One of the things I get to do as a science fiction writer is to explore stuff like gender and gender roles. In general, I take much of my inspiration from nature – what exists here on this planet, now. It’s rather amazing what nature does with this stuff, really, it is. Way more interesting than we ever talk about. I wrote in more detail about this in my author blog. Today’s post is about our society, now.
First, I want to just say this: I think that anyone (including children) should be able to identify and express gender in any way they want, and be completely accepted, nay, celebrated for that expression. And they can change their minds at will, even. (OK, that’s radical, I know, but it’s what I think.)
The current conversation about gender identity and expression though, is driving me nuts, and I realize I have to write about it. The rise of the discussion of “cis” vs. “trans” gendered people is problematic at its core.
For those of you who don’t know about this whole thing, the definition of a “cisgendered” person is someone whose gender identity and/or expression matches the sexual organs they were born with. And a “transgendered” person is someone whose gender identity and/or expression is different of the organs they were born with.
First, this creates another kind of “us” vs. “them” dichotomy, forcing people to choose one (or, in fact, other people choosing for you.) And as of late (in the last few years) a lot of the response to the experience of being trans (which is very difficult, even somewhere like the Bay Area,) seems to be in expressing anger at those who are cisgendered, as if just being cisgendered is problematic. It is more nuanced than that, but just google the phrase “die cis scum,” and you’ll get the picture.
Second, some of us are neither, and don’t want to choose, or have the choice made for us, and, it wipes out our experience as not real, and not relevant. I don’t hear those voices enough, so I decided it was time to express it.
Third, what is gender expression and identity anyway? Shouldn’t we be deeply questioning that, rather than reifying it by creating this dichotomy?
Gender expression and identity, like gender and sexuality, can’t be divided neatly into two categories. It’s a spectrum, just like a lot of things. And it would be great if people started to talk that way. I don’t want to take away from anyone’s identity as trans (or, even, cis), but those are not the only two possibilities.