Assigned Awesome at Birth
It’s been several years since I spoke openly about my birth assignment. I stopped doing it, initially, because it’s none of your g-d business. It also confuses a lot of cis people not to have a birth assignment to work with. They need to know “which way” you’re trans, to fit you into at least a birth assignment binary, and that feels shitty to me. This not only doesn’t serve non-binary folks like me, but it also is an imposition of a colonial white binary gender system on lots of people whose gender never was assigned to that system. It erases gender diversity on all sorts of axes. And I get really uncomfortable when even trans people start talking about ourselves more along “AFAB/AMAB” lines than in terms of our actual genders.
But despite that, there is some relevance to birth assignment, particularly when we’re talking about transmisogyny. When I stopped talking about my birth assignment, I enjoyed that not everyone could guess it correctly, particularly those who hadn’t met me in person. It made it more difficult to lump me into a preconceived trans pile. My hope, I think, was that in the confusion someone might trip, fall, and land on my actual gender, but of course that rarely happens. Most people couldn’t pick my gender out of a lineup, because I don’t fit a lot of scripts. I don’t present in a way that consistently announces my femmeness, nor do I spend much time hanging around with assumed-female-at-birth white genderqueers. I don’t identify as transmasculine or androgynous. But I do benefit from the privilege of being assumed female both at birth and in most of my life. I don’t experience transmisogyny or the potential violence that my assumed-male peers do.
I’m very uncomfortable even saying the words assumed female at birth, which I’m sure is indicative of internalized misogyny in itself. I can celebrate my femme identity, and my gender is in no way masculine, but it’s also somewhere far away from female. I don’t really know how to relate to my body or my history. I also feel isolated when hanging out with most white AFAB trans folks. Of course, that statement in itself is a bit whiny and privileged. In most ways, I have it pretty damned easy. It’s because of this that I want to suck it up and confront my own discomfort, because as much as I may not identify with my birth assignment, it’s part of who I am. People who look like me get a lot more traction in queer communities.
So I want to talk about it, at least from time to time, and on my own terms, because my history and the way I’m perceived based on my body is part of my story. It’s part of my privilege and also part of the oppression I experience in some areas. There are stories I’ve wanted to tell, about the trauma of seeking gynecological care or trying to find gender-friendly resources for pelvic pain, that I can’t without talking about this part of myself.
That doesn’t mean that it’s anyone’s business when I’m not talking about it, of course. I don’t define trans people along lines of birth assignment, though I do recognize the tremendous privilege within my own non-binary gender sphere that those like me hold. Until we get to a place where people will stop using birth assignment as a primary way to see trans people, it’s going to be an axis of violence. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon.