I’ve never been a big one for labels, particularly when they’re applied to people. The minute you try to attach a label to someone, it’s always seemed to me that you’ve applied some sort of judgement to them, putting them in a box of your making which they can’t break out off. It’s even worse when you do it to gain a sense of superiority over them to make you feel more powerful than them.
There was a time when Transgender was an umbrella term for all people that didn’t fit the gender binary. Historically, it was also confused with sexuality, but in these modern times, as awareness has spread, happily this is increasingly no longer the case. This awareness has also brought an increased understanding and new message broadcast by Advocates like myself and role models of the community with a high public profile.
Because of the past stigmas associated with the traditional labels of “Trans-sexual” and “Transvestite” which linked gender identity to sex, Trans people are increasingly using the term Transgender in a new personal context, rather than as an umbrella term. Further, this new definition for the word Transgender is reinforced by advocates like myself and community icons like Laverne Cox presenting ourselves in society. People start to associate the word with the people they can see.
In this new social construct new definitions for old labels apply,
- Transgender as an umbrella term has been replaced by “Gender Variant” or “Gender Non-conforming”. This reflects the now established fact that there are more than just two genders, people can be one, none, or more than one.
- Trans-sexual has been replaced by “Transgender”. This breaks the link with the often held belief among the community that the term “Trans-sexual” is offensive. Now the term Transgender reflects someone who either has or wishes to transition from their birth gender to the one they identify with.
- Transvestite has been replaced by the term “Bi-gendered”. Again, like Trans-sexual, the word Transvestite has long been considered offensive. Because these people don’t choose to permanently transition, they live as themselves as two genders, expressing themselves as the choose to identify in the moment.
- Agendered is a new term. For all these new definitions of Transgender and Bi-gendered, they still reflect the gender binary condition. There is now an increasing understanding that some people will choose to identify as neither, you could think of these people as a new “third gender” outside of the gender binary.
Now you know these new definitions, what good does it do you ? Come to think of it, even if you want to cling to the old definitions, what good do they do ? They don’t tell you anything about the people you’re categorising, so why cling to any of them ?
Confusing isn’t it ? I can certainly see how anyone reading it would think so, but you know what ? There is another way. You can simply call me Kendra and ask me how I define myself. Engage with me, learn about me and I’ll do the same with you. Who knows ? We may even become friends ! And you know what ? We’ll do it without any of those labels, just one that reflects who we are, friends. After all, I’m more than just my gender or the journey behind me. A simple word can’t define me and you know what ? If you’re so keen on one word definitions of people, try this one on for size and see how it fits you. Prejudiced.