Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On Something Important that was Recently brough to my Attention

Although I identify as pansexual, I was recently made aware that this term might create problems with transitioning individuals as it tends to imply that they somehow do not fit onto the traditional gender bi-nary of male and female. This possibility of misundcerstand made me realize just hot problematic labels can be, specifically when I decided to attempt to re-classify myself in a way to avoid alienation and groupings myself with those in the queer community who exclude these individuals.

Needless to say it proved to be extremely problematic.
Pansexual is generally used to categorize a person who is interested in both males and females, from my understanding the term was changed to acknowledge that gender is fluid and that trans folks deserve equal play.

On second thought, that's not the best way to describe the label. Essentially, bisexuals may or may not be accepting of transitioning partners and cannot grasp the idea of being born biologically male and identifying as female etc. I know at least where I'm from the queer community can be a hostile place for identifying males/females, despite the person in question being female, people tended to get hung up on appearances and other labels from which they excluded trans people.

e.g. "I'm Bi, so i like both girls and boys. But those trans folks are "freaks". "

This kind of attitude was not something I wanted to be associated with, especially when trans friends of mine felt isolated by the community at large. I decided to adopt the term in support and just to distance myself from some of the queer based hatred/misnomers. Although bi-sexual in itself would include trans folks, many self identifying people in the community considered bi-sexuality to exclude trans people. I find that form of exclusion ridiculous, which is another reason I was drawn to the 'pan' label.

My friends and I also developed issues in our small area regarding personal pronouns (a whole other issue). Where despite the number of times we would correct people they still insisted upon applying their own interpretation of gender to individuals who have explicit-ally expressed their female identification (or their male identification). Certain individuals would even get angry when we applied proper (i.e. pronouns that matched the identification) to the point that a few individuals cease to communicate with us.

However, you make a really good point. I have never considered how applying the term PanSexual might make it seem as if I see trans folks as separate gender/sexuality category. Words and labels are tricky like that, I guess. Maybe I'll have to do some further defining to find the correct words to project my sentiment and push forward progress.

I personally have issues with the idea of gender and sexuality binaries as I'm not a firm believer of the all or nothing. I think most people have multiple sides, many of which could be male, female, butch, fem, gay, straight etc. Although biologically I would be classified as female, I have many classifiable "male" traits. So the idea of all or nothing doesn't seem to offer an apt description.

The option to choose a gender that exists outside the binary, from my limited perspective, would allow identifying males to choose male, identifying females to choose female, and those that would choose a third option the chance or even the opportunity to not disclose that information.

I guess from limited (and relatively privileged) stand point I hadn't considered how the term pansexual might add to the implication that trans individuals are different from "other" individuals. And how the term might add to feelings of exclusion and difference, the adverse effect of why I used the term in the first place. I guess defining my sexuality might not be able to be achieved in a single label, as labels present a plethora of problems. Identifying female and being born biologically female may not be mutually inclusive, however that doesn't mean that someone who is 'only' identifying is any more or less female or that they should ever fall into another classification. Both individuals are identifying females, they are equals and there is not one who is 'more' female than the other. Perhaps we need a term that redefines gender as a whole. Or a term that expresses direct inclusion of all groups without marginalizing anyone. Pansexual was a term I used to express an attraction to both genders with the attempts to explicitly state this
included all males and all females regardless of biology but perhaps by adopting a term to explicitly include trans people it aids in contributing to their exclusion in a third gender slot.

Classification is a bitch. Perhaps the best bet is to simply avoid labels at all, what a commotion that'll cause ;).