The Dark Matter of the Soul
I knew I wanted to be a woman; that was the easy part. But I kept hearing that I wasn't trans unless I already was a woman, in my heart at least. So I spent years looking around inside myself, trying to find this thing called Gender Identity, hoping it said Female on it. The weird part is that I never could. I still can't, frankly. I am a woman and still I can't find a gender identity in my heart. Sexuality — yes, check, that's something I can feel. Embodiment — yes, that's pretty luminous to me. But Gender Identity? If it exists at all, it exists as the dark matter of my psyche, visible only in its effects. In preferences (for embodiment, for comportment, yes, for attire), in the books I read (honestly I blame/credit Elizabeth Moon for everything), in my hopes and dreams and longings. I like leggings and skirts and technical outerwear and hiking long distances in rough country and riding fast bikes with no brakes and being nice to people and listening when they talk and being a girl (I really like being a girl) and not having a dick and being six feet tall and being femme and being butch and so many other things I could not list them all if I wrote all day. And I hated being covered in coarse hair and being an asshole and arguing instead of listening and wearing the baggiest clothes I could to hide the body that I hated and falling asleep every night dreading the person I would wake up as tomorrow. So yeah, I'm a girl. Now I don't speak for everyone. Some people just know, early, easily, antecedent to all that stuff (or so I'm told). Some girls like having dicks. To paraphrase Eve Sedgwick, different people are different from each other -- and more power to all of them! This is my point: I hate the phrase "gender confirming surgery." I hate the idea that being trans is defined as having a "gender identity" opposite to your physical embodiment. I hate the idea that I am a woman who was born in a man's body. These ideas kept me in denial for *years*, convinced I wasn't "really" trans. They're a poison. Autonomy and informed consent, kids, that's the way and the light. Do you want to change your embodiment? Presentation? Pronouns? Go ahead and do it! You don't need some metaphysical voucher. You don't need an astronomer of the soul to detect the woman (or man) inside you. Become what you want and have fun with it!