Amongst trans folk, there is lots of discussion of a particular phenomenon: that people who identify as genderqueer are often posited as more “radical” than binary-identified transsexuals. I’m not going to spell this out, but simply move forward in my thinking with the presumption that we (reading here) get that notion is bullshit.
It is commonly agreed upon that people who identify as genderqueer and particularly those referred to in the above erroneous assertion are disproportionately FAAB. That’s a reality that I would like to pick apart a little.
I was reading something this morning that said
The fetishisation of trans men and other transmasculine people as being innately more transgressive or non-gendered is also the product of a serious, often unchecked, problem within feminism: the internalisation of the patriarchal ‘male-as-default’ norm which expresses itself in this case by seeing men or masculine people as more androgynous, and less ‘gendered’ than those who are feminine and/or women.
I think this assertion is likely true, but I don’t think it takes in to account something that is often un-discussed; the ability to be seen. This discussion made me think of an old trans true-ism; that in most of the world, several cues that indicate “woman” to the viewer are needed to balance one cue that indicates “man”. This phenomenon seems to spring forth from the male-as-default norm referred to in the above quote. I remember that I first read this assertion as made, I think, in Brat Attack, 20 years ago. The simple truth that seems to go unspoken is that it is often easier for FAAB people to make a discernible genderqueer presentation than it is for MAAB people.
There are other factors at play. What is described as the “genedrqueer community” is usually the gender-complicated arm of the dyke community. There is little such community for MAAB genderqueers and this is a critical difference. While one’s identity is not necessarily defined by how one is seen in the world, being seen, having one’s complex genderqueer ideation and presentation read by others in a meaningful way, has great impact on one’s ability to live that identity in the world.
I don’t mean to speak for others here. I do not identify as genderqueer. I did, at one time, identify in a way that might now qualify as genderqueer, but the term was not in common use at that time and that was an internal identification more than anything. I never attempted to have it be legible to others in a significant way. I still exhibit gender-non-normative behavior, but have settled in to a place where I live and identify as a woman who doesn’t always behave as women are expected to. That’s not very unusual for feminist minded dykes. I would love to hear others’ thoughts here, especially those of folks who do identify explicitly as genderqueer.
*note: FAAB and MAAB stand for _blank_ Assigned At Birth. I googled faab and got something about fantasy baseball teams, so I’m putting this in in the interest of accessibility to the full range of folks who read here.