Note: This post was originally posted on Questioning Transphobia. I’m cross-posting it here because what better way to get back into the swing of talking about trans issues than to blog about it? Or at least in my world. It’s what works for me, so I’mma do it.
I’ve been avoiding the trans community for a few years now. The pushback I get is too much for me to handle, and I’ve never been able to get the support I need from a community that really should get why having this support is so necessary. This wasn’t always an issue – it only started showing up when I became to understand that I am also mentally disabled. Even moreso when I started to come out about that fact, a part of myself that I didn’t see as having much relation to me being trans. Just, yanno, an extra tidbit of information. Which isn’t exactly true. I’m noticing that yes actually, my disabilities are a major factor in why I identify as trans. That shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Apparently it is.
Trans people get othered a lot. We’re pushed off as crazy, disordered, for challenging the social norms of gender and sex. Either by choice in trying to deconstruct this ancient structure, or simply by existing. Throughout history we’ve been institutionalized or “fixed” (or tried to be) simply for existing as ourselves in a world that focuses so strongly on the cissexist concept of penis = man = masculine and vagina = woman = feminine. Even now the disconnect of the body and one’s self identity is seen as a disorder, one that must be treated and fixed so that we can fit neatly into this dichotomy again.
This has pushed a lot of us on the defensive, and understandably so. Transgenderism isn’t a disorder and shouldn’t be treated as such in society – it’s an identity, an intricate part of who we are as people.
But it sometimes goes to extremes. All too often people are quick to point out that they’re not crazy. People with mental illness are crazy, and people shouldn’t conflate the two. Trans people aren’t loony like those real loony people are. Which causes a whole mess of problems a la ableism, psychophobia and a combination of misunderstanding and misinformation.
For one, it isolates trans people with mental illness, even when they don’t relate. Because suddenly, they are those real loony people. The ones being targeted, within a community they’re seeking support from.
Second, it asserts that the only true and appropriate identity is one that isn’t a result of mental illness. Which is leaving me with the question of “WHY?“
Various mental disorders can shape one’s identity. What exactly is the problem with that? Why exactly is an identity shaped without the influence of mental illness more valid than one that is influenced by them? An extreme but perfect example is Dissociative Identity Disorder, where the identity of the self is so fragmented that the system can be composed of so many identities, some of which can directly contradict others. This is in constant fluctuation, and many of these can be present all at once, individually or sometimes none at all. This is effectively the case with me, where I can identify as a man, a woman, both, neither or something else entirely – be it all at once, one or two of these at a time or fluctuating constantly throughout the day. And while it can last for just minutes or days, it can also extend over several years, to the point where I originally sought out transition as a trans man due to the disconnect between being female-assigned-at-birth (FAAB) and identifying as a man for so long. And that’s not including the added fragmentation of schizotypy, where I see the world abstractly and thus didn’t have a clear grasp on this concept of penis = man = masculine and vagina = woman = feminine, even when my abusive peers tried to teach me this clear absolute true fact of the world, and I still don’t.
Since then I’ve come to the general identity of genderqueer or genderfluid (depending on which day you ask me), allowing myself to shift between these various gender identities freely as my mind naturally shifts in response to situations and just its own natural state. But this is a state I had to come to entirely on my own. I did not have the support of my own community, because in their eyes I am crazy and not “really” trans because of the possibility of my identity being a result of my mental disorders. I make them look bad, because crazy is automatically bad and I’m the reason they’ve been victimized for so many centuries.
When in actuality, maybe the issue isn’t with who is really crazy and who isn’t. Maybe the issue is with our society’s concrete idea of the gender and sex dichotomy, its complete disregard for the identity and rights of people regardless of where they stand on the spectrum, and how it treats people that don’t line up perfectly with their ideals. Perhaps this concept of craziness has just been a scapegoat for the actual issue at hand, a weapon used to demonize the people that don’t line up with their ideals. An age-long system of oppression built on cissexism and transphobia, utilizing ableism and psychophobia to attack, ostracize and well, oppress.
But what do I know. I’m the crazy one, after all.