Drop the Binary: Trans Thoughts on the Women’s March


While I would love to completely be on board with the Women’s March, I unfortunately cannot, because I am trans.

As an individual, living and breathing in this moment, I do not necessarily care how I personally fit into the branch of womanhood. I additionally do not feel envious of ciswomen who have vaginas, nor do I feel left out, as some like to describe us. I am proud of my body, and it makes me angry when someone asserts that my reservations about the March must come my obvious shame.

What I do care about is the regressive language of the Women’s March. And before a ciswoman comes in to shoot me down: Yes, I understand that reproductive rights are at risk, and yes, I understand that Pussy is the word behind the March because of what the President of the United States said when bragging about the sexual assault he has committed.

Women are not just Pussies and Uteruses: to define them as such is incredibly regressive to everyone.

As a transwoman, I feel belittled. It has been very difficult for me to come into my femininity, and I have found so much beauty in being a woman. It is isolating to then be surrounded by signs that define women by their sexual organs. It reinforces a binary that I’ve been struggling to shatter so I can exist.

It’s offensive to transmen who were born with and may have chosen to keep those body parts.

For ciswomen, it is a shutdown of so many voices that they should be listening to.

For cismen, it completely evades a discussion that needs to be heard on toxic masculinity.

And for every child on this planet, or anyone who will be at some point, it is unhelpful to reduce this complicated conversation into a matter of your fucking pussy.

If I am ever fortunate enough to have children, I am not planning on forcing a gender on them. Unless they want a label, unless there is a truth that speaks to them. You never know what’s going on within someone’s mind regarding gender.

When people saw me as an eight year old playing alone during recess, they saw a ‘boy’ who was rowdy and imaginative. But even in that moment, the binary had taken hold of me and I hated myself. I believed that my body was preventing me from being the girl I dreamed of being. I wanted to let go of my fantasy, but I couldn’t.

Do yourself a favor this week. Drop he/him and she/her on everybody, aside from those who have asked to be referred to by those, but let’s be real, the only people who feel the need to clarify their pronouns are trans/nb.

They/them is such an inoffensive pronoun. We use it every day to refer to people without even thinking about it. But when you use it on the right person, it is a fucking gift. I go by she/her and when people drop that on me without thinking, I feel so incredibly touched.

People like to joke about what I am about to say but seriously: never assume people’s pronouns. When you do so, you are enforcing the binary, like it or not.

Right now, we are at a time where unfortunately, trans and nb people generally fall into this demographic of young, possibly artistic people, who are gentle and kind. We are also in a place where most non binary people are those who were designated female at birth. This will change, because we are growing fast.

I accepted that coming out was inevitable after finding out that my closest friend from high school had recently come out as trans. I felt inspired and hopeful, thus my journey began. My positivity helped fuel other people’s coming out and their wonderful transformations moved many more. We are growing at an exponential rate. We are mostly made of young people, because young people are more willing to challenge norms and binaries, but eventually we will grow old.

Right now, you can sit on a train and look at all the people riding with you, and you can probably make a good stab at what everybody’s preferred pronoun is. But one day, down the line, I’m going to be old and on your train. I won’t look like what you imagine when you think trans. And that they/them tool you will then have will help you understand me and the world. There is nothing wrong with using they/them until you get a chance to ask someone their pronouns.

When you drop the binary, you will find a femininity in a middle aged construction worker’s face that you hadn’t noticed before. Or a flicker of masculinity that could be in the face of an elderly woman sewing quietly in a corner. You will see the fluidity that is present in all of us, you will see how close we all are to each other. Because biologically speaking, ‘male’ and ‘female’ really aren’t that different.

Open up your mind a little and listen to the people around you. Do not exclude the voices that want to help you; if you are being told that your language is isolating to transpeople or any other Others of society, it is on you to fix that. Stop being defensive; no one is attacking you.

Chances are if someone is being open enough to call you out on something, they probably see hope in you, the possibility of change.  So don’t roll your eyes.

There are so many other ways to talk about womanhood that go beyond “Pussy.” Obviously, it is OK to talk about your body. But when it becomes 90+% of the conversation, it becomes a problem. And that is the Women’s March in a nutshell: Something that could be really meaningful but falls flat prematurely, and instead shuts out many needed conversations.

The Women’s March is important, and now part of our history, and I’m proud of the people in this country that are fighting. But, unfortunately, the March is not enough.

When people discussed the Women’s March around me on the day of, it was not spoken of as a protest. It was gently played with as a thing to do if you didn’t have any other plans. There was no gravitas, no talking about the issues, it was just something to check off on a “Performative Ally Checklist,” smashed between “Talk about Get Out on FaceBook” and “Vote for Obama.”

I am not faulting those who go to the Women’s March; but I am saying that if you are attending that March only if you don’t have any other plans, you need to wake the fuck up.

The Women’s March is first and foremost, a protest. It is not a place for you to go so you can take selfies and post them online so everyone thinks that you are such a progressive. It is an act of resistance.

If walking around a few thousand people once a year is the extent of your allyship, you are not doing enough.

If you are white or male or cis or wealthy or anything in this culture that somehow coincides with an unprecedented amount of privilege, you are responsible. Your conversation at lunch with a coworker about how bad things are isn’t enough. Retweeting jokes about Donald Trump isn’t enough. There are millions of ways to help. You can volunteer, you can make art, you can do just about anything as long as it helps empower other people.

If you can’t think of anything, look around you. You know hundreds if not thousands of people. Reach out, talk to them, remind them that they are loved. If there’s another shitty trans ban by our government, text your trans/nb friends. Say I love you. It’s really easy and it will mean the world to someone.

Bottom line, if you have a friend who has less privilege than you talking about an issue that affects them, don’t roll your eyes and assume they are being dramatic. Take a second to consider your privileged reality might be hurting others, and listen to them. Be there and be present.

Thank you.


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