Trans, or non-binary?

Why would you say you were non-binary, rather than trans?

I do not have “a woman’s” spirit, or soul, or mind, or brain, but my own. When I say I am a woman, it is an approximation, and refers to a cultural concept of what a woman is rather than a concept independent of culture, if such a concept is possible. I do not believe I am really a woman, though some trans women believe it of themselves- some call themselves women with a trans history. That could be a way of shutting down argument, rather than explaining: they do not want to explain my behaviour to anyone. If you have to justify yourself you are already less than the Normals, who need not explain themselves. I might do that by saying, “I am Clare”- I am who I am, which is even more difficult to attack.

It seems to me that the names we call ourselves can be used to explain ourselves to ourselves or to others, or to give ourselves permission to behave in a certain way, or to argue to another that I should be able to behave in a certain way. When I first saw a gender psychiatrist he gave me a card saying that I was undergoing treatment for transsexualism and it was appropriate for me to use a woman’s loo. I never had to bring that card out, but I carried it in my handbag until I went full time.

-Why are you dressed as a woman?
-Because I am trans.

Omygod I have this compulsion to dress as a woman.
I am trans
Therefore dressing as a woman is alright.

Do as thou wilt so long ye harm none. However I dress does not harm anyone.

Today, it was really hot, so when I got to the town centre and chained up my bicycle I could not bear to put my wig on. Anyway, under the helmet I was sweaty, and did not want all that sweat in my wig. I put on my skirt over my shorts and walked through the town. “I am embracing my inner non-binary,” I thought. I can have a skirt, breasts made of flesh rather than padding, and male pattern baldness not completely obscured by having just shorn my head with clippers. I am, just for today, non-binary. I went into a charity shop, then thought I cannot try that on because I am so sweaty: so I am concerned for others still. I noticed my awareness narrowing, a self-defence mechanism: rather than thinking “Everyone is staring at me” I only notice other people to avoid bumping into them, deliberately not noticing how they look or if they are looking at me. So, possibly several people were staring at the odd man in a skirt. After going round with my wig off I could just decide I am entitled to do that, and not need a name for myself to justify it; but in the meantime I can take different names which seem contradictory.

So you might call yourself non-binary if you wanted to do things you felt were restricted to one sex or the other. That seems fine if you want to present male three days a week and female the rest of the time. It is more of a problem if you think women should not shout, or men should not cry. That is a radical feminist objection: a woman can behave as she wishes, according to her own nature, and should not be restricted by patriarchal concepts of what is “feminine”. Harridans and pansies unite! But I do not use these names to restrict anyone, but to liberate myself.

However, there is no clear line between “trans” and “non-binary”, so that you could clearly identify a person as one or the other apart from their own identification. And lots of people behave as they wish without the need for these labels. Some are more normal, and some have more self-confidence.

6 thoughts on “Trans, or non-binary?

  1. As a cis – gender person, I’m sometimes careful to talk about things like this in case I’ve glt thr wrong end of the stick. But here goes. There are transpeople, like YouTuber Blaire White who completely reject non – binary identities. While I can understand why some FTM/ MTF may have a strong reaction against it, I don’t judge people who classify tgemselves as non – binary either.

    I read a linkk on Facebook one day about a person who was AFAB and identified as non – binary. The way that they explained it was that they didn’t feel any cultural connection with gender norms, even as a young child (I can’t find the link now. It was on the Believe Out Loud Facebook page).

    I alsobsaw a video where a non – binary person and tgeir experiences with gender dysphoria.bThe way ‘they’ explained it was that the person was OK with secondary sexual characteristics, such as breast development, but felt a sense of alienation when getting a period.

    There are times when Ibdo wonder about whether gender non – binarism is more to do with radical feminjist theory morecthan anything else, then I read/ kisten to what I explained above and I’m more inclined to believe them (collective).

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    • I have a friend who identifies as non-binary. I am quite happy that they can find the label that fits them. I do not like exclusive trans, the idea that only a particular narrow path is proper trans and everyone else is wrong, or wrongfully trying to steal the acceptance of the masses which rightfully belongs to us, or alternatively spoiling it for the real trans people by making the masses think trans are weirdos. I may have said this here before:

      “This kind of trans is completely acceptable. That kind of trans are just weirdo perverts”- said no non-trans person ever.

      Having said that, I feel that non-binary and trans are not discrete groups, and that our choice of label is more from experiences and culture than anything innate. I prefer non-binary to binary transsexual, as the concept that certain behaviour, responses or feelings are proper to one sex and not the other seems completely wrong to me.

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  2. I suspect that if we were all free to express ourselves without having to conform to tne binary mould set by society, then I’m sure fewer of us would present as being strictly binary.

    Take myself for example. As a child and well into my teens I was completely oblivious to the constraints society placed on us because of our birth gender. I simply tried to copy the behaviour and mannerisms of those who I was with at that moment. As I didn’t enjoy the rough and tumble boys often participated in, I frequently found myself in the company of girls. So when with them I tried to copy their behaviour.

    When I look back on it now, I realise that I didn’t identify the behaviour as being male or female so much as simply being different groups of people. I’m not sure what role my undiagnosed autism had in all this, but it was probably a factor.

    Certainly by my late teens/early twenties I had learnt that it was unsafe to exhibit some traits in public – traits that come naturally to me – and that unless my appearance was 100% masculine I could expect a rough time.

    The “natural me” is orientated more towards the masculine, but when I let my guard down, family and friends can clearly see that some traits are feminine and wouldn’t be wise to exhibit in public.

    Although I’m sure society is more accepting of “non-conformists” than was the case several decades ago, clearly those close to me don’t feel it’s accepting enough. I’d like to think they are wrong, but on such matters I’d trust their judgement more than mine.

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  3. I agree with you Clare, any and all are welcome to join under the transgender umbrella. I assume that non-binary folks are using that label to define themselves more precisely in the trans spectrum. No harm in that of course.

    And presenting as non-binary, as I guess you did the other day, Clare, is fine too although it takes more courage because one is truly putting their self out there. It’s so wonderful to be able to do it though, isn’t it?

    It occurs to me that non-binary people might help those of us who wish to present as women. If we don’t 100% pass maybe we will be given the benefit of the doubt for trying.

    I wish I didn’t have to try to pass, that I was just AFAB. Ah, wishes… ! I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing a costume so there is a limit to what I do to be myself and present as a woman. Women go to the market everyday without makeup, in shorts and a t-shirt. Maybe I have to dress up a smidgen more but that’s all I’ll do.

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    • Many can help us. Some cis women are abused as trans because they are tall, or thought by the abuser to be mannish in some way. Depending on how hostile the environment is, though, it can be better not to spend too much effort worrying about passing, as it is constraining.

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