- Which bathroom will I use?
- Is this bathroom, changing room, or establishment safe?
- What pronoun will this waiter use when taking my order (because they certainly are not going to use “ze”)?
- Should I correct the waiter’s pronoun mistake?
- Will this person respect my pronoun preference?
- Will my gender preference, once again, be the overarching topic of conversation when I meet with people?
- Will my top-surgery, once again, be the overarching topic of conversation?
- Will I have to be subjected to another’s ignorance?
- What will the airport official think when they look at my ID card, and then look back at me?
- Will I be denied into certain places, or asked for further screening, because of my ID card?
- Will I be told I am looking in the “wrong” department when shopping for clothing?
- Will I be told I am in, and/or escorted out of, the “wrong” bathroom?
- … and so on. I invite you to add other fears in the comment section.
Yesterday, I successfully cracked Facebook’s gender binary to change my gender settings as neutral! It felt really good to see gender-neutral pronouns popup on my newsfeed and timeline. I have gotten a number of inquiries asking how I was able to achieve this. After exploring a few recommended options, this is the best and most current solution: (via GenderQueerId)
1) Get an HTML inspector, e.g. Firebug for Firefox. These instructions are written for Firebug users, but can be adapted to other HTML inspectors. (Chrome and Safari both failed, only Firefox with Firebug installed was successful)
2) Open Facebook Mobile. THIS IS A MUST
3) Click “Timeline” to go to your profile page.
4) Under your name, click “Edit profile”.
5) Under “Basic information”, click “Sex”.
6) Radio button options for “Male” and “Female” appear
Right click the radio button which is selected. (In this example, it’d be the “Male” radio button.) From the context menu, select “Inspect Element With Firebug”.
7) Firebug will highlight a line of code, <label onclick=””>.
Expand the line of code by clicking the plus sign on the left.
8) The line expands into the following block of code:
Right click the line that begins “<input type…” and select “Edit HTML”.
9) A line of code appears.
Note: the property “value”. The “Male” option has value 2, the “Female” option value 1.
Copy the line and paste it so you have two lines of code. Remove the checked=”1” from the first line of code. In the second one, change the value to zero (value=”0”).
10) Your code should look something like this:
Looking up from the Firebug panel, you’ll notice the page has changed to include an extra radio button, which is checked:
Click save to submit the value “0” from the radio button you created, and you’re done!
*Please note: this will NOT allow you to change, nor select “Neutral” as your gender option. This solution only enables the use of gender-neutral pronouns on your timeline.
Gender therapy is a particularly polarizing topic not only within the mental health field, but also within the transgender community and society at large. This polarization stems from the fact that transgender individuals have long been considered as suffering from a mental illness—Gender Identity Disorder (GID). Therefore, gender therapy is mandated for individuals who wish to seek Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and/or Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS). The issue at hand, is if gender therapy should be mandated to individuals who wish to transition to another gender, or express their gender differently than what is perceived as “normal”; a.k.a. binary.
Confusing Ignorance as Ailment
Mandated gender therapy offers a solution to a problem that society created. This is classic case of action, reaction, and solution. First, we collectively agree upon acceptable gender types that can exist in our society—cisgender males and females. It is not that cisgender folks are more acceptable or “normal,” but rather indicative of how narrow and confining our cultural acceptance of gender expression is. We literally only accept two types of people. Think about that for a while… its alarming. With eight billion people on this planet, it is an impossibility for all of us to fit just two forms. And not just any forms, socially created forms. Because we have put limits around how we can identify, we have consequently set limits on what we think gender can be. Therefore, a gender identity outside of the cisgender binary cannot be, merely because we said so… Not for any other reason except that we accept to unaccept. It is that simple. We have set the limits of what our societal mind can accept and cannot accept. Therefore, when individuals challenge this mind, then conflict ensues.
Now, we have a “problem” that needs a “solution”. All problems need solutions—they are codependent on each other. In this case, the problem is the “violation” of social rules, and the solution is diagnosing this violation as a “disorder.” Rather than acceptance, or perhaps opening the mind to what else can be, we have instead demonized and diagnosed. Apparently, this was the best solution that was created. Now, the solution creates a problem, and this problem also needs a solution: mandated gender therapy. We mandate therapy to help solve a disorder that we created in the first place. However, there is nothing wrong with nonconforming gender types. An inability to conform is just an inability to conform… so what? Yet, we treat nonconformist as if there were a problem, a mental ailment, that needs fixing. We have labeled our own ignorance as a false ailment.
