Perhaps the most common question that someone questioning their gender asks is “am I trans?” I asked this question of myself 10 years ago, and have yet to come to a firm conclusion. I mean, I did most of the things one would expect a trans person to do (change name/pronouns, take cross-sex hormones, etc), but that doesn’t really answer the question.
There is a possible model someone could have of the situation, where people have a “gender identity”, which is to some degree fixed by adulthood, and which predicts their thoughts and behaviors. Such a model is, rather primitively, assumed by “gender tests” such as the hilarious COGIATI, and less primitively, by transgender writing such as Natalie Reed’s The Null HypotheCis. Quoting the article:
Cis is treated as the null hypothesis. It doesn’t require any evidence. It’s just the assumed given. All suspects are presumed cisgender until proven guilty of transsexuality in a court of painful self-exploration. But this isn’t a viable, logical, “skeptical” way to approach the situation. In fact it’s not a case of a hypothesis being weighed against a null hypothesis (like “there’s a flying teapot orbiting the Earth” vs. “there is no flying teapot orbiting the Earth”), it is simply two competing hypotheses. Two hypotheses that should be held to equal standards and their likelihood weighed against one another.
When the question is reframed as such, suddenly those self-denials, those ridiculous, painful, self-destructive demands we place on ourselves to come up with “proof” of being trans suddenly start looking a whole lot less valid and rational. When we replace the question “Am I sure I’m trans?” with the question “Based on the evidence that is available, and what my thoughts, behaviours, past and feelings suggest, what is more likely: that I’m trans or that I’m cis?” what was once an impossible, unresolvable question is replaced by one that’s answer is painfully obvious. Cis people may wonder about being the opposite sex, but they don’t obsessively dream of it. Cis people don’t constantly go over the question of transition, again and again, throughout their lives. Cis people don’t find themselves in this kind of crisis. Cis people don’t secretly spend every birthday wish on wanting to wake up magically transformed into the “opposite” sex, nor do they spend years developing increasingly precise variations of how they’d like this wish to be fulfilled. Cis people don’t spend all-nighters on the internet secretly researching transition, and secretly looking at who transitioned at what age, how much money they had, how much their features resemble their own, and try to figure out what their own results would be. Cis people don’t get enormously excited when really really terrible movies that just happen to include gender-bending themes, like “Switch” or “Dr. Jekyl And Mrs. Hyde”, randomly pop up on late night TV, and stay up just to watch them. Etc.
It’s at this point pretty easy for me to say that I’m not cis. I did do the sort of things cis people are described as not doing, in the previous paragraph, and I don’t think most people do most of them. I was assigned male at birth and don’t identify as a man, at least not fully or consistently. Does it follow that I am trans?
This may seem to be an abstruse question: I certainly have behaved a lot like a trans person would be expected to, so what’s the remaining issue? If everyone is either cis or trans, then I am trans with practically total certainty. But the same critical attitude that could lead someone to question their gender or reject the gender binary would also apply to a cis/trans binary.
“Transgender” is often defined as “having a gender identity differing from one’s assigned gender at birth”. Does that apply to me? I found the concept of “gender identity” confusing even as I was starting transition, and wasn’t sure if I had one, even if I had strong preferences about my biological sex characteristics. I didn’t “feel like a woman” or “feel like a man” in anything like a stable way. Apparently, some apparently-cis people have similar feelings. Quoting Cis By Default:
But the thing is… I think that some people don’t have that subjective internal sense of themselves as being a particular gender. There’s no part of their brain that says “I’m a guy!”, they just look around and people are calling them “he” and they go with the flow. They’re cis by default, not out of a match between their gender identity and their assigned gender.
I think you could probably tell them apart by asking them the old “what would you do if you suddenly woke up as a cis woman/cis man?” If they instantly understand why you’d need to transition in that circumstance, they’re regular old cis; if they are like “I’d probably be fine with it actually,” they might be cis by default. (Of course, the problem is that they might be a cis person with a gender identity who just can’t imagine what gender dysphoria would feel like. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to stick random cis men with estrogen and find out how many of them get dysphoric.)
