Gender Blender: An Intimate Film About Life Outside The Binary

If you live even a tiny bit outside of the gender binary, you know your identity isn’t always given a whole lot of room to exist in this world. The levels of gender policing the average human faces in a lifetime can be damaging and belittling to all of our brains, our spirits and the very core of our beings.

So how do we fight that situation, how do we break the binary, how do we make the world a safe space for other people to express their true genders once we’ve finally got a handle on our own and the confidence to live openly and truthfully? Well if you’re Lauren Lubin, you decide to make a movie about your experience transitioning from female to gender neutral, and you aim to educate the world so that eventually things will change. As a firm believer in visibility and an avid consumer and producer of media, I think that Lubin’s approach is absolutely perfect.

"I exist outside of the binary definition of gender."

“I exist outside of the binary definition of gender.”

Lubin’s film, Gender Blender, aims to illuminate the fact “that humans are born not just male and female but a multitude of beautiful gender expressions,” and will do so by sharing Lubin’s own story from a very intimate angle. “I am a third gender,” the film’s website proclaims in Lubin’s voice. “I exist outside of the binary definition of gender. This is my story.”

Lubin spoke about her gender identity and the genesis of the film at Chicago Ideas Week, and her words highlight the necessity for conversation around the subject of gender.

My favorite part is — predictably — when Lubin talks directly about trans* visibility, both the lack of it and her desire for it. It happens at the 8 minute mark and it’s so blunt and perfect. If you only watch one minute of the speech, I think it should be this minute (though really you should watch the whole thing, it’s very good and inspiring).

Why is [the message of the film] so important? Transgender people and those who exist outside the gender binary have attempted suicide rates between 40 and 60 percent compared to the 1.6 percent for the general population. This community is consistently ignored, is subject to widespread discrimination, and has one of the highest abuse rates of any other demographic. Put simply, we do not exist. We do not exist in most bathrooms and changing rooms. We do not exist in the media. We do not exist in official government paperwork. We do not exist in academia at large nor in most literature. We have become invisible. This dire situation is the driving force behind this big idea. We wish to be visible once again. We wish to tell our stories and to no longer be silenced. It is only through this conversation that we can allow a space for us to grow and this is the conversation behind this film.

Gender Blender is now in production but Lubin is still raising funds to complete the project. The film was recently accepted into the Independent Filmmakers Project (IFP) Fiscal Sponsorship Program, making Gender Blender an official sponsored project of the IFP. That means all new donations are tax deductible and that IFP is going to fiscally oversee the film and provide guidance to make sure the final product is the best it can be.

You can learn more about Gender Blender at its website, its official IFP page, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Vanessa is a queer feminist writer and photographer currently based in New York. She really misses Portland. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 333 articles for us.

51 Comments

  1. Ah, maybe there will come a time when white people finally realize ‘third gender’ is offensive because it originated, and is still widely used, in incredibly racist / disturbing anthropological studies which fetishize the ~fascinatingly exotic~ sexualities / gender expression of POC cultures.

  2. As a woman who’s also trans, I have no issue with people who wish to claim third gender identities or identify non-binary. Those are important identities for those persons to have and there abolutely needs to be a legal equality for them in society. What I do very much disagree with is someone lumping all persons who might be categorized as transgender as being third gender or “queer.” This is a forced way to delegitimize the identities of trans persons who do ID as men or woman. I do agree with Andy in that ‘third gender’ as it’s used around the world, is overwhelmingly a label used by majorities to label minorities within a context of those minorities being socially oppressed (not between equals). Moreover, most of the cultural terms for third gender (such as “hijra” “travesti” or “kathoey”) have highly negative connotations within the languages in which they were coined and applied.

    My one issue with what Lubin is stating is that they’re using statistics for the entire trans community and applying them to the challenges genderqueer persons face. The fast majority of those suicide statistics don’t apply to genderqueer persons. Relatively few people remembered in the Transgender Day of Remembrance ID’d as third gender (but some did). I wish Lubin would stick to what is specific to their struggle and not try to mix in the struggles of persons who might feel oppressed by being termed third gender, a term they have no personal interest in reclaiming and really don’t need anyone else convincing them that it’s in their supposed best interest to do so.

