Why There’s No Space In My Gender

I identify as a transman. There is no space in that word for me.

This is somewhat unusual among trans people. In general, it’s convention to call people like me trans men, not transmen. In fact, when talking about the group in general, or an individual other than myself, I use the space. The same applies for trans women – I use the space unless a specific individual prefers no space, which is pretty rare. I use a space for cis men and cis women as well, to be consistent.

The reason for this space is that most people identify as men or women, and trans or cis are a modifier. Being transgender is usually a statement about someone’s history, not an intrinsic part of their gender identity. A lot of people feel really strongly about this, which is why the space has become the standard convention over time, although this was not always the case.

My experience is somewhat different than most people. I am not a man, with a trans modifier. I am a transman, as a complete gender. I do not separate my transness and manness – they are deeply connected for me, inseparable.

The fact that I experience my gender identity differently than many other people does not mean that I have any disagreement with them over the space. It seems pretty clear that for most people the space is important, and that for many people their complete gender identity is man or woman, with a transgender or cisgender history. My gender is not better than anyone else’s – it’s just different. It’s just mine.

Why There’s No Space In My Gender

A Sensation of Helplessness

CN: Transphobia, politics.

You may have heard that North Carolina passed a really awful anti-trans bathroom bill this week. There are 14 other anti-trans bills in the legislatures in other states currently, with more coming up all the time. Usually these bills have not passed but the North Carolina situation shows increasing likelihood of more of these bills passing, creating serious every-day problems for many transgender people.

In most situations this kind of injustice makes me really angry. Usually I feel a strong drive to fix the problem, to call legislators, to participate in protests, and to blog about the injustice.

These bathroom bills, though, have left me with a deep sense of helplessness. There is something different, and very personal about the nature of this kind of bill. The bigotry is SO thinly veiled that it feels very much like being told directly “You do not have a right to public spaces.” Defeating them is a win in the sense that people can pee, but it doesn’t really do anything to fight the idea that we’re just not welcome in society.

I think part of the cause of this hopelessness is my total invisibility. These bills are a direct, vicious attack on trans women, with little or no recognition of the existence of trans men. Clearly these laws are more dangerous for my trans sisters than they are for me, but there’s harm in invisibility too. The proponents of these laws insist that they don’t want men in women’s bathrooms – then require me to go into women’s bathrooms. The lawmakers and proponents of the laws often seem completely unaware that trans men exist.

Many would argue that this kind of law doesn’t really impact me much, even if it applied in my local area, because no one is likely to enforce it with me. But the real impact of the law is on alienating non-cis people from society – trans women by labeling them as predators, trans men, non-binary people, and intersex people by erasing our existence, and all of us by misgendering us and restricting our identities to the sex we were assigned at birth.

Hopefully I will get my anger back. Anger is a powerful tool for fighting injustice, and in my experience one that is necessary. For me, anger can only come in the absence of helplessness and hopelessness, and today I just feel helpless.

A Sensation of Helplessness

Uprising Against Tragic Queers

CN: Death of fictional queer characters, queerness as tragic storyline in fictional stories. Mentions but not really spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and for Battlestar Galactica. Links include extensive spoilers Star Wars and many TV shows.

Several great posts lately have appeared on my social media feeds in rebellion against tropes in media (movies and TV mostly) about tragedy and queer life. I want to highlight these, largely because I’m also annoyed with the idea that queer life has to be tragic to be interesting or identifiable to audiences.

Do Not Make Luke Skywalker Another Tragic Gay Character – This article is amazing. Honestly, I would rather no queer characters exist in the Star Wars universe than for this to be the storyline, for EXACTLY the reasons Emily Asher-Perrin points out here. I’m a diehard Stormpilot shipper (one who believes that Finn and Poe are completely adorable and should do it a lot) but I’m open to other characters being queer in Star Wars. I just cannot stomach queerness being a tragedy again. Luke is tragic enough, don’t make my sexuality a part of that. Asher-Perrin concludes that if only one character should be gay it should be Poe and she has me utterly convinced. I recommend the whole article.

All 142 Dead Lesbian and Bisexual Characters On TV and How They Died – TV really loves to kill of lesbian and bisexual women. Like REALLY loves it. Want a good tragic story? Kill off a queer woman! Several of these are from series I adore (Battlestar Galactica has several) and I’m still mad as hell. Can’t we have some awesome lesbians that get to live through the end of a series please? I don’t mean one or two – I mean a percentage similar to the number of straight people that get to live through the end of series.

Queerness doesn’t need to be tragic. Much of the time these days it isn’t. I look forward to media figuring that out.

Uprising Against Tragic Queers