I used to think I was cis by default. That can’t really describe me, given that I was motivated to transition. If I had no stable sense of gender identity at this time, perhaps a nonbinary descriptor such as “genderfluid” or “agender” would fit better? A problem with this terminology is that it implicitly assumes that such a gender condition is uncommon. People usually call themselves that to differentiate themselves from the general assumed-cis population and from presumably-binary transgender people. However, lack of a stable feeling of gender is, I think, rather common in the general population; I remember seeing a study (which I can’t now find) showing that over 15% of people “feel like a man” or “feel like a woman” at different times.
The “cis by default” article describes dysphoria, which especially refers to intense dissatisfaction with not having sex characteristics matching one’s identified gender. While I did feel better and had fewer negative feelings when getting further in transition, I was legitimately uncertain at points about whether I “had dysphoria”. Early on, I thought I might not be “really dysphoric” and accordingly unable to successfully live as a woman, and was intensely sad about this; I interpreted these feelings as “gender dysphoria”, thinking it was possible they would get worse if I didn’t transition. Most of what feelings like this (and others that made me think I might be trans) indicate is that I had/have a strong preference for having a female body and living as a woman; “dysphoria” may in some cases be a way of communicating this kind of preference to people and social systems that only care about sufficiently negative conditions, such as much of the medical system. Unfortunately, requiring people to provide “proof of pain” to satisfy their strong preferences may increase real or perceived pain as a kind of negotiating strategy with gatekeeping systems that are based on confused moral premises.
There is a sizable group that challenges the cis/trans binary but doesn’t consider themselves “nonbinary” per se, who are often labeled as “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”, but usually label themselves as “gender critical”. Although I am certainly “gender critical” by an intensional definition of the term (that is, I’m critical of gender), I’m not by the ordinary language meaning of the term (that is, I’m not a central example of the set of people who self-describe or are described by others as “gender critical”). In particular, so-called “gender criticals” consider biological sex very important for society to assign meaning to and treat people differently on the basis of, which, ironically, reproduces “gender” as defined as “social and cultural meanings assigned to sex”. This is, arguably, its own sort of gender identity, which I don’t share. Instead, my criticism of gender is more like that of queer theorists such as Judith Butler.
I believe there were some points in my life at which I legitimately had a non-male gender identity. At some point, I was convinced that I was actually a woman, and considered this important. I also had experiences in which it was very important to me whether I was categorized as a man or a woman. These experiences tended to be fearful experiences in which I was “objectified”, believing (at least partially correctly) that I was subject to different social threats on the basis of whether I “was” a man or a woman.
I concluded from these experiences that gender identity is a property of objects, not subjects. It is easy to perceive one’s own perceptions of others’ genders; most people, when looking at a person or group of people, can’t help but classify them as men, women, or ambiguous/intermediate. It is rather easier to make these judgments from a distance, than to classify one’s self, the nearest person. Up close, there may be too many details and ambiguities to easily form a simplified judgment of whether one is a man, a woman, or something else; any particular judgment is in a sense “problematic”, since contrary evidence is available immediately at hand. Additionally, being a subject is more like having a lens into the world than being an entity in the world, and so properties of entities, such as gender, do not straightforwardly apply to subjects; what I am saying here has some things in common with Buddhist “no-self” insights, and Kant’s distinction between the self as subject and object.
I believe it is correct to say that, at some previous point in my life, I have been trans. Why, then, would I be uncertain about whether I am presently trans? This is partially due to recent experiences. Due to, among other things, better understanding criticisms of the sort of transgender ideology that I had accepted, coming to believe that gender was a morally irrelevant characteristic, and ketamine depression therapy, I came to be more aware of ways I was unlike typical women and like typical men, and was able to be “chill” about this situation, rather than dysphoric. I considered the question of whether I was a trans woman or an extremely dedicated femboy, finding it to be delightfully meaningless. I experienced contexts in which someone gendering me as male felt pleasant, not dysphoric. I started thinking of myself as non-binary (specifically, an androgyne), and found that this alleviated gender-related stress in my life. I could stop worrying so much about “passing” and about lawyer-y debates (internal and external) about what gender I really was; I had both masculine and feminine characteristics, so calling myself an “androgyne” involved little distortion or selective reporting of the facts.
