Gender and the In Between- A Gender Queer’s Journey

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As a child, I spoke as few words as possible. The sound of my feminine voice disgusted me. I hated to be called a girl, while loving the color pink. I was a budding genderqueer.

Boys are different from girls, they said.  Fundamentally different, they’d persist. Boys don’t have long hair. Boys don’t like pink. Boys don’t cry and boys are tough. Girls like playing with dolls. Girls do poorly at math and enjoy frilly things.

Boys.  I studied them. I developed obsessions with male classmates with the utter desire to someday become all that they were. I would play make believe with my siblings in which I’d only be satisfied if I took on a male role.  I connected with boys in a way I never could with girls, and never quite understood why. I would wear suspenders as a tween and feel like a boss because they would make it look like I had no chest. When I started to develop, I would wrap myself in a bandage, not realizing that was a trope practiced all too often in the trans community. I would do this until my gender identity was challenged.

“You are so flat,” my very influential peers would say, prompting me to ask my mother to buy me my first training bra.

And then I discovered the internet. I learned about the term transgender. I looked at hundreds upon hundreds of befores and afters, FtMs. Top surgeries, bottom surgeries, hormones. I would read and read until my eyes would blur from my families’ bright Dell desktop screen, and I’d sink in my chair, feeling the emptiness grow inside of me. It was as if the more I searched for myself, the more lost I got. Because I couldn’t avoid my feelings; I didn’t feel fully male.

I didn’t know any trans people in my anti-queer, southern town, and definitely wasn’t going to be the first. So what did I do? I conformed. Like the scared child that I was, I began to present myself as outrageously feminine, so no one would suspect anything strange. It was as if I thought people could see through me, and wanted to give them no reason to use thier x-ray vision to spot my insecurities…or my weirdness.

I fell into a bout of shame, hating my natural femininity because I’d used a false, hyper-femininity as a wall to hide behind for so long. Oh, what a person will do to fit in.

I wanted no more shame, so I turned to the bottomless internet once again, searching for a reason to love myself. I studied femininity and the power of it all. I learned that being feminine does not equate weakness. There is strength in the power of women. In femininity, there is beauty; not the skin deep kind but the unconditional kind.  Through countless articles and books, and studying empowered feminist women like Betty Dobson and bell hooks, I learned to love my female body, and now I don’t want to lose it.

So here I am, yin and yang. Masculine and feminine. I wear my hair long but learned to walk from male role models growing up. The color pink still makes me smile, but I feel like a lie when wearing a dress. I still bind and wear clothes from the men or boys section, and prefer to hide my curves (the little bit that I have anyway). Not because I want to look male, but because it is how I feel most comfortable.

I call myself a boi, a budding term used in the lesbian and queer community, and truly believe if energies were gendered, I would be just that. I have little to no desire to have surgery or take hormones, though I like it when you call me “he.” I don’t mind “she” or “they” because I am that, too. All of the above, please. Sometimes I feel completely male, and wish on those days I had an attractive male body to wear. But most days I feel like both. I know it is confusing. I even confuse myself sometimes, but that’s simply how I feel. I don’t feel masculine enough to be male, nor am I feminine enough to be female. I love and accept my female body, though I ask you to not suspect that makes me a “woman.”

Through my journey, I find that in terms of gender identity, you are what you say you are. A man that wears makeup and has double D’s is still a man if he tells you so. It takes no more criteria than that. What it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman are social constructs, and though the masses follow these standards, you don’t have to. I don’t have to. I prefer to say I am in between genders, masculine of center, and as I feel, I am.

I spoke recently to a dear friend that had a challenging question for me;

“Why don’t you just ignore gender? Why don’t you just be who you are and not worry about what that makes you, be it male, female or otherwise?”

I sat there, stumped and silent, too caught off guard to admit my annoyance. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but this anger boiled inside me. I slowly felt the tingle as my senses returned and I blurted out,

“Because nobody wants to be an outsider!”

I certainly didn’t think before I spoke, but couldn’t ignore the truth behind my words. Nobody wants to be an outsider. No one wants to feel like they belong nowhere. So many queer and trans people walk through their lives never feeling fully human, as if there is something alien about us that no one will ever understand. That is why we search for acceptance. That is why we challenge the gender binary and tell you to call us Zir. We’re fighting for our visibility, because we don’t like feeling invisible. We are not transsexual, we are sometimes not even transgender, but we’re definitely all over the gender spectrum, as a gender “binary”  is all but an illusion.

I’ve wanted to talk about this for a while now, but due to the fear of officially coming out as a genderfuck, I’ve avoided it. But as you see with this whole rant, I don’t care who knows anymore. I am tired of hiding in the binary and this is my way of connecting with all you gender queer and trans folk out there that are not interested in going all the way, on either side of the gender binary. We are the in betweeners, and we’re proud. Finally. 

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Queer Eye for the Bi?

 

 

  (first Published 5/26/13)

    Remember that time Cynthia Nixon said she chose to be gay and there was this huge backlash from the gay community over it? Well this is my take, months later. 

