Many people consider gender to be binary, to have only the two distinct categories of male and female, but gender is a continuum. An individual can rest anywhere along that spectrum, anywhere between male or female or even completely different from both of those classifications. However a person wants to identify is valid. No matter how far outside the constructed norms, we must respect people and their identities. Sometimes the trans* community prescribes rigidly to this binary and discounts others who identify as trans* because they do not fall directly into male or female. Over the past few months, to try to create awareness of this discrimination within the community, many “Not Trans Enough” videos have been popping up on YouTube.
When you come out as trans*, there are certain things which are expected of you: to take hormones, to have surgery, and generally to do everything you can to transition to the opposite gender from the one you were assigned at birth. Those individuals who decide against some or all of these steps are confronted with not being “trans enough” to belong to the community. They are not committed to their transition enough. They aren’t “real” men or women. They are confused. These completely invalid statements confront many trans* people who do not fit perfectly within the binary. We need to support each other and accept others for who they are. The trans* community is one of the most isolated and misunderstood communities because—even with all of the love and support we might get from our cis friends and family—only other trans* people have been there and can offer support and advice based on that experience. Being tossed out of a community simply for breaking the constructs of gender in an unusual way, when all trans* people break those constructs, is absurd.
The recent “Not Trans Enough” videos on YouTube and Ryan Cassata’s Gender Confessions project (submission guidelines here and video below) highlight all the things which are expected of trans* people, of lesbians, of straight women, of men, emphasizing our differences and embracing them. A label is only a label, a word. It cannot possibly fathom an identity in all its facets. We are all individuals, and I hope these projects help to defeat the gender and sexuality stereotypes we all face.