why 'trans feminine'....
April 8, 2013
for the most part, i mostly talk about trans women. but often trans feminine people too, as a way of being somewhat more inclusive to girls like me [1. my particular ID as a transpinay ladyboy == woman. not for me, anyhow. and i only say ‘somewhat more inclusive,’ because i’ve come to learn that a person like me is not excluded from ‘trans woman’ nor the problems they face. this distinction, for the most part, is something for within the community. because cis observers aren’t going to take the time to learn the difference between me and a ‘binary’ trans woman. more to the point: our problems, while not exactly the same are largely similar.].
i had a discussion with a trans woman about the desirability of using trans feminine, rather than trans woman. her concern (and it is a fair one) was about the colloquial conflation of ‘feminine’ with ‘femme’. whereby ‘trans feminine’ can evoke a certain… almost mandatory and very specific notion of femininity.
and, yes, this most certainly is a concern.
part of the distinction, here, is just grammatical. ‘woman’ is a noun and ‘feminine’ is an adjective. ‘feminine’ in its vanilla (re: dictionary) meaning simply means ‘of or relating to women’.
the logical conclusion of this should be:
anything a woman does is feminine. anything at all. [2. The exception here, of course, are those woman who choose to embody masculinity in whatever way they want]
however, in a cissexist world that enforces essentialist notions of womanhood, the converse is usually assumed to be true
any person embodying femininity in some way, is a woman [3. the obvious exception here: since we are discussing essentialist notions of womanhood: one cannot properly said to ‘embody femininity’ unless that person is white, able bodied, neurotypical, thin, middle – or higher – class, born with a certain body, etc. etc.]
english has many limitations. and here we bump into one of them.
because when we look at the global scope of #girlslikeus we need some way of speaking generally without imposing identities on other people. this is particularly the case since queer people decided to make such a strong distinction between sexuality and gender, and this distinction is oft upheld by trans feminine people.
when we look globally, we can locate a bunch of people and identities who, when read reports/studies/research, are often labelled as ‘trans women’. but, of course, this is an ill-fitting and, more importantly, imperialist translation of a great variety of genders.
the risk of doing otherwise is continuing to create a space where someone like me, will never feel completely at ease in. it took me so long to find the community because i never realized that it was here for me. and i’m not alone, in this regards.
and it is an interesting and dangerous place to wander into. since i am impacted by transmisogyny. my life has been governed and controlled by it.
so too are the many trans feminine people worldwide. many of whom are bearing the brunt of transmisogynist violence (most of the murders of trans women of colour do not take place in europe, canada, or the usa).
i like ‘trans feminine’ because it is an adjective. We have trans feminine people. And the space within ‘person’ is large enough to encompass and include more people than ‘trans woman’. It allows for the people thus classed to name and identify themselves.