Within the queer spaces I’m involved with and often online, female bodied (to refer to someone who the doctor decided was female) and male bodied are often deployed as way to ‘get to the heart of the matter’. They are an attempt at destabilizing gender’s primacy and focusing on ‘biological facts’. Unfortunately this mostly ends up merely rein scribing the male/female binary and presuming the experiences and identities of others. For instance, instead of merely saying we need one man and one woman in this position, we now say one male bodied person and female bodied person. We are still presuming truths of others identities and using euphemisms to refer to man/woman, using them in the same way.
Female Bodied and Male bodied give us permission to reframe and recenter men/women with the added bonus of biological truths, although perhaps focusing more on the stagnent biological power of ‘truth’.
The realites of biological complexities are erased even as the body is rooted as factual. As well,as many tumblr folks have observed, people’s bodies are labelled for them with words that are interchangeably used with man and woman.
The major alternatives of assigned blank at birth and designated blank at birth (A AB and D AB) more poignantly reveal the constructed nature of sex dualism and the correleation to gender through verb use. There is a careful link to walk here, of not erasing or claiming the experiences of intersex folk, who are often more literally coerced into a particular sex assignment(Coercively assigned at birth).
The intentions of female/male bodied to gesture to what are presumed to be shared experiences based on bodily reality is an understandabld goal (though have we not yet learned the lesson of seeking to find a universal experience?) Yet the wide and varying range of bodily experience of those who we might persume united under these labels points to their failure to truly name what queers are variously trying to name, the shifting mutability and tangled relationship of body to identity to reality.
The history of trying to name and untangle these complexities is plagued by words and phrases designed to eliminate trans* folks realities or otherwise dismiss people and their lives with phrases like ‘born women’ or ‘raise female’ used to dismiss gender identities and realities. Sometimes I refer to what I am read as i.e. I’m often read and treated as a women which refers to my experiential temporary reality. It acknowledges tense, mutability and the present while still troubling factual linkage. I still looking for ways to honor and respect my and trans* folks lived selves alongside being able to limitedly and contextually generalize. We are often so plagued by a desire for universalism and a banner that fits us all well, when that cannot exist. Coalitions not universalism.