Everyone is suddenly a gender and sexuality expert when it comes to transgenderism and transsexualism, just as everyone is suddenly an economist when it comes to “price gouging.” Obviously, one doesn’t have to be transgender or transsexual to understand gender and sexuality, but one does have to evaluate things rationally and scientifically, and, in my experience, it’s less likely that this has happened among the cisgender. Nor does it help the situation that even trans people are muddying terminology and making the whole thing more confusing than it has to be. So, one more time, let’s have a thorough analysis of this topic.
Gender & Sex
First, it must be observed that there is a difference between sex and gender. Gender is a matter of culture, while sex is a matter of biology. Gender is sort of an extension of sex, but there is not a perfect correlation; there is even plenty to be said that biological sexual characteristics predispose one sex toward certain gender behaviors. For example, that women wear makeup is a statement regarding gender–it is a behavioral and appearance norm–yet it stems from biology, ultimately, as it is traditionally the female who attracts the male, and the male who is the hunter (or “seeker” if you prefer). This is not unusual among humans; many animals have the responsibility of attracting a mate falling to one sex or the other. Men engage in grooming to help their chances of being approved when they approach a mate, primarily. These biological tendencies that stem ultimately from some genetic hard-wiring that leads men to predominantly be hunters and women to primarily be “the hunted” ultimately morphs into women wearing makeup and men not.
The brassier is another example. That women wear bras and men do not is a gender norm, but it quite obviously stems from biological sex characteristics. One of the two sexes has something there that benefits* from the additional support. It is like the jock strap and athletic cup in a way–that male athletes wear cups is a gender norm, extending from the fact that men have something there to be supported and protected. It is still arbitrary, though–if nature had decreed that men have breasts, then men would wear bras; that they don’t is essentially a fluke of nature.
I’m not going to attempt to define what the male sex is, or what the female sex is. It would be a good idea, and it would be helpful, but I’m not convinced that such a definition exists. As I wrote in my upcoming book Beyond Words & Labels, a set definition must include all members of that set while excluding all members not in that set. If we could produce a definition of “the male sex” that included every single person we consider male and excluded every single person that we don’t consider male, then I suspect the definition would take 4,000 pages of legalese texts, 3900 pages of which would be exceptions and exclusions. I think it’s a futile task, and that every person will ultimately come to their own understanding of what the male sex is and what the female sex is.
That’s fine, as long as they recognize that their definition is their definition, and that they have no authority or right to force other people to recognize their definition as valid. Just this week, I had someone tell me that I would never be a real woman because I cannot have children (not true–I cannot carry and give birth to a child, but I am most certainly capable of impregnating a woman). I naturally pointed out that there are plenty of women who similarly cannot have children, some of whom were born barren. He stated, “That’s a different reason, though.” So his definition of woman isn’t just “can have children.” In fact it is, “A person is a woman if she can have children, except those women who can’t have children, and who can’t have children because this particular reason and that particular reason, but not this other particular reason.” It’s asinine and arbitrary, isn’t it? He’s just using his gut to tell him who is and isn’t a woman, and, now that he believes this distinction is real, he scrambles to find some way of clearly defining it–a task that cannot be done.
So sex is a matter of biology, though I’ll not attempt to define what parameters distinguish one sex from the other. For every example we find who fits within our definitions, we’ll find one who doesn’t, and this will require the sort of exceptions I just mentioned. In the end, the definition will be enormous, and still incomplete. Sexually, whatever you think a woman or man is is what a woman or man is. Sure. There’s really no other way to handle it, unless someone out there wants to produce that gargantuan definition. It’s no problem if you believe a woman is “someone who can get pregnant,” as long as you don’t attempt to turn that definition into law through the state, by forcing me to have “male” on my identification because your definition is the one that the state uses, when the state has no business weighing in on the matter at all. As long as you don’t do that, what definition you use is of no importance to me.
However, if we are to communicate, we must have some sort of common definition, however vague and generalized it is. In fact, we do have such a definition, but it is terribly flawed. The common definition is that men have penises, and women have breasts and vaginas. Obviously, this definition has plenty of problems, but in ordinary conversation there isn’t usually a reason to drag a fine-toothed comb through delineations. If I tell you to get out of the way of a car, it wouldn’t really matter that it was a van coming to hit you. I would technically be wrong, but I was still able to communicate to you the gist of what was happening. That’s the best that our definitions of the sexes will do–they’ll generally communicate the gist of what most people consider to be male and female. This is, again, necessary for us to communicate, although we should certainly keep in mind that our definitions are not the End All, Be All of Sexuality.
