Not a Gender Binary

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Not a Gender Binary

Panel 1

[Image] A person standing between two doors, one with a “Men’s” bathroom symbol, and one with a “Women’s” symbol.

[Caption] I live in fear every day. Something as simple as going to a public bathroom scares me.

Panel 2

[Image] *The next three panels are in a thought bubble
The person with his hand on the Men’s Bathroom door.

Panel 3

[Image] The person entering the bathroom. Behind him, two men, with shocked expressions, looking at him, with a question mark and exclamation point floating between them.

Panel 4

[Image] Inside the men’s bathroom, the person looking sad, and positioned as if leaving. Two men in the bathroom, one taking paper towels from a dispenser, and one at the sink, are looking at the person leaving.

Man at the sink: #%^!

Panel 5

[Image] Having foreseen the past three panels in the thought bubble, the person reaches out to open the women’s bathroom door.

Panel 6

[Image] The person, standing against a dark background, facing away from the reader.

[Caption] Trans people are more likely to be murdered than any other group, especially trans people of color. It’s draining knowing that so many people think it’s ok to be violent towards me. Even if it’s not physically dangerous, transphobic bullshit is everywhere. I can’t even open up to most of my family that I’m trans.

Panel 7

[Image] The person facing a woman with long hair, and smiling.

[Caption] So when I finally tell someone that I’m trans, it takes a lot of trust.

Panel 8

[Image] The woman, looking concerned.

[Caption] But that trust is broken immediately, all too often.

Woman: Wow, ok, when are you transitioning?

Panel 9

[Caption] When was the last time you asked someone else about their genitals? My genitals are my own business. Not all trans people transition. Why can’t I just live my life as me? Why can’t I wear what clothes I want? Why must I conform to the gender binary in one form

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I’m a 23 year old unaltered trans-man. I’ve been out to a select group of people since I was 21. I don’t tell everyone that I’m trans*, because I am scared.

I’ve internalized trans-phobia so much that something as simple as going to the bathroom is emotionally draining. I either choose to actively live as my true self (and use the men’s bathroom), or deny who I am for fear of what would happen to me in the bathroom. It makes me cry sometimes.

I’m so scared of being murdered. Trans* people are much more likely to be murdered than any other group, especially trans* people of color (I’m half Latino). Trans* people are also more likely to commit suicide. I don’t plan on doing myself in though. I’ve gone far past that.

I’m so scared that I can’t even bring myself to come out to my dad. I also can’t come out to some people in my dad’s family, not because I think they wouldn’t accept me, but because I fear them accidentally letting it spill to my dad. I’m afraid of how disappointed he would be, and I just don’t want to let him down.

Dating is a nightmare too.

I am just tired of all the transphobic bullshit that keeps me from living as my authentic self.

So when I finally decide to tell someone, it takes trust. But people immediately break that trust by asking about my genitals.

The main question I get is “When are you transitioning?”

My genitals are my business. That question makes me feel like my body isn’t really my business anymore, which is really hurtful. What I do with my body shouldn’t be anyone’s concern but mine. When I do tell them that I don’t plan on transitioning, I am either met with confusion, or I’m told that I’m not really trans*… and that I should go fucking kill myself for being a jerk.

I don’t plan on transitioning. NOT ALL TRANS PEOPLE TRANSITION!! I refuse to subscribe to the ideals of a gender binary.

This confuses and angers people, when all they should really be concerned about is whether or not I am living my life the way I want. While I have not yet fully recognized my ideal for the life I want, I’ve made significant strides. Is it so hard to understand that I like my life as a person who openly defies gender norms? Why can’t I just live my life as me? Why can’t I wear what clothes I want? Why must I conform to the gender binary in one form of another?

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7 responses to “Not a Gender Binary”

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  1. Sarah says: |
    December 16, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    As someone who has asked that question in the past without intending harm at all, I think that the nature of the question “when are you/ are you transitioning?” depends on the person. In my case, it wasn’t “let’s talk about your genitals” so much as “Are you undergoing a major surgery, person-I-generally-like? Should I go ahead and schedule some time off of work?” I would ask about surgery the same way if one of my friends told me they had an unwanted extra pinky toe.

    • Faith says: |
      January 14, 2015 at 4:44 am

      Sarah, that’s the problem, transitioning isn’t /about/ the surgery, that’s a part of it for some and not all, and isn’t needed to transition at all. People like to focus on the genital part of being Trans far too much, when it’s just about being the person we feel we are.

  2. Martin says: |
    May 15, 2015 at 8:29 am

    As a trans man, I never equated transitioning with genitals. Sure, some people (including myself) take hormones and/or have surgery as part of transitioning, which can affect genitals (depending on the type of hormone and type of surgery). However, there are a lot of other aspects to transitioning. For example, some people change their name, go by different pronouns, dress differently, go by a different title, wear their hair differently, change the way they talk, etc. Some people do all of this when transitioning, some do only part of it, and some don’t do any of it. Only a few of these things are actually important for others to know, and those are the ones that require them to act differently (e.g. use a different name, pronoun, and/or title). If another trans person comes out to me, I’ll make sure to explicitly ask if they want me to call them something else (and if this is context-dependent) so there’s no confusion; I fully agree that other people’s genitals aren’t anyone’s business.

  3. leslie says: |
    June 6, 2017 at 11:22 am

    I think the labels are what confuse. For many cisgender who are unfamiliar with our shifting world of gender I believe that “transitioning” is understood and synonymous with surgery. Try to let anger go and focus on educating. There are plenty of genders that mix up and confuse terms too. Our culture has been conditioned with a very narrow view of gender as perceived identity and corresponding birth sex. Things are shifting, very slowly but they are shifting and it will take time. Speak your truth, reduce judgment and inform.

  4. Chris says: |
    September 11, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    I hope everything’s going okay for you, and that you’ve found some people you can trust and share with. No one has ever told me that they were trans, so I’m not sure how I would respond, but I’m glad I read your cartoon so I can have some inkling about how the other person might be feeling. I think now my response would be to tell them honestly that I’m glad they felt that they could share with me, that I support their pursuit of truth and happiness, that I worry about accidentally saying something ignorant, and that I’m happy to listen to whatever they’d like to tell me, and that I hope they won’t be offended by any stupid questions I might ask.
    I am sorry that people have reacted to you in a judgmental, harsh, paifulky ignorant or scary way. That stinks.
    Please don’t give up on all of us flawed humans, though. I hope you know that there are some folks out there who are accepting and caring, but ignorant, who might inadvertently ask a question that they didn’t know was offensive. Please help us learn; that may mean putting up with a few really stupid questions.
    I know that someone sharing this kind of news doesn’t automatically mean they want to share all details great and small with me. I would probably assume that they were telling me for a reason, and that they might want to share more.
    Peace to you!

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