    • You more articulately put what I was feeling about this. Oftentimes, my experience as a male-assigned woman has been that people treat me as neither man nor woman. Some writers and even friends in the LGBTQ community have opined that people like me should identify as a third gender if we don’t identify as male, since we’re not “really” female due to some melange of biology and socialization differences. I’m just sick of never being a “real woman” to anyone, and I perhaps vainly hoped that people who ID off the binary would at least be sympathetic enough to recognize my womanhood as legitimate. This hope has not often carried over to reality, however.

    • While I understand what you are trying to say I feel the need to point out one thing. In listening to Lauren’s story I did not get the impression that they were categorizing all transgender people as being third gender. Instead it seemed to me that Lauren identifies as a person that is transgender and is transitioning from female to neutral. In fact, on several occasions I feel that they were picking words in such way as to not force labels and oppress people. One example being the start of the second sentence of the quote: “Transgender people and those who exist outside the gender binary…”. I mean I may be completely off base but from this it seems that, in intentionally mentioning both identities, Lauren is recognizing that some people may only identify as one or the other.

  3. Her* experience with the riptide may have been a turning point for her life, but just remember people if you’re caught in a rip swim parallel to the beach until you don’t feel as though you are being sucked out into the ocean THEN swim to shore.

  4. This is a forced way”…To me the force that is experienced is predicated on the idea of only two genders. This is a way to push back against this force. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so sometimes pioneers and those who are afforded the responsibility of becoming the spokesperson for a group of many get tasked with a magnificent demand of gaining recognition and credibility for a population unbeknownst to most of society all the while trying not to step on the toes or identities they are trying to represent. The theme of Lubin’s movement transcends any categorization of people. Within each of our own communities we still possess the right to express and identify how we want. It is the first push to be recognized that needs to be done with language that people can identify with and “third gender” as exclusive as it may appear is language that will demand people to ask questions about it. Groups of people each may feel a right is being violated by “being forced” into a category of “third,” but it is out of the need for male/female only identification that this has manifested, not because Lubin is labeling it this way. I live in Kansas, it is whole heartedly a bible driven state. I applaud Lubin and her project and hope that her message can be heard by the kids of our state. Even being an adult I find comfort, security and strength to be who I am knowing Lubin is out there trying to make people aware.

    What would YOU say is specific to “their” struggle? And what projects are you funding or developing to address these struggles? Each of us has a role Lubin is just answering a calling deep within her soul.

  5. “The theme of Lubin’s movement transcends any categorization of people.”

    I completely disagree. Third gender can be just as much a categorization (and a forced reclassification of those who fought to be recognized in their genders) as any other gender. I note, for instance in Nepal, that trans persons can be legally classified as “third gender” but may not, for instance, be a FAAB person and be classified as male or a MAAB person be assigned as female. Moreover, it’s NOT Lubin’s movement. They are piggybacking on the hard work of generations of persons before them and, if anything, as a white, college educated FAAB person who’s genderqueer, are far less likely to experience violence or overt discrimination against them than most other gender variant persons. (that doesn’t mean their calls for full equality aren’t urgent nor needed).

    As to struggles, I am part of the trans community, have gone through hell to get to where I am and recognize that GQ persons are a part of that umbrella as well (and might have gone through their own private hells as well). Where our struggles overlap I support them, where they don’t overlap I tend to focus on the specific issues of those whose experiences are closer to mine. Where they fit into my image of an overall more progressive society, I heartily support those. If you’re asking what I’m “funding” as a way of shutting me up or having to justify my opinion, I feel I owe you zero response because I perceived it to be asked in a highly condescending way.

    And I’m curious why this thread is referring to Lubin as “her?” I feel it points up the queer cissexual tacit approval GQ FAAB persons have within the women’s community in a way it often doesn’t grant MAAB GQ persons in any community. FAAB masculinity is “hot” while MAAB femininity becomes a joke or exoticized.

