Gender Variance and Amputated Hairdryers

Diana, an openly transgender woman (a male to female trans activist) on her blog considers the question:

What does gender variance mean?

That question was asked on a forum that I read and of course, I took it literally. I answered in part…

“To me being “Gender Variant” mean not acting or behaving the way you are expected for your birth gender. Crossing the gender “norms.”

For me, “Gender Variant” is a very broad term. It means being androgynous or a male with long hair or a female with short masculine style of hair, it also mean a woman who likes to dress in male style clothing. It also includes gays or lesbians, as well as a trans-person.”

However, other members answered more personal answers…

Diana then goes on to list the various answers she saw listed, many of which reveal the challenges and dangers of being gender variant.

As a gay man, part of my story is that I was gender variant from a young age. I always understood and felt I was a boy yet I performed and presented in ways that others read as feminine or girly, particular for the rural NY State community where I lived. A good deal of the ex-gay/de-gaying process I endured dealt with butching me up. They trained me to speak in shorter sentences and to maintain a flatter tone when I spoke without going up at the end of a statement as if it were a question. They encouraged a more business casual clean-cut look in my clothing without bright colors, distinguishing accessories or designs. (And let me tell you, I look fetching in a scarf.) They stressed that proper men sit and walk with their legs and feet wider apart than women. They pushed us into sporting activities and car maintenance. And the list goes on with all sorts of silly sounding stereotypical behaviors of what some believe marks a man as a man.

Even today moving around in some gay circles, particularly among gay men over 35, I receive the message that to be “straight-acting” gender-normative, masculine in my presentation is more valuable and attractive then to be fem–even if my natural inclination is to be nelly (or as they say in Spain–con plumas–with feathers.) To me this echoes the heterosexism and gender norms of society at large–a sexist, misogynistic society that oppresses females and femininity in males and male bodied-people. Some try to correct and contain gender variance. What I find sexy and attractive in a person is that that person in comfortable in their own skin–they know themselves and live with authenticity. That’s hot!

As a Quaker we speak often about the Testimony of Integrity. This commitment to honesty and truthfulness covered all areas of life including business transactions. Quakers became such trustworthy business people with fixed prices that didn’t change with the buyer, that a slew of products that used the name Quaker emerged on the market.

According to Wikepedia’s entry on the Testimony of Integrity,

Testimony to integrity and truth, refers to the way many members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) testify or bear witness to their belief that one should live a life that is true to God, true to oneself, and true to others. To Friends, the concept of integrity includes personal wholeness and consistency as well as honesty and fair dealings. From personal and inward integrity flow the outward signs of integrity, which include honesty and fairness.

Not everyone finds integrity and authenticity to be attractive, especially when it questions and upsets the norms. Diana after speaking about the difficulties she has faced because of gender variance, concludes her post,

Now I have transitioned none of this has changed; I’m still to some extent a loner, I still get ridiculed and laughed at, I still feel angry sometimes, and think that I didn’t ask for this, what did I ever do to deserve this?

What did change? I now have pride in who I am, I now have self-esteem, I have accepted myself. I am a member of a very unique tribe, whose membership is very limited. I have developed many new friendships and I have met so many people who accept me for myself. Being gender variant has made me stronger and has challenged me in ways I have never imagined.

Check out her posting over at Diana’s Little Corner in the Nutmeg State.

Also have a listen funky and feisty Mila and Jayna in the latest Trans-Ponder Podcast:

Episode 133 – (right click and and save to download here) In this episode, we talk about the recent attempt of a blogger to compare the trans experience with voluntary amputation. We discuss the recent rise in cis-gender women getting surgeries that are usually reserved for Trans-Women during SRS.
Focus on the Family is going broke, and we enjoy giving everyone the news. Mila goes on a rant about the one letter difference between Tyranny and a certain word that is used to put down trans people, and why we should care that about that little letter Y. We wrap it up with a story of a failed hate crime/attempted murder in the sex change capitol of the world, that left the attacker looking like an incompetent moron, and the victim wondering why their hairdryer was wet?

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