A recent comment to a not-so-recent blog post required a thoughtful response. The subject was my dislike of the term “gender gifted” and while Michele pointed out some excellent reasons to prefer the term, I’m not an easy mind to change.
So let me explain a little moreso why I think the term is inappropriate, if not inexact.
I suppose there are a few reasons I think the way I do about the term “gender gifted.” One of them is that I think positivity-phrasing can often delude people in terms of the difficulty involved, and I don’t think that’s good for a few reasons: 1) the general public shouldn’t think it’s easy/a choice to be trans; 2) trans people should be aware of what they’re getting into when they open that Pandora’s Box; and 3) trans people need to be aware of what their partners, family, & friends may go through as a result of their transness.
I want to stress that I don’t believe it needs to be as simple as “it’s either a blessing or a curse.” Fire is both. Anger is both. Lust is both. Parents, even, are both. I can’t choose, and won’t.
But mostly I think what we’re coming up against is a sensibility difference: I find it easier to get through the world by knowing when my glass is half-empty, so I can start figuring out how I’m going to fill it. Others prefer to see it half-full until it’s empty. You can call me a worrywart (which I am), or the “pulls no punches” type, but either way I think that’s the real difference between what’s being said.
I think it’s been too long that people have considered transpeople crazy, reckless, or just out of touch with reality. And most people – if faced with any decision that might require the loss of job, partner, and home; a change of every piece of ID; tens of thousands of dollars of surgery and/or hormone maintenance – would say, that’s a f*** of a lot to go through for anything, much less a gift. So the whole idea of calling it “gifted” rings false for anyone who isn’t trans; remember, we’re not inside your heads and can’t (and probably won’t) ever understand any anything that would motivate a person to go through so much. And you do go through that much, whether you transition or not. – I assume that’s one part we can’t disagree on, yes?
To me, using the term “gender gifted” is much like being the kind of person who stands in a doorway when it’s raining and is thankful that the flowers are getting a good long drink. They may be honest, they may be sweet, they may love flowers. But the other people in that doorway who have been kept from getting to work, or home, or wherever they’re supposed to be, will think that person is just a little too out of touch, and a little well – touched, as well.
It doesn’t mean they’re wrong; it just means that their perspective may be perceived as a little left of center – which is okay on its own. I have no doubt that transfolks need upbeat types around to get through a day (or a life). I don’t think a unified message is necessary; I think the trans community needs its many voices, and many perspectives, in order to get everyone what they need.