What does it mean to be trans?

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”.


  1. Hello … perhaps yes including the one who seem different .. experiencing how opening and rich it is … for the mind and for the heart… By doing and living this … one day… we will stop to devise and to be scared and to push out all the variations given by life !!
    I am generalizing to any kind of difference (here being non binary or umbrella keeper…as we are all 😉…what’s representations !) it may be with another colored people , one from another social class , or a “deficient” person -comparing to what standart- or just a stranger finally for us ! I love when I meet what seems strange for me, it stretch my boundaries and enlarge my sight .. and finally often takes me to this place where we are so humanly close , so able to share what’s in commun , and found love in it. And then stop having questions and needing lines to define .
    I like your strangeness my friend … and the way you open it, your search and your blossom.
    One day, I hope they’ll be no need to justifie it, just live and appreciate the infinite possibilities in you as in everyone 😊. All my love

  2. Pingback: What Is Gender? Trans Inclusion & Asking Good Questions | Today I Am A Man

  3. Sky, Thanks for highlighting this blog entry for me. I felt tearful when you remind me (and others who have a transitioning loved one) that “I am who I have always been, with some added clarity and strength.” As I spoke to you, I am astonished (and even embarrassed, in that I see myself as a progressive person), that unconsciously I have attached so many of your important qualities to your prior female gender. I am working on detaching them because I do know that deep down, in all the areas that make you my sister soul mate, there is only awesome growth. Through your stepping into an identity that fits you better, I see that you are only becoming stronger, clearer, claiming your place in the world like I have never seen. And these changes will only serve to enhance our already awesome relationship. And, no, I do not mind at all that you make public the changes/challenges in our relationship.

    • Fern – thanks for this reply. This process pushes so many edges inside, so many beliefs and perceptions. So many societally constructed confines that I think are unreal. Thanks for your continued support and willingness to look inside yourself to allow this to help you grow and open as well. The statement “how I attached so many of your important qualities to your prior female gender” says it all. I am discovering how we do do this as a society. I have done it and am unwinding this from within as well. Thanks for continuing to see me for who I am, supporting this journey and walking it with me as my sister soul mate.

  4. Pingback: How Do Trans People Fit Into Gender? Trans Inclusion & Asking Good Questions, Part 2 | Today I Am A Man

  5. What is gender ? That ‘swhat i was often asking myself !
    in our french dictionary i find ” beings or things wich have things in commun and constituting a group together ” .. but with the time it became a sociological concept (thanks america), “an approach that analyzes the power relations between women and men based on the assignment of socially constructed roles based on gender.
    This division of roles, responsibilities, activities and resources…
    Division, again. When will we change of paradigm ?

    What about adding, or developing another energy to oneself ? The oriental approach says that in everyone masculine and feminine forces are coexisting. Who can ignore that ? True that the growth of one can decrease the other (night and day..etc) but they are still there, composing.
    If you love blue does it means you can’t be found of red ? ending up in indigo shirt lol . In biology laws for example, we have genes and some are expressed (ex green eyes) as some are “recessive” (you might have the program for brown eye within)…
    So my question is Sarah can be still part of Sky, and Sky discovering day by day, will you continue to tell us what is to be you ?

    i’d like to add something. The impact on us is somehow a different process. As you choice and act for yourself, me i am touched by it. It’s not at all that i don’t understand or receive you. I can support your transformation and we’ll find or invent some other words to give it a place . And, in the same time, i do feel all that makes to me… regarding my life, my affinities with feminin masculin androgeny the society itself and so many things !
    You, existing here are questioning and moving -as always did you!- either the relationship (if you move i do move too so us is new), either our own relationships within our representations (to me binary world, what is to refuse part of a body , how to relate actually with the unteady, or male expression etc etc) … and ajusting . This is the journey we walk without having only think about it before ! It requires to be adventurer no ?

  6. Kentaka – so much said. The beginning piece on genders definition and it being ultimately the creation of socially constructed roles and their interplay of power between the sexes feels right on and well stated. Thanks for that addition. The question it leaves me with, regarding the divisive nature of socially constructed gender, is what really is gender if we eradicate the divisiveness and constructed roles. That is what I feel up against in my life and relationships. And yes you are one of those relationships beautifully moving with these changes allowing us to recreate in every moment a new us. And it sounds like you extend it beyond us as well as you ponder the importance of all of this with the world at large.

    Regarding your question of can Sarah still be part of Sky as this journey unfolds. Thanks for the opportunity to answer this. Maybe other trans people feel differently. Maybe it is my age at transition, but there is so much of my experience as Sarah, so much of what I have learned in my pursuit of understanding what it is to be human, that will never leave me. Sarah is an integral part of Sky, Sky is bigger. I encompass Sarah and so much more as I allow myself to embrace more masculine energy, and dance in that place of being that is beyond gender and simply me, simply human, all encompassing. I will be curious of your experience of me when you come to stay with me. If you still recognize Sarah within Sky and yet also a profounder and deeper sense of my being also manifesting. Beyond gender. I realize ultimately this is how I feel right now, in some place beyond todays understanding of gender.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful and insightful reply!! And for walking this with me as you do, for your support and love.

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