Transgender & Gender Queer
Here is the question: In what ways can the concept-identity 'gender queer' replace 'transgender'?
First, this platform is about questions. I’m not here to write about things that I already know. If I were, I would write about education law and best practices in special education. One day I will write about education, but through questions, not statements: given the data, what’s the proper size and mission for Charter schools, in what ways are teachers unions forces for good vs. bad, etc.
On this post, I mean to submit the question gender queer. What gender queer and transgender means can be different to different people, and I’m not here to pin an identity on anyone, or say that my definitions should be the same as yours. I’m asking a question. Still, I defend what I write, and if you find what I say wrong or inappropriate, tell me.
Second, Do you. I take both care for the self and knowledge of self as essential lessons for happiness, and don’t want to get in the way of anybody doing what they think will make them happiest. Have as many or as few consensual partners as you want, identify as whatever you want, dress this way or that. Ask me to call you whatever pronouns and I will. Take care of yourself and be the best you that you can be. Mental health is real. Let's get started.
The concepts – Gender queer vs. transgender
Transgender can definitely mean many things. Google speaks thus, “… a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.” This definition is fairly broad. The transgender umbrella up top shows this.
We have to get to the second definition of Merriam Webster to get to a crucial distinction: “…a person whose gender identity is opposite the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth.” That’s the distinction: do you identify as the opposite biological sex. I don’t think this is merely a linguistic difference, but one that bears out in how people present. “I was born a woman.” “I am a man in a woman’s body” versus the "society's idea of what a woman is."
Let’s contrast that to the definition of gender queer. Again, this is a concept-identity that can mean many things, and I'm pinning no one's down. Here, I use gender queer to mean someone that doesn’t identify their gender with their natural sex. Generally they has (#Queerthelanguage) a queer or critical perspective on what gender means. Genderqueers might want different pronouns, but not the pronouns of the opposite sex, which they think are too loaded with heteronormativity. Again, some people interpret gender queer to be much broader than this, and if that’s you, that’s fine. Do you. I’m trying to draw a distinction.
The distinction: Do you identify your gender with the opposite sex (transgender) or do you just not have identify your gender with your birth sex(gender queer)?
Here’s why it’s an important one – It strikes to the core of the largest conservative objections to transgenderism. The way I hear the objection: a transgender person's DNA still is male or female, and that to say you are the opposite sex is to say something scientifically false. The statement “I am a woman in a man’s body” will always have at least two meanings – one about gender, and one about biological sex, that some people find a scientific lie. If you don’t know this argument, it's all over the internet, particularly in the conversation between Ben Shapiro and Joe Rogan (recommended). short and long.
That scientific objection has no purchase to the gender queer. 'I’m not claiming to biologically be opposite, I just think gender is detached from sex, and don’t identify my gender with my sex parts.' It also avoids a critique from a leftist perspective, that some transgender people might just reinscribe meaning into natural sex differences, i.e., there actually is a real feminine, and I was born that way, despite my penis. Then, we have a meaningful binary again.
Imagine if all we all spent time queering other people’s understanding of gender rather than trying to convince them people can be the same as someone with opposite biology… Would that change the debate?
Let’s wrap it up with some questions.
1. Can the language of queerness replace the language of transgenderism? Is that a better place to start? Is one of the pitfalls of transgenderism that we tried to be queer but hadn’t yet escaped the binary, and now are just reifying a meaning of fixed gender? Is queerness better?
2. Would changing language and society change the way future generations identify?
I believe that part of how we identify is genetic, and part of it is societal or cultural. There is evidence that sexual identities change significantly across generations. Millennials identify as LGBT two times more likely than the whole population. Opinions about gender roles and sexual identity have shifted. We have shifted. As for cultural factors, one study says people come out of the closet because their is more support , including “peer groups of LGBT youth”. I believe that to be true, and we should make our cultural as supportive for all identities as possible.
However, our cultures steer currents. He/She binaries are EVERYWHERE. It makes sense that if you have gender dysphoria, it might be easier to identify as the other common gender – the opposite, rather than breaking free from the binary. Would queering the language mean that more people with dysphoria come out differently? How much does acceptance for one thing, transgender, over another, gender queer, change how people identify?
Also, to underline: If you don't like this post or were offended by it, either have a dialogue, or move on to the next one.
1. How do the concepts of transgender and gender queer mingle?
2. Why are people changing the way they identify? More millennials identify as non-straight than any other generation. Is it all societal acceptance? Or does some of it have to do with the way we talk about sexuality, and the effect that language and culture have on identity?
No quick hits. Do some thinking.
If you want to check out a podcast that showcases some of these ideas, and others, check out the Joe Rogan Experience with Ben Shapiro.