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Yeah, Androgynous is Just Not the Same

“If only society was so advanced as to find it perfectly acceptable for men to dress like women, as it is for women to dress masculine, there would be no problem.” How many times have we heard that old chestnut? (BTW, never call my breasts ‘chestnuts’, I hate that) it’s such a lovely, egalitarian and liberally enlightened sentiment that you just have to appreciate the meaning behind it, even if it’s just so horribly wrong. Well, for us anyway; the CD’s would probably be thrilled.. or not, I still don’t have a strong bead on the motivation there to be perfectly honest.

I, and dare say we, have gotten into that conversation plenty of times. It’s such an uncomfortable one because we understand that for sure the person saying it is trying to be understanding and very supportive with the very best of intentions. We reach over, head tilted, lips puckered in sympathetic understanding, stroke their arm, and say, “That is just so nice, but sweetie, you have no fucking idea what you are talking about.” It’s rough, right? The last thing we need to be doing is taking a seventh floor tinkle on our allies’ upturned faces on a day they left the umbrella at home.

The question was posed to me again recently at the dinner table by my spouse/ sister and a friend. “What if the societal norm was such that men and women dressed exactly the same and had the same roles in society, and such was that they were virtually indistinguishable in outward appearance?” A Star Trek analogy was tossed in there for good measure. It was a thoughtful way to put it, I must admit and had to think for a moment. I chucked the Star Trek thing aside at once. There is absolutely no mistake of which characters are female and which are male, roles or genderless coveralls aside. But what if no one could tell and there was no social discernment?

I think there is only one right way to answer this. Even if this was so, and when I walked out the door female it would not be one iota different than walking out as a male, as far as the neighbors could tell, it still would be necessary to transition, just arguably easier. You see, I would know. I would still feel the frustration of missing emotional depth. I would still see the difference when I got in the shower. I know some are able to get over themselves and enter into a physical relationship with someone while still sporting the wrong parts, but I simply can’t. It just feels too uncomfortable. And let’s face it, no matter how homogenized society becomes, there are always going to be differences between the genders. How we plug into the world is just different. One way is just way more ‘us’ than the other and there is no way around it.

When it comes right down to it, appearance is nothing more than finding a comfortable way of modeling our personal look in public, to whatever sub-demographic we further identify with. There is a secondary factor in there to blend with our gender enough to avoid getting hassled when we have to pee, but this is really a ‘nice to have’. OK, a really nice to have, but you get where I’m going with this. In the unlikely event that we become disembodied intelligences floating about the ether willy nilly with no regard to an animal gender binary, things might change. Just let me know when that happens, because I don’t think I’ll be holding my breath for it.

Snapping back to reality, it’s all such a moot point. For the foreseeable future, which I think drags on for hundreds or centuries or worse, our species has markedly different genders. Maybe two, maybe a lot more, that is all still being worked out through philosophical semantics and endless biological and mental variations. By and large, my overall impression is that almost everyone likes that these differences exist. Even in the Star Trek universe, it is plain to see that the ‘androgynous’ uniforms have a way of amplifying a woman’s curves, front and back, as well as a man’s shoulders and , er, package. It’s a long toss down a short pier to say the show would have been just as popular had they went with a Snuggie model. Dear God, please let that never happen! I like things the way they are.

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About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

7 responses »

  1. Dear Michelle,
    Your post made me think about how society treats gender and the extent to which it is a social constuct. Clearly some differences are contrived, but inner gender indentity isn’t.
    I have always imagined a world where people are assumed to not have a gender unless they come out as male, female, both or another gender entirely. This would probably mean most people would have genders. Society just wouldn’t care so much who you were or how you expressed it.
    The fear I think that some people have is that “if some parts of gender segregation are justified they why aren’t all of them?” Clearly this is a false dictotomy, but I think some feminists want to get rid of gender entirely instead of exploring the more complicated question of what gender really is.
    People keep thinking ( and I used to think ) that people transition to change the way other people see them. Now I realize people transition to feel like their authentic selves.
    That however is a very hard concept to understand if you haven’t expirienced and it’s place of no simple answers.

