I am a Secular (Trans) Woman by Trinity Aodh

I am extremely proud to be able to stand up and say “I am a secular woman.”

Growing up in North Carolina, I was treated less than nicely by my peers for being an atheist. To the other elementary school students, you couldn't not believe in "God". It simply didn't work that way, it wasn't something they knew or understood. At that age it was about as different as I could have gotten, and it was tough.

That kind of treatment continued throughout all of public school, and it wasn't until I went away to university that I found relief. The school I chose to attend actually had atheists in the majority, and even the religious people who attended were far less likely to bother me, and the campus, as a whole, was a much more accepting place that I had ever been. This environment contributed in no small part to me finally making the decision to transition, and the lack of religion breathing down my neck made it much easier to accept myself after I had made that decision. I am extremely proud to be able to stand up and say “I am a secular woman.”

This statement means a lot to many of us. We're not just atheists, we're female atheists in a world dominated by male voices, and we're ready to stand up and be heard. We're fighting for diversity within a group that is already a minority, and the ways we are doing that extends beyond simply the gender gap. To me it means something very special, to stand up and be recognized not only as an atheist, but as a woman.

A friend of mine, Bridget Gaudette, recently mentioned in a blog post that she has a responsibility to be “extra visible” as a secular woman of color. I am realizing more and more not only how correct she is, but how I share a similar responsibility as a secular transgender woman.

Transgender individuals on a whole are very often misunderstood and misrepresented. Just today I've seen two or three atheist blog posts use improper terms to refer to us. Usually it's at least not the slurs, as it is starting to become more common knowledge that “tranny” and “shemale” aren't acceptable, but surprisingly few people seem to know the word is “transgender” not “transgendered.” Someone isn't “gayed” or “bisexualed,” these words are adjectives, not verbs. Similarly, they aren't nouns, and calling me “a transgender” won't put you on my good side.

I was designated male at birth, or DMAB (though you might also see coercively assigned male at birth, or CAMAB, depending on the person), but my gender is female. My preferred gender pronouns (PGPs) are she, her, and hers. One of the questions I get asked rather often is if I am “pre or post op,” and besides the fact that that question excludes the rather large group of people who are non op, it's really impolite to go around asking people about their genitals. I am about six months into hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, and am quite literally going through a second puberty. I deal with gender dysphoria almost daily, which is the discomfort caused by one's physical characteristics not aligning with one's gender.

Some terms have varying degrees of acceptance among the transcommunities (trans* being a broad term for any number of identities that might start with "trans"). Transsexual used to be the general term for people whose gender doesn't align with what they were designated, but has fallen out of common use for being too reminiscent of sexuality, as well as until recently being classified as a mental disorder. Female-to-male (FTM) and male-to-female (MTF) are still very often used, but can give the impression that a person used to be one gender, then switched.

A great majority of people reading this likely aren't transgender. This doesn't make you normal, this makes you cisgender. Further from that, gender is far more than a strict binary of male and female. You can be both, neither, somewhere in between, something different all together. You might be genderqueer, neutrois, androgyne, hard femme, butch, third gender, gender fluid, or any number of different genders.

My experience is very unique, and I'm not asking anyone to try to completely understand. What I am asking is to be respected as any woman deserves to be. If there is something you don't understand, all you have to do is (politely) ask. Remember what applies to me doesn't necessarily apply to other trans* people, or even other trans women.

I have fought hard for both my non-belief and my womanhood, and I won't let anyone deny me either. I will stand up, I will be counted, and I will not be silenced. I am Trinity Aodh, and I am a Secular Woman.

Trinity Aodh, Secular Woman Member