Israel Winter: The Third Gender Point
In September of last year Australia brought about a new sex in its passport system. Those who are biologically neither male nor female or identify as neither now have the option to have their sex denoted by an ‘X’ on their passport, rather than the traditional ‘M’ or ‘F’. The ‘X’ will signify ‘indeterminate/undisclosed/intersex’ and there is a possibility that other countries will soon follow suit and provide this third option.
However, statements in the Australian system use the words sex and gender interchangeably which could confuse matters. It seems that, in Australia at least, a third sex is catered for; but what about the third gender?
At a very early age I began to question my own gender, I was definitely not one of the people who ‘always knew’ that they were trans or that they weren’t. Instead, the female aspects of my identity slowly revealed themselves to me, and at the age of fifteen I knew only that people were gay or they were straight. I had no concept of Transgenderism and so I attached myself to the first identity that seemed to fit and presented myself very definitely as a gay male. It was not until three years later that the feminine aspects of my personality became more dominant. For instance at fifteen I began to wear makeup and to find men attractive, however as I grew into my later teens my idea of ‘sexy’ became one of slipping into Agent Provocateur lingerie.
Though as a conservative person the idea of slipping into female underwear with a male body conflicted with the perception I had of myself, I began to realise I felt I should have been born with a female body. It was around this time, simply through growing up and becoming wise to the world, I became aware transgenderism and trans-sexuality. By the age of eighteen I had moved away from home and later began to wear a wig and heels, occasionally, I presented myself as female. It soon became obvious to me that I felt more comfortable than ever outwardly displaying a female appearance and at the age of nineteen I came out as a transsexual female. It all fitted perfectly, I changed my name and title, began to change my appearance to the way I always imagined myself looking and I began to live my life as a woman.
Towards the end of the last two years however, I’ve started to question my transsexuality. Although presenting a female appearance feels right to me, and my idea of feeling sexy is still that image slipping into some lacy lingerie with a female body, I don’t feel like a woman, in fact I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like a woman . But here’s where it gets tricky; I don’t feel male either. Could I be one of the third gender, or does a third gender sit too close to the obsolete idea that we are all male or female?
We’ve written before that gender is not a binary and it is now widely accepted that gender doesn’t work in this traditional binary of male or female. But I’m beginning to think that gender is not a linear sliding scale with male and female at each end either. Now I describe gender as a triangle, inside which each person’s gender sits somewhere unique between the three points; Male, Female and Neither. This triangle shows the almost infinite possibilities of what a person’s gender might be.
I know that a person’s gender doesn’t always match their sex, but I’m slowly learning that it doesn’t have to. After everything I’ve learned from others’ and my own experiences, I realise everyone is on their own path, every single person’s gender lies at a unique point within the triangle and as long as I’m comfortable with where my own sits, I don’t need to give it a name or any one label.