    • hi! i’d like to address this:

      “And I’m curious why this thread is referring to Lubin as “her?” I feel it points up the queer cissexual tacit approval GQ FAAB persons have within the women’s community in a way it often doesn’t grant MAAB GQ persons in any community. FAAB masculinity is “hot” while MAAB femininity becomes a joke or exoticized.”

      i used female pronouns when referring to lubin because that is how her PR rep referred to her, and also because this statement appears on the film’s website:

      “Please note that there are gender neutral pronouns, such as hir/ze. These will be addressed in the film. Lauren does not mind being referred to by male, female, or neutral pronouns, although other genderqueer people have different preferences…”

      it has nothing to do with my approval, tacit or otherwise, of anyone’s gender or gender presentation, as i don’t think it’s my place to judge that at all.

      • I appreciate the clarification, but I still don’t think it’s a coincidence that, despite having an article about someone who very specifically says they aren’t female, that female pronouns are still being exclusively used here or that no one expressed any self-consciousness about using them. And I think there is still a kind of “she’s hot” marketing of people like Lauren on sites like AS (and the queer community in general) which is having your cake and eating it too… and a kind of ‘she’s really a super queer butch” salaciousness which really trivializes the subject and in many ways misses Lauren’s entire point.

        • gina, of course there’s a self-consciousness. i’m a cis person and i’m writing about a person who is not cis — i know that the chances of me making mistakes are high because this isn’t my story and it is not my experience. but as a journalist who writes about gender, this is a thing i encounter. i encounter is whenever i tell a story about someone who is not exactly me, ya know? so what do i do? i read this over about 20 times before submitting it, and i know my editors will read it over carefully, too. i take constructive criticism. i’ve listened to what you and other commenters are saying on this article. i’m taking it on board for the future. i try harder.

          but this specific complaint doesn’t make sense to me.

          using female pronouns WASN’T a coincidence, it was an active choice. i wanted to be sure i used the right pronouns, and while lubin’s PR rep referring to her with female pronouns seemed to indicate female pronouns were the right way to go, i wasn’t 100% sure — but when i saw the note on the gender blender site indicating that lubin is comfortable with male, female, and neutral pronouns, i finally felt comfortable in my decision. if i hadn’t found that note, i would have reached out to lubin directly — that is always the best way to go, to be sure. however when writing for the internet deadlines are often tight because we like to get you news in a timely fashion, and in this instance, because i had confirmation from someone on lubin’s PR team that female pronouns were appropriate, that’s what i stuck with.

          if you think my usage of female pronouns in this article was inappropriate, that’s fine. but i really dislike the implication that i’m presenting lubin in a salacious “she’s really a super queer butch” way, because that’s not what i did and i honestly don’t see how you extrapolated that from this article. i didn’t talk about lubin’s appearance. i do not think lubin is “really a super queer butch” and i do not see where you see that implication in this specific article.

          • I extrapolated it from the featured photo at the top of this story… which I think is every bit as much a statement as words (if not more). And yes, I think you do an excellent job at listening, I’m talking about some very ingrained assumptions within the cis-bodied queer community. I can’t speak for Lubin’s PR Rep or who they are and what their understanding about this is, but the fact that someone who says “I am not a female” and the default for referring to them is using female pronouns does not sound like an incidental gender assignment or really even honoring what their message is. But I do think it has everything to do with marketing.

  6. Andy, would you mind going more in depth with why “third gender” is offensive? I’d love to understand so I can make a more conscious effort to be sensitive to these kinds of things. I do know that if you’re not Native American, it’s not okay for you to identify as “two-spirited.”

    • The term is basically what anthropologists use to refer to anyone who is not a cisgender man or woman in foreign cultures, regardless of whether they are actually treated as a separate gender and the fact that these identities/social groupings are different from each other. It is a snooty colonist’s term for “those weird people.”

  7. Why don´t we just get rid of gender all together? I love being a woman but I am not sure what a woman is. In the trans community and the queer community in general I see this paradoxical thing in which people argue against the tyranny of the gender binary but want to belong within it. I understand that we queer people would have a problem: how can I be a lesbian if “woman” doesn´t exist? Hey, I might just have to consider people for who they are and perhaps accept that I am attracted to some people who have those qualities that were traditionally considered of women. It will be hard, because I love my woman identity, but maybe that and masculinities, femininities, butch, femme, are not great labels to have. Are we not going there because we are going to have an identity crisis?

