Machine Washable

Photo by Chris Johnson on Unsplash

Nothing in our lives is defined. We try to assign definitions, but the truth is that everyone views things differently. Being transgender, most of us, start out calling ourselves one thing only to change it over time trying to define ourselves, not for us, but for others. I have seen time and time again where we fumble trying to explain to others who we are. I am a woman. But before that, I called myself many things. As a child, I was “gay” because I knew I was not like others and the only reference I had was the gay male stereotype, the effeminate man. Even a centerfold in playboy who was a “boy” didn’t give me adequate knowledge of the label to use. As a young adult, I was a transvestite, because it was the only label I had, no internet to find my labels, just the people around me to misinform me. And more recently, as an older adult, I am finding that the labels we use to define ourselves also separates us.

I understand the need to define, I understand that labels are part of the human experience. And I will be trading one label for another label. However, it’s a label that is more general and encompassing, rather than one that helps to create division. It’s going to piss people off, one side, the other side, TERFs and so forth. I can’t help how others feel. I can only control how I feel. I am a woman. I’m not cis, I happen to be transgender, but those labels are subsets of women, like women and men are subsets of humanity. (See? Told you it would piss off TERFs) We all, trans and cis, exist within the label of womanhood and I don’t feel the need to define the minutia of my existence, even if others do.


Photo by T. Chick McClure on Unsplash

I’m not shunning my transgender label, it is a part of me, but it’s not all that I am and to say I am a “Transgender woman” is a disservice to who I am. I don’t wake up knowing I am transgender, I wake up knowing I am a woman. I’m not intentionally trying to even piss off TERFs. I get what they are saying, I don’t agree, but I understand that they are not happy with including others outside their definition of womanhood into the fold. I don’t like TERF attitudes, because it’s trivial and transgender women only reinforce their equality, rather from detract from it. Imagine how pissed men are at us, pretending to be them at birth, pretending in our youth out of ignorance or to survive in a world that would love to kill us without restriction. The labels we give ourselves are of our choosing, assigning labels to others is a play for power. So, if you label yourself as a transgender woman (or man), I fully support you. It simply isn’t how I choose to label myself. I’m not passing, my voice is horribly male, and no woman looks at me and says, “she is cis”. I’m not avoiding that I am transgender, there is no avoiding it, I live in it.

When I come out to work, likely this week, I won’t be just telling them I am a woman. I can’t leave it at that, they want finer definition, despite others not having to define who they are to the Nth degree. Others don’t have to specify who they are to their employers, “gay male” or “lesbian female”, seems demeaning right? Having to separate yourself from other males and females is marginalizing. Same here, having to drill down to transgender woman seems unneeded, but it’s where we are at now. I will have to sit there and tell them I am a transgender woman, I will be referred to as “that transgender” and marginalized for having that label. Not only that, I will end up having to explain to them what “transgender” is and how I was never a man. I end up showing them photos of me as me, but for them it will be “me dressed as a woman”. They will never understand, but I will fumble trying to get them to understand, marginalizing myself the entire way. This is where we are now.

louie-martinez-482219-unsplash (1)
Photo by Louie Martinez on Unsplash

So, I am a woman. I happen to also be transgender, I also like computers, D&D gaming, goats, dogs and cats. I love to oil paint and I enjoy classical music as well as classic rock. I am a lot of things, a mother and wife, I am a confidant and best friend. I agonize on how to label myself for others, what label do I put on my Twitter feed, my Facebook account, to those I speak to. But, these are my feeds, accounts and my spoken words, so I am deciding on how I label myself for others, take it or leave it. I am a woman.

3 thoughts on “Machine Washable

  1. When we grow up we are given from various sources and in subtle ways, labels with various fixed definitions on them. They are so called there to help us to survive in ‘all situations’. Most people get the standard set. The standard set may vary depending on culture, location and era but thats about it. Sometimes one is given a pack of blank wild cards and a instruction book on how to create ones own labels and react when using them in new situations.
    When we were living in caves survival was based on the friend, foe and hungry labels. When confronted with an animal or fellow cave dweller a quick mental look at the labels and one would pigeonhole the situation with either raising ones hand in greetings, about turn and run like the wind or shout ones lungs out while attacking.
    Today its slightly more complex although the basic primeval reactions are still there subdued through, among other things, learned family and social conventions, and we hope respect for fellow travelers on this planet (unless they get in the way that is).
    In certain situations these primeval labels surface by those who were never given or lost the wild cards and the ability to use them. They default to checking there standard set of labels and will only except a 100% match. If nothing matches then comes first insecurity followed by frustration leading to embarrassment, anger and ultimately shouting ones lungs out …

    You had a long journey having to use inadequate standard labels along the way, but you persevered and you have now found the correct label for yourself. Unfortunately you now have the task of educating family, friends and colleagues – that lack your label in their standard set – by handing out customized cards describing the you that you now are and the journey that got you there.

    Let hope that your story and those from fellow travelers will add new labels to the standard set in future.
    All the best Elizabeth in now being you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sock puppet

    I hate to be rude or unsupportive but what it seems you are both doing is expending a lot of words trying to work around a rather seemingly uncomfortable reality.
    While you might think yourself a woman, and self define yourself as such, you are very much aware of the fact that in truth, in reality, you are quite different in many significant ways.
    Even l, having lived and loved in the real world, the world of un-hyphenated men and women, for the better part of half a century, must admit and face the fact that l too am different. This is a fact. And while l am aware of and accept that reality, l do not in any way allow myself or feel, marginalized.


    1. I appreciate your thoughts on this. But I’m not confused or trying to find a work around. I thought I was being plain, I am a transgender woman but I don’t have to qualify that each time to others. I don’t “think myself” a woman, I really am. This is the problem with labels and what I was trying to get across. Because of the qualifier now you believe there is some kind of separation. But if I were to same white woman, strong woman, tired woman, it would just be a woman describing herself. I put “trans” in there and suddenly you believe I am confused, male, or something other than a woman. It’s not the case. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to be anything, I woke up one morning and decided I was tired of hiding. I’m not quite different in significant ways, I’m different in only one singular way and many women are afflicted with it, it’s called being transgender. I don’t have an issue with reality, you just don’t believe the reality before you and I will never make you understand. I’m alright with that, I don’t need you to understand. I’m old, I’ve fought in wars, I’ve seen people die. I’m as based in reality as any you will ever meet, I am a woman, any qualifier you assign is on you not me.

      Liked by 2 people

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