So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

25 July, 2007

Gender On A Slant

So while I was blowing off the zillions of far more productive things I should arguably be doing, I went chasing links around the blogworld to see what's up with some current miscellaneous drama.

And one of the things that I saw was something to the effect of, "Transwomen have a fundamentally different experience of gender and privilege than woman-born women".

The funny damn thing about this sort of thing is that -- back to the Lamia once more -- people talk about the experience of growing up female or living as a woman and I so often have absolutely nothing in common with them. Trans, cis, whatever, I just don't share certain experiences. Which means that I don't share this foundation of gender understanding that I'm supposed to have as a woman-born-woman or whatever the happy terminology is for it.

And so I wind up figuring that, hey, if I were to try to engage with this stuff, I'd have to go down and wrestle with snakes some more about whether or not I count as a 'real' woman, when I've already decided that it's so much easier to acknowledge that I'm a clever fake and not worry about whether women who do porn make it harder for me or whether transwomen have the same experience of gender that I do.

And it's funny, watching the occasional upswells of stuff about transwomen, the way it underscores this sense I've always had of not being a real woman, not being genuine enough to really pass. I come away with this perpetual sense that I am neither safe nor welcome in 'women's space', every time I venture out that way. (It leaves me with an idle curiosity about how I'd respond to, for example, Amber's dance classes, which she has described as some of the most genuinely supportive women's space she's found -- and I wind up wondering if the 'genuinely supportive' would actually outweigh the 'women's space' for a snake like me.)


nexy said...

having been born and raised male, i imagine that i share some similar experiences with others who were also raised that way. yet, i never had any sense of being male or female, and wonder what that may feel like.

i also think about whether it is the experiences people have that result in a feeling of belonging to a certain gender, or if it is something innate. or perhaps, there's something that exists outside this nature/nurture senerio that might result in a sense of gender.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I was talking about this with my leige this evening and he commented that he shared a lot of upbringing with his brother, but they have extremely different perspectives on the world. I wouldn't be surprised if they had completely different parsings of maleness as part of that. (I haven't met his brother, though.)

And I think of another story he told, about one of the people he ran into at his high school reunion. The person asked him, "So, are you seeing anyone?", got told, "Two someones." And the question in response was, "Wow, where do you meet women like that?" (May have been 'girls like that'.) Which strikes me as having all kinds of stuff about gender tangled in it, and it's on the far side of the experience of gender from the shore where he and I are.

Framing perspectives make all kinds of things different. And when I'm off reading the radfem stuff sometimes I come away with the impression that even if the facts of various experiences are identical, the framework we put on those things are so wildly different that we might as well be speaking of different worlds.

P. Burke said...

I was born and raised female, and am still female, but don't have any internal sense of gender either. Sometimes I suspect that it's completely made up; just a side effect of dividing the world into "us" vs. "them" based on who got which genitals.

Women only spaces can be nice for me, but the reason they're nice is that a lot of the gendered dynamics (girls posturing for the boys; boys bullying the girls) goes away. They also feel less sexually charged, but that would be different if I were less hetero. I've occasionally been in mixed-sex religious spaces and gotten similar effects, weirdly enough.

Trinity said...

Hrm. I've got an internal sense of myself as a woman (which often puzzles me as I wonder more frequently than I usually admit if I'd be happier as something else -- take from that whatever you will) but it matters as much as my internal sense of myself as brown-eyed. I'm not sure what is supposed to follow from it.