems to me some broad understanding of a third sex at a minimum needs to be brought back into all cultural understanding of human gender. Then the T will truly be an umbrella for all of us.
In the meantime, as I ponder what do you call me. Whenever you can, simply call me Sky. Keep gender out of it. When that proves impossible, as much as I do not like it, I prefer they, them, their. I do like this for its plurality – however I am multiple in one and in our language it is for the plural in a group. I do not like it mainly as it reminds me of my closeted lesbian years when I avoided outing myself by referring to my partner as they, them, their vs she. This historic place in my reality makes this choice rub me the wrong way. I do not want any connotation of hiding in my life today. I am proud of who I am and have nothing to hide.
And again, this reinforces my belief in the need for broadening our language to encompass the myriad expressions of all of those of us who fall between or even outside of male or female.
A side note that is relevant – speaking to my sister last night – this is the sister that is my sister soul mate and I hers, though she is grieving the loss of me as her sister soul mate. Not having this in between expression, or multitudinous expression of gender in our language makes transition especially hard. For my sister, she is realizing, interestingly to me, me being gender non-conforming was easy, there was no grief or loss. Having me be more clear about what being gender non-conforming means, getting surgery, starting T… in her mind this pulls me further out of sister realm than being simply gender non-conforming. I get it – it is complicated and the choices I am making make me even less conforming than I was previously. I have crossed a line that challenges one’s perceptions and beliefs. For me it is such a small line now that I am here. But for those who love me it can feel big. If all of us gender variant, non binary specific people had some word for us in the language or words as I believe and am understanding their are many expressions in the space between male and female – this would be easier somehow for others to grapple with. And maybe I am just searching for a way to mitigate the grief people I love feel. I have said this a million times and I will continue saying it – I am who I am and who I have always been. I am stronger and clearer yes. But I still have all the same qualities that make me a sister soul mate, an awesome therapist, a compassionate and loyal friend….
Perhaps the question ought not be “what is trans” or “who belongs under the trans umbrella” but “what is gender, and what changes in our understanding of gender need to occur so that all trans people are included in the equation and are understood as part f the whole”.