About 15 years ago, I thought I might be a transsexual. Someone or something I read pointed towards My Gender Workbook and Gender Outlaw, by Kate Borstein, as good resources to get started with. So I ordered the book and a week later eagerly started reading through them. I got maybe halfway through and found that I couldn't relate to any of it. I remember feeling rather frustrated.

Bornstein doesn't really consider herself anything. She talks about people who maintain the current system of gender as "gender defenders," and considers herself a "gender outlaw." I'm not going to talk too much about the books, because a) I don't remember them very well, and b) I'm not enough of an intellectual to challenge any of it. What I do know, is that her thesis, the idea that there is some genderless "promised land," wasn't appealing to me. At the time, I didn't know what I was, but I knew what I wasn't. I didn't feel anything like some amalgamation of male and female, or worse yet, genderless. I just had this unexplainable "thing." Oh, well, I thought. Guess I'm not a transsexual, I'm just some weirdo with this strange interest.

At that point, my ignorance of the subject being what it was, I stopped the exploration. After all, this was supposed to be *the* resource. I was told that these were *the* books to read. Of course, this doesn't go away, and I am not some weirdo, and here we are today. Since then, on the subject, I've read exactly half of one book, seen zero documentaries, zero movies, and haven't made it to a conference. They don't hold much interest for me. Paradoxical? No, not really. I'm not a gender outlaw. I don't seek to be different than anyone else for differences' sake. I'm just a woman. A woman with an interesting background and a different history. I'm not interested in tearing apart the social fabric, as Diana puts it. I am interested in getting through this period with my psyche and children intact and then quietly living my life.

The danger with books like Gender Outlaw being on the tips of people's tongues when it comes to gender identity is that people get the wrong idea. People like me, trying to figure themselves out. People such as cisgender people who fear that transsexuals' goal is upheaval of a "system," to use Bornstein's term, that has served humankind well for thousands of years. Maybe someday I'll write a book called Gender Defender, about women like me, for those who think they might be like us. Perhaps that would help educate both of the aforementioned groups.

A year ago, I referred to myself as a transgender woman. Now, I refer to myself as a transsexual woman. Ultimately, I'm not interested in being a T-anything. I'm interested in being a W.


You know, I feel like I truly understand where you are coming from with your last few posts, and if we ever get together in person for some beer and wings, or wine and cheese, maybe our conversation would confirm that.

When I was about 10 years old, my mom had a friend who we knew as Charlie who became Charlene. As a kid, it just made sense to me that Charlie was born with physical properties that didn't match her inner self/soul/personhood. So she did some medical stuff to get to where she was meant to be.

To me, it seemed like how the kids my mom worked with who had cleft palates had surgery to get their lips and mouths back together, and how the deaf kids who felt like they should be hearing kids got aids or cochlear implants. Just all part of getting us to the place where we felt we were meant to be.

I'm really happy for you to be getting to the place where you were meant to be!

Now I am SURE that I was meant to be thinner and more fit, guess I'd better be getting there, too!

I feel fortunate that I didn't read Gender Outlaw until I had already transitioned, and then only for curiosity. Like you, I didn't relate to it. If it had been the first book I read when I was trying to figure out what to do, I'm not sure how I would have reacted.

Bornstein's ideal world is not mine. If she wants to be neither gender, fine. But I'm a woman and female, and that's all I ever wanted to be. I couldn't care less that I'm not an outlaw and that I defend the status quo by the way I live. That's what makes me happy.

Each person has her own path, and I'm not going to say that anyone's is wrong, but yours is the one I understand and relate to.

I hope it didn't appear that I was criticizing Bornstein's path in and of itself... no one's path is wrong if it's right for them.

I remember reading Gender Outlaw after it was recommended by someone in my therapy group. I don't remember a lot of it, but I do remember why I didn't like it. I didn't like the concept that gender was really a freaky-deaky thing and we should all do more to mix up cuz that would make us cool subversives or something. Even the formatting of the book was chaotic and all over the place - by Bornstein's design. Down with the bourgeois conventions of clear communication!

At the time I was approaching 40. I had long ago gotten over the need to feel cool by being "subversive." I'm sure she had some other interesting points, but I couldn't get past that one.

I have to concur. I tell people all the time that I'm not against the gender binary....I was just born on the wrong side.

Then again, I realize others feel like they are in between the genders....I'm just not one of them.

I'm right there with you. I find the closer I get towards the end, the further I am from where I started in how I think about this issue. When I started, I bought the spectrum business, but I don't want a scarlet T around my neck. I just want to live in the world as a woman.

As for those who want to slide around on their gender rainbow, let them if it makes them happy so long as they really get that I have no interest in sliding around with them. I'll be very happy in my correctly positioned gender binary, thank you.


When Kate Bornstein wrote the book and when she performed her one woman show The Opposite Gender is Neither, she was making a daring statement.

In the mid-90's, to be trans was pretty much ALWAYS to seek to to go all the way. Save the money, do whatever it took to have the operation and then...leave the shores of the Trans world far behind.

It was a little different with TransMen in that they have not had the superior surgery options Transwomen do and so many more of them have stayed on that gender line, generally 'though not from choice. More from lack of options - surgically speaking - the surgery is just not that good.

What Kate proposed was different. She CHOSE to stay on the edge, to decide what dose of hormones to take, what surgery she would or wouldn't have and while she is CLEARLY FEMININE, not to go that final step.

And to CHOOSE the life of a GENDER OUTLAW as a conscious decision.

There are now lots of Gender Outlaws, some finally tip the scales one way or the other after years and years balancing right at the edge - like my friend Katey who's finally taking the plunge.

Others feel no need. I believe that what Kate was really saying and living was for her far more honest than giving away one gender to have the other.

I saw her perform The Opposite Gender is Neither in Atlanta to a room filled with 189 TV's and Transexuals (there were 5 GG's in the room). When the lights came up and she saw all of us, tears began to roll down her face as she told us that she had NEVER, EVER performed the play and then looked out to find herself.

Truly a beautiful and unforgettable moment.

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