It was as if I had previously installed a PR module in my mind, to convince myself and others that I was a woman, and I later managed to turn it off, as it was providing little benefit relative to the cost. In some sense, I had predicted this at the start of my transition; I believed that the gender situation of people who were assigned female at birth, identified as non-binary, and did not pursue medical transition, was the sort of gender/sex situation I wanted for myself. My adoption of a binary gender identity and the associated PR module was, in large part, a negotiation with society so that my medical transition and experience being perceived as a woman by others (a type of assimilation) could be accepted. Accordingly, the PR module and binary identity serve less of a function once I have already accomplished this transition. This instrumental understanding of gender identity accords with some feminist thought; quoting the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Bernice Hausman’s Changing Sex: Transsexualism, Technology, and the Idea of Gender (1995) aims to provide a feminist analysis of transsexuality within a Foucauldian paradigm. While her theoretical framework differs markedly from Raymond’s, she also shares Raymond’s concern about transsexuality as well as her deep distrust of medical intervention on the body.
For Hausman, the primary hallmark of transsexuality is the sheer demand for transsexual surgeries through which transsexual subjects are constituted as such (1995, 110). As a consequence, she sees transsexual subjectivity as entirely dependent upon medical technology. In Hausman’s view, transsexuals and doctors work interdependently to produce “the standard account” of transsexuality which serves as a “cover” for the demand for surgery and to justify access to the medical technologies (110, 138–9). Behind the “cover” there is only the problematic demand to, through technology, engineer oneself as a subject. Because of this, Hausman claims that transsexual agency can be “read through” the medical discourse (110).
A corollary of her view is that the very notion of gender (as a psychological entity and cultural role distinguished from sex) is a consequence of medical technology, and in part, the emergence of transsexuality. Rather than arising as a consequence of sexist gender roles, Hausman argues, transsexuality is one of vehicles through which gender itself is produced as an effect of discourses designed to justify access to certain medical technology (140).
I can detect signs of a similar PR module in some transgender people, especially binary-identified trans people early in their transition. They believe, and sometimes say explicitly, that their “narrative” of themselves is very important, and that their well-being depends on their control of this narrative. I can empathize, given that I’ve been there. However, I no longer “buy into” the overall gender framework they are living in. I am too exhausted, after a decade of internal and discursive analysis and deconstruction of various gender frameworks, to care about gender frameworks as I once did.
There is a notable flip in how I’m interpreting the “am I trans?” question now, as opposed to earlier. Earlier, by “am I trans?”, I was asking if I authentically was a woman (or at least, not a man) in a psychological sense. Now, by “am I trans?”, I am asking whether I am manipulating narratives to convince people that I am a woman (or at least not a man). These two notions of “trans” are in some sense opposed, reflecting different simulacra levels.
Quoting more of the SEP article:
Prosser’s strategy for marking a trans theoretical vantage point is to draw a contrast between the centrality of performance (in queer theory) and narrative (for transsexual people). He correctly notes a tendency in postmodern queer theory to raise questions about the political role of narratives (1995, 484). Such narratives may be seen to involve the illusion of a false unity and they may also involve exclusionary politics. Yet narratives, according to Prosser, are central to the accounts of transsexuals and such narratives involve the notion of home and belonging (1995, 488). This appeal to narrative seems in tension with a picture which underscores the fragmentation of coherent narratives into diverse performances and which identifies subversion with the disruption of narrative-based identities. Coherent narratives, even if ultimately fictional, play important intelligibility-conferring roles in the lives of transsexuals, according to Prosser. And this cannot be well-accommodated in accounts which aim to undermine such coherence.
In Prosser’s view, transsexual narratives are driven by a sense of feeling not at home in one’s body, through a journey of surgical change, ultimately culminating in a coming home to oneself (and one’s body) (1995, 490). In this way, the body and bodily discomfort constitute the “depth” or “reality” that stands in contrast to the view that body is sexed through performative gender behavior which constitutes it as the container of gender identity. In light of this, Prosser concludes that queer theory’s use of transsexuals to undermine gender as mere performance fails to do justice to the importance of narrative and belonging in trans identities.
I have, in a sense, transitioned from transsexual to queer; I have constructed a transsexual narrative and later de-constructed it (along with many other narratives, partially during “ego death” experiences), coming to see more of life (especially gender) as an improvisational act beneath the narratives (“all the world’s a stage”). Performative accounts of gender, such as Judith Butler’s, resonate with me in a way they once did not, and gender essentialist narratives (especially transmedicalism) no longer resonate with me as they once did.