    • Having had my “identity crisis” where people neither fit me where I want to belong (female) or where I was assigned at birth (male), I’d say that I’m not comfortable being treated as genderless. Regardless of whether gender was a thing anymore, I’d still want to change my body, and I’m not sure if a genderless world would be any more or less sympathetic to this notion. I’m not putting myself through the hell of transition to continue being something I don’t want to be.

      Maybe getting rid of rules about how gender should be felt or expressed, and getting rid of social sanctions for violating these rules, might be a better way to go?

    • We can’t “get rid of gender” because it’s not an artificial construct, it’s an inherent part of who you *are*. If gender identity were a learned societal construct, then trans* people wouldn’t exist.
      I’ve yet to meet a single person, cis or trans, who can clearly explain what being their gender entails but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – they just know that’s who they are, that’s what they feel inside, when they say “I’m a _____” it just resonates as the truth.
      When we argue against the gender binary we’re not arguing against the people who identify within it, but against the way *everyone* is forced into two narrow and strictly-defined boxes whether they like it or not.

      • What *constitutes* gender is pretty much a social construct, because different cultures across the world have different concepts and containers for gender. A lot of it is based on relationship and social role – you take on X Gender and therefore you are the provider/homemaker/whatever (see the Sworn Virgins of Albania). the idea of “who you ARE” – the individualistic identity markers – is largely a Western (particularly American) construction.

    • this article includes a pretty solid explanation of why we can’t get rid of gender / why gender does exist: http://www.autostraddle.com/being-a-bad-gay-things-that-are-begging-even-now-to-be-quieted-for-the-sake-of-good-company-83108/ i think about it often when i think of gender & believe it’s absolutely worth a read.

      i also like what alexandra said a lot. “getting rid of rules about how gender should be felt or expressed & getting rid of social sanctions for violating these rules” is definitely the best way to go.

  8. While this isn’t the focus of Lubin’s work, I’d like to point out the limited scope in which Lubin describes women or females. I cringe when anyone describes a woman or female as “pink” (vs. blue to represent male), wearing heels and lipstick. This does not encompass, or begin to describe a person, much less a gender. It’s clear to see that if we continue to view genders (any of them) through this lens, we aren’t going to make any headway.

    As a society, the true problem is the incredibly limiting stereotypes that we hoist upon one another by putting each gender into a tidy little box that NO ONE really fits into in the first place.

  9. Also, a quick note : the sentence “transitioning from female to gender neutral” in the beginning of the article doesn’t actually mean anything.

    You don’t transition into a gender identity, it’s there all along – that’s why you transition. A pre-transition FAAB trans* person isn’t any more female than a closeted gay is straight. You can transition legally to be “filed” as another gender and/or sex, socially to be perceived as another gender, and physically to alter your biological sex or its secondary characteristics, but your gender is still what it is.

    (This is why AS needs actual trans* writers to write or proofread trans-related articles. Can this be a thing?)

      • Stacey, since you’re genuinely curious, a lot of people in the trans community have big issues with ‘male to female’ or ‘female to male.’ They experience themselves as being born into the gender identity they always where and are only adjusting their bodies and gender expression and dislike the concept that a cis-dominated society can assign them a gender at birth which they have to accept. I don’t want to speak for GV, but suspect that might be what they’re talking about.

        I would also say there ARE some trans people who ID themselves as their birth gender and then morphing into another gender (and being neutrois is still a gender)… so it’s not all one or the other. But “male to female/female to male” is kind of considered moldy terminology in much of the trans community and probably to be avoided.

    • That’s completely unfair for you to blame the writers for saying that Lauren is transitioning from female to gender-neutral when that was directly quoted from Lauren’s video.

      (And also, how long have you been reading AS? We have genderqueer and trans* writers; it just may not be feasible to have them write exclusively on issues that fall outside of the gender binary)

      • I didn’t have the time to watch the video yesterday, fair enough – that’s still a rather weird way to put it. I also didn’t “blame” anyone, saying “I don’t think that thing’s right” isn’t a personal attack.

