Storify: Transition and Fluidity

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

Transition and Fluidity: They're not the same thing.

*sets up chairs and blankets and foods and pillows* Come. We are going to have a thread about identity and fluidity.

Some people experience fluidity of identity. For example, some people experience gender in fluid ways over time. Some of those people who experience gender in fluid ways may identify as genderfluid. (I do, for example.)

Other people who experience gender in fluid ways may feel their gender was static THEN and is static NOW, but shifted over time.

Other people do NOT experience gender in fluid ways. They may have a static gender from start of life to finish.

Some of those genderstatic people may not RECOGNIZE their gender right away because maybe people kept telling them they were something else. "I didn't have the words to recognize I was [gender] in spite of people telling me otherwise" does not equal "my gender shifted over time."

Cis authors sometimes use the act of coming out as trans, or the process of medical transition, to suggest an identity change or fluidity. I will not say that *NO* trans person would describe their coming out / medical transition that way but I think that is the exception. In many (most?) cases, coming out and/or medical transition are ways to affirm an identity that is already there, not "changing" a identity.

Cis people tend to see transition as an identity change because THEY have to "change" the pronouns they've been using for the person. But that doesn't mean the trans person views their transition as a change from Being A to Being B. It is more likely that they view the "change" their cis friends experience as "using the right words for me instead of the wrong ones."

Similarly, when queer friends come out as ace or aro or bisexual or pansexual, this often isn't an example of fluid sexuality. "New" queer friends are usually going "oh god, look at all the identity flags I missed over time, how did it take me this long to see it??"

Gender and sexuality CAN be experienced in fluid ways! But "coming out" shouldn't be read automatically as "becoming a new identity". Coming out is just as likely a case of "using a new WORD to explain the identity I've had for years but didn't see". When we treat cisness and unqueerness as a default that people "change" from in order to "become" new things, we entrench the problem.

(Which isn't to say no one should describe their trans or queer journey that way. I'm talking about NON-ownvoices narratives.)

So to the cis people: please do not call all trans people "genderfluid" or imply that transition is "changing" one's gender. And to the unqueer people: please do not imply that coming out as queer is sexual fluidity or changing one's sexuality.

Let us also understand that challenging the DEFAULT state of cisness and unqueerness is a valuable and important rhetorical act. Sometimes I joke about giving "Do You Know Bisexuality Is An Option?" brochures to straight girls because I needed to know that. People compare the idea to conversion therapy and corrective rape because just POINTING OUT that people might be queer is viewed as violent.

Pointing out that transness and queerness are options is important when we live in a society where many of us didn't know until adulthood. We can't treat education about transness and queerness existing as equal in any way to violent cis-normativity and unqueer-normativity. Hell, I spent YEARS thinking I couldn't be into girls because I prefer penetrative sex to oral and I didn't know girls could have that.

Wanna reiterate that I spent ACTUAL ADULT YEARS as a miserable 'straight' because I didn't KNOW girls can have penetrative sex together. So, yes, we goddamn need brochures. We need comprehensive sex ed that acknowledges bis, pans, aces, aros, and transness. And we need people to understand that coming out / transition doesn't mean we totally WERE that default but aren't NOW. Some of us may have been but for many of us, we were NEVER that "default" we were shoved into.

People who thought we were cis/unqueer may think we're "changing", but really THEY are being asked to change how they perceive us. This is how we get parents saying "I miss my daughter!", without realizing they (maybe) never had one. They had a son. They still do. I think it's understandable to miss a thing you never had; when I divorced my ex, I missed the man he wasn't and never would be.


It isn't right to load trans and queer folk down with the fantasy you had for them. We are who we are. We aren't a fantasy.


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