Anybody can be trans… but most people aren’t trans. Being trans does not make you a good person. Being trans does not make you a bad person. Being trans does not make you any sort of person, except a person whose gender is different than it was assigned at birth. People who aren’t trans shouldn’t call themselves trans. Generally, they don’t. People who call themselves trans should be assumed to be trans because, well, why wouldn’t they be? Being trans is very difficult, frightening, and painful. Whether it is “inherently” so is completely irrelevant and mostly uninteresting to me.
I don’t believe that that idiotic, disgustingly saccharine meme is “fooling” people into “mistaken” transition or identification. Nothing alarming and substantive, anyway. There is no lost generation of the “accidentally trans” to pity and fear, no embarrassing Wrong Sort threatening my legitimacy or respectability. I do suspect that it may be briefly causing certain types of vulnerable, alienated people to flirt with trans identity in a way that is insufficiently humble and introspective and poorly connected with whatever their actual wants and needs are. Some of them are trans, some of them aren’t, but they’re talking about transness in a way that is hyperatomized, manichean, and unhelpful - they use gender and gender labels in ways that are unrecognizable to me and to most people. And I am certain that it is making a lot of people who are very clearly trans and struggling with dysphoria uncomfortable, I believe it pressures them into seeing and expressing their feelings in ways that make very little sense and run counter to our material interests. I constantly notice trans people in these circles censoring themselves, policing their feelings for Getting Gender Right, for not being Essentialist or unacceptably Male. And of course I have been privately approached by large numbers of people who’ve shared their feelings about how stifling and isolating these dynamics have been for them. this is why I have, at times, described these words as “cultish.”
"transness is a feel and anyone can know it" is a nothing-phrase, it is a sort of snide anti-knowledge passed around between acolytes to set up night raids against Those Who Dare Not To Get It.
And on some level, I sympathize. Because this whole thing sprung out of trans peoples’ experience of invalidation and interrogation, out of a generation enjoying an uncanny and heartbreakingly piecemeal freedom from old gatekeeping regimes. The underlying moral principle of this way of talking about transness isn’t what it claims to be - it’s not about epistemology or the meaning of transness at all, it’s about Fuck You. it’s about You Don’t Get To Define Me. These are very noble and very important sentiments. We just need to stop pretending they’re what transness is, and stop presenting being trans as the ultimate Fuck You Dad. These ideas are a just and valid reaction to what transness is not.
the memeified “being trans is a feel and anyone can know it” combined with “hey guess what if you’re wondering whether or not you may be trans or something, guess what, chances are you’re trans, welcome to the club we have cookies” and hearing people actually talk about transness as something they Chose, whether because of physical dysphoria, mental dysphoria, Fuck You Dad, or just because they wanted to, and focusing on how much they loved making this Choice and being Hella Trans…
all this stuff actually really helped me come to terms with feelings i’ve had, with the idea that my gender can be whatever i choose and i can express it in any way i want to, and that just because i don’t experience dysphoria in the traditional “always known/trapped in the wrong body” narrative doesn’t mean that i’m “fake” trans or anything, that i can actually be genderqueer or genderweird or nonbinary or whatever the fuck i want without being appropriative.
i definitely see problems with the rhetoric that everyone should be trans or that everyone is trans but can’t you see where they’re coming from?
i tried for yeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaars to come up with some construction of masculinity that i didn’t think was toxic, to try to take “the good parts” and leave the other junk behind, i tried referring to it as “homme” and “queer masculinity” and all sorts of shit, because: i didn’t want to be A Man but i had never seen a narrative where AMAB people Like Me, pretty comfortable with their body and stuff, had decided they didn’t want to think of themselves or be seen as A Dude anymore
and yeah i said AMAB — i have many good friends online and IRL who are trans men, AFAB nb/gq/etc/etc, and they’re wonderful and i love them all dearly, but their history and experiences don’t resonate with me anywhere as much as AMAB trans folks’ do. i’m sorry but my birth assignment and the way i was socialized for damn near three decades made a pretty big difference in how i see myself and how my interactions with the rest of the world work. i wish this wasn’t the case but It Just Is.
i know you’re coming from the right place here but this is a south park “somewhere in the middle” type situation for me