Originally a comment by John Horstman on We’re not trying to draw bright line boundaries at all.
I identify as gender indifferent (as a subset of genderqueer) for exactly the reasons outlined in the post, and in my experience – both personally and academically – I’ve come to realize that a LOT of supposedly-cisgendered people are actually more like me, what I would call gender indifferent. And when I say “indifferent”, I mean insofar as it relates to identity; much like AJ Milne, I’m outright hostile to the concept and normative construction of gender at certain times/in certain contexts.
I should also note that trans people fall into the same two categories, though the overwhelming majority of people who decide to transition fall into the first group. The likely reason is that given the social – and often financial – cost of transitioning, someone who doesn’t care much one way or the other will find it easiest to go with the normative default (at least in terms of name/pronouns, legal identification, social identity category, etc.), even if the normative gender category overall doesn’t really fit that well either. Kate Bornstein is perhaps one of the better-known trans people who falls into the second category (she’s addressed this directly in several books and in the lecture she gave at my university, and quite possibly others), and she is frequently assailed with the same charges of (internalized) transphobia from a small, vocal contingent of gender-essentialist trans activists as a result. Someone like RuPaul may also qualify – the question of whether drag performers qualify as trans, perhaps contextually when in their drag personae, runs headlong into this very issue (in my experience, gender-essentialist trans people usually do not consider the drag personae of drag performers “legitimate” in the same way as their own gender identities – the Glasgow Free Pride ban on drag performers is an excellent recent example).
I think that the reason that gender-essentialist trans activists get so much pushback from otherwise-friendly/-allied people, some of whom identify and live as genderqueer and even trans people who are ourselves marginalized by many of the same social structures that marginalize trans people generally in cases like this ongoing kerfuffle, has to do with the tendency of people to exaggerate for effect. Instead of sticking to specific, personal cases, if one starts insisting on making universal assertions about gender being essential, like, say, demanding a one-word answer to the question “Are trans women women?” (that is a demand for a universal proclamation about all trans women and the nature of gender), that erases the existence of people like us, like Jenora Feuer and all of the commenters in this thread who are saying we feel the same way.