Trans* 101
June 10, 2013 4:00 PM   Subscribe

A few weeks ago, tensions were rising high in a trans*-related FPP over the tendency of threads on said topic to turn into trans 101 rather than focusing on issues highlighted, especially given how it could be perceived as threatening and exhausting. Juliet Banana was apparently listening to the debate and made a special note to include links to some FAQs in today's post on the topic. I just wanted to extend my kudos and bring attention to this excellent resolution to the debate, and suggest that this should be a standard for trans* posts in the future.
posted by Conspire to MetaFilter-Related at 4:00 PM (47 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

Nice! Juliet Banana thank you, that's brilliant of you.

I started to put a trans 101 page together on the wiki a couple of months ago, but totally dropped the ball. Will try to flesh it out over the next few days.
posted by zarq at 4:13 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I and several other people noticed and appreciated it! Thank you, Ms. Banana!
posted by Greg Nog at 4:32 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


That is a good idea. I wish I had thought to do it last week.
posted by Area Man at 5:21 PM on June 10, 2013


MetaFilter makes me feel so cutting edge sometimes. I learned the words "cisgendered" and "heteronormative" here years before I encountered them in any other context.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:23 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have to say, after the debacle of the female masturbation thread and accompanying MeTa, this pairing makes me so happy I literally teared up. I love you MetaFilter.
posted by donnagirl at 5:35 PM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ah, I hadn't even seen that thread, so thanks for pointing me to it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:48 PM on June 10, 2013


Juliet is a national treasure, someone buy her a whole case of werid beers.
posted by The Whelk at 6:05 PM on June 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


someone buy her a whole case of werid beers.

Oooh, now I wanna know what a werid beer is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:06 PM on June 10, 2013


We have such hops to show you.
posted by The Whelk at 6:08 PM on June 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yes, greatly appreciated - thank you! I'm still clicking my way through the links.
posted by rtha at 6:19 PM on June 10, 2013


Somehow I got logged out, and the links had ads for "constipation info." The fuck is that about?
posted by jonmc at 6:20 PM on June 10, 2013


Steroids can be horribly constipating.
posted by Ardiril at 6:38 PM on June 10, 2013


Ah.

*returns to UFC training*
posted by jonmc at 6:42 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Zarq wrote: I started to put a trans 101 page together on the wiki a couple of months ago, but totally dropped the ball.

Apparently I am nine years old.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:43 PM on June 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Well done, JB!
posted by arcticseal at 6:58 PM on June 10, 2013


Juliet Banana is the cupcakiest individual I have ever met.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:15 PM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is a great resource and I've already learned new things.

This was slightly confusing, I think they are reversed:

FAAB/AFAB: Assigned female at birth and female assigned at birth respectively.
MAAB/AMAB: Assigned male at birth and male assigned at birth respectively.
posted by averageamateur at 7:24 PM on June 10, 2013


This was slightly confusing, I think they are reversed:

FAAB/AFAB: Assigned female at birth and female assigned at birth respectively.
MAAB/AMAB: Assigned male at birth and male assigned at birth respectively.


I think you're right-- but I'm pretty sure the difference between the two terms for each set is just stylistic variance and not of semantic import.
posted by threeants at 7:27 PM on June 10, 2013


Sorry, I meant the acronyms are reversed, even though it says "respectively".
posted by averageamateur at 7:53 PM on June 10, 2013


No, yeah, they are. :) Just pointing out that it doesn't seem like it'd provoke a faux pas or offense even if someone did get confused between the two.
posted by threeants at 7:56 PM on June 10, 2013


it's not huge, but there is some semantic difference between M/FAAB and AMAB - the former came first, and the latter developed out of a desire to minimize the impact of the dis-identified gender label by not having it be the first thing in the phrase. I've seen it further elaborated into CAMAB for coercively assigned, to specifically highlight the non-consensual and unwanted nature of birth assignment.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:42 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interesting, thanks for adding that; I shouldn't have spoken so soon/guessfully.
posted by threeants at 12:30 AM on June 11, 2013


Asking here because this is a derail from the purpose of the thread on the blue. Also, hoping that this is more of a trans* 102 than a trans* 101, but curiosity is currently stronger than anxiety over looking like an idiot.

Having read through the vocabulary list in the 101 links, I have to admit to some confusion regarding the term "dyadic". The definition given is "used as an adjective, this refers to non-intersex people," but I'm having trouble figuring out how it would actually be used. Does it be apply to an individual, a group or an idea? Or something else?

Would you describe a solitary cisgendered person as a dyadic person?
Would you describe a group comprising transgendered women and cisgendered women as a dyadic group, on the grounds that everyone in it has a female gender identity?
Would you use it to say something like "most legal paperwork only gives people the option of male/female because it assumes that dyadic gender is universal," because the historical concept of gender has been a binary oppositional relationship between male/female to the exclusion of all other forms of gender identity?

I'm having trouble getting my head round this idea, because in the vocabulary I'm more familiar with, a "dyad" is a pair of individuals existing in relationship with each other (for example, a mother-child dyad), and "dyadic" is how I would describe the relationship itself instead of applying it to either of the individuals involved. If a non-intersex person is "dyadic", which relationship is being described? The relationship between gender identity and sex? The relationship between gender identity and gender expression?

