I'll let them introduce themselves as they deem appropriate --
Lillian: Hello, I'm Lillian. I'm a gender critical feminist. I'm 70. When I was young, I was part of the feminist second wave that attacked the notion that biology is destiny, that if you were born male you were designed to live *this* life but if you were female you were destined to live *that* life. As feminists, we indicted gender roles and gendered assumptions about people. Because they aren't necessary for the functioning of society -- except the unfair parts -- and they aren't good for us as individuals. They are restrictions! We opposed sexist double standards and sexist expectations and assumptions. Anyone might be a leader. Anyone might be a nurturant caregiver. Anyone might be a belligerent asshole. Anyone might be an empty-headed doll-person. None of that is due to whether you were born with a penis or a vagina! Sex polarization that divides us up into women and men is a tool of patriarchal oppression and it exists to the detriment of women. Women are oppressed. Now, me personally, when I was first in the women's movement, well, we were white and straight and didn't pay enough attention to other people's situation. But we've become more intersectional and we listen to black women's voices and the voices of women who come from poverty, disabled women, and other forms of additional marginalization. But first and foremost, society is a patriarchy; that's still the bottom line for me. If men don't like it, they're in charge so all they've got to do is stand down and change it and quit opposing us.
Sylvia: Well, I guess you could say I was also involved in attacking that 'biology is destiny' thing. Hey, everybody, I'm Sylvia. I am trans. Back when I was figuring that out, the word was 'transsexual', and that's still what I prefer to use, but I don't want to offend anybody. I had gender dysphoria, the body I was born with was not my destiny. It wasn't right for me, and I knew it from pretty much the time I was old enough to understand the difference between boys and girls. I know some of you younger folks say things differently, you'd say I was assigned male at birth. Well, I had to get myself unassigned, because my gender didn't match that assignment at all. I changed my body to match my gender. Now, I understand the notion that we ought to have equal attitudes to a person no matter if their body is male or female. Or whether it came with a penis on the front of it or a vagina instead, if you like that language better. I understand saying that what your body is like shouldn't matter and we shouldn't have sexist beliefs. But that's not the world I got to live in. Maybe someday society will be that way but not in my lifetime. Not in yours either, probably. Getting sex reassignment surgery was something I could get within a few years, and I did, and it has made it possible for me to live my life with people seeing me and treating me like who I am -- a woman -- and I don't see why anybody's got any cause for having a problem with that.
Jesse: My name's Jesse and my pronouns are he, him, his. I was assigned male at birth. When I was younger, there was an attitude that what you were supposed to do if your gender didn't match your designation was to go out and get hormones and surgery, and if you did that and you could *pass*, then you were authentically trans. Well, some of those surgeries are expensive and not everyone can afford them, and there's medical issues with procedures, and hormones too, and during my generation we pushed back against that elitist attitude. Because you don't need to have anything specific done to you to make your gender identity valid, okay? It's fine to get gender confirmation surgery if that's what you *want*, and you can afford it and it's safe for you and all that. What is *not* fine is to go around telling people they aren't trans enough if they don't, you hear what I'm saying? And I am a man. Trans men are men. Trans women are women. You body is not 'who you really are', so yeah count me in as well on kicking that 'biology is destiny' off the map. What's up with people deciding they get to decide who you are based on what's inside your underwear? That's creepy. Anyone with that attitude, go perv on someone else, all right? Meanwhile, I hear what you're saying about gender being confining, but it can also be liberating and you ought to think about that. There are strong notions about how to be a man that go beyond being an okay person, it's heroic and inspiring to connect with that. Women, too, womanhood is a powerful notion. I got nothing against people who want to be agender or whatever, but I like being a man.
Allan (me): I'm Allan. I never bought into all the junk that gets glued onto a male, beliefs and assumptions and all that, because I didn't get issued all that stuff along with the body in which I was born. I grew up with messages about what it means to be a man, and also messages about what it means if your body is male and you don't match that description. Feminism told me that was sexist and I could ignore it, so I did. Until I couldn't. The world was too much in my face about it to ignore. So I became an activist. And yeah, biology isn't destiny. I agree that gender has its positive uses. Androgyny means expecting everyone to be in the middle, like beige or something. I'm not androgynous, I'm femme. Meanwhile I understand about it being easier to change your body, or to just change your presentation, how you look to the world, to get folks to think of your body as the body that goes with your gender, so that they'll get your gender correct. But the world got in my face and I'm returning the favor, I don't want to pass, I want to take the fact that I am male but also feminine and shove that at people. My body is not the problem, it's people's notion that if your body is male that makes you a man, a masculine person. That's what's got to change. We don't change that by converting male people to female people so they can be correctly regarded as women. Damn right our gender identity is valid regardless of our body. That means I get to walk down the nude beach with my flat chest and facial hair and my penis bouncing against my testicles and that doesn't make me a man. I want to be accepted as femme without lipstick, corset, boobs, or tucking. And patriarchy is in my way. I don't care if you want to call me a feminist or what, but I'm in the struggle against patriarchal oppression for my own damn reasons. And, yeah, I get to call my body male. I don't need to believe that I'm female in order to validate my gender identity. That's the whole point. It's *not*, and yet I'm still as femme as anybody.
You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!
My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.
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