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Trans author Juno Roche explains why they’re no longer using the word ‘woman’

Amy Ashenden November 5, 2019
Trans author Juno Roche (PinkNews)

Trans author Juno Roche (PinkNews)

Trans author Juno Roche shares why they “no longer feel the need to use the word woman”.

This is far from a detransitioning story but a deeper exploration of what gender means to them.

Roche now goes by they/them pronouns and is embracing just using the word ‘trans’ with no additional qualifier such as ‘woman’ or ‘femme’ – a journey which has been in part inspired by conversations they’ve had with trans artists and activists for their writing.

Watch Juno Roche’s interview:

Writing Queer Sex, in which Roche interviews several queer and trans activists and artists, led them on a journey of self discovery with their gender and queerness.

“When I started that book I definitely identified, or saw myself, as being a trans woman and then through the process of writing the book, I realised that there were certain words I’d have to give away because it felt like I was doing work to inhabit them,” Roche tells PinkNews.

“It felt like I had to do work to inhabit the word woman whereas I never had to do any work to inhabit the word trans – trans I did brilliantly.

“I realised that additional word onto the end of trans, I was kind of using it to clarify myself for other people but it wasn’t clarifying me.

“Even after surgery, I didn’t feel anymore like a woman than I ever felt like a man, and my genitals really just always felt like they were trans genitals and they weren’t particularly tied down to any gender.

“So for me, it was really important to honour my body and to do that, I had to give away words – I had to give away the word woman.”

Queer Sex, released in 2018, saw Roche speak to trans and non-binary couples about sex and how gender plays a role in intimacy.

Roche’s new book, Trans Power, explores how to take ownership of your body through conversations with the likes of Kate Bornstein, Travis Alabanza and Muslim drag queen Glamrou.

“We were taught that we shouldn’t want to occupy trans.”

These interviews led Roche to question even more the labels we use to describe ourselves and who they serve.

Trans woman, they realised, wasn’t a label that was working for them anymore.

“It didn’t honour my transness, it didn’t centre my transness,” they explain. “These days I’m finding that just using the word trans, for me, centres my identity in a new space.”

Reclaiming just the label ‘trans’ is freeing for Roche, who sees it as turning away from the idea that being trans is “a place that we should pass through really quickly”, and instead embracing their transness.

“We were taught that we shouldn’t want to occupy trans,” they explain.

“Before we were seen as broken and that the process of transitioning would save us and deliver us to a kind of binary place.

“For me, I just felt like I was at that stop off point always and that trans was the word that honoured me and honoured my experience.”

Simply using the word ‘trans’ has given Roche “air and energy” because they feel free from having to do work to occupy the label ‘trans woman’.

“Trans is the word for me that works resolutely – not with anything else on the end of it,” they add.

“It doesn’t need to be qualified or clarified for other people.”

Trans Power is out now in paperback.

More: genderqueer, non-binary, Trans, Transgender

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