    Reply
  2. Hi Michelle! I have nominated you for the “Tell me About Yourself Award! Please go to this link to accept it. http://messagesfromdeanna.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/i-am-truly-honored/

    Reply
  3. Since you brought up CD’s, I feel the need for a little levity…. What is the difference between CD and TS?…. About 5 years. (rim shot) lol I just had to, and you may remove this if it is in bad taste.

    But seriously, the point that “you” know inside is really at the core of the issue, no matter what one looks like. I have had comments thrown my way like, “you are gonna make one ugly broad”, or, “you think your kids are going to be around you in a wig and boobs?” To those I have quipped, ” I am more than likely not going to win any beauty contests, however I will be able to express who I am more adequately”

    Reply
  4. This really strikes a chord with me. I’ve been asked questions like this numerous times before, and I am a trans person who doesn’t really experience a lot of debilitating body dysphoria. Don’t get me wrong, because I do like my body much more than I did since starting T and getting top surgery, but being female never really bothered me either. I just didn’t really care that much what my body looked like on the outside, and I was confused growing up because, if I didn’t care, I didn’t see why anybody else should care either. But they did care. I just don’t think everybody understands that when one transitions, it isn’t always all about the surgery or hormones. And it’s not always just about social perception, either. It’s often some combination of both.

    As such, honestly, I can’t really say that I’d have medically transitioned in a society without gender, or a society that could see past my physical body and perceive me as the man I really am. In fact, in such a society, I might not have even questioned my identity at all. But the reality is, the way people perceive gender is a very basic, very fundamental tenet of the human identity, and expecting everybody to become agender or even just change the way they perceive another person’s gender isn’t reasonable or realistic. Most people don’t want to be completely rid of gender. They like being men and women. And let’s face it, men and women ARE very different. What we really need is just education to teach people that it’s okay to be non-conforming of traditional stereotypes, and that it’s NOT okay to judge people based on their willingness to conform to your own ideals of what it means to be a man or a woman.

    Reply
    • I wish it were that easy, you can only educate those who don’t think they already understand. Most people don’t really seem to understand the difference between sex and gender they say they do but they really don’t completely. I haven’t had any real problems but I think most trans have in one way or another. I feel your lucky not to have Gender Dysphoria. this seems to make it easier for you I would assume. I just had to reply
      Truly, Tedie

      Reply
  5. Very nice, I struggle with having the (package) as you call it. I’m having an orcandecomy, I know I butchered that word but anyway I need to do this to feel I’m making progress in my transition, it’s all so expensive. I hate having that thing hanging on me. Androgynous is to me a way to help me transition without being beat up to bad, blend in somewhat, which sucks somewhat but it dose help a little especially on the job. An Androgynous world, I can’t see this happening, Sex is a very,very big part of most peoples lives and identities, look at us, the transgenders of the world. If for any reason identity is a very important part of making us feel whole, necessary for our mental development as individuals. What else can we think of that would drive us to risk it all, not a want to but a have to, I’ve never experienced anything like it or even close to this. Michelle your a wonderful person and a friend I know your going through some things your self, It shows, we all are, the road is full of pot holes. The only way I have gotten through this is to have friends that care. When I’m out and about I just be myself and stay focused on my goal and display my confidences, Transitioning is what drives a large part of what I do every day so in some ways, Androgynous is the way it will be to some degree for some time to come. Thanks again Michelle for such a wonderful topic.
    Love Androgynous, Tedie

    Reply
  6. What i like most about this is the depth and clarity. You see that people mean well but just don’t get it. I find that so frustrating, yet at the same time I completely understand that we make up such a tiny fraction of the world that most people have no direct experience with the whole trans experience.

    BTW, I’m glad you ended with the acknowledgement that there was nothing really androgynous about the Star Trek uniforms. The were cut and fitted to show off all the curves and bulges in a way that left no confusion as to who was boy and who was girl.

    Love,

    Becky

    Reply

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