As is my wont through out the evening, I was clicking on various links on my Facebook and Twitter time lines when I came across this article on NYMag.com about Agender people. This article got me thinking about the huge spectrum of genders and how people's self-perception of their gender can change.*
Those of you who have known me for awhile will probably know that when I first "came out" as transgender, I considered myself to be bigender and preferred to be addressed using gender neutral terms (i.e. "they"). Over the last year and a bit, I have done a (pardon the expression) shit-ton of research online and in the trans* community and also some serious soul-searching within myself. See, when a person realises that they are trans* (and no, it isn't always a case of "I've known since I was a little kid"), they not only have to make their way in a world that is often hostile towards them, but they also go through periods of self-questioning, self-adjustment, and learning. I know more about myself now then I did a year ago, let alone 20 years ago!
One's gender can change. Let me explain what I mean and what I don't mean by that. I am not saying (as trans- and homophobic people often do) that we can choose which gender we want to be, that we can go from being a transmale to back to our assigned at birth gender like flipping a switch. We can't be "miraculously saved" from who our internal self is just by praying to a person who may or may not have existed 2000 years ago. It doesn't happen. End of. Rather, as we search our hearts and minds and learn about ourselves, the gender that we perceive ourselves to be can change to better reflect our true selves.
To use myself as an example, a year ago I said "I'm bigender. I have two distinct and separate genders (one male, one female) and have no control over which one I am at any given time.". Back then, I rejected binary pronouns and titles and wanted to be referred to in strict gender neutral terms. Over the last 12 months, I have been through several life-changing events. I've fought to change my name and gender on my bills and on my bank account (I'm still fighting to get my title and gender changed on my medical records); I've argued with business owners about getting my hair cut; I've started taking testosterone and have decided to undergo chest reconstruction surgery. As I've done these things, as I've fought for my rights as a transgendered person, my thoughts, feelings and self-perception have evolved and changed as I got to know myself better.
At the present time, I have grown to realise that I'm not two separate genders. In fact, I'm not really even a transexual man (a person who was assigned at birth as female who is transitioning - or has transitioned - to be male), even though I'm taking male hormones and am planning on getting "top surgery" and have adopted male pronouns. The more I learn about gender, the more I talk with people in the trans* community, the more I learn about myself and what my gender is.
I am transgender. I am transmasculine. I use male pronouns and want the world to see me (mostly) as male even though I don't really consider myself to be a "man". I would love to be able to use a gender neutral title instead of the masculine title I am being forced to use. I am quite feminine at times and even call myself "girl" at times. I like wearing kilts and gypsy skirts. Yet I'm not a "lady" or a "woman".
Do you see what I mean? I have gone, over the course of a year, from "I'm both male and female" to "I'm more masculine, but I'm not really either a 'man' or a 'woman'." And this is all because I have taken the time to really learn about who I am and to accept what I've found.
Gender isn't always either-or, black or white. Gender is like sexuality in that there are as many genders and gender expressions as there are colours in the spectrum. And that's what makes the world and life so interesting.
*For those who believe that there are only two genders: take off your blinders, do some research and talk with trans* people please. There are so many variables in gender that it will blow your socks off, seriously.