III. Being Human
The trans identity is accompanied with the burden of ambiguity.
In our culture, gender is strict. The options: man or woman. If you do not identify with the sex
that is marked on your birth certificate, where do you reside? Transgender, transsexual, and
genderqueer, are some adjectives (but not the only ones) to describe a person who does not
identify with the sex that they were assigned at birth. For a long time, there was the assumption
that if you were transgender you still fit in the binary—you just slid from one gender to the other.
The problem with binaries, however, is that they are rigid and limiting.
There is a difference between genitalia, chromosomes, and hormones, all biological
factors often used to scientifically distinguish between sexes and the behavioral and social traits
that often express the gender we align with. Some people believe it is “unnatural” if your genitals
do not line up with your gender expression. In the last chapter, we discussed why genitals are not
a complete picture of “biological sex,” a term that gets thrown around a lot. Biological sex is
often messy. Now, consider babies born with “nonstandard sexual biology” (Weiss 28) or with
chromosomes of one sex and genitalia of another. They are born “naturally” outside of the
binary. Then, there are men who lose their penises because of surgery. Do they stop being men
because they no longer have the standard genitalia? Are women born without uteruses not
women? Some people use biology to oversimplify what is actually a wide spectrum of gender
variance within human beings. There are about 1.4 million documented transgender adults in the
United States today. Given that on the census there is no option for trans people, this number
could be higher.
Today, language is finally catching up. The term “trans” is used more often because some
people, like Gwen, identify with the gender opposite of their birth identity. Others, however, use