The Letterbox: Trans Culture Should Re-Emphasize Gender Archetypes
The letterbox publishes selected letters in response to pieces in The TaraElla Project. The aim of the whole project is to advance the discussion around trans issues in a productive way, to break the current stalemate.
I think the concept of 'man' and 'woman' as archetypes of gender (What is a Woman: A Trans Woman's Perspective, Jan 27) merits more consideration by the trans community, both in the message we communicate to the general public, and in the strategy we take to achieve trans rights, which, let's face it, is facing a real moment of backlash at the moment.
From the starting point of 'man' and 'woman' being archetypes of gender, I think the concept of trans can be more easily understood by many people. A trans woman would simply be someone who is genetically male but is internally (psychologically?) closer to the archetype of woman, and hence would naturally want to 'live as a woman' as much as possible. And vice versa. It's really the 'traditional' narrative of trans people, a narrative that goes all the way back to Harry Benjamin's groundbreaking 1966 work. I guess most people in society could be sympathetic to that.
It's time to return to a trans narrative that re-emphasizes our association with the archetypes of 'man' and 'woman'. Trans women (or at least the vast majority of trans women) WANT to resemble the archetype of 'woman'. Trans men WANT to resemble the archetype of 'men'. We do not wish to deconstruct it in any way. We should not leave anyone confused about what we actually want.
This approach also has its advantages in the trans rights debate. Much of the debate today focuses on Self-ID. Trans people want the ability to Self-ID legally because it allows us to live in the gender archetype we identify with. Our wish for Self-ID stems from an understanding of, and wish to identify with, the archetype. In other words, it is the existence of the commonly understood archetype that makes the gender identity of trans people meaningful, and makes Self-ID justified. Self-ID will help to reinforce the archetypes of male and female, rather than challenge them.