This entire tirade is blown apart by the fact that “transgender” is sometimes used as umbrella term for any person who has any component of their gender not correspond with their assigned sex. Marsha was comfortable “living as a man,” sure, but to them that meant their curly hair and dresses on a regular basis.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms — including transgender. Some of those terms are defined below. Use the descriptive term preferred by the person. Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures.
Julia Serano has also written at length about how cis and trans are not discrete binaries either.
4. Trans and cis are useful shorthand, but do not represent immutable, essentialist categories
In trans activism, we often use the word cisgender to refer to people who are not transgender, and cissexual for people who are not transsexual (as explained in my cisgender/cissexual terminology FAQ). These words serve a useful purpose when talking about transphobic double standards — e.g., how trans people are perceived, interpreted, or treated differently than cis people. However, in discussions about trans identities and trajectories, these terms often give the false impression that “cis” and “trans” are immutable and mutually exclusive categories, when in fact they are not.
For example, there are many people out there who (at this particular moment) would describe themselves as cisgender or cissexual, but who in the future will identify as transgender or transsexual. And (in the case of those who detransition) some people who self-identify as trans today may not in the future.
In fact, when discussing matters of identity and gender transition, people are by default presumed to be “cis” until they say or do something (e.g., voice a trans identity, express gender non-conforming behavior) to denote otherwise. This point is crucial, and I shall be returning to it shortly.
Furthermore, there is no test (medical, psychological, or otherwise) to determine whether or not a person is “really trans.” The terms transgender and transsexual are experiential — individuals have an internal experience of gender that they can either try to repress, or outwardly express via being gender non-conforming, or transitioning to their identified gender, respectively.
That took me five minutes of Googling.
But okay, you’re a “researcher.”