Gender is also not some neatly-defined set of archetypes and cliches. “A man has a beard, has a favorite beer, and eats his steaks rare!” is one such gender statement, and it’s certainly true for some men–and some men genuinely believe this–but it isn’t the definitive criteria of what a “man” is. Neither is having long hair, wearing makeup, wearing skirts, and playing with Barbie dolls the definitive criteria of what a “woman” is. These are all cultural tendencies of one gender or the other, but they’re certainly not universal. And, one will notice, they’re not all extensions of sexuality.
A preference for beer and having a beard, for example–one is completely arbitrary, and the other is an effect of testosterone that is present in both males and female. My great Aunt May had a mustache. An even better example is the notion that women don’t have hairy legs–this is flagrantly false, as demonstrated by women who don’t shave. Their leg hair is generally as thick as any man’s. That women shave their legs is a gender norm–it could just as easily be men who customarily shave their legs. Even so, not all women shave their legs anyway, and are still considered women by gender.
While many aspects of gender are extensions of sexual characteristics–such as women wearing makeup to attract mates–not all of them are, and some are either totally arbitrary or are actually customs pushed onto them by the other sex. This is the primary feminist complaint regarding bras, in fact: that they were not designed to provide support, as is so often suggested, and were actually designed simply to conceal what men thought had to be hidden. That it remains socially unacceptable, and often outright illegal, for women to be topless while no such restriction is placed on men, suggests that this is the case, especially given that wire bras are a relatively new thing.
Gender Identity Disorder / Gender Dysphoria
This is a condition that afflicts some individuals, and it occurs when a person’s expected gender norms and behaviors do not sit well with the individual, and when the individual has an inclination toward the other sex’s gender norms and behaviors. It is an illness, in effect. It is not equivalent to being transgender or being transsexual.
I find myself having to repeatedly point out that observing the differences between “having GID” and “being transgender” does not in any way demean a person’s Gender Identity Disorder (GID). “Being transgender,” however, is the most common treatment for GID–it is not the only treatment, and it is not universal. Having Gender Identity Disorder does not make a person transgender; being transgender is a choice as a way of coping with Gender Identity Disorder. To be sure, the GID needs to be dealt with one way or another, and a person does not get a choice about having GID, but how one is going to address it is a choice, and not everyone chooses to be transgender.
It is fast becoming a pet peeve of mine to see everyone with GID describing themselves as “transgender.” I recently read an article from someone who stated, “I am transgender and, no, I am not coming out or transitioning.” What this person meant is that they have Gender Identity Disorder, and calling that “transgender” is little more than a way to jump on the bandwagon. It’s like they consider “transgender” to be “like having Gender Identity Disorder Times Ten!” Gender Identity Disorder certainly sucks, but it is not synonymous with “transgender.”
I’ve had Gender Identity Disorder at least since I was three years old, as I described in my book Dancing in Hellfire, which is available as an eBook on Amazon for $2.99 or in paperback for $7.49. However, I have only been transgender for a little over two years, and have only been transsexual for a little over a year.
I want to state, before going further, that there is an enormous difference between Gender Identity Disorder and cancer, and that I do not in any sense stack the suffering of GID against the suffering of a cancer patient. I’m using it only as a quantitative analogy, and not a qualitative one. To be sure, I’ve seen trans people suggest that having GID is as bad as cancer, but we can’t take such “Oh, poor me!” people seriously.
Gender Identity Disorder is akin to cancer, and being transgender or transsexual are akin to chemotherapy. One is the disease, and the other is the treatment. It’s readily apparent that they cannot be synonymous. Having cancer doesn’t make one a chemo patient, and undergoing chemo doesn’t mean that one is a cancer patient. Having Gender Identity Disorder doesn’t mean that one is transgender, and being transgender honestly doesn’t mean that a person has Gender Identity Disorder–see the transtrender people out there who are doing it “for the fun of it” on college campuses. Or play World of Warcraft, and you’ll quickly learn that 25% of the people you know as females are actually males, and many of them simply state that they’re females (we’re not talking simply playing as female characters)–that’s transtrending. They don’t have Gender Identity Disorder, but when they throw hearts in chat all the time, they’re adopting the gender chat standards of the other sex as their own. It’s a minor thing, and not an irritant, but it’s crucial to observe: one can be transgender without having Gender Identity Disorder, and one can have Gender Identity Disorder without being transgender.
Transgender or Transsexual?
Now that we’ve pointed out, and demonstrated logically, that having Gender Identity Disorder is not equivalent to being transgender, there’s one area left to dissect: transgenderism and transsexualism. They are also not synonymous, just as gender and sex are not synonymous.
Being transgender involves adopting the other sex’s cultural norms as one’s own. A male who acts like a female, wears makeup and dresses, listens to Beyonce or whatever–that is an example of transgenderism. It is rather like a drag queen, except that it is done perpetually, not occasionally. It is limited to behavioral and cosmetic changes, such as crossing one’s legs like a woman, wearing makeup, or growing one’s hair long. It includes no biological or physiological changes.
