The Gendered History: A Follow-Up

Talking with my metamour recently made me think of and reread my Gendered History series. I feel like it implies that now, I’m completely happy in my body, that I don’t ever question my gender or my pronouns or my presentation, that I never wish I were something different, that I don’t ever have any negative thoughts related to my gender.

Spoiler alert: that’s not true.

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Outside Questions: How can someone tell if they are transgender or genderqueer?

For the first time, I’m tackling a question someone asked elsewhere and posting it here. It’s not an uncommon question, it’s not an easy question, and it’s not even a completely clear question, terminology-wise. How can someone tell if they are transgender or genderqueer?

The first thing I want to address is what may be implied by the “or”. A person can be both transgender and genderqueer. I am one such person! I sometimes shorthand it to “transqueer”, but I also sometimes shorthand “speed limit” to “splimit”. I am genderqueer because that is my gender. I am transgender because my gender does not match my assigned at birth sex, and because I say so. It’s important to note that not all genderqueer people are trans; you only are if you say you are. This is a word you can choose for yourself, not a word you can choose for someone else (excepting cases of choosing for a fictional person, though I know writers who would argue that even the fictional person is choosing for themself and that you’re just writing down their choice).

Second: how can you tell if you’re transgender? Like I said, this is a personal choice. Most people look at the definition of “gender different from the sex assigned at birth” and then, if the definition fits, choose if they wish to use this word. Some people use it for a while and then stop using it for various reasons, none of any more or less value than others. This word is a choice. This word is for YOU to choose for YOU. Not for someone else to choose for you. Not for you to choose for someone else. For you to choose for yourself, and for you to respect another person’s choice regarding whether or not it is used for them.

Third: how can you tell if you’re genderqueer? This is even more personal, I think. This is your personal journey with your gender identity and gender expression and even in what words you like best and least. If you’re not sure, I would start by reading other people’s accounts of their own journeys, or of their feelings and perceptions and experiences of being genderqueer. Here’s mine. Google (or another search engine of your choice) will help you find more, I’m sure.

An extra note: how can you tell if someone else is transgender or genderqueer?

By listening to what they say. By reading what they write in their online profile, on their Facebook page, in a letter or email, on their forehead in Sharpie if that’s how they choose to tell others. If you suspect but aren’t sure, don’t tell others that they are. I would even caution against a straight question, unless you’ve already expressed multiple times (sincerely, honestly, understandably) that you are supportive of this person regardless of their gender. If you haven’t expressed that but want to ask, start expressing it. Make your friendperson feel safe with you, and they’re more likely tell you whether you ask or not. Make them feel unsafe, insecure, or unsure, and they’re not likely to tell you at all.

Notes from a Presentation: An Introduction to Gender Variance

Earlier this year, I conducted a short program for my local PFLAG group titled “An Introduction to Gender Variance”. In 20-30 minutes, I tried to expose this group of almost-entirely cisgender people  to all the lovely varieties of gender out in the world, and it went surprisingly well.

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Cishet – Insult or Innocent Descriptor?

There’s been some discussion lately in a group I’m a part of about the term “cishet” – short for “cisgender and heterosexual” – and whether it’s an insult or just a word to describe a group of people. I’ve actually seen three sides emerge in this debate:

1. It’s an insult. Queer people (and, as it’s often grouped together as “white cishet men”, female people and people of color) use it to attack an entire group of people, disregarding the fact Not All White Cishet Men are against the values of the queer, female people of color. It alienates the allies among cisgender heterosexual people by reducing them to the same level as the attackers, and it should not be used.

2. It’s used as an insult to give the insulting group some sort of power over the majority, seeing as how A Lot Of White Cishet Men participate (knowingly or not) in the oppression of a variety of minorities. Depending on context, it might not be an insult, but it needs to be available to give back some of the power when necessary. Allies should recognize their privilege and be willing to admit to it, part of which is owning their part in the cishet-centric society, but they shouldn’t be attacked with it the way non-allies can be.

3. It’s just a word that describes a person or group of people. If you automatically take it as an insult, that says much more about you than it does about the person who used it. Even it were part of a phrase “white male cishet assholes”, it’s still not an insult – assholes is the insult, and the rest is just to be a bit more specific about exactly which kind of assholes we’re dealing with. Allies can be cishet, but so can assholes; cishet is not the most important word in that phrase.

Has anyone else encountered this debate? What’s your take on it?

The Gendered History, Part 4

This is the conclusion of this weekend series. I’ll be taking the next few weekends off before starting the next series (topic tbd). In the meantime, check back Wednesdays for continued unrelated posts!