The Wheels of Oppression Go Round and Round
The reason why nonconforming gender types suffer from psychological issues is because of this false ailment. Now, actual therapy is needed for the false need of therapy that was mandated in the first place. It is a self-perpetuating wheel of oppression that must end. We falsely created a problem that was never a problem to begin with. Just because someone’s nature cannot conform to socially constructed rules does not mean it is a disorder… let alone a mental disorder. It means that our societal mind is so rigid and narrow that we see nonconformists as disorderly—disrupting our social peace. Therefore, being transgender is not a disorder. Rather, being transgender is discriminative. The fact that we label nonconformist as “transgender” or “genderqueer”, while conformist as “cisgender,” only magnifies this discrimination. There would not be transgender folk, genderqueer folk, or even cisgender folk if we had not set the limits as to how we can be. However, we have set limits on what gender can be, and because of this, we fiercely police these borders.
Psychological suffering stems from such discrimination and policing. We have set up militant walls within our collective mind that will fire at anything that tries to beach its perimeters. We psychologically assault another when we cannot accept them for who they are. We are assailants when we ignore another’s needs. Sadly, we choose to use our minds as weapons, rather than witnesses… witnesses of what can be. Such behavior is horrific, unjust, and a direct violation of human rights. This is where the real violation lies… Transgender individuals, and genderqueer alike, are at the heart of a cultural issue: the violation of human rights. The individual is not issue. Rather, gender is the issue.
Gender Is Not a Commodity
Gender is the issue because we fail to recognize that gender is free. Gender is an inherent expression, and all expressions are free. Therefore, gender is also free. Anything that is free cannot be paid for, nor taken away. However, because we have set limits as to what we believe gender can be, we have imprisoned this freedom. Rather than allowing this free expression, we conform gender into one of two ways—”male” or “female.” These two ways are not gender truths, but merely ways. Now gender is a “thing,” a commodity, that must be paid for. We are no longer free, but now consumeristic conformists paying to “express” (uphold) gender laws. This is the heart of the issue: gender it is not a commodity, therefore there are no gender laws. Yet, because of our disillusionment, nonconforming folks have no choice but to violate the laws that do not include them in the first place. It is not the individual who is in violation, but rather our attempt to police one’s gender expression. Simply put, the commoditization of gender is a violation of human rights. When we treat gender like currency, we tip the scales.
We place total value on some gender types, while no value on another. We fully recognize some gender types as acceptable (human), while other as unacceptable (less human). We instill certain regulations, laws, and exchange rates. We build giant walls—bank accounts—in order to protect our precious commodities. We then patrol these borders with fierce weaponry. Those who do conform have to pay to remain within the walls (privileges), while nonconformist must to pay for their unavoidable violation (disadvantages). Either way, we are all paying for, and imprisoned by, this gigantic disillusion.
The Great Disillusion
It is this great disillusion that creates a need for gender therapy. However, there is no need for therapy. It is not the different gender expressions that are problematic, but rather how we view gender that is the problem. We have a viewpoint that certain gender types need fixing. This need to “fix” creates a false illusion that something is broken. Such a mindset perpetuates both collective and individual negative thought schemas. Now, there is a need for therapy.
In order to end this disillusionment, we must collectively understand that it is an impossibility to “break” gender. Gender does not need mending. It is our minds that need mending. We must stop trying to fix a problem that is not a problem to begin with. Such behavior is the definition of madness. We must stop trying to fix people who we perceive as problematic to our illusive commodities. And we must restore the most glaring human right that has been stripped: the right of self-jurisdiction.
The truth is, I am all for therapy. Therapy can be an extremely healthy addition to one’s life. However, therapy should be a choice. By mandating therapy, we strip individuals of the right to make a choice, thus stripping them of their rights and power. Power and jurisdiction is now shifted into a stranger’s hands, which forces individuals to succumb to the fact that another will now a make decisions and choices on their behalf. This not only violates the right of self-jurisdiction, but also marks the inception point of dehumanization. Personally, the most devastating repercussion of this great disillusion is the dehumanization of the transgender community.
Dehumanization is the only result of the great disillusion. Since we believe gender is a commodity, we must also set a price—worth—on gender types. Because of this, one’s gender identity is now their social currency in the social marketplace. Valuable gender types are worth more, therefore worthy of more. Invaluable gender types are worth less, therefore unworthy. Gender types that add value to society are allowed into humanity, while gender types that have little (or no) value are not allowed. By not allowing a gender type into humanity, consequently excepts them from humanity—this dehumanizes them. Thus, those that are perceived as “less human” are perceived unworthy of human rights. Hence, the right of self-justidiction.
The denial of human rights only indicates one thing: we are disillusioned. It is an impossibility to deny another of their rights, because just like gender, human rights are free—not a commodity. Yet we deny, because we have accepted the delusional belief that human rights do have a price tag. Consequently, we all have a price to pay. The price we pay is the belief that gender identity defines a human’s worth, which is directly dependent on the value a particular gender has in the social stock market. Because we believe human rights are a commodity, then we believe in the worthiness of each stock. Rather than exercising our free rights, we willingly surrender them to the endless bartering of a perceived social worthiness.
