Trans identities in a historical context
When I was 14 I read about transsexuality on the internet. I was very gender-confused at the time, but I didn’t identify with those stories at all — I didn’t want to be a man. Eventually I settled into a lesbian identity. Some people are lesbians because of the girls, I was a lesbian because of the gender possibilities: lesbians could have female bodies, yet be as masculine as they wished. Now I know that not all masculine females are lesbians or even women; heck, I’m not even that masculine. But it was the only identity that made sense to me back then.
I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t read about the concepts of trans-gender and genderqueer. Would I eventually have identified as transsexual? Would I have continued to be a butch female? Could I have been happy in one of those identities? I’m more than satisfied with my queer trans identity; but would I be happier identifying as something that hasn’t been invented yet?
I’m curious about the people who invented terms like transgender and genderqueer; how they managed to put a finger on their not-yet-named identity and name it. That must require a tremendous amount of creativity and self-awareness, and the ability to read an identity as yet illegible to other people.
I’m not done thinking about trans identities in their social context. For instance, I’ve been wondering about “passing women”: females who were perceived as male by everyone except for friends and lovers. They existed in the US in the early twentieth century. I wonder why that concept disappeared: was it because of picture IDs, which made it harder to hide their legal gender? Did those people even identify as “women”?
I read Transgender Warriors by Les Feinberg a few months ago, but it left with a lot of questions; plus, I’d like to know more about the history of trans identities right here in Argentina (most of what I learned I’ve picked up from magazines and talking to trans people).
This post by Tboy Jacky somewhat relates to the topic, in my opinion: he writes beautifully about how transition isn’t an absolutely necessity to some people, but the best path among the many available. Thanks for describing this so eloquently, Jacky!