CN lester has written a blog: ‘Why i don’t “self-identify” as anything’ which prompted me to put my own thoughts on record:
I’ve never understood the ‘self-identify’ thing either although I talk in those terms sometimes to move things on when I’m met with total incomprehension of a different viewpoint. I don’t know what ‘gender identity’ means except to describe an accumulated social experience. Otherwise to me it’s a bit like saying ‘I believe in god’. You create this abstract homunculus thing in your mind and then you insist to all who will listen that you believe in it. Being social animals I guess we kind of make a pact that we will all vest our homunculi … whether god or gender identity … with similar attributes. Then we can discuss the finer details of those attributes endlessly and in doing so refine them into a comforting shared vision which becomes endowed with a totemic semblance of reality. That’s kinda what often goes on in online forums 😉
The only thing I’ve ever been certain about concerning my own transness is that I was born male-bodied yet have always felt an overpowering need to be perceived as female. This is not debatable. I just have. For the record a major constituent of this is sexual. I have always felt a strong need to experience sex as female though in the past I often felt a social pressure to play this down in case it fed ammunition to the morally constricted likes of Dr Blanchard or J. Michael Silly for their description of me as a pervert. Actually I do think it goes beyond the sex act. Not only does it embrace how Joan Roughgarden describes sexual signalling as having become co-opted for regulating social organisation, there also seems a powerful need in my own case to be perceived as female for no immediately apparent reason. I can only conclude that the imperative for sexual reproduction has resulted in an innate need in most people to be perceived as one sex or the other and to perceive others in a similar binary fashion.
I know this may be seen as anathema from various viewpoints such as:
– It’s not about passing (being perceived). It’s about my gender identity
– it’s not about body sex. It’s about my gender identity
– It’s not about sexuality. It’s about my gender identity
– It’s not about binary because my gender identity is neither.
However the following statement is true for all of the above: “I experience a strong need to be perceived as other than my assigned birth gender” … No?
If there’s usually a strong neurological trigger to be perceived as male or female then, just as with people who are left-handed or ambidextrous, why should this trigger not flip in a percentage of individuals or be experienced in varying degree from one individual to the next or even be altogether absent? This absolutely conforms with the growing acceptance among neuroscientists that neurodiversity is far greater than previously imagined. The inability to accept such an apparently value free and simple explanation conforms sadly with the historical pressure in societies to confer high moral value on superficial demonstrations of neuroconformity.
Such apparent neuroconformity may have been felt to confer an advantage in a past characterised by conflict and antipathy between different societies and sections within society. It is no longer necessary to maintain such an illusion.