Not needing to do transgender PR is, in a sense, a privilege; if I’ve already accomplished gender transition, I have little need to communicate my situation with psychological narratives as opposed to concrete facts. There is perhaps a risk of me developing a “fuck you, I got mine” attitude, and neglecting to promote the autonomy of people similar to how I was earlier in transition, who have more need for these narratives. At the same time, I don’t need to agree with people’s frameworks to support their autonomy, and criticizing these frameworks can increase the autonomy of people who feel like they shouldn’t transition because they don’t fit standard trans frameworks.
Chilling out about gender does not, of course, negate the strange gender/sex situation I find myself in. I inhabit an ambiguously-sexed transsexual body, which I am happier with than my original body, which changes how I live and how others perceive me. I cannot return to being cis and inhabiting cis gender frameworks, except by detransitioning, which would be objectively difficult and expensive, and subjectively undesirable.
In inhabiting neither cis nor binary transgender gender frameworks, I am illegible. Of course, I often call myself trans and/or a woman, to be at least a little understood within commonly-understood frameworks, but these aren’t statements of ultimate truths. What I have written so far legibilizes my situation somewhat, but I can’t expect everyone I interact with to read this. I could perhaps tell people that I am non-binary, which I do some of the time, although not consistently. While “non-binary” is, by the intensive definition, an accurate descriptor of myself, I still hesitate to use the term, perhaps because it is a part of a standard gender framework, created by people in the past, that centers gender identity in a way that I do not entirely agree with.
A relevant question becomes: are non-binary people, in general, transgender? Typically, non-binary people are considered transgender, since they aren’t cisgender. But, as I’ve discussed earlier, not everyone fits into a cis/trans binary, and some non-binary people do not feel they fit into this binary either.
The main reason why, despite my apparently-transgender situation, I hesitate to unqualifiedly call myself “trans” is that I do not consider “gender identity” per se to be a centrally important descriptor of me or my situation, and relatedly do not feel the need to selectively present aspects of my situation so as to create the narrative impression that I am any particular gender. I can see that this differentiates me from most people who consider the “trans” label important as a descriptor of themselves, despite obvious similarities in our situations, and despite having once been one of these people.
Perhaps now is a good time to revisit Natalie Reed’s 2013 article, “Trans 101”, which I read years ago and can better understand now due to life experience.
As my thinking developed, my priorities shifted… instead of wanting to simply explain to primarily cis audiences what trans people are, what our experiences are like, why they shouldn’t treat us like shit, and how to treat us better, I wanted to be part of the trans-feminist discourse and try to redefine the entire frameworks of gender and feminism that had led to our explanations, and our fights against cissexism, to be necessary in the first place. I didn’t really feel like simply providing the oppressor class with a new set of vocabularies and concepts was going to be sufficient, and I began to regard the Trans 101 frameworks as themselves destructive.
Was it really all that beneficial to simply add a new set of terms or concepts for gender onto which people could apply assumptions and expectations? New categories of gender, new “roles”, new codified sets of behaviour and new codified sets of assumptions people could have about your history, identity, body and potential that people could misread, or misperceive you as, or misunderstand?
And those basic frameworks were themselves a product of a norma[ti]vity. Yes, it was norma[ti]vity internal to a marginalized category, but that didn’t really matter. All normativities are narrowed to a specific context… A specific system of privileges bred that idea of “what trans people are and want”, which was the same system of privileges that made that the concept of trans I was initially introduced to (and had to subsequently deconstruct), AND the same system of privileges that permitted me the role of introducing it to a specific cis audience.
The Trans 101, as defined by the trans people privileged by a cis system to speak for the “consensus” of a trans community, constructed our existence and its consideration as a choice: the cis person could choose to read and care, and thereby be validated in their self-perception as an “ally” and/or good person who cares about the well-being of others or as a down-to-earth, common sense type who likes to look at things rationally without worrying too much about ultra-minority concerns.
In its entirety, the framework, by being about “what trans people are and want, and the vocabulary to discuss or address us”, as a separate category from an addressed cis audience, positioned apart from the realities of gender as a whole, which reflected on the reality of that cis readership. It left the choice in THEIR hands as to whether to take it or leave it, in relationship to this fundamentally separate identity and segregated category of humanity. It defined us, but defined us separate from rather than illustrative of the human experience of gender, and in so doing gave them new and “sensitive” vocabularies to distinguish us… All the while working within the essentialistic model of gender as primarily an issue of what you are and how you should be understood, all the while specializing us as a subject of study and understanding… all the while placing as its centerpiece the cis choice to be “educated” and to “understand” in contrast to how this an extension of the shared experience of gender.
