I am GenderQueer

Warning: This blog discussing gender, and it's lack of duality.  If you're not comfortable with the idea that there might be more than males and females skip this one. It meanders a bit, as the topic isn't straight forward.

I am not transgendered. However, I do use the pronoun "we" with regards to all members of the LGBTQQIA community [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex, asexual]. There is no "them" if you're a member of this community-- only us. There are also more than that small handful of letters that stand for our gender and sexual ids and orientations. I heard somewhere there might be 700 of them, or more!

That tells me, that there really isn't any "them" at all, only one large, gigantic Us. There never really was a "them" you know, there has always only been us.

I've been thinking a lot about gender lately.

I do that on occasion, really think about who I am, and how I am. I think everyone should do that. Really take a look at your gender identity.

Do you accept your genitals as proof of your gender?
If so, why? Do you feel the same inside and out? Then you're one lucky cis!
If no, why? Are you not the same inside and out? Are you getting therapy, transitioning?
If not, why? Are you like me, and aren't always one or the other, but have no desire to transition?

Maybe you're OK being fluid? I am.

I'm a genderqueer woman. [a good resource and explanation is here, if you're interested.]

Biologically I'm female. I look like a woman, too. I used to look a lot more like a boy, but as I've gotten older, and quit smoking, I gained weight and was blessed with an hourglass. Some times this bothers me, and I feel like a giraffe-opotomus. Some times I feel fine. But I never feel "all girl".

Some times I feel completely genderless. As in, not any gender at all.

Some times I feel like a man. Some times like a woman. But very often, both, or neither at all. I never feel fully male, sorta more like percentages, it's hard to explain but I'll try.

Right now, I'm sitting here, without make-up on, my hair's in a funny pony-tail-bun (I hacked it off to my collar couple weeks ago). I'm wearing the most awesome pair of "trouser jeans"! I love them, they're soft like khakis, straight legged, and deep blue. Got my bright white socks, and a soft fluttery tee-shirt. If you look at me, I'm a relatively fresh-faced woman of 34. I think I look 34, but I got carded the other day for beer, so maybe 27? [I am referring to the "If you don't look 27 we're carding you" thing; of course they could just card everyone, I don't know.]

I might look like a woman, but right this moment, I don't feel like a man or a woman. Today I feel androgynous. Like I don't have a gender at all. Today I am neither male nor female, and yet, I'm both.

I didn't come out as genderqueer until a few years ago. Mostly because I'd never heard of it! It's a pretty new term, and an excellent one, if you ask me. I would say I was an androgynous female, it was the easiest way I could explain how I felt, versus how I was put together.

Growing up, there was nothing like genderqueer. You were a boy, girl, or one of those *whispering* cross-dressers! Women who dressed in pants-suits with a male cut (lean lines, as opposed to the 80's women's fashion of wide shoulders) with ties were often thought to be lesbians, because of course no woman would want to dress like a man unless she was fucking women... or at least that's how the thinking often went-- regardless of how ugly those "power suits" were. Ugh!

So, being a girl who didn't feel like one, who didn't like dresses that much-- except for rare occasions-- it was hard on me. Of course my mother bought me the frilliest dresses, and pink, and flowers, and you name it girly shit. And of course once I started picking out my own clothes, she couldn't understand why I preferred black, grey, silver, white, no patterns other than vertical stripes, thanks. Give me pinstripes, bright white Oxford shirts, loafers and boots, tee-shirts that have silly shit written on them and blue jeans.

It didn't make sense to her when I was 15 or so, and told her that I thought something was wrong with me. "I don't feel like a girl or a boy," I started to say. Trying to explain something like your inner workings to someone outside is so difficult-- exponentially more so when you're not even sure what you're trying to say in the first place.

She told me that it was normal for people to feel disconnected; and to pray about it. She also intimated that if I was "one of them queers" that praying would turn me straight. She went on to say that I was probably being stupid anyway; she started her lifeline mantra of "it's not always about you, and just because you heard about someone going through that doesn't mean you are too." She was always very good at minimising feelings and emotions she didn't know how to deal with. I guess a lot of parents do that.

So, right. pray about it. Pray about it. As though praying would instantly make me into the perfect girl. As if praying would make me not bi/pansexual-- which I didn't have a handle on back then. As if praying would make everything OK.

Didn't work. Just in case you were wondering. It didn't work, at all.

Oh, I tried, though. Remember that old saying, "Wish in one hand, shit in the other, and see which one fills up first"? Yeah, that is about how praying for guidance on matters of queerness tends to go if you're raised in Evangelical christianity-- you're better off just shitting in your hand.

