I refuse to justfy my existence to you.
Below is something I wrote in the comment sections of Feministe and Alas, A Blog several years ago. I modified it slightly from the original posts, but the basic ideas remain the same. For those of you who are new to this topic, cis means “not trans” or “not transgender.”
You know, trans folk wind up spending a lot of time trying to justify why we exist. We spend a lot time proving that we are as real and as worthy of respect as cis people.
Enough is enough.
I do not feel bound by any obligation to prove the full extent of my selfhood or my womanhood to other people. My perspective on this matter can be summarized as follows:
1) Being queer (trans, gender variant, gay, bi etc.) is often an indelible characteristic of a person’s persona. It doesn’t go away even when people are screaming that you are miserable freak.
2) Being queer often has its roots in some set of phenomena that occurred early in a person’s life. (Perhaps in the womb, perhaps later, who knows?) The chain of causality starts so early, that few people have any direct knowledge of what precisely happened.
3) Regardless of the cause, not being able to act on one’s sexual orientation or gender orientation or bodily orientation causes great distress—to the point of severe depression and self-destructive behavior.
4) You could apply #1 and #2 to straight people and cis people as well. However, no one gets called a freak for being straight or cis. Until LGB people became openly vocal, most people weren’t concerned about why people are attracted to a particular sex or gender. Until trans people became openly vocal, most people weren’t concerned about what leads a person to say “I am a man” or “I am a woman” or “I am neither.” Womanhood and manhood were taken for granted.
5) Straight people do not generally experience #3 in relation to their sexual orientation because their ways of being receive social sanction as “normalcy.” Similar to straight people, cis people do not generally experience #3 in relation to their gender identities because their ways of being receive social sanction as “normalcy.” Hence, in their respective contexts, neither straight people nor cis people have to respond to the command, “Justify your existence!” They do not have to scrabble around for convenient scientific or social theories to justify leading their lives free from harassment.
6) With respect to their sexual orientation, straight people do not have to concern themselves with numbers 1 through 3. This is a sign of socially sanctioned privilege.
7) With respect to their gender identities, cis people do not have to concern themselves with numbers 1 through 3. This too is a sign of socially sanctioned privilege.
Why I exist shouldn’t matter. I have a right to live my life. I have a right to not have to worry about numbers 1 through 3. Cis people don’t have to. Straight people don’t have to. So, why should I? I have a right to be who and what makes sense to me—so long as my actions do not harm others. I have a right to have my identity as a woman and a lesbian be as respected as cis people’s gender identities and straight people’s sexual orientation.
So, you are feeling uncomfortable because my life doesn’t fit into your notion of the world? Let me cry you a river.