Nuances of Self Identification

When I’m asked for a biography of myself there is always the question of how I want to identify, a woman, a trans woman, a transgender woman, and the list goes on. In the most recent version of the self identification portion of my biography I state that I am “a woman who is also trans.” I do this knowing that it is an unusual way to self identify, the two most common self identifications for those on the transfeminine spectrum that I have seen lately are “trans woman” or “transgender woman.” So why this way of putting it, after all, it might confuse people. I describe myself this way because I am more than the trans part of my identity. In terms of my gender identity I am female, a woman, and a rather femme woman at that. I also happen to be trans, have a trans history. There is also more to my identity beyond the trans aspect. All too often people think that if one is trans, and especially those of us who are also activists on trans issues, that being trans or transgender is the entirety of our existence. There is an implication that being trans rules all aspects of our lives. I am more than the trans part of my identity.

I am, in no particular order:

  • human
  • a woman
  • a sister
  • an aunt
  • a friend
  • a daughter
  • a student
  • a person of faith
  • spiritual
  • intellectual
  • quirky
  • an activist
  • a teacher
  • trans
  • and the list goes on.

I am much much more than my trans identity. I am a woman who is also trans. I could even go so far as to say I am a person who is also trans. That said, yes there was a period of time during my transition where being trans was the dominant part of my identity. Transition takes a lot of work and a lot of energy. There are also a lot of expectations on the part of oneself and others during transition. Medical care givers and others have expectations about what work one is expected to do with regard to the transition process and even expectations around how one must dress when going to appointments. For trans women (and I use this here because it is a standard label) there is kick-back if one isn’t ‘feminine enough’ for the particular provider. For myself I had my own expectations during the early stages that did dominate my transition experience. I came to realize fairly early that some of those expectations were not realistic.  Others I turned more into ‘oh that would be nice’ type items. Other people also have expectations around one’s identity as a trans person. I found there was often an expectation that talking about trans stuff was expected of me no matter what the setting. Now, having transitioned, I am at home with who I am and the various aspects of my overall identity.

I am a person who is also a woman, trans, a sister, an aunt… I am more than the sum of my parts.

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