What Gender Am I?

SRS cured my gender dysphoria. I no longer live in a constant state of distress. I can function comfortably in social situations. I'm not killing myself with booze. But I still don't know what my gender is!

I thought the gender question was settled when I got my SRS. Now I'm a woman, for sure, right? (Actually, it's the other way around: I realized I am a woman, for sure, and that is why I got my SRS.) But now I realize that the only question SRS answered was, What kind of genitals do I want? That other question, What gender am I? still eludes me. My problem now centers around whether I believe I am simply a woman like other women, or whether having been born transsexual makes me so different from other women that "trans women" constitute a third sex.

There are other gender identities that could fit me too. Some that come to mind include:

  • Androgyne;
  • No gender;
  • Part man, part woman;
  • A man with a vagina;
  • Just me, don't try to label it!

    However, I feel that I will probably be most comfortable identifying either as a woman or as a trans woman.

    When I first began questioning my gender identity (only a few years ago, as a matter of fact,) it was pretty easy for me to get to the point of accepting my transsexuality. After all, once I began examing the concept of gender with my therapist and I opened my mind to the possibility that I had misunderstood my own gender, it quite evident to me that I was not a man. But now I need to reach a deeper and more subtle understanding of gender. Do I subscribe the the binary man/woman model, or do I believe there is a continuum? Do I allow for other dimensions and modes of gender identity? Do I believe it to be a physiological state, a sociological construct, or a mix of both? Is it fixed or mutable? What is impact of my understanding of my gender identity, and how much control do I have over it?

    I wonder how I should go about answering these questions and finding out where I fit. Talking to people and reading provide a wealth of ideas and data to underpin my thinking. But most of all, I probably need experience. Ultimately the final arbiter in my decision that I was transsexual was simply what felt right; I believe the same will be true in this case.

    I've spent a couple of years now—one pre-op, one post-op—living the "trans woman" role. Now I've gone somewhat stealth to try on the role of "woman." I'm dating, interviewing for jobs, and interacting with most of my other social contacts without revealing that I was born transsexual. I may need to go back and forth between the trans woman and woman roles a few times to truly assess where I feel most comfortable. I may oscillate between them for the rest of my life. Or, I may keep my life compartmentalized with some parts stealth and some parts openly trans. It may well be that my core identity calls for the compartmentalized approach, because it seems likely that the best label for what I am is this: Woman (born transsexual)—not a third sex, but a woman with a particular background which may be relevant in certain situations and circumstances.

    I'm equally uncertain about my sexuality. I think I'm bisexual, or at least bi-curious. I've certainly enjoyed sex with both men and women in the past. But I haven't made love with a woman since before I transitioned—long before, as a matter of fact. I can't say for certain that I can be sexually responsive with a woman today. I know that I don't get turned on by the sight of a beautiful woman anymore, not even if she's naked. In fact, it's getting more and more difficult for me to judge a woman as being beautiful and sexy—I reflexively focus on the fat thighs, overlarge boobs, tattoos, or whatever else I perceive as defects. (Meow!) On the other hand, the sight of a cute guy doesn't turn me on either; well, maybe a little, especially if he's climbing out of a shiny new Jaguar. Perhaps I'm actually asexual now? I don't think so. Rather, it seems that my mode of sexual responsiveness has morphed from the visual to the tactile. I've become Foreplay Girl! Moreover, I am not interested in sex outside of the context of a relationship, so discovering the truth of my new sexuality is not a particularly simple role-playing exercise.

    Is the search for a deeper understanding of my gender identity and my sexuality a problem? Not really. I'm enjoying the journey. I expect that exploration of my true self will be a lifelong process. More will be revealed.

    —Lannie Rose, 5/2004

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