How Do Trans People Fit Into Gender? Trans Inclusion & Asking Good Questions, Part 2

In my last post on good questions and trans inclusion, I offered an answer to the question, “What is gender?” This time, I’d like to look at two more aspects of genderneutral’s question: How can we include all trans people in our understanding of gender? And, how can we view trans people as interconnected within the larger human story of gender?

If gender is part of being human, for better or for worse–so often for worse–and if we could think of it a bit like language or music, we have already entered radically new territory. We are no longer in the realm of rules, rigid categories, and so-called truth. Instead we have entered a realm of meaning, culture, communication and beauty. A melody may be especially pleasing (or not) to our own ears, and it may be of a certain style or format. In no sense, however, can a melody be “wrong” or “right.” Pay no mind to the few who try to say so out of snobbery. Those who claim some type of music is not music are always made wrong by history.

So we can let gender wax and wane, bend and change with the cultural seasons; whatever is good and real in it will endure. We can let people, ourselves included, be as they are. They are that way anyway, whether or not we see fit to grant our permission. I say, use your voice and try to sing, as best you can, the song that you were born singing. Or dwell deeply in silence, drinking in the rich space of your own quiet. To insult or drown out another’s song is an act of cruelty, which does nothing but introduce more hatred into the world. Such violence is a senseless and tragic misuse of your fleeting time on this earth.

In this logic, all trans people are always already included within the concept of gender. I will not spend any time justifying our dignity or legitimacy. Our existence is enough. I take this truth to be self-evident: that theory and ideology, if they are to contain any sense at all, must conform themselves to meet reality, and not the other way around. Any explanation of gender that does not include us contains a basic flaw, a broken promise–it does not describe the universe. Not this universe, any way.

In this universe, gender-variant people have always been part of human diversity. This includes those who, in this place and time, we call transgender, transsexual, intersex, genderqueer, agender, bigender, Two Spirit, and other terms. In other times and places, different words have been used, implying different subdivisions among gender and sexual minorities. It is wonderful to learn about the unique terms and traditions of various cultures, especially the more humane manifestations. But that’s somewhat beside the point here. The point is simply that we are real.

How, then, do diverse transgender people fit into the larger human story of gender? Like violin strings in an orchestra, like crickets in a summer night. What would springtime be with only one type of flower, or dawn with a chorus of identical birds? It is the imposition of a violent and unnatural monoculture that rejects our spice and nuance for the sake of its own bland, efficient machinery.

But human nature, like all nature, contains somewhere within itself the awesome intelligence of the ecosystem. The natural world is an interdependent wonderland containing order and chaos, harmony and discord, and dazzling uncountable myriad forms. So the genders need no more determine, dominate or detract from one another than the animals, vegetables and minerals sharing a bit of the earth.

All I have said so far confines itself to our understanding of gender–to internal shifts in our view of the world. How do we take such an understanding and shift the world? I think changing our understanding of gender, and living out that change, are necessary, but obviously not sufficient.

What is sufficient? I do not know.


  1. urbanmythcafe

    I like this.
    “Any explanation of gender that does not include us contains a basic flaw, a broken promise–it does not describe the universe.”
    Very well said.

  2. genderneutral

    Rimonim – it has taken me a while to reply to both your posts in answer to my inquiry. First, thanks for taking the leap and doing a great job of deepening into the concept of gender. The use of metaphors I found interesting, appropriate in the connections and connotation as well as in the complexity and abstractness of the reality of gender. Gender is quite abstract in truth, tho society has tried to pin it down to concrete male is this and female is this. Societies interpretation of a female being stereotypically the nurturer for instance, while males are the protectors. So all these HUMAN characteristics have suddenly become associated with specific genders. And I think this too is part of the trouble I am running into as a trans person. (note the pause, do I write trans person or trans man). I am truly still working through all of this in my head, heart and relationships. But it is complex and we need to disentangle human characteristics from specific genders, so that a man can reach his full potential as can a woman and anyone in between or around these two. When this is done, I wonder what will be left of the notion of gender and the importance of a rigid binary system. I do not know how PingBacks work and if you see when someone PingBacks to your post, but one of my readers and friends read your post and commented on it in mine. She noted the divisive nature of the creation of gender: “This division of roles, responsibilities, activities and resources…Division, again. When will we change this paradigm?”. That sort of sums it up. What will remain of gender when we separate it from all the divisions that were arbitrarily given at some point in history for some sense of survival (I assume). Thanks for keeping the dialog going as we continue I think to transform the understanding of gender and what it is simply to be human. The very nature of our existence and our rising in societies consciousness across cultures is doing this. We each adding to it with our unique expressions.

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