It seems to have a close relationship with "non-binary" in terms of definition*, so would it be correct to say that "dyadic" == "binary", and that "non-dyadic" == "not-non-binary"?

I've tried searching google for an answer, but am unable to find something relevant. Most of the uses I can find are either similar vocabulary lists to the one in the FPP, or conversations between people on forums discussing whether using "dyadic" is problematic because it implies that using "dyadic" to mean "non-intersex" denies the existence of agender, pangender and genderfluid etc.

In asking, I'm aware of how lucky I am to have the luxury of focusing on linguistic nit-picking out of interest, when others it's not an academic question but a subject that influences their lives.

* From the vocabulary link in the FPP - "Non-binary: Non-binary people are those who identify as a gender that is neither man nor woman or who are not men or women exclusively. Non-binary can refer to a specific gender identity or it can function as an umbrella term which can include (though not always) people who are genderqueer, agender, bigender, neutrois, and others."

posted by talitha_kumi at 3:23 AM on June 11, 2013


I'm not the person most qualified to answer this, but I'll have a go. I think you're way over-thinking it. I'm pretty sure it's not the sociology 'dyadic' but the more general 'dyadic' meaning 'there are two things somewhere in the discussion', with those two things being notions of 'sex=male' and 'sex=female' to which people can be assigned based (mostly) on physical characteristics. People who are not intersex fit pretty neatly into one or the other of those boxes at birth, whereas people who are intersex may not, which is (I think) why 'dyadic' is being used for 'not intersex'. It's a totally separate question for whether someone is cis or trans. "George is/is not intersex, therefore he is/is not dyadic." (It would be a bit weird, to my mind anyway, to say "Oh, look, a group of dyadic people over there" because how on earth would you know?)

It seems to have a close relationship with "non-binary" in terms of definition*, so would it be correct to say that "dyadic" == "binary", and that "non-dyadic" == "not-non-binary"?

Here you're conflating gender and sex, basically. As I understand it, 'dyadic' and 'binary' are kind of parallel constructions, but about two different things (hence the need for this other word meaning 'something to do with two')--people come in all four combinations of intersex/not intersex and binary-identified/not binary-identified.

(This all gets a bit messy because the way I'm talking about 'dyadic' kind of assumes there is some male phenotype and some female phenotype into which all non-intersex people can be sorted and, furthermore, that those phenotypes coincide with having XY and XX chromosomes. But trans people don't necessarily fit into that schema. Welcome to the cause of a zillion fights on the internet.)
posted by hoyland at 5:48 AM on June 11, 2013


I've seen it further elaborated into CAMAB for coercively assigned, to specifically highlight the non-consensual and unwanted nature of birth assignment.

I have a sneaking suspicion that CAMAB and CAFAB caught on so fast because they're easier and snappier to say out loud than AMAB and AFAB (let alone MAAB and FAAB).

JB, this was a great idea and I'm surprised no-one thought of it before. Including me.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:14 AM on June 11, 2013


hoyland, thank you. That makes much more sense to me now.
posted by talitha_kumi at 6:17 AM on June 11, 2013


"George is/is not intersex, therefore he is/is not dyadic."

This is pretty confusing by virtue of combining two sentences together in a way that seems to contradict what came above it. Naively, it would decompose into "George is intersex, therefore he is dyadic" and "George is not intersex, therefore he is not dyadic". Did you really mean "George is intersex, therefore he is not dyadic" and "George is not intersex, therefore he is dyadic"?
posted by Jpfed at 6:51 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Awesome JB!
posted by Sophie1 at 6:58 AM on June 11, 2013


Agreed, that is one heck of a post.
posted by mintcake! at 6:59 AM on June 11, 2013


Aww, you guys are so sweet! Honestly, I did it for me as much as everyone else.

If you read the big genderqueer manifesto I wrote that got posted to the blue a few weeks back and see that I've obviously been obsessively reading resources for FTM transmen, well, you can probably put those two things together and guess where I am mentally lately. I didn't find those sites and think "Oh, I should post these to Metafilter!" I found those sites, obsessively read the whole thing while rolling around in my bed with pleasure and longing, and then thought "Dang, maybe some other people would enjoy these too?"

And the idea of putting something out there, that had spoken to me and touched me so much, and watching the thread turn into a flaming shitpile of the wrong pronouns and rudely-posed questions that could be answered with a google search made my heart break. I considered not posting anything, and I made a bunch of jokes on Twitter about how badly the thread was going to go (at one point I was accepting bets on the timestamp of the first offensive comment), and I included those Trans 101 links to hedge my bets.

And you guys surprised me! There's discussion going on in the thread, but like...polite respectful discussion? The idea that being transgender is valid and real is never questioned? No one tries to apply their limited unique life experience to a total stranger?

