I think my confidence is beginning to outgrow my fear when it comes to my gender expression. I’ve been reading “My Gender Workbook” by Kate Barnstein and the more I delve into it, the more I realize that my reservations about my own expression of my true self are derived from a fear of loss of social status. On one hand I feel like social status is such an arbitrary and relative thing that I wonder why I’d even care if I lost that status, but at the same time I acknowledge that I place a good deal of importance on my social standing. Perhaps it is unfortunate for me that I was born a Caucasian male because I have been privileged (whether I deserved it or not) to be the quintessentially “perfect” gender in western society. I was above average height, with blonde hair, an above average IQ and access to higher education. As Robert I am a person who has very few closed doors in front of me and anything I’d like to be or do (except for becoming a woman, that, of course, is a big steal prison-esque door with the plaque reading “no-no” above it for the quintessentially perfect gender). As this white male I have access to higher pay, better chances of promotion, better chances of lenders being willing to borrow me money, better access to education and resources. As a transwoman so much of that “built-in” privilege that comes with being a white male almost immediately evaporates.
I won’t lie that as I’m considering my future and the transition I’m embarking on, I’m keeping in the back of my mind how this will affect me economically. I’m even going to wait until after the new year when raises/bonuses are determined at my job to reveal my true nature to my employer because I’m afraid that doing so beforehand will negatively effect my chances of receiving one or both of those. As Robert, white male paralegal extraordinaire, I stand a good chance of receiving one or both of those and sadly, the rate at which I will receive either or both of those is likely to be higher than my female coworkers (even despite the fact that many of them are more profitable to the firm than I am). As Emma, the transwoman paralegal freakshow, I’m almost certain I’d receive neither a bonus nor a raise, and that honestly makes me really sad.
It makes me question the validity of gender in the vacuum of social power altogether. Why does being the “perfect” gender mean that you receive a greater share of the resources? Are we really still so closely related to primates that being the “Alpha Male” means so much to us and our hierarchy of power? In the primate world I understand the reasoning behind having an Alpha Male because it is a necessity of survival. Having an Alpha Male means safety and protection for the troop. It means order instead of chaos and it ensures the survival of the species (survival of the fittest in natural selection is a key component to continuing a species), but we’ve moved beyond that as humans. The survival of the human species is no longer dictated by passing along the genetics of the Alpha Male or by the protection granted from that Alpha Male. We don’t live in the woods, relying on our physical bodies to accumulate resources anymore, so why are we still keeping with the same old system of gender roles? Isn’t it time to evolve already?
Perhaps transgenderism is a step in evolution. We are no longer in need of the old binary system of male and female because our resources and survival as a species doesn’t rely on that structure anymore. Maybe the reason there seem to be more and more of us who are transgressing this binary system is because our collective consciousness is trying to express a different way of doing things, one where we are free to express ourselves as individuals instead of forcing ourselves into a necessary mechanism of evolution.
That’s how I’m going to try to think of this transition from now on. I am evolving beyond the old ways of thinking about gender and how it affects my survival. By becoming Emma I’m stepping further away from our old primate origins in the direction of a new type of human, one who can be both male and female. Many believe that God is the perfect harmony of masculine and feminine energies (I certainly believe that), so by transgressing the binary to accept and hold both masculine and feminine energies in ourselves, aren’t we stepping closer to the realm of God? Just a thought.