It is delusional to put a price tag on human rights because they are free. The fact that we do monetize our rights only indicates one thing: our collective failure to recognize that human rights are free. Not only is gender not a commodity, but neither is our right to express it. Therefore, It is an impossibility to put a price tag on the right to express gender, because gender expression has no actual worth. What has no worth, is free of worth. Therefore, all humans are intrinsically free, and share equal rights. The only thing denying individuals of human rights are the belief of disillusions. Belief keeps disillusionment alive.
The belief that gender therapy must be sanctioned is just that, a belief. This belief collapses upon itself once we collectively recognize that we all share the same equal right: the right to freely express. Gender is no exception, and should not be exempt from this right. Once we recognize this, then we recognize that gender is not a precious commodity, but rather precious.
Gender Is Precious
Gender is precious. It is an expression that tells the world “this is me.” That is the most sacred thing of all. We must not take this away from each other any longer. We must not allow others to suffer unjustly. We must start protecting the sanctity of our collective gender expressions, rather than protect the sanctions that divide us.
Tomorrow I am going to the beach for the first time since having top-surgery, and I am experiencing a lot of intense (yet joyous) feelings about this. Going to the beach sounds like a fairly straight-forward activity, but for a post-op Gender Neutral like myself, it is a bit more complex. In fact, I have been excited about tomorrow’s beach day since the beginning of week when the plan was first made. Why? Well, here is why:
- First: I am excited to go to the beach because it will be the first time I have been able to get to the coast this summer. So, I am really looking forward to some summer sun and fun.
- Second: This is the first time I will be post-op at the beach, and finally able to fulfill a life-long dream: jumping in the ocean bare-chested (and flat chested). Just the thought of this makes me smile from ear-to-ear. I feel like I have conquered many battles to make this dream come true for myself.
- Third: My “battle scars.” My chest scars are still quite visible, therefore they do tend to draw attention. I am aware that my scars may make people look a bit longer, or even pass judgement, but I don’t care. I know what it has taken for me to get to this moment, and I am not going to let another’s curiosities stop me from diving topless into the ocean.
- Fourth: The pilgrimage. Because this has been a life-long dream, there is a sense of arrival (or completion) when arriving at the water’s edge. Tomorrow commemorates the shrining moment of a long, long pilgrimage for me—marked with lots of blood, sweat, and tears. The way I see it, diving topless in the water, and feeling the cold saltwater rush over my bare torso, is an act of self-honor. It is the reward for a long, courageous journey traveled. Yes, others may stare, but again, I do not care because they simply do not know.
At the end of the day, only I know… Only I know my story, my history, my pains, and my triumphs. And because of this, only I will be able to truly appreciate the fruits of my labor—in this case, personal growth and transformation. Therefore, tomorrow’s trip to the beach is for me… and for my friends who will join me… but, mostly for me! It is for me to experience, for me to celebrate, and for me to enjoy. I cannot expect others to understand what tomorrow means to me, or to understand seeing a scarred chest for the first time. Therefore, I am not going to waste my time wishing they could. Instead, I am going to soak it all in.
I look forward to next Friday when I will be able to tell all about tomorrow’s trip (maybe even with pictures). Until then…
I reached a major milestone this week: the one-year anniversary since I began We Exist, began advocating for my gender identity, and started my transition! So much has transpired in such short amount of time that I cannot believe it has already been a year’s time, and then I cannot believe it has only been a year’s time. I think I can speak for many who have transition before (or alongside) me, that with such rapid and drastic change, the concept of time seems to become elusive. As I reflect upon this year, a few key things stand out to me:
- I remember how top-surgery once felt like a distance hope of the future, and now feels like a distant memory of the past (though it was only months ago).
- I remember how unfamiliar the term Gender Neutral was to so many people in my life, and now is a common part of everyday life and conversation.
- Coming out as Gender Neutral has given me the honor to connect and meet with thousands of peers, allies, and community from all over the world—proving to me that no matter how you exist in this world, there is always a space for you
So many great things have come into my life since making the decision to “be me,” and I am so grateful for this. However, there is still a bigger lesson that I pulled away from this past year. The biggest lesson I learned from one year of transitioning is: there is no destination. Although I have reached a milestone, I understand that I have not arrived at “Transition Completion Land.” Even after a year’s time, I still feel that I am at the very beginning of this “being” of self. In fact, I do not think I will ever arrive there. Why? Because it doesn’t exist, therefore I am not going to fool myself into thinking that it does. Now, I don’t say this to be discouraging, but rather to be realistic and assuring.
No thing, and no one, remains stagnant in life. Everything is subject to change: including our health, our bodies, our minds, our jobs, our relationships, and our lives…. Gender is no exception! No matter how you identify, or whether you are cis or transgender, we all share the same exact thing: constant changes in our self-identification. It has been important for me to recognize that my gender, and how I identify, is not exempt from the same changes that all other aspects of my being experiences. And, I could not have learned this lesson until I began my transition.