        And I’ve been reading AS for quite some time – there’s been Annika and Sebastian who used to write personal columns here but they’re neither here anymore nor genderqueer, and now Kate who also has a regular in which she doesn’t really talk about being GQ but about her personal experiences of being FAAB and masculine – which isn’t the same thing at all. Most if not all of the pieces about trans* issues or personalities have been written by cis writers.
        If all of the articles here about race and POC were written by white authors, would you defend it and say that people don’t have a right to ask for POC writers? It’s just kinda tiring to have a space that claims to be inclusive and supportive of your identity only to have peole talking *about* you and no one talking *for* you.

        But anyway, I’m used to trans people being basically told to shut up by cis members when they voice anything short of praise here (not singling you out here).

        To Stacey up there – everytime I’ve heard the “____ to ____” thing, it was by binary trans people who usually were talking about physical transition from one sex to the other. Sometimes it was about social transition, but there isn’t really such a thing a socially transitioning to gender neutral since gender neutrality isn’t recognized in our society.

        • Thanks for explaining your opinion. However, I must disagree with you. Just because you have only heard of transition as it refers to transitions within the gender binary does not mean other types of transitions do not exist or do not mean anything.

          Also, just because an identity is not recognized by our society does not mean it does not exist. I’m sure there was a time when the transgender identity was not recognized. Change can only happen when people like Lauren stand up and claim the identity. Lauren identifies as gender neutral and is transitioning from female to neutral. This person exists, despite society’s current stance, and this is their experience so how can there be no such thing?

        • For starters, yes, I am saying that you are “blaming” the AS writers because you’re using Vanessa’s cisgender status as a reason for her presumed incompetence at writing about non-binary issues. And Whitney actually identifies as GQ, not Kade.

          Also? I think it’s unfair for you to insinuate that I’m silencing your voice as a trans* person simply because I’m calling you out on your unfair targeting of the cis author. Guess what – you being a trans* person has nothing to do with me pointing out your uninformed comment. You have every right to ask for more trans* writers – I completely support you! I was really disheartened to read about Annika’s leave-of-absence from AS, and I miss Sebastian’s voice on this site. But conflating that Autostraddle is sorely in need of trans* writers in the same comment that you’re criticizing a cis writer is implying that our cis writers are inept at writing about trans* and non-binary issues. No one is silencing your opinion; I’m merely stating that lumping those two thoughts together can be misconstrued as a personal attack on the author, which is unfair and which I doubt you meant to do.

          • (replying to the two comments above in one so that’s it’s more linear, wall of text incoming)

            Stacey > yeah I know that identity is inherent and doesn’t rely on society’s recognition to actually exist, that’s what I was getting at in my first comment. I’m pretty much aware that you can transition outside of the binary since that’s what I’m doing :)
            What I meant by that (and I guess I should have clarified instead of assuming people would get where I come from) is that, when you hear binary trans people talk about how their social transition is “successful” or “done”, they talk about stuff like people accepting and recognizing their gender identity and treating them accordingly when they tell them so or sometimes without even having to tell, how they now feel like they’re just “one of the boys/girls”, how they can walk into a gendered space and feel/being made feel like they belong (depending of the spaces and people and whether or not they “pass” though), stuff like that.

            When you’re transitioning as non-binary, you don’t get any of that. You don’t have any gendered spaces for you, you’ve got to choose between the men’s room and the women’s room and both can make you feel weird and intruding and can be unsafe, you have to thoroughly explain what you are to people and lots of them still won’t ever get it or keep seeing/treating you as a man or woman, and everyday you’re made to choose between ticking the F box or the M box. In that sense you’re not really transitioning into a social role because there’s no social role for you to transition into, you have to constantly fight to create one – you’re never “done”.

            Paper0Flowers > I’m pretty sure I recall a line in one of Kate’s articles in which they told about two dudes asking them if they’re a boy or a girl and they answered something along the lines of “both, it depends etc” . I also think I remember reading them IDing as GQ somewhere, maybe my memory’s failing me though.

