Recently I saw the rather absurd argument that I – by extension, I mean, since the person was talking about transgenderism in general and I are one – cannot decide that I am a woman for any more than he could decide he is African-American.
Thing is, he could. I point out this, I know a man who one can tell is a cracker from freaking orbit, this man was baked up in a Keebler factory! But he is an African-American (well, trying to be, anyway, green cards are trickier to get when the country you were born in doesn’t exist and the part you were born in is contested between two nations – and, no, I don’t remember where precisely he’s from) because he was born in … wait for it … Africa! He isn’t choosing, that’s a simple fact.
I’m brought to mind of something the amazingly brilliant Bill Cosby has said:
We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans. They don’t know a thing about Africa.
Black skin colour can come from other parts of the world. Oceania, for one.
Why is it that if you’ve yellowish skin and a slant to your eyes you’re an Asian-American even if your family has been in America since the civil war? African-American even if you family was shipped over on a 17th century slaver’s ship?
I’m not here to argue that point though, and before anyone tears me a new one for being racist, please note that I am not 100% white, and my best friend in the universe and one whom I count as a brother (seriously, I can’t remember his mother’s actual name because I’ve always called her, simply, Momma and meant it – she was a second mother, and a wonderful person, may she rest in peace) has voiced these statements or agreed with me when I have. Let’s move on to the point, please.
The point is, if someone whose family hasn’t been any part of Africa for four centuries can be African, then by that man’s own logic as a matter of fact I can say I am a woman despite the sex of my birth.
We do make a lot of choices in our lives about who we are, because who we are is naught but our choices, our experiences, our thoughts, our hopes, and our dreams. What we are, however, we can’t change. Bill Cosby is black, a person of colour, or a cheese pizza – whatever we are calling someone who nature has decreed will rarely know the joys of sunburns; this is what he is. If he chooses he could call himself African-American (instead he chooses not to), this tells you things about who he is.
I did not choose to be a woman. That is what I am. Because of other details that makes me transsexual/transgender, again, not a choice – just a fact that’s no more controllable than being a freckled redhead. I chose to play at being a man and boy for my life up until not so very long ago. In that way, who I was was a choice. I was Jason, a very shy and very awkward, very confused, very withdrawn, and very depressed man and boy. Now I am Jaye, a less shy, confident, somewhat outgoing, happier woman. In this case it was, yes, a choice. We all have that choice. A cisgender man or a cisgender woman can choose to identify and present themselves as the opposite gender if they wished. They could get bottom-surgery and alter their sex. They could take HRT and alter their secondary traits accordingly; thing is, what man or what woman would wish to? One whose sex and gender don’t match, yes?
Trans, gay, bi, etc. are not themselves choices. They leave us with choices. But so does being cis, straight, etc. A straight person can choose to have sex with his or her own gender – it doesn’t make them not straight. A cisgender person could cross-dress, it doesn’t make them less a woman/man. A homosexual or a transgender can choose to hide what they are, and as a result present an illusory version of who they are … or perhaps not so illusory, I mean, I’m who I’ve always been by and large, I’m just showing a the world that person. So I suppose in some regards to what we are, the only choice is whether or no we should hide ourselves, our who we ares.
I do not choose to be a girly-girl. That’s what I am. I like lace, and pink, and things. If society switched so that those things were considered manly, then I’d no longer be a girly-girl, I’d be a tomboy, because that I like those things wouldn’t change. My choice is if I should wear those things or not – at times the mirror makes that choice for me /shudder/ (let it never be said that red hair and its corollary complexion does not have its cost). I do choose how I wish to present my femininity to the world; I have the choice of if I should take hormones and how, I have the choice to get surgery or not, I have the choice of shaving/waxing/laser/electrolysis, I have the choice to be one hirsute bearded woman (but that would also mean choosing to clash with some of my blouses; that was not pretty … don’t ask).
We do not choose to be gay or not. We choose to hide it, to pretend we’re otherwise. We choose either way, the people we will make part of our lives, with whom we will get into bed (or more interesting places, too, I suppose) with, to whom we will trust the keys to the handcuffs.
We can choose to be bigots or saints. We can choose to be lovers or fighters. We can choose to be kind or cruel. We can choose, via emigration, if we are American or Norwegian or Kenyan or Japanese (well, we can choose to try, I suppose those places’ offices of immigration make the final choice).
The important matter is to understand the distinctions.
Some homosexuals and transgender did choose to be. There are those who might say something like “I want to be …” and do. They are rare. Mostly in both cases, at a very young age (the first days of puberty at the latest) … well, we notice the little girls/boys rather than the little boys/girls in our kindergarten class, we feel more drawn to the boys’/girls’ activities rather than the girls’/boys’ and to their clothes … as we grow these things evolve and grow with use rather than going away. But there’s more to it than that. Well, with sexuality, maybe not much more. “Gender is a societal construct, you’re what your sex is and the rest is just clothes” … no, sorry to disappoint you but it’s in the way our brains our put together — we are physiologically, not just psychologically, trapped in a body that doesn’t match – our instincts, our imperatives, our deepest needs and desires, the animal baseline of our fundamental little monkey brains tells us “woman” or “man”, tells us “nurture, nurse, be pregnant” or “hunt, guard, impregnate” in opposition to our plumbing. This is the trans version of the things we cannot choose, just as the gay person can no more choose that he or she is turned on by the hot guy or gal.
And these are hard to write when the dog is being a pest. I probably really repeated myself and lost some track of my points a few times. Oh well, fuck it. I only care about being perfectly clear and concise in my published writing. Blogposts are ephemeral musings; textual versions of idle conversation … er … monologuing speeches?