Archive | 7:44 AM

NB is an Unnecessary Term (Listen to why I think that before your go throwing around the term TERF, please.)

16 Jan

And first, let’s try to define that overused term so we can criticize my logic (but hopefully I’ll convince you before the end, so you don’t have to) using appropriate terms:

What is Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism (2)?
• TERFs believe trans women aren’t women & trans men aren’t men
• TERFs often feel that trans people are undermining “women’s” rights
• Trans women are often positioned as predatory men in disguise (despite having no evidence for this)
• Trans men are often positioned as ‘confused’ lesbians
• These politics undermine trans people’s ability to live free of harm and participate in society

I’m not saying non-binary/NB/enby is unnecessary because I’m somehow “against” trans-folk. Honestly, I don’t have a bunch of experience with the trans community, and I’ve only ever known one trans person closely. I volunteered for a safe-space for LGBT children, and one of the 14 year olds that came every week was FTM. I don’t have much experience with the LGBT community at large either, but I did attend the LGBT conference in Kansas City through a LGBT Coalition scholarship. And as part of that I went to all trans workshops because it’s the subject I knew the least about. In exchange for my scholarship to the conference I had to come back and share my new knowledge with the local community. I did a power-point presentation called, “Transcend Not Transition.” And PFLAG members learned a lot and liked it, so they asked me to do the presentation in other small midwestern towns to spread the word. So that’s pretty much the extent of my experience with trans-topics. Like everyone, I’m still learning. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s go ahead and define what non-binary means:

Non-Binary Defined

Most people – including most transgender people – are either male or female. But some people don’t neatly fit into the categories of “man” or “woman,” or “male” or “female.” For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is different than either male or female. Some people don’t identify with any gender. Some people’s gender changes over time (1).

Most transgender people are not non-binary. While some transgender people are non-binary, most transgender people have a gender identity that is either male or female, and should be treated like any other man or woman (1).

Here’s where I disagree with the non-binary concept. I believe the trans-person is the gender they identify with. So, I consider MTF women and FTM men no matter their physical status, remember “Transcend, Not Transition.” Furthermore, I believe there are women and men of every stripe. Women/men can be anything, and dress and act in any way that feels comfortable to them. I think instead of making a new term for those who do not fit neatly into the stereotypical male/female boxes, we need to remove the boxes entirely. I would guess a very small percent of people identify with every stereotypical trait associated with their gender anyway.

Some more helpful terms:

What are the differences between sex, gender, and gender identity (3)?

It’s common for people to confuse sex, gender, and gender identity.  But they’re actually all different things.

  • (Assigned) Sex is a label — male or female — that you’re assigned by a doctor at birth based on the genitals you’re born with and the chromosomes you have. It goes on your birth certificate. Assigned sex is a label that you’re given at birth based on medical factors, including your hormones, chromosomes, and genitals. Most people are assigned male or female.
  • Gender is much more complex: It’s a social and legal status, and set of expectations from society, about behaviors, characteristics, and thoughts. Each culture has standards about the way that people should behave based on their gender. This is also generally male or female. But instead of being about body parts, it’s more about how you’re expected to act, because of your sex.
  • Gender identity is how you feel inside and how you express your gender through clothing, behavior, and personal appearance. It’s a feeling that begins very early in life.

It’s gross to say women must have long hair, wear dresses and heels, use a feminine voice, and be a sweet and sensitive caretaker. Anyone who doesn’t isn’t a “real” woman, is such a yuck mentality. And it’s also gross to say men must have short hair and muscles, must wear pants, and be tough and love sports. Get rid of the stereotypes, I say!

I agree with the following author’s sentiment, that we need to abolish the damaging binary stereotypes instead of the well-intentioned creating space for trans-folk by doubling down on that antiquated notion:

Too often, discussions of gender today, rather than expanding boundaries, only contract them. When people say they’re “non-binary”, it sounds to me more like they swallowed the lie of the pink and blue onesies. Because the point is everyone, really, is non-binary – no one’s a wholly pink butterfly or blue car onesie. We are all, to varying degrees, purple spaceship onesies – and, yes, that is the scientific term (4).

Gender stereotypes are too often confused with biology, and you hear this mistake being made as much on the left as you do on the right. After all, it’s not that big a leap from saying boys wear car prints to Eddie Izzard saying he likes having manicures “because I’m trans”. Suggesting a man can’t possibly like having his nails done is a disappointingly reductive take on gender from Izzard, who was once so determined to tear down stereotypes about masculinity (4).

So ‘Not Non-Binary, Abolish the Binary’ would be the title of a power-point if I was to make and present this to the community.