            That part about silencing wasn’t about your comment in particular, it’s just that pretty much every single time a trans person critiques the content or wording of an article here, there’s always a few cis people who immediately dismiss them or voice disagreement (not always justified and sometimes aggressively) and their comments always somehow quickly get showered by way more +’s than there were people commenting on the piece. I should note that the AS staff always responds in a constructive manner and are open to dialogue and seem to really care though. That’s the thing, AS made the call to be trans*-inclusive, we didn’t force them, so I don’t get why people who aren’t happy about that don’t just move to one of the many cis-centered queer websites out there. Also it’s passive-aggressive and I despise that.

            And yeah, while there *has* been cases of (sometimes just slightly!) poorly worded trans articles by cis writers here, though less and less often, my desire for more trans* writers (especially covering related topics) is separate – I just think that if you’re going for inclusivity that’s the thing to do. I didn’t mean it as some kind of covered attack towards this particular writer.

            I just love AS, it’s by far the most accepting and inclusive place I’ve found both IRL and online (way more than the “mainstream” trans* community which is ironically the place where I’ve had/seen the most shit thrown at me and non-binaries), which’s why I’m quick to suggest ways to improve on that, that’s my way of showing I care. Wouldn’t have thrown money in the fundraiser otherwise.

          • psst guys just to clear the record here:

            i’m genderqueer

            i love you all very much

            sorry for that brief interruption, please continue your conversation

          • I’m so sorry – your new article definitely cleared that up, but I remember reading that you identify as “butch”, so I didn’t want to assume a different label on you. I came back to this comment to make my apology and correction; I honestly didn’t mean to misgender you.

          • Okay, this comment makes a lot more sense. I’m sorry for teetering the line, but I initially wasn’t sure whether you were insinuating something. Thanks for clearing things up.

    • You say transition is mainly a legal process and I disagree. It can be, but many people transition without any legal processes. Even when you understand and accept your gender identity it takes a while, a transition period, before it all clicks. You have to adapt to living as a gender that is different that what you’ve lived as for your whole life up until that point. Your identity maybe hasn’t changed, cause it’s who you’ve been, but it’s not how you’ve lived or been seen by people.

  10. As much as I think it’s important for people to be able to have “something” to identify as–just to be able to make sense of themselves, if anything–I can’t help but wonder why so many discussions on here turn into heated debates over terminology. I don’t think the Autostraddle authors or any of the individuals they write about ever intentionally exclude anyone of any identity or offend anyone of any identity. I think we can all agree that sexuality and gender (and the English language) are extremely complex and that personal preferences regarding terminology vary from individual to individual. Also, our understanding of all of these things is constantly evolving–our vocabularies can’t always keep up. If we’re constantly scrutinizing each other for using terms we don’t like or taking innocent comments out of context, how is anyone supposed to feel comfortable talking about things like this? How are we supposed to be comfortable with ourselves, even, if we’re so uncomfortable with and offended by the things we aren’t?

    • I completely agree with you here. While I am always interested in why people feel the way they do about certain subjects, expecting others to predict every single issue that could arise is impractical and constantly debating the terminology often seems to detract from the bigger picture.

    • People debate about terminology because language is crucial – it’s our only tool to communicate with others and teach each other. Words aren’t just words, they come with whole concepts behind them that shape our understanding of things and people.
      How are you supposed to accurately communicate how you feel or explain who you are to someone different if you don’t have the right tools for it, or if using the wrong ones will make the other person get a false idea of who you are and treat/perceive you accordingly? Language can have a very real and sometimes drastic impact on our real lives. (That was way too philosophical for a Friday morning)

      I personally don’t see anything wrong with debating about terminology, or anything else for that matter, that’s how you learn – isn’t that the whole point? Unless someone gets angry and resort to personal attacks, slurs or intentionally hurtful language there’s nothing wrong or confrontational about it. It’s not about excluding or offending people or accusing them of doing so on purpose. :)

    • Katelin, as one of the culprits who endlessly debate terminology, I just want to say that it’s not just about terminology. Far more often its about cis-centric perspectives being projected onto trans (and other gender) issues. It’s certainly not just happening at AS… it’s part of the LGBTQ growing pains and trying to see our experiences from a more complex and real world perspective.

