This is a blog about sex, gender, and the relation between the two. I will be using a lot of terms that I would like to return to, so I will go about defining them here.
But first, why title my site “Women Without Penises”?
For one simple reason: I am a woman with a penis. If, as the TERFs say, my penis precludes me from being a woman, then what am I without a penis? In other words, where does woman-ness reside if not in the penis?
From this simple question emerge my lofty goals:
- To abolish any notion of gender essentialism or transmedicalism.
- To define sex, gender, and gender expression.
- To break down the prison walls of cisnormativity.
My theory is still in its infancy, so do not be surprised if my thought takes drastic turns over the coming posts. But I do want to start with some definitions which I hope to keep consistent.
Sex is never biological. If there was such a thing as a biological sex, i.e. a person born with a “male” or “female” body whose sex was entirely identical with said body, then gender and sex would be no question at all.
But the questions persist, because sex always fails. No person is identical with the sex assigned to them at birth. This impossibility is the only substantive definition of sex. Therefore we could say that sex is nothing more than a certain failure of biology in relation to, but never identical to, gender.
Gender is nothing more than the point of this impossibility, the point where sex fails. It is the impossibility of biological sex, and the possibility of an encounter with something else. In this way, gender has no limits; rather it itself is the limit (in mathematical terms) of sex. Whereas sex can be thought of as pure biological impossibility, gender is pure, limitless bodily possibility.
I choose to use the word “impression” here because gender expression, in a technical sense, is impossible. Pure gender can only be encountered, and never expressed as such. Impression is a better word because it captures a certain shadowy insubstiantility.
Gender is ahistorical, substantial, and universal. Gender impression (e.g. man, woman, etc.) is historical, contingent, and individual. Gender impression is a byproduct – but not an index – of an encounter with gender, i.e. the transition. Gender impression is the way we see gender acting through the individual and the social. Others might call it “gender identity,” but because I don’t believe in identity, I will not use this term.
Transition, or the transition, is the universal encounter with gender. It consists in the admission of the impossibility of sex, the subsequent opening to gender, and the production of individual gender impressions.
No person is “gendered” until they submit themselves utterly to the transition. This is not to say there are no cisgendered people; a person who undergoes the transition and finds themselves back at the gender that they were assigned at birth could call themselves cisgendered. However any “cis” person who has not reconciled to the impossibility of sex cannot really be called gendered at all; gender impression is only a byproduct of the transition. Such people, usually cis, who resist the transition, could be referred to as “pre-gendered” individuals. Their existence is one of utter delusion.
I think that’s enough for now. I will begin laying out these theories more comprehensively soon. In the meantime, always feel free to reach out to me on twitter @ironflowerchild or at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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