Transgender Life

I don’t want this site to be solely about being transgender. From my experiences so far, it’s not even something I could write about every week – being in the closet is far more intense and frustrating and writeable. However, there are moments when things happen, unique to trans people. I’d like to share those moments with you, and let you into the mystery.

Anxiety Dreams and the Cisgender Label


Anxiety Dreams and the Cisgender Label

I know it's bad form to talk about one's dreams but I'd like to start this post by talking about how I woke up in darkness last night, after an evolving, unpleasant, anxiety dream about being trans.

In the first half of the dream, people saw me in a nice apartment, and wanted to take it for themselves because they were real people with real needs and I was only trans. In the second half of the dream, I was attempting to navigate through a dark farm shed area of a cul-de-sac vibe full of empty metal pens (having left the apartment), and some youngish guys were studying me, studying how I was dressed, especially the black high-top hiking boots that I usually wear around Edinburgh, and their implied androgyny.

There had been incidents during that day which had led to the dream, including my sense of being deconstructed and commented upon, and hearing the words 'really weird' as I walked past two people (which might have been directed at me). I also read a newspaper story about how had banned the word 'cisgender' because it causes offence to 'real' women.

I never used to care about the word cisgender. Lately, I've started using it all the time. My anxiety dream underlined its value to me. If there is no 'cisgender,' then there is only real/natural gender, and those who are artificial. To be seen as unnatural or artificial is a scary place to be. You're not quite male or not quite female, and history shows us in myriad ways what society does to people who aren't quite one of us. We're not seen as underprivileged, but as a threat. As invasive, and parasitical. In my dream, I felt that fear, the tension of your life being at risk, of people harbouring animosity towards you and being quite relaxed about wanting to hurt you because you're not quite human, not quite real.

Julia Serano, whose book Whipping Girl (2016) I've just read, talks about this binary, between natural/unnatural. It's used by anyone claiming normality: heterosexuality, whiteness, cissexuality, wealth. You represent the normal state of things. People outside of your normality represent the Other: unnatural, threatening, dangerous, to be distrusted.

The label cisgender, popularized by Serano in her writing, is useful because it removes this natural/unnatural binary; it introduced a new binary of cisgender/trans which doesn't paint trans people as monsters, but rather highlights the privilege and lack thereof, depending on whether you were born with your bodily sex in harmony with your 'subconscious' sex (Serano, 2016). Those who are against using the term, I'm guessing are also hostile to transgender people. To them, we really are the threatening Other, the not-quite one-thing-or-another, where in terms of abuse, anything goes. I see it in the academic papers of those who seem to dislike trans people or trans as a concept: there's no desire to get to know us, or understand our experiences. We're portrayed in the most reductive, negative way possible and seen as frauds, as something vaguely malevolent and deceptive, or pitiful and lacking in self-knowledge.

But we are just people, trying to make our way in life with the gender we identify with. At least, I am: I'm the person in the picture, about to get ready for bed, maybe slightly bored if I'm taking this selfie. I'm smiling quite enigmatically in this one, still unaware of the dreams that are coming my way, and not thinking about how artificial I seem to be to those who consider themselves more natural and normal, and whose feelings, taken to their logical conclusions, can justify all kinds of behaviour against people like me. 

My World Cup diary (I)
What's on (my mind)?


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Monday, 08 March 2021

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

December 22, 2020

Lacanian Icarus: when Gina flew too close to the sun?

On the recent experience of nearly being no-platformed There are two identities in one when it comes to being part of a disempowered minority. The first is for yourself: all your failings, your insecurities, your doubts, and connected to this, your curiosity and quirks. Let's be Lacanian analysts for a moment: what we're talking about is the transg...
November 17, 2020

If I were to detransition, this is what I would write

Warning: this is a speculative piece of writing, not an official announcement, although I have recently begun to imagine an 'ideological' detransition (from trans woman to GNC male). Here, I'm trying to articulate and reflect on my thoughts and feelings, and imagining myself from a different perspective. In this post, I'm Gina v...
November 17, 2020

Trans Hell-thcare

The picture accompanying this post is important to me. I took it yesterday, 16 November 2020, unsure what I'd find. It's been nearly eleven months since I came off oestrogen for reasons I'll get into in a moment. Undoubtedly this has had an effect on me, bodily and therefore psychologically, but the accompanying selfie gives me a reassura...
October 17, 2020

What if gender-critical feminism came to power?

This scenario is inspired by a dialogue I had yesterday evening with a gender-critical feminist just before I went to bed. Here is what I dreamed: In the summer of 2021, the Conservative minister Liz Truss introduces legislation, making women-only spaces legally accessible only to those born female. This U.K. law includes a provision for funding al...
October 13, 2020

Responses to my blog post (1)

A frustrating aspect of my website is that when people write in, there's no trace of an email address so no way of getting back to people, and also no way of publishing their messages. However, I received such a nice response to my article just now that I'd like to include it here. It's from some who for the sake of confidentiality (in case it's ne...
October 11, 2020

On adopting a more gender-critical transgender activism

On adopting a more gender-critical transgender activism Note to the reader: This post is intended as a contribution to addressing the current tensions between transgender activism and gender-critical feminism. The way I see myself in relation to female i dentity, and the ideas I express here, are not a prescription for other trans women. The t...
May 11, 2020

The Book of Queer Prophets, curated by Ruth Hunt

in Books

  The Book of Queer Prophets: 24 Writers on Sexuality and Religion The historically fraught relationship between Abrahamic religions and LGBT+ identities provides the backdrop to The Book of Queer Prophets , a collection of twenty-four meditations by public figures who identify as both religious and LGBT+. The book's curator, the for...
May 09, 2020

Queer/Transgender short film: Mesmeralda

Joshua Matteo's short film, Mesmeralda , merging horror with esoterica, is now out on youtube . As with his previous work Metanoia , we see youthful trans actors racing through the empty streets of a moonlit New York, haunted by symbols and stalked by a masked figure of violent intentions. Mesmeralda , as described by Matteo, is the companion ...
March 08, 2020

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare Summer, 2016: Gina's Big Bang, as transitioning begins A bureaucratic question in a sun-lit room. My medical practitioner asks me if I intend to have children. The question lingers, but the self-loathing is instant. No, I won't be having children. The practitioner nods. She moves on to the n...