Being transsexual is a bit more nuanced, and there are three varieties of it: pre-op, post-op, and non-op, and these divisions depend upon Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS). A pre-op transsexual is someone who intends to have SRS, and is, to some degree, in the process of doing so, perhaps by starting with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). A post-op transsexual is someone who has had SRS. A pre-op intends to have their penis cut off and replaced with a vagina, or have a penis added to them; a post-op has done this already. A non-op transsexual is someone who undergoes physiological changes excluding SRS. I’m a non-op transsexual, and I do not intend to ever have SRS. People are right to observe, then, that I will not ever sexually be a woman, and this is a point that I gladly acquiesce, hence my use of “S” for my sex–“Shemale.” I have the biological characteristics of both sexes (what many would call “Intersex,” but I won’t, because “transsexual” already covers it).
Besides which, “Intersex” raises more questions than it answers, and the terminology is sloppy, awkward, and clumsy. When I tell you that I’m a shemale, you immediately understand what that means, and no further questions are necessary. If, however, I said, “I am intersex,” then that raises a ton of questions. Did I start as a male or female? Do I have a penis or vagina? Which direction am I going? Even someone steeped in LGBTQIAAAP+ALPHABETSOUP culture is going to have to pause and think about what “I’m a male-to-female non-op transsexual transgender lesbian” means. When a friend of mine said that they were transgender, it confused me–me!–because this person appears to be an ordinary male, and is doing absolutely nothing to transition toward female. So… is this person F2M? Does this person have a penis? Did this person have breast reduction surgery? In actuality, the person has gender dysphoria, but is not transgender or transsexual–confusion that should never have risen in the first place.
This tendency of people with GID to call themselves transgender is conflating the issue and confusing people, even other transgender and transsexual people, and it needs to stop. It’s happening because of transtrending. They think it makes them more special, more unique, more snowflakey to call themselves trans rather than accurately calling themselves sufferers of GID. These words mean things. Being transgender isn’t a statement. It’s not a label. It’s a series of actions, a bold choice, a way of life.
Trans-ism is WORK
…which brings me to what I really wanted to write about today, because I have met many people at the local LGBT club who claim to be transgender, yet who are doing nothing to transition. That’s fine, in a sense. They don’t have to transition to take care of their Gender Identity Disorder. Transitioning isn’t for everyone. It’s arduous, difficult, and, often, painful. However, if they are not transitioning, they cannot seriously expect people to use the other sex’s/gender’s pronouns for them. If they just look like an ordinary dude and even have a 5 o’clock beard, they can’t seriously expect to be called “she,” and neither can they get all offended when I call them “he.”
I know a dude who does this, though I told him about a month ago to stop texting me. The guy has a mustache, doesn’t shave any of his body, has short hair, doesn’t wear makeup, doesn’t wear any female clothes, or anything. Yet he claims to be transgender, and wants to be called “she” and “her.”
I’m just not going to do that.
Being called the other sex’s pronouns is something you earn, not something that you are given. You want to be called a “she” as I am? Put some work into it, sweetie. You’re not entitled to that, not from me. Other people can call you that if they so choose, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s something you have to earn. The dude I’m talking about is named Randy, but wants to be called Rebecca, and wants to have female pronouns used. When anyone points out that he presents himself as an ordinary dude, he cries, “But muh feminism! Women don’t have to shave their faces and wear pretty dresses!”
No, true, they don’t. But you know what else? Women who dress like men, don’t shave, don’t wear makeup, and all that… are going to be called “butch,” and, in a lot of cases, they’ll be referred to with male pronouns.
I couldn’t even guess how much work I’ve put into being transgender and being transsexual. Because it is work, my goodness. I’m wearing a waist trainer right now. I wear it every single day, from 9:00 am to 2:00 am, taking it off only to sleep and putting it on just before I leave for work each day. I shave my body every single day, and shave my face twice a day if need be. I’ve dyed my hair a more feminine color, and am growing it out. The one area I’ve lapsed is in voice training, and I’ve only lapsed there in the last two months, and resumed it earlier this week. Want to see an example of how much work I’ve done?
This shit doesn’t happen by itself, man. The “trans” people who demand to be called by the other sex’s pronouns who haven’t put in the work–you know what they remind me of? They remind me of the socialists who want the Minimum Wage increased because they want to make more money. They want to earn $15 an hour, but they don’t want to put in all the work, the training, the learning, the research, the effort to actually earn what I busted my ass to earn. They just want it given to them. You want to have what I earned? Then start earning it. Start shaving. Grow your hair out. Do pilates. Get a waist trainer. Soften your voice. Put one some makeup. Put on a dress. These stereotypes are the basis that we use to distinguish the genders and sexes. It’s true that you don’t have to submit to them, but perhaps being a M2F trans person while fighting the 60s feminist battles is a poor combination, you think?