Consequently “gender identity” was central. Things were consistently framed in inevitably heirarchi[c]al spectrum models. It was essentialized as “brain sex” and “gender identity” ( allowing the approach of sex and gender identity to be firmly distinct, and cis people “being a sex” / trans people “having a gender identity”). It defined trans as something you are rather than a way you express yourself, way you live, way you are treated, and way you interpret experiences and feelings. It segregated the experience of “being” trans from all other experiences, however much they modify it: race, class, age, sexual orientation, disability, etc… And it allowed certain political priorities to be considered the needs or causes “of the trans community…
So what does it mean to attempt Trans 101, to attempt explaining trans-variance, in a cultural context in which the “basics” of that question, and the systems of what does and doesn’t get defined as “basic”, have been overwhelmingly a means of our own marginalization, a means of externally limiting the range of our own voice, and a means of reinforcing the kyr[i]archy and privilege internal to our community that keeps it centralized and dominated by specific groups? What does it even mean to attempt to explain a category of experience precisely defined by its own variance, to define something that only exists by virtue of human defiance of having this aspect of human experience defined?
Any kind of statement of “this is what trans is” would be inherently reductive, but reductive statements aren’t necessarily always destructive. The problem is when the reductive simplification presents itself as a sufficient response to the question.
There’s a fundamental tension there that illustrates a lot of the crisis of “Trans 101” and the difficult push-and-pull between deconstruction and simplifications meant for comprehension by a normative, mainstream audience: the tension between the need to explain to the normative, mainstream audience that “it’s more complicated than that”, in response to their received notions about gender, sex and sexuality, while providing them with new notions and models that aren’t “too complicated” to understand. So we end up creating simplifications of our own effort to assert that the experience of gender is complicated. We created little reductive diagrams, outlining a small set of generalized variables, to explain that little reductive diagrams, drawing assumptions about people’s bodies and experiences and identities out of a small set of generalized variables, aren’t adequate. You see the problem?
What makes this an especially poignant problem is the fact that trans experiences and identities are all about new vocabularies and new narratives. In so far as we’re to understand gender as a semiotic system or language, transgenderism is the deviation from standardized language of the dictionary towards new words and new meanings for things that couldn’t be articulated in the previous dialect…In so far as gender is a semiotic system and language, and what attends our assignment isn’t simply a categorization but a modeled and pre-determined, expected narrative for our lives, the act of ‘transition’ is all about challenging language and meanings and narratives. We mean something new, outside the standardized definitions, and we carve out a new story.
Language isn’t a one-way street, however. It’s one thing to say a word, it’s another thing for it [to] mean something… Consequently, translating our existence remains a fundamental part of our existence being heard and seen…
We can’t undermine the entire system of gender. We can’t. Utopian gender-abolitionists believe this, but I don’t. I believe it’s inherent to us. We perceive sexual difference, in others or in ourselves, and we try to understand and express it. That doesn’t seem harmful to me, it just seems human. And over time we develop heuristics for it… ways to make it easier; if one aspect of sexual difference is usually consistent with another, we guess that when we encounter the one in a person we’ll encounter the other. And that’s not itself harmful either, just… simple.
But we also have social orders and kyr[i]archy. We also have patriarchy. And we have diversity of experience. Things get complicated. Human diversity is complicated. I don’t think I’d want it to be simple.
Maybe it’s an inherently broken thing to attempt to articulate the trans experience at all, let alone articulate it to an outside perspective. We ARE the glitches, the new meanings, the problems, the hiccups in the heuristic, the diversity, the variance. Maybe that’s all we need or should communicate about ourselves beyond ourselves: You don’t get it. You won’t get it. We’re something else. We don’t fit. And wherever or whenever we do just means your system still isn’t broad enough, and you still don’t get it.
But if that’s the case, then ou[r] genders are broken too. To speak, to have a voice… that only counts in so far as you’re heard and understood.
Is that weird little in-between space, hovering right between the need for comprehension and simplification, and the fact that those simplifications will always be misunderstandings and require complications… is that the battlefield? Is that where the meanings are negotiated? Is to be the trans writer to be right there in the position that counts the most in having our genders be understood, ensuring that they count?