 

    Nixon later clarified her “choice” statement, claiming  bisexuality is indeed a fact, not a choice. However,  she still says that she chooses to be in a gay relationship.

    I don’t see why this was such an issue. It’s true that bisexuality is often viewed negatively in the gay and straight communities. Possibly because of the strong need for binary establishments in our culture. Bisexuality blurs the lines of sexuality that many feel should be black and white. Grey areas are confusing, and confusing topics are often misrepresented. 


   Nixon made an interesting statement on the sexuality spectrum when asked in a Daily Beast article whether she was a heterosexual woman in a lesbian relationship, or the other way around:

 

 

 “…I think for gay people who feel 100 percent gay, it doesn’t make any sense. And for straight people who feel 100 percent straight, it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t pull out the “bisexual” word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals.”

 

     Why is it so questionable that there might be more of a sexual spectrum rather than straight versus gay? As much as we like to box things in, it’s not always the case that everything is so easily defined, binary, or concrete. Honestly, as an out gay, genderqueer, I can’t say I haven’t found a few Ryan Goslings or John Cho’s attractive. Sue me. Let’s just face it; The fear of ambiguity stems from humans fearing the unknown. The unknown often leads to discrimination because if you don’t understand something, it’s difficult to relate. But an open mind leads to learning things you may not have known, otherwise. Think about it. Maybe, just maybe, bisexuality is more than just a stop on the road to Gaytown.

 

Hmm… Which shall I choose- Miss Mrs. or Ms.?

 

Hmm… Which shall I choose? Miss Mrs. or Ms.? I possibly knew about this before, but it didn’t occur to me how sexist an issue these three title options were, until after a discussion in Women’s Studies, today. Mrs.  If you’re married, Miss if you’re not, and Ms. for either; or if you’re a feminist. You might recognize Ms. as the title of the women-positive magazine created by Gloria Steinem, a well-known feminist, journalist and political activist for women’s rights. Bet you can guess which title she uses. The need for the use of Ms. instead of Mrs. or Miss was brought on by second wave feminism. However, I remember getting in trouble in middle school for calling my teacher Ms. instead of Mrs. because she’d just been married. Note, I am from the south, and things seem to move a little slower down here.

            It seems so odd that men don’t have this same title trio. Why don’t men have an equivalent to Mrs. for when they’ve been married or Miss equivalent for our single guys out there? Gotta know if he’s a bachelor, right? The need for three title options with women stems from the earliest gender molds of our society.

Those foundations stem way back in the 1700s, even, when women were seen as property to be passed on from father to husband. Women take the man’s last name so why not add a title like Mrs. that emphasizes this, right? Wrong.  Why is it necessary that everyone know whether we’re married based on such a title? We’re no one’s property and we don’t need a stamp of Miss or Mrs. that says we are. As a budding feminist, I love that Ms. is an option. It is the woman’s equivalent to Mr. . It’s a freeing title that attaches to no expectations. Ms. could be a girl, a young woman, a married woman, whatever. None of your business. Just like Mr. implies.  It’s a strong statement to correct someone to call you Ms. as a married woman.I’ll go so far to say, I’d be great for Mrs. and Miss to be eliminated, altogether. They’re definitely not necessary in modern society, that’s for certain.

Why We’re Awesome Series: The Girl Effect

 

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” — Diane Mariechild

Why We’re Awesome- A series spotlighting wonderful organizations that empower women and girls all over the world.

 A few months ago  I learned about The Girl Effect . According to their website :

 

   “Adolescent girls are capable of raising the standard of living in the developing world. Girls are the most likely agents of change, but they are often invisible to their societies and to our media.”

     I agree. The Girl Effect works by a number of wonderful foundations, networks and what The Girl Effect call “Girl Champions” that donate micro loans to women in poverty ridden communities. These micro loans help those women to start businesses in their areas that benefit the locals and most specifically, the girls in their town. This is the Girl Effect. I was so inspired when I saw their video and I’ll honestly never be the same. I know, quite dramatic. However, I’m not even joking. Women are suppressed all over our world and it’s so fascinating to me how much brighter the world could be if women had more power. As noted earlier, women are the most likely agents to create positive change. Now I’m not just saying this.

    That statement’s actually driven by fact. Look at some of the baffling research done by Girl Effect supporters:

“It has been shown that an educated girl will invest 90% of her future income in her family, compared to 35% for a boy.”

  Yet, girls in high-poverty communities are often overlooked for education and the opportunities for success are far less than their male counterparts. There are a lot of social media videos out these days to promote change, but I must say, this one touched me most. I want to do something about this. It’s absolutely ridiculous and almost unbelievable that our world is functioning this way. Why is this even okay? I’m devoting myself to being a part of the positive change with the Girl Effect. I’m a film student and I’d love to write for a living. I know that I can mold my creative career into a helpful voice for female empowerment, and that’s just what I hope to do. It means so much to me that by the time I’m old and grey, this injustice will probably be far less prevalent. And I hope to have some part in that change.