I don’t care how passable you are or aren’t. God knows I’m not as passable as I’d like, and still have more work to do. What I care about is effort. You put in the effort, and I will happily encourage you and respect your pronoun preferences. But if you don’t want to put in the effort…? If you don’t want to put in the effort to be a “she” or “her,” then why in the hell should I put in the effort to call you a “she” or “her?” Demanding other people call you “she” and “her” when you’re putting in no work to be a “she” is like demanding that other people do your work for you. No, cupcake, it doesn’t work that way.
I have my own ideas of what “he/him” is, and what “she/her” is. So do you, and so does everyone else. However, as stated before, there is some commonality among our understanding–enough that we can communicate. I’m not going to put aside my understanding of “she” and “her” to call you that, and neither do you have any right to demand that I do so. And I can tell you this: neither will most people willingly put aside their own understanding of what “she” means to accommodate your mustache and call you a “she.” I’m not evil, wicked, or bad because I have my own (already far more versatile than the average person’s) understanding of what defines the genders and sexes, and that I will use my definitions and not yours. You can disassociate from us, have at it, but you cannot use the state to force us to use your definitions “to avoid offending you or hurting your feelings” any more than we can use the state to force you to be called “he.”
But it’s the worst of entitled behavior to stand there in a mustache and expect people to just know that you prefer to be called “she” when you aren’t transgender and certainly aren’t even transsexual. I get that you have Gender Identity Disorder, Randy, and that it hurts you to some degree to be called “he” and “him,” but that’s your problem to deal with, not everyone else’s. If you want to deal with that problem, do so, but don’t expect other people to deal with it for you. Maybe it damages us psychologically to have to refer to a dude in a mustache as a chick. “Damage” is certainly too extreme, but it most definitely causes dissonance and awkwardness.
Demanding that we accommodate your Gender Identity Disorder while you aren’t even accommodating it is bizarrely entitled. I’m sure most people would gladly work with you and begin calling you your preferred pronouns if you started transitioning–if, indeed, one chooses to transition in order to deal with it–because for most reasonable, compassionate people it’s not about being passable or non-passable. It’s about effort. Just put some damned effort into it. Don’t expect everyone else to cure your Gender Identity Disorder by using certain pronouns for you when you haven’t done a thing to address the GID yourself. And if you’re not going to transition, then you have absolutely no justification for demanding the other sex’s pronouns in the first place, as doing so would only exacerbate your GID. If you have GID but you’ve decided to stick it out as your birth sex of “male,” then it’s not going to help you one teeny-tiny bit for people to call you a female, is it? No–it will perpetuate the dysphoria.
Having Gender Identity Disorder doesn’t entitle anyone to anything, and having it doesn’t make a person transgender or transsexual. We should all be compassionate enough to assist and accommodate our brothers and sisters and others who are transitioning, but if they aren’t transitioning, then there is nothing to accommodate, and being “well-intentioned” by trying to accommodate them anyway will only exacerbate their Gender Identity Disorder. Being transgender isn’t for everyone, and going even further into being transsexual certainly isn’t for everyone. They are difficult decisions, deliberate and willful courses undertaken as ways of handling Gender Identity Disorder, and they are not the only ways of doing so.
But I’m going to use the pronoun of the sex you’re presenting as, and so will most people who aren’t dicks.
When you stand there with a mustache and cry that it’s offended to be called “him,” you are insulting me and everything I’ve done in my transition, just as fully as the Minimum Wage workers who assert that the rich didn’t “earn” their wealth are insulted by those entitled, bratty demands. I am not offended, but I am most definitely insulted. If you want what I have, then you better be ready to put in the work that I’ve put in–and have yet to put in. You think it’s been a walk in the park to acquire estrogen? You think it’s pleasant to wear a waist trainer? You see all those marks on my stomach? Do you think it’s fun to shave my face every single day, sometimes twice a day? Did you think that plucking my eyebrows was something that I do for fun? Or that I’m force-feeding myself more food than I want in an effort to gain weight? No. All of this stuff sucks, and is between “very painful” and “very unpleasant.” And I do it because I don’t expect random strangers to call me “she” and “her” unless, you know… I appear to be a “she.” I’m not entitled to be called “she” even though I don’t look, act, or sound anything like what they understand “she” to mean.
And neither is anyone else.
Put in the work, or don’t. Be transgender or transsexual, or not. Deal with your Gender Identity Disorder. Don’t demand other people deal with it for you.
* Arguable. In fact, a recent study revealed that women who don’t wear bras have perkier breasts than women who do.