tl;dr Trans identities are no more political than cis ones and to pose the existence of trans people as “revolutionary” puts a lot of pressure on trans people, instead of challenging cis people to actually consider the implications of their gender identity
So, someone sent me this article a while ago. Don’t actually click on that link, it’s full of terf-y, cissexist logic that would make even the most patient person groan and pull out their hair in horror. It’s not worth your time. (And don’t worry, the someone and I have had a long conversation about what’s acceptable to send me for the future, that’s not the point of what I’m saying, and they are still a wonderful friend that I trust because they apologized and really worked through my response).
I’ve also been thinking about that new National Geographic thing with Katie Couric called “Gender Revolution!”
And take this quote: trans people are the ‘ultimate symbol of a rejection of conformity’
And see, all three of these examples, even while one is hands-down vile, another is supposed to be exciting representation for trans people and the last is just attempting to pose some questionable rhetoric as a problem (I mean, I have opinions), have the same problem – the assertion that non-binary and/or trans genders are, in some way, particularly revolutionary.
And this is a really dangerous, because it somehow implies trans identities are consciously political and radical.
Now, don’t get me wrong, everything’s political at the end of the day. Queer existence itself is a radical political act and non-binary existence is definitely part of that.
But as long as we fail to see the political implications of binary, cisgender identities, it’s very weird and creepy to call trans identities revolutionary. I didn’t wake up in the morning and go “hey, I want to destroy the binary system of gender, so I’m going to revolt and be non-binary”, it happened the other way around, I woke up and went “I’m non-binary, so I’d like to challenge the binary system of gender because it makes my life difficult”. These are two very different things.
But we act like some identities are more political than others.
Nope. All identities are political. The supposed neutrality of cis identities is, in fact, very very political. It encourages and perpetuates a society in which the what is considered the “default” (cis, here) holds privilege and power over the “other” (trans, here), because the power of the default is so accepted and normalized that it is never viewed or questioned.
So maybe before acting like my gender is a revolutionary act, cis people should recognize exactly how powerfully political their own identity is, because that’s what I’m revolting against. The gender revolution isn’t going to come from my existence, no matter how hard I try. It will come when cis people break down the power their genders hold (specific side-eye towards cis men).
As long as we blithely call trans identities revolutionary, we’re just pulling away the spotlight from where the revolution needs to happen and shining it on a bunch of people who are, honestly, a bit exhausted from all this revolution forced on us simply through our existence. (I mean, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m exhausted).