We need both options

Meghan Murphy says no, Prince was not trans. Prince was a guy who defied gender stereotypes. Defying gender stereotypes ≠ trans.

As Prince is mourned by millions across the world, his life and artistry are rightly being embraced as unconventional and as boundary-pushing in many ways, including in terms of gender. But, whereas 10 or 20 years ago, a man like Prince would have been celebrated, in death, as someone who did not conform to gender norms, today he is instead being transed. And this is a problem.

Well, to be precise, he would have been celebrated for that by some and ridiculed or excoriated by others. It’s not as if defiance of gender stereotypes was universally celebrated 10 years ago. But I think she means celebrated, by those who celebrated him, as someone who did not conform to gender norms.

It’s not a problem, to be clear, because people who suffer from sex dysphoria or who don’t conform to the gender binary are a problem, but because we need to allow people to push past gender stereotypes without being forced out of their sex. It is not progressive to say that a male who does not act like a stereotypical man must actually be a woman — it is regressive.

Emphasis added.

If we start to say that anyone who refuses or isn’t able to perform gender in the way society teaches them to is “trans,” we assume that the gender binary is real — that a person who is big and tall and hairy and who acts aggressively or pursues sex with women is a man and a person who wears heels and dresses and is gentle and polite and is objectified by men is a woman. Anyone who strays from these norms is, then, proclaimed “trans,” leaving no room for the rest of us to exist outside of these stereotypes.

We need both options. People who want to live as the other sex should be able to do that, and be happy and unmolested doing so. People who want to exist outside the stereotypes without switching sex should be able to do that. Both options.

Let’s celebrate men like Prince and David Bowie and women like K.D. Lang and Patti Smith for refusing to fit into the stereotypical boxes patriarchal society laid out for them, not assume that those who rebel must, naturally, be the opposite gender or trans.

Yes let’s do that.

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