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Friday, March 20, 2015

I Don't Need To Justify My Own Identity

Whenever discussing being transgender to anyone that isn’t quite accepting, the same discussion always comes up. “Prove it is legitimate.” And we have a lot of cool science about it! We have brain studies, and population studies, long term follow up studies, and so many amazing things! And I will never deny how awesome and useful these studies are, they’re great! But at the same time, they’re all rooted in the same problem of “make me believe it’s ok.”

Now, to other people this may seem reasonable. Prove this phenomenon is something that actually happens. But then, this isn’t just some “condition” or thing that happens to people. This is us, this is lived experience, this is the very core of our identity! And so a better question is, why do we need to justify our own identity?

By asking for any sort of proof you’re saying “Your identity must be proven” you’re saying “Your experience and feelings aren’t good enough for me.” But why is that not good enough? Can you tell me my feelings don’t exist or aren’t “strong enough?” Why should I prove any of that to you?

In arguments I’ve pointed to brain studies and many times I get the same question. “But have you had your brain examined?” And it always strikes me as an odd question. I mean, even if we discuss the scientific problems and practicality problems with that question (The population studies are extremely encompassing and also were performed on many dead people, so you can’t kill people just to see…), let’s think about a scenario.

Let’s say we somehow were able to get my brain analyzed while keeping me alive. Let’s say when we did this, my brain matched the brain structure of someone male instead of being female. Ok, so let’s move logically to what would happen… Nothing. Nothing would happen. Nothing would change. If this scenario came true, what would we expect to happen? That the feelings would go away? That my identity would magically change? That I’d suddenly be like “Ya know what, nevermind, shut it down”?

The studies are cool and open up conversation but ultimately, my feelings are my feelings, and they are valid. My identity is valid. One time someone asked me “So am I just supposed to take your word for it?” YES! Absolutely yes! Many guys I’ve met I just trust they’re guys, I’m not asking them to prove it to me or show me their genitals just so they can be sure. What would be so weird about just taking someone’s word for it? If anything, it’d be really weird not to believe it! “Hey, my name is Mark.” “DROP YOUR PANTS AND PROVE TO ME YOU’RE A MAN!” (Sounds more like the opening to a really bad porn movie.)

It’s ridiculous to think we, as trans* people, need to prove to anyone anything! Just take our word for it! We are who we are. Our feelings exist, our experiences exist, we’re the ones feeling and experiencing them. So only we have the right to speak on them, because it is our experience and our lives and our identities and no one else’s. We don’t need to “prove” or “justify” any of those things, and we don’t need your validation to be who we are. Go ahead and tell me I’m not a real woman or I’m just a delusional man, say whatever you want. Cause you don’t invalidate me. You not thinking of me as a woman doesn’t make me not one.

No more demands for proof or validation, no more telling us we’re wrong. When we tell you our gender, ya know what? Take our word for it. We know ourselves more than you do.

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