I do not dress to be androgynous. I have always dressed to be comfortable. I don't strap down or wrap my breasts in order to be flat chested. That hurts me-- I've tried it several ways, and just the way mine are it doesn't work. I'm also not ashamed or uncomfortable with my own cleavage. This isn't to say genderqueer individuals who to wrap are ashamed-- they aren't. They're just more comfortable without their boobs getting in the way. Whereas, I'm more comfortable with them doing their own thing in or out of a bra.

I don't dress as a male or female, either, though. Some thing that are uniquely male I prefer, like the Chinese jackets, Edwardian fashions and most Steampunk hats and accessories (I love neck-ties and monocles!). Some things I prefer to be female, like fun underpants, mile-high heels, silk or velvet dresses, Victorian-style tops, especially with corsets. I love love love corsets!

It took awhile, but I'm OK being non-binary. I'm OK being in the middle of gender, being 60% female, and 40% male, being 70/30 maybe, depending on the day. That's about where I sit most of the time, not quite half-and-half. 

Most of the time if you talk to me I won't appear in any way remarkable, however; most of the time I look just like you.

I "pass", which is something that puts me at odds with much of the militant trans and queer community, just on my appearance. I tend not to advertise-- because I don't think I need to come out to everyone. I probably should come out more. But this means that unless you corner me I won't tell you I'm queer. I don't care if you don't know, it doesn't affect me; the people who need to know, know, and I have no problem discussing my girlfriend (when I had one, anyway, I'm still looking for my Ms Right). I'm also blessed enough to be in a relationship with a man, and being biologically female, I am straight-appearing, and so pass as "normal".

I wish it wasn't so, that being queer wasn't something I had to be militant about; that being pro-Trans didn't mean being ready to scare the bejesus out of the majority of straight people. I wish that wasn't the case. I don't want to be nasty and rude or cruel, but I have to be some times, when confronting straight privilege. But someone has to, some one who seems "so normal". Some times I've found it's easier to explain how fucking stupid someone is about something when you look like someone they find acceptable. Then you smack the fuck out of them with "Hello! I'm One of Them! Those people you're railing against, you fucking moron!" It's gratifying. Just because I look binary, doesn't mean I am.

But my point is, that passing doesn't make me less genderqueer. It just means that I look mostly normal to most people. It also means that genderqueer doesn't have a "look". You can't pick us out in a line-up, unless you've got super good gaydar and we're also lesbian, gay or bi/pan. You can't pick us out in a line-up unless you've got really good trans-dar too. Not every transman or transwoman is going to ping on your radar that picks up "people who aren't like me".* Just like every trans-ally isn't going to be a militant transperson. Some of us are just us, and we love you, just like you are, and we'll stand with you! No matter what. I've been a militant [meaning verbally, loudly, in action and word, in attitude and beliefs-- militant as in "I don't care if you don't like it, go fuck yourself, we're here, we're queer, we're trans, we're not fucking leaving!], anti-straight privilege, pro-equality ally for many years, and I won't stop.

Being mostly normal in appearance makes it harder for me-- personally, though, than if I was more androgynous or boyish. When I was younger and could pass as a boy I was still figuring out my own gender and sexual identity. I often wonder if being more boyish would make me feel like I matched inside and out.

Could I pull off the boyish-woman and feel comfortable all the time? Would I finally feel like my inside gender matched my outside gender? Would that be the final piece that I needed to feel myself?

I dunno. I'm pretty feminine most of the time, and I'm lucky to be graceful. I'm not precious, though. And I am not petite; I'm not prancing, or mincing. I'm just me. I don't fit "woman" no matter what way I parse it.

I can be a sexpot, though. I can feel and ooze sexy. I can light the sky on fire with my passion about things, and write my excitement large across the cosmos! I get excited and animated talking about the things that mean a lot to me. My eyes shine, my smile is ready, and I laugh!

Gender is something that's a construct created by society. That means we, humans, collectively created this bianry idea of two: male and female. Part of it, of course, goes back to religious roots. In some societies they have more genders, and that's so fucking cool! However, here in the US we have two genders. Those of us who identify outside of them are looked at strangely, some times suspicously. We dont' fit, and therefore must be silenced, ignored, made less.

Thing is, we've always been here, even if we weren't out. LGBT individuals aren't a new phenomonon. Equality for us is, though, and it's about fuckign time! It is about goddamed time that we could come out, be ourselves, and not be burned at the stake. It's about time.

