Sunday, June 07, 2009

Trans as a Gender and Generational Views

I tend to see trans/transgender as a gender identity unto itself. Or to be more exact, a collection of related identities. A bit akin to using it as an umbrella term for a variety of related identities.

On forms for GLBT places it is not uncommon for the part for gender to say ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘transgendered’. Assuming it is a web form that will only allow one choice which one should I choose? My transgender identity is as important to me as my identity as a female.

Since I can only speak for myself I will list how I view things with respect to transgender issues and how the two generations that flank me seem to view things. Note these are just how I have observed each group and they are generalities, so obviously there are plenty of individual exceptions.

Gen Yers and Baby Boomers: did I call it right? Gen Xers: are your views similar to mine?

Age of starting transition (or equivalent):
Baby Boomers: 40s
Me: 30s
Gen Yers: 20s

Baby Boomers: follow it to the letter
Me: use it as as advice
Gen Yers: meh

View on Gender over life:
Baby Boomers: originally birth gender, then trans, then surgery, then target gender
Me: originally birth gender, then transwoman
Gen Yers: it can be constantly in flux

Baby Boomers: it all depends what stage of above they are at
Me: transwoman
Gen Yers: increasingly often genderqueer

Importance of SRS (or whatever surgery is applicable):
Baby Boomers: it is the Holy Grail
Me: it was nice to get to, but would not have been the end of it all if I had not got it
Gen Yers: varies

What is transition:
Baby Boomers: just a temporary phase between one gender and another
Me: transition never ends
Gen Yers: it may or may not exist

In general, Baby Boomers seem to be more conservative in their approach to trans issues. At the other extreme we have Gen Yers who are extremely fluid in what they do. I seem to find myself between those two extremes, but much closer to the Gen Y end of that spectrum. So am I acting as a bridge or what? Probably this also explains why I relate better on other stuff to people in their 20s than to people my own age.

There is a long established tradition of the previous generation of trans people helping the next on their journeys. As the journey changes, I can see that mentoring changing too.


Dave K said...

This feels right to me. :) I am 32; I found myself at home in your descriptions of Gen Yers. To what degree, do you think, do these different experiences of trans affect trans-community? I am also thinking about how these different experiences impact the wider society's perceptions of trans, with those assumptions impacting our experiences in turn.... Thanks for this post. :)

Kara said...

Glad to hear someone agreed with how I see things! I am 41 myself so was hesitant if my views of other generations were accurate.

I think the trans community will change, but it will adapt. The example I mentioned before was mentoring between one generation and the next. Before two generations had pretty simmilar paths (the younger probably had better options due to medical, social, and legal advances though). But what will happen when it becomes typical for the 2 to not just have different paths but completely different destinations? I think it will make the community as a whole grow stronger as we see other ways of looking at things, but it will be interesting to watch that evolution happen.

With the external society I think things will definately be getting better. On one side we have the continuum of who is trans getting larger (both by definition expansion and more people deciding to ID in a non-gender-conformative way). On the other society seems to be getting more tolerant. Compare 3rd wave feminists to the 1st and 2nd waves for example.