My jaw is on the floor, and it makes me super happy, and I'm so thankful, and I won't hesitate to post something that strikes me as important just because it's something that "Metafilter doesn't do well" in the future. Because education can always conquer ignorance, and it seems like y'all are willing to be educated.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:19 AM on June 11, 2013 [35 favorites]


..cookies. In your mailbox. Now. Let's make it happen.
posted by odinsdream at 7:25 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found those sites, obsessively read the whole thing while rolling around in my bed with pleasure and longing, and then thought "Dang, maybe some other people would enjoy these too?"

To me, this is the best reason to post, and makes the best fpps!
posted by rtha at 8:07 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I have a sneaking suspicion that CAMAB and CAFAB caught on so fast because they're easier and snappier to say out loud than AMAB and AFAB (let alone MAAB and FAAB)."

That link discourages the use of CAMAB/CAFAB as synonymous with AMAB/AFAB because it's appropriating CAMAB/CAFAB from its intersex usage, a context which should be distinct.

It's not so much, I think, that there's not something coercive in general about gender assignment at birth, I think there is, but it's that there's something very and particularly hurtfully coercive about sex and gender assignment at birth for intersex people.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:11 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


All labels/identifiers (such as "trans* boy" or "boy dyke") taken from interviews with the person in question as a way they self-identify. If you need to brush up on Trans 101 before participating in this thread, this covers the basics. This is a good resource for vocabulary.

Way to frame the post! In two lines Juliet Banana turns trans* issues from being something metafilter does not do well (tm) to something metafilter can do better than most of the internet.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:17 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


while rolling around in my bed with pleasure and longing

I read that as "pleasure and tonging," and I wondered if maybe, just maybe, the cattes have had enough tonging for a bit.

On the other hand, it's nice to see a thread on a complex subject not be overrun with "explain the basics to me" and "I will be stubbornly wrong." I mean, it's unreasonable to assume every user will catch every thread, but it is so hard to make any progress on a topic on this site if every thread ends up as a rerun of the last 4 or 5. So, yay, us!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:21 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


That link discourages the use of CAMAB/CAFAB as synonymous with AMAB/AFAB because it's appropriating CAMAB/CAFAB from its intersex usage, a context which should be distinct.

If you believe some people (intersex and not) on tumblr, this isn't actually the case and the 'coercive' version did originate in trans circles. I can find the link when I get home if people are interested. There's pretty clearly an argument going on in some circles that I'm not really aware of. (Though, frankly, it looked like both sides are being pretty offensive about the other and not covering themselves in glory and reasonableness.)
posted by hoyland at 10:34 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am so very encouraged with the level of discourse (even when there are derails, they are nothing nearly as horrific as in the general public) when trans* subjects are brought up here on Metafilter.
posted by xingcat at 10:37 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks, hoyland, that was just something I noticed from reading the linked page and it made sense to me, but I appreciate being told that it's more complicated.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:30 AM on June 11, 2013


Since this is MeTa, I figure this is a better place to mention that I read "transmen" as "trashmen," so "dapper transmen" made me smile before re-reading the phrase.

I blame my son, who is not yet two, but loves trash trucks, so I now notice trash trucks more often than I used to. I mean no disrespect to anyone.

Fantastic post, and great job on including the caveat about labels and identifiers.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:43 AM on June 11, 2013


I appreciated it, Juliet Banana, and I think it also helped the level of discourse a lot not to have people getting frustrated right off the bat.
posted by corb at 11:47 AM on June 11, 2013


I am now of the opinion that we need more happy complimenting-y metatalks to balance out all of the long shouty insulty ones.
posted by Conspire at 1:19 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have been extremely lucky when it comes to Metatalks.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:44 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


hoyland: "If you believe some people (intersex and not) on tumblr, this isn't actually the case and the 'coercive' version did originate in trans circles."

To the best of my knowledge, this is true. My furthest and least delicate tentacles occasionally drift into the waters of perpetual terminology-related shitfighting and it's my impression that the idea that it's an intersex community coining that was appropriated was a miscommunication arising from a few of those thousand-note conversations where everything gets confused and no-one knows which way is up any more, or for that matter how to walk away from the keyboard.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:02 PM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am now of the opinion that we need more happy complimenting-y metatalks to balance out all of the long shouty insulty ones.

I am now imagining 500+ comment threads of praise where the member being praised firmly rejects the positive feedback, endlessly demurring, while exasperated mods go "just say 'thank you' and bask in the adulation, or I'll close this up already!" I don't know whether to be charmed or afeared.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:13 PM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Great idea and great execution, Juliet Banana.

It almost makes me wish that more topics could also have such helpful primers posted alongside them.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:14 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't know about this post or poster but am happy to know about them both.

Thanks, Juliet Banana, for doing it right.

Given how much I admire and respect zarq and given that I am trans* and intersex perhaps I will see if I can help out in the wiki.
posted by kalessin at 11:16 AM on June 12, 2013


I am currently at the TransHealth conference in Philadelphia. Yesterday I went to an excellent presentation by a psychologist and an MD who work primarily with trans and gender variant kids. Next time we have a conversation about young kids, and how do we know they're not going to change their mind, and how many do revert, and all that, I am going to have some really good answers. I took copious notes.

Short version: "How do we know whether this child will want to be this gender when they grow up?" is one of the big burning questions for practitioners as well.
posted by not that girl at 5:07 AM on June 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


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