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the “fad” of being trans

This is a first – typically we write for genderpanic, then cross post to our tumblr.  However, I wrote a response to submission at Queersecrets that I wanted to share.  It is a letter in response to this secret:

Image from queersecrets.tumblr.com

My letter:

“I’ve never understood the perception that being trans could be a ‘fad’.  Wearing skinny jeans is a fad. Gourmet cupcake shops are a fad.  Reasserting one’s personal and social identity as that of a different gender is not a fad – it is a life altering choice.

Being trans has a lot of costs, both literally and figuratively.  Embarking on a gender change involves (for many) permanently altering not only one’s body but also the way one will be perceived in society for the rest of your life.  Many trans people also end up spending quite a bit of personal money, time and other resources in order to achieve a physique and social status that match their choice of gender.

Even if a person’s way of asserting their trans identity doesn’t involved the literal costs associated with hormones or surgery, there are still risks involved in terms of possible opportunity cost (discrimination in housing or the workforce) or possible relationship loss (rejection by family or friends).  Trans and genderqueer people are more likely to be targets of violent acts, in addition to possible small acts of daily harassment.  I can’t see anyone being interested in these costs or risks just because of a ‘fad’.

Some people have a more difficult time than others in coming to their trans identity, not because they are weaker in any way, but because life may have stacked more personal, social and financial obstacles in their path.  This is not fair, and I don’t understand why things have to be so hard for some people.  :P  However, this shouldn’t invalidate the “trans-ness” of others who have experienced less personal turmoil coming to their decision.

A fad is a silly whim that comes and goes.  Even if one’s gender identity changes (and I fully believe in the idea of gender fluidity) that doesn’t mean one’s previous personal perception as trans was based on a ‘fad’.  Everyone has a different perception and experience of gender, and what make the queer community so great is that we’re ok with that.  At least, I hope we are.  Thinking of some people’s identities as ‘just a fad’ because they’re young or not ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ enough (or any other arbitrary reason) is a way of saying their gender isn’t real.  If the queer community starts separating trans people into categories of those who are ‘real’ and those who aren’t, how are we any better than those who think that gender, sex, and sexuality only come in binary forms, that of ‘real’ men and ‘real’ women?

If YOU decide in your heart and mind that you are trans, then YOU ARE TRANS.  No one can take that away from you.  Whoever wrote this secret, if that’s really how you feel, then go forth and blossom into whatever sexy gender you were meant to be.”

<3 G-P

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