Imagine the heartache of the cis-trans male who opens up Facebook and realizes there’s no gender category for him to choose from. It’s only male and female. This is just too outré for words.
Doesn’t everyone know that gender is a social construct – that gender is malleable and may change from moment to moment? One could be five or six or seven of them before lunchtime and a few dozen more before climbing under the covers and turning into a butterfly, or whatever.
Gender is not in the head, you know, it is not in the brain. You are not wired in any particular way. All of this is a choice you make as you make and remake yourself throughout the day and throughout your life. (But somehow gays are also “born that way” and not to be subjected to reparative therapy.) Some go so far to say that even sex is a social construct, but these brave pilgrims are truly ahead of their time.
Facebook fixed all that now that you might choose what they call a “custom” gender. This bespoke genderism is a boon to those constricted by the tired choices of our fathers and grandfathers , who after all might have felt like non-op, non-binary trans men, but probably mistook it for the grippe.
Go to Facebook. Do it now. Click on “about,” then “basic information,” then “edit,” then “gender.” You will see three choices – male, female, and “custom.” Since that is all that drops down, you have to fill in what you want to be.
Type in “trans.” Go ahead. Don’t be afraid. Your choices appear: trans, trans female, trans male, trans man, trans person, trans woman, and then trans*, trans* female, trans* male, trans* man. For the life of me, I cannot figure out those asterisks.
Put in “man” and you get cis man, cisgender man, transsexual man, cis woman, cisgender woman. . . .you get the picture.
As confusing as these words can be, their meanings are even more confusing. Some months ago I wrote a column here about the fight between Warren Beatty’s daughter, who is a binary trans man going by the name of Stephen Ira, and Sonny and Cher’s daughter Chastity, also a binary trans man, who goes by the name of Chaz.
Chaz made a huge mistake on ABC and compared his transgenderism to a cleft palate and said it was a misfiring in the brain where his body did not match up with who he thought he was inside. Stephen Ira pounced, “I am a binary trans man, and I do not want Chaz, another binary trans man, representing me and simultaneously mistreating my non-binary comrades in this way.”
But it means something to them. As I did some months ago, I turn to a fellow named Asher who has placed his “Not Your Mom’s Trans 101” on a website called The Atheist Library. Asher says, “There are many trans people who are neither male or female. They cannot be categorized as ‘either/or.’ These people may use terms for themselves like genderqueer, androgynous, agender, or neutrois. They often use gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘ze/hir/hirs’ or ‘they/them/their/theirs.’ They can be both male and female, or none of the above, multi-gender, genderless, or something else entirely.”
Chastity (left), who became Chaz (right)
You know who has gender just about right? Weird to say: the U. N. General Assembly.
Go figure that.
There are two definitions of gender in UN documents and one of them is in a hard law treaty. The Beijing Platform for Action, which is non-binding, says gender “should be understood as it is traditionally understood.” Not bad. But the binding treaty that established the International Criminal Court defines gender as “men and women in the context of society.” That “context of society” is a fishy formulation the gender crazies hope they can fool around with at some point. But for now “men and women” is darn good and certainly precludes non-op, non-binary trans men.
As promised here are few definitions just to wet your whistle. I will get you started and then you are on your own.
Pansexual is someone who believes they are many or all genders.
Agender is someone who believes they are no gender at all.
Genderqueer, according to the North American Lexicon of Transgender Terms, is a general category for identities other than man and woman, also considered non-binary and opposed to cisnormativity. Genderqueers may want to be referred to not as he or she but as one, ze, sie, hir, co, ey or they. When writing a letter to a genderqueer you will want to address they (sic) not as Mr. or Mrs. or even Ms. but as Mx.
A trans man, according to Wiki, is a female to male transgender or transsexual person. The trans man was assigned female at birth ,but self-identifies as male.
You note my sarcastic tone. While I recognize sarcasm as the lowest form of punditry, we must muster enough of the old oomph to laugh at these people and right in the kisser. Though in this context, I shudder at that word kisser.
Make no mistake, not everyone in the gender funhouse is happy. Some folks have been left off, and they’re plenty steamed. The custom list of genders at Facebook is custom in the same way ordering a shirt at Men’s Warehouse is. There are fifty-eight, and they’re all on the rack. They left off bioguy and biogirl. They left off demiguy and probably a lot more.
Some are petitioning for new categories. On local radio in DC this week, they reported on a guy who asked Facebook to add the gender he called “kielbasa.” Makes no sense. Makes perfect sense.
But then it struck me, something deep inside. I am kielbasa. I have been kielbasa all my life. Until I’m not.