MANY years ago, when communicating about trans* to people, I used the concept of a line with M at one end and F at the other and would say that a person could be at any point on that line regarding their gender identity. You didn't have to go to "the end of the line."
One friend took this "train line" approach further, saying that while you could be on the line from (say) Melbourne to Sydney – you could change lines re gender identity and go to Alice Springs, Perth or Cairns if that's what makes you happy.
However, about three years ago I was politely pulled up by a trans* person who stated lines were not enough and that gender identity was an infinite kaleidoscope of dot points. I'd say that's a pretty fair view.
Looking at all these metaphors, it's interesting to see how the approach has expanded over the last 15 years or so. To flesh this out a bit further, I recently spoke about my particular train ride through the kaleidoscope at the launch of NICHE (National Institute for Challenging Homophobia Education). Here is a part of that story:
In 1995, after getting accurate information about trans* for the first time in my life, I lived for the next 2-3 years presenting as female on occasions but did not make a permanent transition. I enjoyed this part of the journey, travelling at a sensible pace that it helped me to stand on my own two "heels".
I personally think it's helpful for any trans/gender-diverse person – any person really – to live the journey and not rush to an apparent destination. Over time, as the "male facade" fell away, I realised my need to affirm my true female identity permanently and did so in the first half of 1998. Seeing my body develop to one I was so much happier with over the next year or two was a joy. Again, enjoy the journey.
That, in turn, led to dealing with the next question: lower surgery, yes or no. I was lucky to connect with someone who said "any person has any operation to become happier and healthier. Will surgery achieve that for you?" Answer: no.
I faced pressure from those with a more binary outlook within the trans* and allied community who thought I'd "stopped before the end of the line." I'd urge people to listen to their own soul and find the unique dot in the gender kaleidoscope that is you. If something doesn't ring true for you, it's not for you; but if it does, it is.
There's lots more I could talk about. I've gone on to connect with other parts of who this soul really is. I've happily settled my sexual orientation regarding being attracted to more than one gender identity.
I've found my own blend of culture and religion with a combination of my Jewish community heritage blended with other faiths. I'm open to multiple ethical relationships – polyamory.
Musically, I listen to a range of songwriters from a range of genres – including music of all three kinds – classic Aussie rock, country and western.
I'm a proud introvert and highly sensitive person. I'm an occasional performer of stand-up, spoken word and singer. And I'm a fan of pro-wrestling – and if you don't like that, I'll throw you over the ropes onto the floor (well, I might pretend to do it instead).
Thing is, all of that is me – the particular person I am.
You are the particular soul you are. You can be: a fan of any music style or genre (thank goodness, I hear someone...many people say); any sexual orientation – attracted to your own gender identity, another gender identity or more than one; at any point on the infinite gender identity kaleidoscope regardless of factors such as surgery, hormones, clothes or transition; any religion, faith, spirituality and belief in a higher power or combination thereof – including having none; any occupation that suits your soul – I'll avoid stereotypical accounting jokes.
You can find your balance.
You can have whatever "labels" you want – or none at all. And all of the above and more can change over time – and that's okay too.
Be you – because only you can be you.
To all the intersex, trans* and gender-diverse people marching in Mardi Gras in two weeks, whatever points on the kaleidoscope of gender identity and the kaleidoscope of body you are – have a fantastic time.
by Sally Goldner.