Pre-transition, I was under the illusion that cisgender folk, and/or gender binary folk, all lived in Transition Completion Land. It seemed like Far Far Away Land in Shrek where everyone just felt “whole” in their gender identity, and danced in the streets (wearing bonnets and knickers). I soon came to realize that not only did this land not exist, but that no one felt completely whole in their gender identity. This realization forever changed the course of my life, because now I recognized the course (journey). I stopped wondering “when am I going to arrive there,” and started recognizing that I was already there.
Transition Completion Land is not a destination, but rather an endless journey. It is not this means to end of achieving self “completion,” but rather the recognition that you already are complete, yet always changing. It is recognizing that gender is just another external extension of “self” that is just as subject to change as another other aspect of self—be it my job, my mood, my hair, and so forth. I must allow gender to change because it was never concrete to begin with.
Letting go of the illusion of Transition Completion Land was both difficult, yet empowering for me. It was difficult to first accept that it was not real, merely because I wanted it to be real. But, when I was able to accept (and face) this, I was able to arrive at the most unexpected place: truth. There is something much more sacred about arriving here, rather than at Transition Completion Land. For one, I am not keen on knickers and bonnets. But also, I now recognize that I am already complete. And though this completion is unbreakable, it is also subject to endless, continuous change (transition).
"Who I am," and "who I am becoming," is a lifelong journey which will forever deepen. Knowing that I will be in a constant state of transition my whole life (gender being just one aspect), allows me to cherish these little milestones I reach. I can celebrate them for what they really are: road markers on my endless journey. They are not a destination—because that would indicate a means to an end—but rather the markers left before you, for you, to follow and also lead. It is a trail that you are creating while also following. And soon enough, you will see that others will be walking the same path, because you walked it for them.
I was recently out to dinner with one of my oldest friends, when I experienced what I like to call The Double-Misgender: the experience of being misgendered by two different people as two incorrect (and conflicting genders), while one of those persons thinks their correcting the other’s mistake… It sounds more confusing than it is, so I will let this story do the explaining.
My friend and I were just seated at a table when our server, followed by another server, approached our table. Apparently, the first server was new to this establishment, therefore they had a trained server “shadowing” them for their shift. The first server asked us, “Would you like to start with any drinks or appetizers?” My friend places her order (she identifies as “female”), and the server turns to me and says, “…and for you sir?” Initially, this misgendering stung, and I could see in my friend’s face that it was awkward for her too. Furthermore, the server who was shadowing suddenly had this look of almost horror. I had a decision to make: correct this person or “let it slide.” In this moment, I opted to just let it slide… it was their first day on the job with a supervisor over their shoulder, and frankly, I was not in the mood to have the pronoun conversation with a stranger I’d never see again. But then, the double-misgender occurred, and I was suddenly reminded of the importance of making pronoun corrections.
As the first server left towards the kitchen to place our order, the second waiter lagged behind and then approached our table: “Thank you ladies, for coming in. I am supervising [so-in-so]’s shift today. Let me apologize if there may be any slip ups, as this is their first day.” Not only did the server over accentuate the word “ladies”, but then spoke directly at me. It felt like server number two was overcompensating for the perceived mistake of server one, while also trying to make up for their wrong. I predominantly do not feel a strong desire to constantly correct strangers about proper pronoun usage, but I finally reached my tipping point. I immediately responded, “I kindly ask that you do not refer to us as ladies, or sirs, but rather as folks. And if you can, please tell [so-in-so] to do the same.”
I did not wish to put down this person, or to put then in their place, but rather I wished to respect who I am and have them do the same. Furthermore, I could tell that they wished to be respectful, but perhaps just did not know the proper way to do so. The moment I clarified the situation was the moment the situation ended. I could even see a level of relief on the server’s face when I gave them clear direction.
This is an interesting experience for me to reflect on, because it shows how confident I have become when correcting others when they misgender me. I used to be shy about correcting a stranger’s inaccurate pronoun usage. The act of telling someone I did not know how to properly address me felt awkward. Not because it was awkward, but because it was different and unfamiliar. However, the more I continued to correct others, the more comfortable and normal it felt. In fact, the more others respected my pronoun preference, the more empowered my life became.
What I have learned is that people (on the whole) wish to respect you… and if they don’t, then they are simply disrespectful and don’t deserve you in their life! When I do clarify to others, I enable them to respect me the way they wish to respect me. I am also allowing them to recognize me for who I really am in the process. Whether it feels awkward or not, in the end it is a win-win situation.
About the Author: Lauren Lubin is the star and executive producer of the upcoming documentary, We Exist. We Exist will explore the intimate details of Lauren’s transition from female to gender neutral.