Saying “No” to Gender
“No.” Not everyone says yes to gender. “I reject it.” These people have chosen a different path, a different life. “I am not.” This forms a different identity.
When you get assigned the male class, but you loudly assert the opposite, you have said “no” to gender. Gender gave you what you are, but you turned away in disgust. You are not a man, you are something else. Some find comfort in womanhood, others in something entirely outside, but whichever path you take, you have said no to gender.
Similarly, when you get assigned the female class, but, again, you loudly assert the opposite, you have said “no” to gender. Your embrace of manhood or something beyond constitutes a rejection, a turning away, from gender.
When you sit apart from your assignment, you are transgender.
Cracks in the System
The modern gender system is weak. It has spelled its own doom by how it has formed itself. When the modern gender system spread itself, it gave up flexibility to destroy competing systems and imposed itself upon all cultures. But this leaves it unable to account for many people. Many have great difficulty with the gender assigned to them and, because they are given no alternatives and their gender is seen as immutable, they end up subversive to the system itself.
People whose gender doesn’t match with the gendering of their biological features aren’t exactly new. Many previous systems had explicit classes for people like this, such as the Bugi gender system. These are multigendered systems and they have a space for those who aren’t willing to accept the gender assigned to their biology.
But trans people don’t relate to the gender system in this way. Whereas the people with different genders and sexes in multigendered systems are accepting the gender within their class system, trans gender are rejecting it. The modern gender system has no place for trans people, so we’re subversive to it. As such, trans people are not transhistorical, but a historically contingent feature of the post-colonial gender system which has been imposed upon the world. Nor are trans people necessarily a feature everywhere in the world. Within gender systems which allow for gender variations, it’s often inaccurate to call people acting within the context of their gender system trans because of how the system they live under functions. These gender systems were less repressive because of their flexibility, but they’re more robust. Because of their robustness, combating them would require different strategies particular to that particular system.
Unable to, or unwilling to, accept our place within the gender class system, trans people are dissent against it, and gender as it exists today cannot account for us. Other gender systems have been more flexible, more able to account for everyone within them. Multigender systems give options for people unable to work with the gender associated with their biology. This means that people can fit within the system easier and gives the system strength. Our system does not do this, and this is a crack within the system. It provides us with reason to say “no”.
As discussed earlier, performativity requires you to actively accept the class you’re assigned to by gender. This is a strength of gender because it forces you to be complicit in your own oppression, but it’s also a weakness. Since your class is based, in part, on your active acceptance of it, this creates the path to active rejection. Indeed, if enough people reject the gender assigned to them, gender cannot function.
And trans people are those rejecting their gender, saying “no” to gender. This is a modern phenomenon which is subversive toward gender and presents us with a path forward. Here we find the core to the revolutionary potential of queer people. If everyone says “no” to gender, everyone ceases to accept it, then gender is lost. We find similar strategies among resistance to other class systems. People fight capitalism through a refusal to work, a general strike against it. Similarly, a collective “no” to gender rejects the class system and allows us to take it to its knees.
This would be nothing but a revolution. It’s an overhaul of society which allows for queer people to take its reigns and remake it in our image. This act of class abolition by queer people, including a self-abolition of our own class, is a daring attack upon gender. It takes over society to transform it and eliminate class from it. This means that such a revolution would be the dictatorship of the queer.