Now I’ve caught up somewhat after the conference, so I can do what several people requested and make guest posts of some of the comments from the Discomfort with the more social aspects of gender discussion last week.
I’ll start with one by AMM:
There’s something that a lot of trans people report and I’m becoming aware of in myself that doesn’t get mentioned in feminist discussions of gender.
It’s that feeling that at some fundamental level, you just don’t belong with the people you share a birth gender with, and in many cases you don’t feel right in your body. That something just doesn’t fit, no matter how perfectly you may seem to fit. And when you transition, medically and/or socially, you just feel right for once.
I haven’t transitioned yet, so I can’t say for sure how I’ll feel, but I know that I have _never_ felt at home with being a man or having a male body, and I’ve tried every way I can think of for 60 years. It’s like when my father convinced me (for an afternoon) that I could sell stuff door-to-door. I went out and canvased the neighborhood. And I realized: it’s just not me. I am not cut out to be a salesman. It’s the same thing with being male. I have yet to find anything about being a man (as opposed to a generic human being) that I can relate to. I can intellectualize it, but I can’t feel it. Whereas when I read about or hear women’s experiences, it fits.
Julia Serano describes this a lot better than I can in her book (Whipping Girl), and besides, she’s transitioned, so she can compare before and after.
I get the impression that cis people don’t experience the same sort of not-rightness. Maybe there’s something deep inside, independent of all the social constructions, that just works right for cis people and doesn’t for trans people, and, for lack of any better language, we call it gender.