Forget About Gender

A moment of clarity recently. Sitting deeply in my body. Thought in the form of words, spontaneously.

I am a hermaphrodite. I have no idea why.

I laughed for a long time. I am baffled and I am whole.

I am letting go of the need to be as close as possible to the system’s ideal of a man. I am okay with my ambiguous body. I am proud to be a member of a secret tribe. I am comfortable moving through the world as a man. I am an undercover outlaw. It’s a condition of my life: very well.

I am a man. I see a man’s face in my mirror. Other people see a man when they see me, hear a man when they hear my voice. The best part about this is how little I care. Sometimes I feel a pleasant sense of affirmation and belonging; sometimes I feel the gnawing pangs exclusion and isolation. Both are okay. Most of the time, I just don’t think about it. What a goddamn relief. As Amy has said, the best part of alleviating dysphoria is forgetting about gender and just living.

I am not a man. Not because I am transsexual–because I am a soul. In my essence I am an open eye, perceiving, no content. In our deepest essence, no one is a man, woman, nonbinary person. I am a man, as much as anyone is, which is to say, superficially. Gender exists on the level of form; it’s about human bodies, human personalities, cultural lenses, social roles. Nothing wrong with that–it’s part of life. One part.

It’s good to do what we can to be genuine, to be at ease, to be ourselves, to enjoy life. But we don’t want a Pyrrhic victory in which we imprison ourselves in our bid to be free. So we need a right relationship with the project of self-discovery and self-expression.

The experience of being trans can potentially reveal what is transient and what is solid, what is real. This is a twofold realization. First, we realize who we are. We might be feminine, masculine, androgynous; we might be men, women, genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, etc. It is healthy, courageous and invigorating to be honest with ourselves. We then begin a process of evolution and manifestation is which we express ourselves in the world. Beautiful. This is a very good thing.

But in itself, it’s incomplete. If we get trapped in a rigid idea of ourselves as our labels, we will be back in the box all over again, if perhaps a somewhat friendlier, roomier box than before transition. I have observed that trans men and women often run directly from the box of assigned gender to the box trying to fit in perfectly as the more suitable gender, trading a cage for a carpeted cage. (Not sure how this plays our for nonbinary people–let me know in the comments!)

This is what I did and it seems to be quite common. We get lost between competing false selves. After beginning medical transition, I became very hung-up about my gender, feeling a completely overwhelming desire to be gendered correctly by others and to be not one iota different from a cis man. It’s perfectly reasonable to try to express one’s gender and want others to recognize it. But the painful need to be seen, and, more troubling, to be the same, was actually rooted in transphobia. On some level, I accepted the bullshit line that being trans is inferior, that we are less real and less legitimate; I thought I needed to be as close to cis as possible in order to be okay. But I don’t. I just need to be me.

It is totally understandable that we try desperately to “pass”–our very lives depend on it, and assuming a person genuinely wants to live as a woman or a man, there’s no deceit involved, just the intense desire to express ourselves honestly at long last. The danger is getting stuck there. By getting stuck I don’t mean simply living as a particular gender–nothing wrong with that–but getting stuck in the belief that our very worthiness and even existence depend upon our gender.

We also need the second realization: what we are not. We are not our personal histories, our genders, or check-boxes on a form.

What are we? Deep, alive, mysterious. We are exactly how we’re supposed to be.


  1. Tea With Ess

    This is my conundrum, almost everyone around me see ME, not my gender – so why do I still feel the need to transition? Is there ever a need for transition, really? And how do I justify my transition to the gender clinic?

    • rimonim

      Transition is necessary & important for many people–I know it was for me. Even very open-minded people see gender (e.g., your recent post on hugs), and there’s nothing wrong with seeing gender. Gender is part of the dance we do as human beings. I don’t know about the gender clinic, but I don’t think you need any huge justification for transition. You know what role you want to play in the dance.

      I’m not trying to say don’t take your part in the dance–for God’s sake, dance while you are alive! I am trying to say, after a lifetime resenting one role, when at last you take a new one, don’t get so fixated on doing all the steps just right that you miss the music.

      • Tea With Ess

        Thank you for your kind words! My thoughts are just a bit messed up at the moment. I think it might be the “trans enough” question that is playing with my mind. I really liked your post, it’s important to remember that were not just gender.

    • UnknownJamie

      Heeey, I think it’s important not to hold yourself to anybody else’s standard, to learn from the experiences of others but to draw your own conclusion. I imagine there are different levels and intensities of dysphoria, but your individuality should have a good idea of who you are, once you can beat back those defences. Here’s hopin :D

  2. UnknownJamie

    This is something that truly bothers me. For the joyeus feeling of finally releasing a deep-seeded secret, the ultimate goal seems like it can be to live in another, even more deeply-rooted secret. Labels are easy and shift on streams of consciousness, and identity is transient yet inescapable.

    Our choices are defining in many ways, but they shape a truer definition of ourselves so that yes, hopefully it becomes as null an intrusion as possible.

    The brain just has to find a way of processing that which may be forever foreign, which is probably most things, therefore it only deserves as much consideration as it is worth in relation to the experience any person in life can come to contend with.

    It is confidence and assertiveness in defining yourself as without definition that I feel may open up ever more individual freedom, rather than more neatly organised boxes to stack with faceless masses.

  3. Lesboi

    I keep reading this post over and over. It’s been in my in box since you posted it because I felt it was too important to just read once and then hit delete. Plus, I’ve been curious about what comments would come through. I think it’s really important for us that are still working out our transitions to hear from our brothers and sisters who’ve made it through the process. It’s important to keep in mind throughout our journey what our end goal actually is. Like you said, that can change. We might start a transition thinking we want to only be seen as the opposite gender of where we started and find that, in the end, that’s not really the goal after all. The goal is not to be man or woman but our authentic, true self, whatever form that may take.

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