Exploring Gender Identity: Part 3

My Public Journal

I didn’t imagine I’d be writing a part three to this, I didn’t imagine it’d become a series, but I guess as is the case with questioning identity of any sort, the story doesn’t end at the turn of a page.

I am not entirely sure where to start, I just know some kind of sequel post has been brewing for a little while. I think, it started when I found myself commenting on a popular Twitter post, kinda mindlessly, about how if you don’t date trans-women just because they’re trans then that means you’re transphobic. And that kinda kicked off a whole series of events.

Someone on that thread mentioned how people need to stop pushing that harmful talk on men, because trans women are not biological women and just because we accept their identity as gender identified women, doesn’t mean we have an attraction to them. As it turns out, this whole idea of having to be attracted to transgender people to prove you’re not transphobic is being forced upon people. And I learned that the hard way, having only recently come to realisation that I myself am a lesbian. As it also turns out, in the LGBT community, being a lesbian who isn’t attracted to trans women automatically gets you labelled a TERF, which is a slur used to silence anyone (well, women, usually, hiding its thinly veiled misogyny) who doesn’t agree with transgender (cultist) politics. As you can imagine, many lesbian women aren’t attracted to pre-op trans-women, and as such the word TERF has also become equated with lesbians. There is actually a complex history behind this, due to actual transphobic lesbians having once stormed an LGBT rally a few years ago saying transgender people have no place in the LGBT community. This was wrong of them, but since then, it seems the LGBT community have become suspicious and hateful of lesbians, and also at times violent which completely terrified me for a moment, being that I’m a lesbian myself and decidedly not attracted to trans-women (nor trans-men, considering they’re biological women, but they’re gender identified men).

Reading this you may have different reactions. Some people will love this post, some people will hate it, others who have no idea what it’s all about will probably be lost. It’s not something you can talk about without the threat of some kind of attack, and that is why I left Twitter, to sort my damn head out. From mindlessly replying to that comment about not pushing those ideas onto men with “and lesbians too”, and then being called a TERF by a random Twitter stranger leading an entire load of transgender people and trans allies on Twitter to blocking me… then by asking for more understanding from trans people on a transgender Reddit only to be banned without explanation… these kind of responses in fact only tend to lead one further down the ‘gender critical’ rabbit hole. Gender criticism is one form of radical feminism, which was tied to second wave feminism with the idea that gender is a social concept and actually harmful. Gender criticism states that transgender people are kind of missing the point, because if there is no real gender then, well, you’re just free to be you without needing a sex change (something most transgender people do not fully go through anyway). Men can wear makeup and still be men, women can forego makeup and be butch and still be women. I have to say, there is a huge freedom in releasing the concept of gender from your physical body and knowing you are just you, whatever that is, regardless of what you look like. Especially it seems for gay men and women who are naturally socially non-conforming anyway. There is a huge pressure on gay men and women to become transgender, so that they’ll be acceptably straight. This isn’t at all conscious on anyone’s part, but it’s internalised homophobia.

There are so many angles to explore here that I’m not really sure I could cover them all. I have to say this entire war between transgender people and gender critical people has been gaining momentum and recently reached the public spotlight due to JK Rowling’s gender critical beliefs which she had to write an entire article about explaining her thought process, which was written very articulately and addressed multiple points, including coming to the defence of lesbians. However, she received a lot of hate for that too, and any normal person who had no idea about this war and was dragged into it read the article and said “well, she’s made a lot of good points, I don’t agree with all of them, but there’s no need to hate her?” and those are my exact thoughts on it. There is a portion of the transgender community whom are what I can only go along and call ‘trans cultists’, they do not reason with you nor hold intelligent conversation, they just hate and block, it’s very weird.

As a result, as a lesbian who I now know will forever be labelled a TERF, regardless of my own acceptance of transgender individuals and indeed having struggles of transgender thoughts and feelings myself, well.. I forgot my thought process there as I was writing. But I know I was scared and needed time to find my security again. And I found myself reading in all that freed up time where usually I’d have been on social media articles from transgender points of view, and articles from gender critical points of view, and honestly I still can’t make up my mind. It’s all so very difficult. I’m conscious to not actually be transphobic, and my own history of internalised homophobia and transphobia which I originally addressed in part 1 of this series makes it all the harder to know what’s what, not just in these communities, but also in regards to myself. But I do know that as I wrote in part 2, many of my feelings of being transgender were a result of internalised homophobia, even though at the time I was working through internalised transphobia.

I have this sense really that I don’t belong in either or any of these communities. I tend to wish I’d never gotten myself involved in all of this in the first place… Ten years of at least identifying as bisexual and I had no idea about any of this, it’s very literally only quite recently when I realised I was a lesbian. You can’t ignore when people hate you just for your innate sexual preference. 

