Since I began following the world of gender variance I have found myself tuning into the language we use to describe ourselves as a community. Subtle nuances such as where the disctinction exists between a transvestite and a crossdresser, or explosive battlegrounds such as who or what is defined as trangender. My job involves the manipulation of large amounts of language so I find these matters of great interest even when I don't take sides in them.
One in particular that has caught my eye recently is this: how, when making the distinction among ourselves, do we describe a natural-born woman as opposed to a transwoman? Someone like my wife: born female-bodied and perfectly content with her female gender identity. It all used to be so simple, I remember reading a well written article on the work of the Beaumont Society a few years ago that introduced me to the term "real girl". My wife is a real girl, I'm a fake girl. I have no problems with that, job done, you'd think
But then it seems there are those among us who dislike the implication that their womanhood might be less than real. I can see that, for someone who has fought very hard to achieve it to have their assumed gender denied could be very galling. So out of nowhere came the two terms FaB, for "Female at birth" and "Genetic girl". No problems with those if they don't wind anyone up, you'll have found me using both of them here on this blog from time to time.
All very well then. Harmony in the world of transgender language for once. Well, until someone realised that transmen are also FaB and genetic female, just as we're MaB and genetic male. Oops, nobody wants to inadvertently deny anyone their gender so it's back to the drawing board.
I am concerned that something has been lost along the way here. When you are describing a group do not make up terms for them, ask them how they wish to be described. It's not rocket science, after all that's why we refer to the indigenous people of the northern polar regions as Inuit rather than Eskimo, for example. As someone whose outings in the trans sphere have all been accompanied by my wife I am guessing I have met more spouses and partners of trans people both male and female than most people as the partners tend to gravitate towards each other. It has been my observation that to a woman they all refer to themselves in this context as real girls. Deny them their self-identity? Heavens no!