A while ago, on the Animal Lounge, Liesk asked to the tranimal folk out there if being trans was related in any way to their therianthropy, or something along the lines of how does one element mesh with the other. I’ve been Internetless for a few months so as I couldn’t reply at the moment, I thought I’d write an essay on this offline and post it later.
Let’s put this straight: no, for the most part I don’t think there is some kind of meaningful connection between the two things for me, but that’s the reason I want to develop and write this. Maybe this is a try to sort things out in details, dig a little deeper and put onto paper thoughts I’ve mulled over for a while. Another thing that got me thinking is, sure there are a bunch of gender-variant people around, as in people who say they don’t identify much with the gender people slap onto them, and a couple of people who clearly identify as Female to Male or such, but most of them haven’t started transitioning (which is totally fine). So I’m writing this as some kind of entertainment and for the records.
This is where I stand: I am a transguy. Female to Other if you want the specifics, but suffice to say that I was raised as a woman and I prefer male pronouns. I’m not really female anymore and I don’t want to be exactly like a biological man. I identify with the masculine end of androgyny, or the androgynous end of masculinity, whichever. I’ve been taking testosterone since the beginning of 2007, and now it shows enough that I’m perceived as male most of time; generally as long as I want to, but I’m fine discussing gender topics with most people so I easily talk about my transidentity. Things are different than from the time I was out or stealth without passing as a man, and I’ve learned and grown a lot as a person since then.
I’m an animal-person. I shy away from the term “therianthrope” because therians are people who read about the concept of therianthropy and feel it sounds like what they are, whereas I just am a raven and clouded leopard. Felinity is easier to word because it’s unambiguous; ravenness is harder to describe but as much present. Animality’s another identity-thing along with gender, and both are constant enough that I don’t vary in masculinity, felinity or ravenness over time. I guess that’s the only common pattern, unless you take transpecism, trans-identity and synaesthesia together as a pattern for “brain-fucked”. I’m not interested in discussing animal identity with non-therians, so I only tell good friends and mention it once in a while.
I don’t feel my animal aspects have a gender. I don’t have animals in my head that have their own identities, nor do I identify as an animal of a specific sex – I don’t believe I’m a male raven, as an example. Gender identity is one thing, species identity is another. I’m both clouded leopard and masculine, so I may be similar to a male clouded leopard, but outside of mating and raising cubs most cats tend to do the same job in the wild, so I won’t speculate about what feline gender roles are supposed to be like. Maybe I would think otherwise if I identified as an animal that has marked sexual dimorphism, but even if I see ravens and clouded leopards in general as gender-neutral, I don’t think of them as such because I am androgynous, nor do I identify as androgynous because my animals sound gender-neutral.
Besides, androgyny is about being ambiguous, both feminine and masculine, while neutrality tends more towards being non- or agendered; a lack of gender or, arguably, another gender entierely that does not appear on the masculine-feminine spectrum. Everybody exhibit gendered-connoted traits, so like with perfection you can only get close to neutrality, not reach it. We’re not machines.
When I experience the social world, people put gender on the foreground. I would get on the underground train, a clouded ravenpard trans person in a human environment. On the way back the train is crowded and I get pressed against two pretty russian women, kissing and holding hands, who notice me with interest, exchange a few words, probably pondering whether I’m a boy or a butch dyke, smiling and making eyes at me for a long moment. I successively:
1) get annoyed at the crowd in my personal space
2) am reminded I’m French and I don’t get a word of what they say
3) am reminded my gender is less than clear for some people
4) suppose I’m attractive?…
5) “… shit” *Turns head and blushes furiously.*
Ego-boost = +1; social skills = 0.
I deal better with criticism.
Animality exists independently from other’s actions, in what gets my attention, my specific sense of territoriality, my thoughts. People can only act and react to it in a primal and generic way, primate at most but non-feline and non-corvine; and it can be confusing to me. Whereas gender is much more interactive and folk more consciously and aggressively seek for it, for clues to adapt and communicate accordingly (that can confuse me as well). What I’m getting at is that the expression and existence itself of gender is much more tied to the people thereabouts, like invisible ink only showing under a warm lamp; otherwise the script is non-existent. Animality is more like some discreet, obscure form of Braille – ever-existing script perceptible under light as in darkness, but unless people know how to make sense of it, it will only be like any texture and won’t exist as a meaningful message.
Whatever, fuck the 3am comparisons. Anyway, Liesk raised another interesting point asking why he kept stumbling upon female-bodied gender-variant animal-folk, specifically, and where the male-bodied people were. Maybe the answer lies in how most folk’s identity contructs itself – if you know how identity, gender and other mental representations work in society. Biological men tend to construct their conception of gender opposing the feminine and masculine aspect, pretty much. The binarism is more likely inherently stronger.
This feminine/masculine opposition is not so much the identity core of most women-raised people; maybe this allow female-bodied individuals to construct their identity more easily outside of binary norms, and help allowing more fluidity and (self)acceptance of those “different” identities. I know of many more FtMs who are “gender-fluid”, or non-binary in some ways, than MtFs; just like I know more biological women who do not identify with what women are supposed to be like, than biological men not playing the traditional masculine roles, even though they have more freedom and privileges, being the dominant figures of our hetero-patriarchal society. Of course that’s just a general tendency and individuals still vary a lot from each others.
My identity is outside of binary norms, and it translates into my body as well. I do not fit the scientific definitions of male and female. This is a trans body, with its own specificities – and it is my body, no “error” there, no need to victimize myself. I just want to make it better, and better is not akin to a standard male body. If I could have fangs and fur that’d be great, but it’s not possible and I can live without writing angsty poems about it. Transition actually brought some “plus” regarding animality. My voice now sounds more like a croaking purr, and while I kept my light bones, I took some pounds of muscles. My body frame is more feline and bird-like than ever. My short mohawk is both fur and feather-crest. Even though I cannot say animality and gender really mesh together, physical transition affects both.
The Werewolf figure is not the “Other” anymore – this creature of folklore that belongs to canine-people. Without trying, with no warning, I reappopriated it through transition. It meant nothing to me, other than being of some interest in fiction. Now my body’s transforming, covering in hair. It starts on the legs and climbs up my thighs, on the front and inside; the down on my tummy lengthens and darkens imperceptibly more with time. Then the hair spreads from arms to hands, and my jawline and cheeks grow something more of a beard. My muscles increase tenfold, some clothes significantly tighten. Voice gets low and husky, body scents change. Transmen probably are the closest relatives to werewolves together with Canis lupus.
I guess I could relate to were-leopards or bird shapeshifters, since I’m a ravenpard, but really, gender and animality are pretty unrelated to me. The first furry animal-human creature in my at-least-partially-French imagery is the werewolf, the loup-garou, so that’s what comes to my mind and that’s apparently how I articulate the freak part of my identity as a transguy. I could as well have identified as a cyborg of some sort; some trans people have done that. I actually think of it about surgery, but that’s not as strong. Maybe once I get cut on the slab and stitched back, I’ll be a cyborg, or a Frankeinstein monster. For now, without it being therianthropic in the least way, I feel like some kind of werewolf.
Unrelated to the fact I’m a raven and clouded leopard. Unexpected. Likewise I got a bridge piercing as I’ve wanted one for a long time, and wearing it reminds me of what snarling can feel like – I can’t put that into words. This isn’t a gender thing, but another kind of body mod that holds a special meaning to me. I find no real connection between animality and gender, but it seems to intertwine with many other facets of my life.