The scariest part really of all of this wasn’t actually the stuff that was happening online, it was in fact knowing that some of these hateful, violent people exist in the real world, and I’d never know who they are until I may happen to make a remark that I’m a lesbian. That’s the scary part, feeling like just because of who I am I have to watch my back. Things have really not progressed much at all in the 21st century so far. You’d think transgender people and lesbians should get along but alas the sad reality is they do not. Transgender people at another LGBT rally in response to that transphobic lesbian interruption which I previously wrote about was to bring posters saying lesbian pictures of vaginas should be banned because it’s transphobic… vaginas are transphobic?! I thought trans-women wanted vaginas! This is really the new kind of crazy reality we are living in. But it’s not all trans people who are like this. I think it’s a step too far when you say “I have a biological girl-dick”. And especially when you say “and that means you should be attracted to me or you’re a bigot”.

But this is also where right now my mind is all the more confused. Because if gender doesn’t exist, then sex absolutely does, and sex determines much about ourselves in a non-social way. Men are physically larger, for example. That’s not social, that’s actual. So a sex change for someone who feels they were born in the wrong body, regardless of social gender, also indicates a gender change, because women and men have different hormones.

And have I felt sometimes like I’m in the wrong body? Exactly. Is it social? How am I supposed to know with my headload of trauma and dissociative identities with varying genders? I have identities that are purely men, I have identities that are purely women, I have identities that are fluid between the two at will… their bodies are entirely mental and not bound to physical restrictions. And without social gender, how much of the desire for a sex change is physically aesthetic? And I’m aware that may be an offensive thought. But if we had no bodies at all, would we really feel this need to have the opposite? I am not entirely sure I can explain this reasoning.

I thought it was clear to me, but then I ask myself what am I if neither socially female or male? I’m back at non-binary, but then that kinda feels like escaping the reality of my physical body. And honestly I don’t want a man’s body, I love my female body, I’ve learned to love it, to accept it, even with all its difficulties. But then I go back to the idea of what if I could just switch between the two at will with no negative consequences? Yes, then I would enjoy trying that out, but there we would see the manifestation of my identities.

And this another thing that I see within the transgender community, with many talking about how they feel them being the opposite sex is like another identity to them, which is classical dissociation, or plurality, either way. And when you consider many transgender people have been abused growing up, there is the issue with how much is a mental health issue and trauma related, or even just mental, and I think it then becomes a fair amount. I have also been reading stories from detransitors, who are trans people (or rather, de-trans people), who medically transitioned and then transitioned back. You may be surprised that the transgender community tends to attempt to shut them up too. But many of them were forced into it or felt like it was something they had to do, because either they were gay, they were gender non-conforming, they had mental health issues, or they were subject to peer pressure from ‘trans-trenders’. Trans-trenders are teens usually who believe they’re transgender, because everyone else around them is. For some reason it’s a cool thing to be these days. But kids don’t know themselves, they’re still growing. They shouldn’t be allowed to take life altering hormones after an hour session with a therapist to tick that they’re transgender. Read that again. A teenager at the legal age of 16 only needs to see a referred therapist for a one hour session to be given the medical go ahead. This is insane. There is no exploration of their feelings, and this is also a problem.

There are real transgender people, but currently I would rather refer to them as transsexual, as the real trans people accounts I’ve read also refer to themselves as transsexual. Transsexual is an entire physical sex change which avoids the pitfalls of social gender, unlike transgender which doesn’t even need a medical change. Anyone can say they’re transgender and bam, they are. This is also another problem with self-identifying, because it’s known that in some dark web corners there are an entire community of men who parade around pretending to be women because they are sexually aroused by the thought, and many of them have admitted it. This is called auto-gynephilia. And yes, reading back during drafting this post, I’m aware this entire paragraph sounds entirely transphobic.

I have brought all these points up and I’m sure many trans-cultists by now have stopped reading, but many of these points were also brought up in JK Rowling’s article, I am not saying anything new. And yet, regardless of all these things I’ve written contra transgender identity, I still feel entirely confused by the lot of it. And as I said, right now it’s difficult for me to specifically pinpoint what exactly is confusing me. Perhaps this idea that you can only ever be one or the other in regards to ideology, but I’m just trying to come to some kind of synthesis within myself, further complicated by my own gender identity struggles.

Clearly, whatever ideology I believe is going to influence how I approach my own confusing gender feelings, and somehow I need to find space to honour both the lesbian in me and the gender non-conformer in me, as well as the dissociative identities with varying genders. But not just to honour both of those within myself, but also to create space somehow to say to transgender people and gender critical people are both welcome to converse with me… if they’ll have it, because ultimately I’m just trying to find a space for myself.

There is more I feel like I would like to add specifically in relation to sexual orientation, but now I’m going to call this post a wrap. Perhaps there could be a part 4 in which I write about it, but where I also may have had more time to understand more of my own confusions about this entire topic regarding gender identity, and its impact upon me.

If you’ve read this far, then thank you.

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