I am Transgender and No, I Don’t Hate my Body: Reflections on the Direction of the Trans Rights Movement
The assumption that I despise the most as a trans man is that I hate my body and have no desire to have a relationship with it. Trans rights have been getting much more visibility over the past few years, as Laverne Cox managed to break through into mainstream television and thusly put the issues of trans rights squarely at the feet of the general public. For many, many reasons this has been a great thing. Unfortunately, one of the negative outcomes to this visibility has been the emergence of a kind of static narrative promulgated by trans folx in regards to what “trans experience” means. Inevitably, when any social justice issue rises out of the muck into the light of day there are bound to be growing pains. Trans rights is no different. Though our movement has been around since Marsha P. Johnson threw the first brick at Stonewall, when movements begin to be seen by the oppressors is when we-for better or worse- are compelled to define ourselves.
There has been a strong push by gender justice advocates to dichotomize “the trans experience;” pinning trans versus cis and man versus woman. Indeed many trans folx do rebuke their former idetities completely, including not wanting to have certain bodily gender markers like breasts or a penis. Some folks wish to go on hormone therapy and have as their goal to be as “passable” as possible. But I’m not one of these people, and I know many other trans folx who are not as well. Just because I am a trans man or rather I “identify” as a trans man does not necessarily mean I wish to erase the 32 years I spent as a cis woman. I look at the majority of my past eperiences- rape, domestic violence, sex trafficking- as being instrinsicly linked to my womanhood and vice versa. These things share an inverse relationship. Every single one of my most formative struggles in life — I believe — have occurred in large part due to the fact that I was born with a vagina and identified female at birth. These experiences are who I am today just as living three decades as a cis woman with all of the eperiences that come with that have made me who I am today.
Just because I am a man does not mean I hate the woman I still have inside of me. It does not mean that I hate my vagina, or that I necessarily want my breasts removed. Don’t get me wrong, I oftentimes wish I had less womanly hips so pants would look more masculine on me, or that I didn’t have breasts so maybe I could have a chance of passing. But this does not necvessarily mean a dysfunctional relationship to my body and to my eperiences with my gender(s). Just because I am trans does not mean I hate my body. Being trans is not based on lack, it’s based on abundance. For me, more than anything, my desire to “pass” comes from a desire for cis people to accept me so my life would be easier. The better I could be at performing gender, the less names I’ll get called when I’m walking down the street. So really, this idea that I hate my body is your problem cis people. Not mine. I love my body. I love my curvy hips, my soft skin and my sexy-as-fuck pussy. Yes, I wish life was easier and I got less shit from people for the way that I looked but please trans community and allies, stop promulgating the idea that we all hate who we are, what we look like and where we’ve come from. Because we know that isn’t always true for every trans person.
How can we as a community do even better at communicating our needs to cis people, without erasing a significant part of the trans population? We don’t always need to create extremist binaries in order to get cis people to understand our eperience. It may have been necessary at one point, and that’s fine, but I believe it is time we move from over-emphasis as a means to create impact with our arguments to something that more wholey represents our large and diverse communities. We have cis people’s attention- for the most part- now it’s time to engage in a dialogue. Perhaps first and foremost though with our own communuity. How do we want to represent the issues of trans rights to a larger cis audience? What ARE the issues and why should they matter to cis people?
My belief is that the trans movement must step out of the shadow of the Queer and other LGBTQ movements, because these communities do not always have our best interests at heart. How many times have I heard a gay (usually white) cis man complain about “trannies” being a part of THEIR parade? Too many. Trans does not always equal queer, but ultimately if we can’t create real allyship in gay and queer communtities than what chance do we have at advocating for ourselves to John Q Smith, the straight white cis man who lives in a gated community and probably voted for Trump? Gay folx ARE part of our larger trans communities because historically Trans women of color have been the backbone of the gay rights movement. It’s time for us to call in that favor for all the years of hard work that our trans sisters of color have done on behalf of gay liberation. We too are owed liberation and it is about time that we get it.
I love and honor my vagina. This is not universal to every trans man, but it is for me. It has been through hell and I will not participate in any further marginalization of my womanly parts. I am a man with a vagina, breasts, hips for days and a big luscious butt with the words “slut” tattooed on my soft and lovely butt cheek. You better damn well believe as a Queer/Trans man in this world I’ve earned every bit of a right to be proud of that vagina, proud of that body and proud to be a Trans person not defined by other people’s assumptions of my relationship to my body.