Cis expectations: Or, why I stopped giving a fuck

I’ll start this by saying there are limitations to who it is safe for me to “not give a fuck” about. In principle, this includes people in positions of institutional authority (parents, legislators, police, schools, doctors, lawyers, judges, etc.) whose opinions can and do have a very real potential to impact me, to a much greater extent then someone who occupies none of those positions (i.e. a “peer”). Similarly, a peer can position themselves in a position of great impact by threatening violence against me, so even in the absence of institutional authority there can be contexts where I really do have to care about what someone says or thinks. Because, you know, violence.

I speak of the contradictory and impossible expectations thrust upon me: As a woman, as a trans woman, as a kinkster, you name it. This particular phenomenon isn’t actually unique to any given identity group, though minorities are disproportionately affected by it. It’s the Catch-22.

Imagine this: I am possessed by an episode of masochism and so attempt to dialogue with two sex-negative TERFs. I admit during this conversation that I enjoy BDSM. One TERF argues that my submission indicates a misguided belief in the supposed inferiority of women (having sought submission and womanhood at the same time); the other TERF argues that my dominance indicates that my gender identity is a ruse altogether cloaking misogynistic attitudes that insist on a woman’s “proper place.”

Here’s the trick: They’re the same TERF. That’s because people in this scenario have started with their conclusion and they’ll work their way backwards to ram their immediate surroundings into their construct. They start with “I’m dangerous” and will torture any circumstances presented to them to get a confession thereof. Without the slightest hint of irony they will predictably contradict themselves, sometimes within the same sentence.

(Setting aside the pseudo-Freudian bollocks altogether, I could write in detail about the nuances of my kink and I assure you it has nothing to do with either of the above scenarios.)

If I’m feminine, it’s obviously because I think womanhood is defined by sex-stereotypes. If I’m masculine or non-conforming, I’m obviously not “really” a woman and just doing the trans thing for attention.

If I’m attracted to women I’m “really” just a straight guy and if I’m attracted to men I’m “really” just a gay guy–“guy” being the foregone conclusion.

If I’m ambitious it’s because I had male socialization but if I’m content it’s because I’ve internalized the helplessness of womanhood.

If I’m stone cold, it’s because I have too much testosterone. If I’m emotional, it’s because I have too much estrogen.

It never stops!

For whatever reason, enough cisgender people think my gender expression–or any aspect of my personal, private being–is a matter of public spectacle. And on top of that, they think this is a fair one-on-one interaction. They don’t realize that they are voice number 1,232,104 offering unsolicited opinions about me and my morally neutral choices.

Ultimately this isn’t about communicating reasonable expectations. If it were reasonable, there might be a way to win.

As there isn’t, I’m not playing. That’s where “fuck off, I don’t care” comes in–at least with peers. That’s why absolutely none of my morally neutral choices are up for debate.

I don’t fucking care about what you think about the way I wear my hair. I don’t care what you think about my glasses. I don’t care what you think about my kink, my dating, my sexual practices, my job, my volunteer work. I Don’t. Fucking. Care.

Because pleasing you means pissing off someone else.

So remember that next time you offer up these sorts of opinions. Even if we accepted the premise that I require constant external validation, such a requirement would leave me mired in the quicksand of ignorance surrounding gender variance and the act of transitioning.


I used to be a TERF

I had a phase in the midst of my college education, where my gender dysphoria and my opposition to toxic masculinity combined into an ugly ruinous cocktail that’s still left me with some mental scars. I had a few advantages over contemporary “gender critical” writers: I had no online platform, so my assholery wasn’t being recorded; and I was sharing my opinion with woke feminists who were, still are to the best of my knowledge, cisgender. They were not directly impacted by my odious beliefs, how I wanted the entire establishment burned to the ground. All it took was for one of them to sit me down and say,

“Dude*, have you considered the possibility you’re trans?”

