Jacky recently commented on why he (is that the pronoun you use, Jacky?) won’t change his gender from F to M. I’m of a similar mind. Part of me wants to make that change, I’ll admit, but mostly for purely selfish reasons: the US doesn’t allow for same-sex marriage and, as a result, I wouldn’t be able to use it as part of a submission to get a green card (nevermind that Ontario requires surgery to be done to reflect gender and then letters from surgeons to indicate that it’s been done). If I had the necessary surgery(ies) and got this done, then the next step would be far easier. Unfortunately, it’s not and I haven’t but I also really don’t want to. The reality is that who I was is part of who I am.
As I noted on Jacky’s blog, I’ve used to say that I was a quantum genderqueer: that is, each gender, both genders, neither gender all at the same time (think of a certain dying cat in a box). I do believe that by recognizing where my past was and paying respect to that helps me to continue and grow. And also keep me in check. While K often insists that sometimes I’m “such a guy”, I try to be aware of the things (read: white male privilege) that I obtained by transitioning. Pretending that the previous 37+ years of my “previous” self didn’t exist does an injustice to myself. It’s a shame that even in some parts of the trans-world, at least from my view, there still remains this clinging towards a gender binary — you are either FTM to become Male or MTF to become Female. And there are to be no other considerations. Often associated with this is “passing”: that ability for everyone to read you as per your physical birth gender marker.
WMP was and is the one thing that still bothers me. I’m acutely aware of what I’ve obtained and notice it far more in the US than in Canada (do not get me wrong — Canada has it; we just silently hide it in “multicultural” programs and the like). I often think about the reviews that students give me and wonder how many of those were improved since I’ve started being read as male — particularly a young (?) “fluffy” white male — trainer than compared to when I was being read as female — an older (?) “fat” white female. I have no doubts that I tend to get more 5/5 now than before (not that the reviews were bad but that I probably got more 4/5s previously). I have yet to be challenged for being strict and direct in my teaching (previously, I’ve been challenged and threatened for daring to potentially fail someone — Uh, clue-by-four: if you don’t do the work, you ain’t passing!).
And those that do figure out that I’m transitioning don’t seem to dock me for that either — a stark comparison if it was the other way around (i.e., if I was MTF). Let’s be real here: society expects someone to want privilege, to want to have that extra, better treatment. Thing is: it’s not me. I feel uncomfortable with it and about it. I would rather let others go ahead of me where possible (but I’ll be real in that I won’t let the whole world go in front of me when I chase down one of the 31 flavours); I don’t mind waiting in line and giving someone else their extra due. But I do think that we all do need to be treated like human beings and be respected by each other for what makes us both the same and different. Remember who I was reminds me of who I want to be.