No. Fuck no.
Where the battle is, where things matter, that’s in the individual lives. It’s in every single person who in contrast to everything they’ve been told about who and what they are, what that means, what defines it and restricts them to it… in defiance of every expectation that they were saddled with along with the M or F on their birth certificate, like what they’d wear and who they’d fuck and what they’d do for a living and what name they’d have and keep and how their bodies would develop and what they’d choose to do with their bodies… in declaring their own identity, their own body, and carving out a range of their own narratives-to-be… THAT’s where it is. That’s what counts. The fact that it happens at all is a living testament to everything about people that’s worth believing in. And it’s beautiful, every. fucking. time.
And it’s been my honour and privilege to just do my best to help it be noticed.
Reed is describing a kind of “transnormativity”: certain trans people are considered valid educators who can explain what transgenderism is and how people should think, talk, and act regarding gender, and can validate other people (especially cis people) for being “good allies”.
Cisnormativity has norms like:
- If you were born male, you’re a boy or man. If you were born female, you’re a girl or woman.
- Wear clothes appropriate to your gender.
- Use facilities such as bathrooms in accordance with your gender.
- Look and behave at least somewhat typically for your gender, don’t shock people by going way out of the lines.
- In a patriarchal context, be a “confident” agentic person if you’re a man, and otherwise defer to men.
- In a feminist context, avoid doing things that might make women uncomfortable if you’re a man, and prefer deferring to women regarding gender.
- Consider transgenderism to be a very rare phenomenon, of “being trapped in the wrong body”, which almost certainly doesn’t apply to you.
Transnormativity is a reaction to cisnormativity, and has norms like:
- If someone says they’re a man, try to think and talk about them as if they’re a man; if they say they’re a woman, try to think and talk about them as if they’re a woman; same for nonbinary people.
- Think of yourself as having a “gender identity”, which might or might not match your gender assigned at birth. If it matches, you’re cis, if it doesn’t, you’re trans.
- Explain your gendered behaviors and attitudes as products of your “gender identity”. Ideally, explain your own gender identity as something that has stayed constant over time.
- Emphasize that you’re in pain if you can’t live as your identified gender.
- Look and act somewhat like your identified gender.
- Don’t argue with others about their gender or try to change their gender identity.
- If you’re trans, talk about how you feel bad when people think you’re a different gender than you are, and get mad at them sometimes.
- Think of trans people as a group that is pretty different from cis people and which is oppressed for being trans. If you’re trans, think of yourself as “special”.
- Use people’s preferred gender pronouns.
- Support people’s ability to access hormone treatments and surgery, but don’t consider it a necessary condition for being trans.
- Consider trans people, especially trans people with more sophisticated lefty political views, to be authorities on gender.
To be clear, not all parts of cisnormativity and transnormativity are bad, but they’re both unsatisfactory, restrictive systems of gender. A great deal of both cisnormativity and transnormativity and created by the psychiatric system and its ability to gatekeep transsexual medical procedures, as discussed earlier, and by pro-diversity institutions such as most colleges. “Gender anarchy” is perhaps an alternative to cisnormativity and transnormativity, which I’m not sure has actually been tried, though it might have important problems and not be stable.
Reed’s article is, I think, even more relevant in 2023 than in 2013, as transgenderism and transgender rights are debated in mainstream political discourse around the world. Some issues that affect trans people are considered core parts of “trans rights”, and others aren’t, and those that are correspond with those parts of the phenomenon of transgenderism that can be made legible. Her concerns about normative, simplified, harmfully reductive “trans 101” models being the standard for cis people’s validation as trans allies is pertinent to the controversial and at times legally regulated teaching of gender identity in classrooms.
Her criticism of the way trans 101 defines transgender people as a group “separate from rather than illustrative of the human experience of gender”, differentiated by features such as “gender identity”, explains part of what makes the “trans” category and the cis/trans binary problematic. Given that I think I have many gender experiences in common with the general presumably-cis population, I’m reluctant to separate myself into a different category.
So, am I trans? I could decide to answer this question by deciding on a definition of “trans” and determining whether it applies to myself. However, any definition would fail to account for important aspects of people’s situations, and the common meaning of the term will change anyway. Accordingly, I feel more inclined to leave the question open rather than answering it once and for all.