(*not misgendering at the time)

I blustered and immediately answered no. This was because I had three explicit memories of expressing gender dysphoria without actually having the word “gender dysphoria,” when I was 8, 14, and 19 years-old. Two of three incidents ended in violence; the third time it was still made clear that I didn’t want to transition, or so sayeth the person who wasn’t trans. Cornered by a psychological condition and the external pressures of toxic masculinity, I went through college thinking the only recourse was to burn the whole system to the ground. I was suicidal, depressed, and most of all, I felt like I couldn’t trust my own judgement because of the violence I experienced every time I admitted I had this feeling.

I owe my life to that friend who sat me down and asked me point blank if I considered I was trans. That it is an option to assert a different gender than the one thrust upon me. Transitioning didn’t have to involve adopting heterosexism. I could do it for myself. I could continue my activism against gender-as-tool-for-social-coercion, which I would later call a gender role, while asserting an authentic meaning in my own identity for myself. I finally “had permission” to explore that feeling.

[Read more…]

Your definition of gender should include reality

Content Notice: Yet more clueless cissexist codswallop.

Author Rebecca Reilly-Cooper penned an article called, “Gender is not a spectrum,” with the tag line, “The idea that ‘gender is a spectrum’ is supposed to set us free. But it is both illogical and politically troubling.”

In this article, Reilly-Cooper partakes in a number of common mistakes made by cis people when they attempt to discuss gender variance. Let’s untwist the pretzel that is her argument (spoiler alert: it’s a circle).

Saran wrap your screens, you may vomit.

What is gender?

Please, cis person, please instruct me.

In everyday conversation, the word ‘gender’ is a synonym for what would more accurately be referred to as ‘sex’. Perhaps due to a vague squeamishness about uttering a word that also describes sexual intercourse, the word ‘gender’ is now euphemistically used to refer to the biological fact of whether a person is female or male, saving us all the mild embarrassment of having to invoke, however indirectly, the bodily organs and processes that this bifurcation entails.

Do not represent the concept of bio sex as “fact” unless you are about to refute the accuracy of that statement.

For the umpteenth mother fucking time I swear to dog I am so tired of having to repeat this: Human sex determination is not binary. It is, in fact, thousands of “facts.”

In addition I’ll note, sex squeamishness is specifically an American phenomenon. If we can stop assuming what happens in America describes the entire world, that’d be great.

The word ‘gender’ originally had a purely grammatical meaning in languages that classify their nouns as masculine, feminine or neuter.


But since at least the 1960s, the word has taken on another meaning, allowing us to make a distinction between sex and gender. For feminists, this distinction has been important, because it enables us to acknowledge that some of the differences between women and men are traceable to biology, while others have their roots in environment, culture, upbringing and education – what feminists call ‘gendered socialisation’.

Okay we’re pinging like 2/10 on my TERFdar, because when cis people start talking biology when the topic is gender, it’s usually to justify associating trans folk with something they’re not. I’m side-eyeing the socialization piece. Men and women are socialized in Da Rules of both binary genders*; fathers are perfectly capable of teaching their daughters arbitrary shit about modesty and chastity just as mothers can tell their sons to “man up.”

At least, that is the role that the word gender traditionally performed in feminist theory. It used to be a basic, fundamental feminist idea that while sex referred to what is biological, and so perhaps in some sense ‘natural’, gender referred to what is socially constructed. On this view, which for simplicity we can call the radical feminist view, gender refers to the externally imposed set of norms that prescribe and proscribe desirable behaviour to individuals in accordance with morally arbitrary characteristics.

Well gee, when you define gender as oppressive, of course your argument follows that gender is oppressive. Allow me to demonstrate the weakness of this particular rhetorical technique:

[Read more…]

When TERFs pop up on your feed

It’s supposed to be a time of self care for me, following the shooting in Orlando and the various pressures that have been riding my back for some time. I try to control where I dip into the news, focusing on blasting the Dickweed Party, because they’re low-hanging fruit and not particularly difficult to refute. But this morning, I was dismayed to see this pop up on my morning feed, from another friend’s “like” on a stranger’s post. Let’s call the author EL.

Content Notice: Every transphobic dog whistle under the sun.

[Read more…]