"I want to make a few things perfectly clear. Trans women are women. Period. End of story. We’re not “women who used to be men.” We’re not “men who identify as women.” We’re not “males who identify as women.” We’re not “men who became women.” WE ARE WOMEN. Stop putting qualifiers on our womanhood. It’s offensive, hurtful and cruel to insinuate otherwise. Our past, present, and futures are ours to define and no one else’s. Even if we didn’t figure out that we were trans until well into our adult lives, it absolutely does not mean that we were ever boys or men. Many trans women female that they’ve always been girls, or at the very least, that they’ve never been boys. You don’t have any right to tell me, or any other trans person, that they were ever a particular gender, just as I have no right to tell you what gender you are. A trans woman who was obligated to present as male for most of her young life is was no more “born a man” than a lesbian who was obligated to date men for most of her young life “used to be straight.”
Of course, there are people who do identify as having been a boy or a man before transition. As Mey and I discussed in our piece about Martine Rothblatt, those people ALSO have the right to define their own narrative, and it absolutely should be reported as they prefer. However, that makes it even MORE important to explain that, while this specific person identifies or describes themselves in that way, many trans people do not. As much as I’ve talked about trans people and the trans community on the whole, we’re a pretty individualistic bunch, each with our ways of discussing ourselves and our journeys. But, when you’ve got folks like Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Fallon Fox, Parker Molloy, Cece McDonald, and now me saying “hey, this is something you have to stop using as a universal,” I feel like it’s time to pay attention.”
To add to this already text-heavy post: I think the phrase “obligated to date men for most of her young life” re: a hypothetical lesbian gets at the crux of this piece.
People are born babies, and assigned a gender at birth. Most people feel obligated to exist within that gender, because frankly, there doesn’t seem to be much of a choice. The “born a man/woman” narrative is particularly deceitful because there’s a good chance if kids felt like they had more agency in their gender expression, fewer gender non-conforming kids would conform to their assigned gender for long periods of time before transitioning. The “born a ___” narrative puts the onus on the trans person for explaining how they lived their life as one gender and subsequently changed, rather than putting the onus on society for “woah why did you make that girl behave that way all those years when she clearly didn’t want to?”