One day, Joe asked wannabe immigrants: “What does Mexico represent to you, and what does the US represent? Why do you want to live in the USA?” Before they could answer, others did. They dragged Joe to lectures about the border, and how there are places where you are not even sure if you are on USA or Mexican soil, so it is very hard to define Mexico.
Joe said that is not an answer, he wants to know what being Mexican and being a US citizen mean to the wannabe emmigrants.
Others said Joe is a horrible person: Does he not care that some Mexicans very much want to be US citizens? His patriotic upbringing makes him unwilling to accept anyone who is not a born citizen like him. He is really hurting wannabe immigrants.
Still others chirped in that a US citizen does not mean someone whose citizenship is granted by the US goverment. The best way to know if someone is a US citizen is to ask – nobody will lie about it.
Joe said he still don’t know what they claim to be if they call themselves US citizens: “Define a US citizen.” They: “Anyone who say they are a US citizen.” Joe: “Anyone who say they are what?” They: “A US citizen.” Joe: “Define a US citizen.”
They told Joe Mexico and the USA are more than 2 countries, because of those places on the border and because you can get Mexican food in the USA and watch US TV programs in Mexico. Joe should stop thinking of it as a binary.
“Dammit”, said Joe, “stop feeding me poop and answer my question!”
“Look what a bigot Joe is”, said his opponents: “Now he even swears at immigration supporters! What is so horrible about immigration, what does he have against it?”
I had more than one nonversation1 (not a spelling mistake) like that recently. I was Joe, and the question was: When transgender people say they are (fe)male, what do they mean? When they say they are not (fe)male, despite being born with the body of one, what do they mean?
“Anyone who say they are (fe)male is (fe)male” is not a definition. (What does “fdjegwr” mean? – Anyone who say they are a fdjegwr is a fdjegwr. That doesn’t clear up the meaning of “fdjegwr”.)
This questioning is not aggression: I don’t care if you wear lipstick and nail polish or not, whether you have a job that society traditionally called masculine or feminine, how you style your hair or the clothes you wear. Regardless of your biology, you should be free to do or not do these things, without discrimination. Nobody should be hated, discriminated against or purposefully hurt for not acting within an artificial role imposed by society. But driving a truck does not make anyone a man, and lipstick does not make anyone a woman.
Here are the questions I would have liked to ask trans people, but have given up on because of diversions and personal attacks:
1) I realize you, like many people who are not transgender, feel strongly about being (fe)male. How do you define “male” and “female”? People usually are able to define the things they feel strongly about: Devoutly religious churchgoers know what they think of God, feminists know what kinds of oppression they see as a problem, etc. So transgender people will know what they think of as male and female.
2) I have heard some of you say, for example: “Having a uterus does not make you a woman.” If I and the majority of women call ourselves female based on having all the body parts that goes along with a uterus, do you want us to stop seeing ourselves as female, if we do not match the definition you gave in point 1? Are we female as is, even if we do not comply?
3) Optional: There have always been perfectly useful words for people with certain genitalia: The words woman/ female/ girl and man/ male/ boy. Why should we rather use them for the definition you gave?
3.1) Optional: If you feel we should let go of these terms because some people feel bad to be excluded: Should we let go of all descriptive words which does not describe every human on earth, because someone may feel excluded? Is nobody old or young any more, when someone wish to be younger or older? Is nobody long-haired any more, when someone wish he was not bald? Is nobody white or black any more, when Rachel Dolezal wishes she was black? (Of course, this one could be answered, depending on your answer in point 3, with “I don’t believe that feeling excluded is a reason to let go of terms.”)
4) Optional: I’ve heard some of you say that you have been born (fe)male, that you have male vaginas or female penises. If you are already completely (fe)male, why would any of you want extensive surgery to change your bodies?
1Nonversation: My own word for talking past each other
Note: Several off-topic comments was left unpublished recently. The topic here is what male and female means to transgender people.
If you answer question 1 – what male and female means to transgender people – I will certainly publish your answer, whether I agree with the definition or not. If you want to, you can answer the later questions too, but without answering question 1 they are meaningless. You are welcome to speak for yourself too: “Others may think differently, but I say (fe)maleness is [x], which is why I (do not) identify with it.”
There is no use in talking around a topic without tackling it. Honest people say what they mean and mean what they say.
The most ironic unpublished comment said I must get to know someone with gender dysphoria. Asking what this (fe)maleness means to you <i><b>is</b></i> trying to know you, wanting to listen to your hearts.