Who Decides Who is Trans?

kind we find trans in a rock garden

Trans, a word not used in the news article about Elizabeth Rudavsky and Angelo Heddington, gets mentioned frequently in the comments at Queerty. Aside from the uncomfortable tack the original article takes – Rudavsky “discovers” Angelo is “female” after he is being transported to the hospital – the Queerty commenters bandy back and forth about whether Heddington was trans. Indeed one of the Queerty commenters states

I saw this episode, and this woman blatantly lied her ass off, even admitting at one point, “I suppose at some deep level I always knew he was a female.” And Elizabeth is so obviously a lesbian that it’s impossible to imagine her willingly marrying a man.

Setting aside what seems like the commenter’s phobias against bisexuality, several other commenters go on to discuss what I actually think is an important point. Without Heddington actually referring to himself as trans, is he trans or not? Can people who never knew him, including supposedly well-meaning LGBTQ people, really act as an authority over is life, or even Rudavsky’s life, and call him trans or her lesbian? Why do we insist on labeling people, merely to make ourselves more comfortable? Why does every person born in one gender living in another get labeled trans? Heddington may have very well thought of himself as a man.

What is wrong with that? Labeling someone with a term they themselves may have never used, however well-meaning, is as misguided as zealots claiming avowed queers are misguided. As to the need to we have to make others fit our comfortable notions, I ponder this Zen koan:

What did your face look like before your parents were born?

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2 Comments

  1. Pardon the expression but, “Dorks.” No one can define another person or their experience but that other person themselves. I don’t care if this makes life harder for those needing labels to categorize, or for a categorizing society in general. My life as a Queer Femme can only be defined by me. I tolerate being categorized a Lesbian because some people just can’t stretch their minds around my experience and have to use limited words. But I am the only one who can define me and I think that has to be the reality I grant others, if I seek it for myself.

  2. ” No one can define another person or their experience but that other person themselves. I don’t care if this makes life harder for those needing labels to categorize, or for a categorizing society in general.”

    Amen, sister.

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