But, gender being society's construct, something built to make interaction easier, also means that society can change it. That's what people like me are doing right now. Every day that we say aloud, "I'm genderqueer; I'm non-binary" means that more people are exposed to an idea that falls outside the F/M boxes.

I told my doctor I was bisexual and genderqueer earlier this month. It was the first time I'd met the man, but he took it completely in stride. He's not much older than I am, and so I think that's probably part of it. He nodded, asked if I was in a monogamous relationship, and did I need "protection". Was I being safe sleeping with women as well as sleeping with men. Did I need a referral for therapy to begin hormones and transition?

He was so fucking cool about it!

I told him yes, I was monogamous, and yes, I knew all about safer sex practices. Yes, fill out the script for the pill. No, no therapy and no transitioning. I was cool being me.

"That's wonderful!" he said.

Not something I expected. I'd expected to have to explain what I meant and what safer sex was between women. I expected to have to educate the doctor, as is often the case for non-hetero people.

Not having to do that really made my day. It told me that genderqueer, androgynous women like me, pan/bisexual and everything, are mainstream enough that an OB/GYN would be educated about us.

Getting the medical community on board with us is just one step though.

We have to get the rest of the community there. So that kids who aren't gender conforming aren't bullied, tortured, killed. So that adults who aren't gender conforming aren't beaten and raped and killed. So that trans-men and -women aren't raped and beaten and killed. So that there is no discrimination against someone because their mental-gender doesn't match their genitals. So that "you are you, and I am me, and we are we!" is OK.

Not conforming is very hard for some more conservative people to understand. In fact, same liberal people can't understand it. If your gender [mental bits] and sex [physical bits] match it can be very hard to understand how it can be if they don't.

In the same way that many gays and lesbians as well as heteros "don't get" bisexuality/pansexuality, you guys don't always "get" genderqueerdom and transgenderism**.  But not getting it, not understanding it doesn't mean you can't be empathic and try to support us anyway.

We're not going away, either, and I wouldn't be surprised if more and more kids came out genderqueer. It's an acceptable choice-- a non-bianry choice in a non-binary world.

Until there's a box on everything, I'll tell my doctors, and let them know to be aware. I'll make sure my kids accept people who don't fit the "norm", and make my home welcoming to all fashions and forms of people.

Your penis or vagina don't make you a person-- and they don't make you male or female. Your brain does that. So my brain will accept the gender you feel. Full Stop.

*Quick note: being pansexual or bisexual means that for me, transmen and -woman are just as fuckable and sexy as cis-men and -women. It's a "person not parts" thing, and although it's hard to explain some of the sexiest men I've ever seen have been transmen. Oh My Goddess sexy! I'd recommend you open your mind if that thought bothers you, and you might just agree with me. Sexy is so much more than bits.

** Very often transgender persons are lumped in with genderqueer persons. We are not always one and the same. A person who is transgendered was born with one set of genitals, and yet their feelings, their mind, tells them they are the other. This is something that can be-- and very often is-- helped with hormones and surgery-- to make the outside match the inside.

However, being genderqueer doesn't always mean that we need to change anything on the outside.

So, sometimes a transperson is also genderqueer, but not always. Not all genderqueer persons are trans; some of us are lesbians, some are gay, some are bi, some straight or aces [asexuals]. We're every single orientation, just like transpersons are. Think of genderqueer as a gender in and of itself; transgendered person will very often present as the gender they prefer-- so we do some times make things easy for our allies! And yes, it's just as confusing to go through it as it is to try to explain it.

Suffice it to say, if you don't know, ask. Ask us if we have a preferred pronoun-- some of us don't. I'm OK with female pronouns. And if someone is trans, always, always Always use the pronouns that match the gender that they present to the world-- their bits don't come into account. If you know someone was born biologically male, but presents as a female, use the female pronouns. If the person prefers neutral pronouns, or none at all, they will tell you. It's better to be a little embarrassed and say, "I'm sorry, I'm trying to be sensitive, but I don't know!" than hurt your friendship, and the feelings of the person you're speaking with.

We remember the people who are willing to bite their own embarrassment, and that means a lot to us.

Some resources that I found. I'm not super familiar with all of them, but quick skims tells me they're good starting points.

Youth Pride, Inc
Strong Families [article is about being genderqueer and pregnant!]

As always, you can contact the Trevor Project if you need help! RAINN and SNAP will help you if you're being abused. I will listen to you, if you want to talk, email me. You're not alone.


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