    • Possibly my favorite quote right now is something an WOC anti-racist organizer for the People’s Institute said in an Undoing Racism workshop – it’s not about intentionality, it’s about impact. If readers thought that Autostraddle writers or comment writers were intentionally being dismissive of them, their identities, or perspectives, they wouldn’t make the effort to communicate that to the writers. But they do communicate it, so that everyone learns and moves forward. It’s also not (in this case trans* or genderqueer) people’s job to educate cis people – it’s our job to educate ourselves, and if we’re not sure, to tread very carefully. I don’t feel uncomfortable and constrained showing basic courtesy to people by not expecting them to educate me, not continuing to use terms that they don’t identify with, not claiming that they should relax and not get so caught up in terminology, and not shaming them for making me feel “uncomfortable” by scrutinizing my words or taking my “innocent” remarks out of context when I’ve made them uncomfortable.

      • My point was that people seem to be quick to judge the authors (and in this case, the person being written about) for using certain terminology, even after the effort has been made to use the right terms. For example, using female pronouns–instant criticism, despite the fact that the author checked into it first. Lauren’s use of the word transition–same thing there, even though in the video, she discusses her upcoming mastectomy and all of the changes she’s made in her life. Continuing the discussion to include other aspects of this obviously broad topic is completely understandable.

        • Katelin, Lubin says “there is a lack of conversation about the topic (re: transgender).” This is such a conversation. I’m sorry the way some of us are talking about it seems judgmental or somehow mean to you but, unfortunately, for most trans people, it’s a conversation we have no choice but to have with the world and a lot of us are fatigued at having to filter it for non-trans ears. You’re welcome to skip my responses if they’re not to your taste my ‘intent’ is not to make anyone feel bad about themselves or how they discuss trans issues, rather they’re ‘intended’ as food for though and further discussion.

          As to Lubin’s project, no, I don’t like some of the language surrounding it… things like: “The film intimately explores the world of Lauren, a transgendered female transitioning to become her ultimate expression: gender neutral.” That’s from the web site. This statement contains multiple limited understandings about trans people (written by the PR person?). As was pointed out by another commenter, “third gender” is a loaded term as is “gender neutral.” Mentioning people like the Hijra in connection with this project is culturally loaded. Lubin makes some very confusing and (for me) problematic statements in their fundraising video… (“I’m not male or female” “I’m both male and female” “I’m a third gender” “I’m gender neutral” “I’m neutrois”). Many of these are highly conflicting statements no matter where on the gender spectrum you’re speaking. I also strongly dislike their emphasis on binding and getting dressed (trans cliches #1) in the fundraising video. So, although I contribute to a lot of fundraising appeals for trans-made video projects, I think I’ll skip Lubin’s. I suggest AS viewers read “Nina Here Nor There” by Nick Kreiger, a very good and fun book by someone with a very similar identity to Lubin who seems to have thought this through a lot more than Lubin has.

          My point about the female pronouns are 1) Vanessa should have mentioned that in the story; 2) Out of the three or more sets of pronouns which could have been used, female was chosen along with a stereotypical “hot queer butch” photo at the top of the story (and yes, that photo is from Lubin). Sorry you think that’s not worth bringing up… and I guess it isn’t for you. It is for me because these are not just terminology arguments, they’re about how trans identities are portrayed and framed (especially by non-trans media and sources). Perhaps it’s a more personal issue for me than it is for you?

          I’ve never said Vanessa doesn’t have a right to write articles about trans people and I think she’s been patient listening to my comments. She, like other AS non-trans writers discussing these topics, has had some ‘hits’ and more ‘misses.’ You’re complaining that we’re taking innocent comments out of context… but how do you know they’re innocent and not expressions and continuations of western and cisgender entitlement? I very much like what Jessica quoted about intent vs. impact. Claiming innocent intent is easy… being truly critical and responsible about impact is a messy and truly difficult process which requires a lot of self-reflection.

  11. ok I have no idea what these people are talking about and I would like to learn.. seeing how I can be at times mistaken for a man..I just want to wrap my mind around this…any extra info will be read.

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