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What do you do when you're 'not trans enough'?

For Trans Visibility Day, Lola Phoenix questions what do you do when you identify as agender in a male/female world?

What do you do when you're 'not trans enough'?

This is the exact wording of a letter I received from the Gender Identity Clinic:

‘I use the female pronoun she has made no make change ans acknowledged that she is generally perceived and considered as female within the society should she lives. She said that she is accepting of that.’

I wonder if it’s possible to roll your eyes inside out. That’s really important for me to know, considering only one of mine work.

When I was told repeatedly the Gender Identity Clinic would help me as an agender person, I guess I just wanted to believe it.

And so I chose to ignore every other trans or gender non-conforming person who told me not to go. But the only clinic in the UK set to even consider non-binary people, supposedly, can’t even get my pronouns right (It’s ‘their’ by the way).

How ironic that just before Trans Day of Visibility, I’m handed a poorly worded, misspelled and ridiculous document twisting my words and experience that officially declares me ‘not trans enough’?

‘We have discussed her case within our multidisciplinary team meeting. Whilst we acknowledge her strong wish for a smaller breast size and acknowledge her reported internal sense of being agendered,’ the letter continues.

‘We would not countenance endorsement of an irreversible surgical procedure unless the individual had been able to demonstrably consolidate a social transition including name change to the preferred gender role. This is not something [Lola] has done or indeed tends to do.’

It’s true. I don’t want a ‘male chest’. Due to my disabilities and lack of body hair, I really feel it would be too much like a child’s chest and it would freak me out too much.

And it’s true. I don’t want to a ‘gender neutral’ name. Because not only is it expensive, time consuming, and difficult for me to change my passport, but also… I like ‘Lola’. I chose ‘Lola’ because I was inspired by the lead singer of Malice Mizer, a JRock band. I’m not sure what their pronoun is, but they dress how they want and that always made me feel less weird.

And also, calling myself a gender neutral name is not going to make anyone see me for who I am. I am not ‘accepting’ of that. I simply don’t have a choice.

I struggle with ‘visibility’. I struggle with the understanding that I am not ‘visibly’ many of the things I am, and therefore have many privileges because of it. I don’t look disabled. I don’t look agender or even ‘gay’, whatever the hell that means. I don’t have to face the same transmisogyny many trans women face for just existing.

But also, ‘visibility’ is rarely possible for me. How does one ‘demonstrably consolidate a social transition’ as an agender person? All of my friends and those who are close to me know I am agender. I don’t hide it. I don’t announce it. But I also don’t announce my bisexuality either. Or my disability. Does that make me neither of those things too?

It’s not possible for me to remove my gender marker on my birth certificate. And it’s not possible in the UK to list a gender neutral title on any official forms, or my passport.

And even if it were? I don’t honestly care. The consequence of being at peace with my identity and understanding that this society is just not set up to recognise me for who I am means that I am therefore not wanting enough for my surgery? That I am not in need? Being at peace with your identity does not mean you’re fine with your body.

How many tears do I have to shed in time to cross the line they tape across a bucket to prove I’m in need? How many times do I have to put off checking myself for breast cancer because in some sick twisted way I secretly hope I have it so they have no choice but to remove them completely? At least then I’d have a breast cancer survivor’s chest. But how ridiculous is that?

And what kind of person who isn’t in need of help thinks that way? How close to the edge of a mental breakdown do I have to be? Maybe if I get sectioned they’ll think I’m serious enough.

Trans and gender non-conforming people are often accused of reinforcing gender roles. That we all think that being a man or being a woman is a matter of the right shade of lipstick – or that being neither means calling myself ‘Alex’ or ‘Charlie’ or something ‘neutral’ in this society somehow makes me more serious about my gender.

But we don’t actually believe that. Most trans and gender non-conforming people I know don’t fit in those boxes, but in order to receive any form of medical help, they have to pick. Blue or pink.

And that really leaves agender people with no option. I refuse to pretend as if I want to be male. I refuse to accept a male chest reconstruction when I know my mind, I know my body, and I know what I want.

Though I don’t really like the idea of ‘visibility’ in any sense of my identity, it seems as though I don’t have a choice.

So, here I am. Agender people exist.

Not all of us want surgeries. Not all of us need them. But some of us do.

Not all of us buy into the concept of ‘neutrality’. Some, like me, think ‘gender neutrality’ is a code word for read as female but masculine presenting and have no desire to masculinise themselves to please someone’s backdated ideas about gender.

Not all of us look ‘androgynous’ or believe androgyny is even a valid concept.

Not all of us need help – but some of us do.

Lola has recently begun a fundraiser for surgery on YouCaring. Find out more here.


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