The Gendered History is a personal history, the evolution and experience of my gender. As such, this series contains frank discussion of sexual maturation (specifically of the FAAB body & its genitals), gender dysphoria, expressions of dissatisfaction with body shape, disordered eating, direct physical self-harm, depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and similar issues. Other topics mentioned include unsafe chest-binding practices, alcoholism, heterosexism, cissexism, and related.

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Sex vs Gender … Again

It’s a common thing among trans people, especially genderqueers, to talk about identifying with our natal sexes. Some people seem to think that once you go GQ, you don’t look back on your binary past. Others identify as a male genderqueer. As you may imagine, these two views don’t always play well together, and I? I run the middle ground.

I am a FAABGQ – female assigned at birth genderqueer. While I find it overwhelmingly unnecessary (and indeed, sometimes damaging) to include the first part of that when introducing or describing myself, it’s still an important part of me. I’m not female, but I was raised as a female, and I still face many of the same things that females do.

If someone makes a post advising all women to read some important medical thing, I’m going to go and read that important medical thing, because I can be affected by many of the same medical things – problems and hooray-new-drug both – as many women. If someone makes a post called “Ten Things All Women Should Know Before Walking Alone At Night,” I will read it and (depending on content, of course) recommend it to people regardless of their genders. If my sister needs to know it, then I probably need to know it, and even though my brother is large and muscular and fast, it certainly won’t hurt him to know it. I’ve been socialized to expect that it’s more important for me to know it than him, and most people who would cause problems for a woman walking alone at night wouldn’t stop to ask me if I’m a woman before thinking to themselves “small vulnerable person! target!” And because that’s true, and because I was socialized to expect this to happen to me, I have a lot of the same worries that many women do. So women, I hope you don’t mind a GQMF hanging out in your spaces occasionally, looking out for sy health and well-being beside you. And I hope you don’t think that just because I look at these things, I must be a woman, too; my male cousin sent me the last female health alert I read.

I can understand wanting to leave behind a past full of bad memories and misgendering. I can also understand holding onto a past that wasn’t all bad, if a little misguided, because it made you who you are today. What’s right for you isn’t right for others. Let’s move past one invalidating the other and get to that point where we support each other’s differing needs, shall we?

FONSFAQ: Genderqueer, gender expression, gender variance

Frequently (Or Not So Frequently) Asked Questions

Genderqueers, Gender Expression, and Gender Variance

The FONSFAQ project was started quite accidentally by dingsi; you can find more information about its history as well as a full list of subjects that have been covered at the topic masterlist. This particular list was started by pipisafoat, who decided to be productive with all the frustration ou was feeling about people’s general lack of awareness on genderqueer issues. The topic was expanded to be more inclusive, various people asked various questions, and some more people chimed in with answers. The GQ-FONSFAQ was born and continues to grow today. This post is a mirror of the original masterlist on Dreamwidth; most of the answers are hosted on DW as well.

What exactly is the topic of this FONSFAQ?

Genderqueer is a label that many people take as their primary gender identifier; it is also sometimes used as an umbrella term to include people who identify as genderfluid, bigender, transgender, agenda, third gender, etc. You may also see me use the term “GQMF” – this is just something that makes me giggle, and the term should not be taken too seriously. Gender expression is a blanket description of the things all people do that can reveal their gender identity. This includes the clothing/makeup/scents/shoes that people wear, the words that people use to refer to themselves and others, and the way people act. Even if you are not genderqueer, you express your views on gender constantly and probably not consciously. Gender variance, sometimes called gender nonconformity, is gender expression varies from and does not conform to the dominant gender norms – that is, the traditional binary genders of ‘male’ and ‘female’. Any questions or comments relating to these themes are welcome!

Answered Questions: A Link List

Genderqueer And Related Identities

  1. How do you know what gender you are? My question is referring to androgynous people, but also to everyone else on the spectrum: how do you know if the gender you were born with is ‘right’ or not? – answered by pip in an entry and lizcommotion in a comment
  2. What is the difference between being genderqueer and having an unusual but still binary gender presentation? Am I correct in thinking that being transgendered does not necessarily make one genderqueer? – answered by v_angelique in an entry and rhivolution in an entry
  3. How does genderqueer fit into the binary of cisgender and transgender? Is it separate and its own category? Is it possible to be genderqueer but okay with the world assuming you to be your assigned gender? – answered by pip in an entry
  4. Please discuss identity, presentation, and language as it concerns a genderqueer person within a plural group! – answered by haleskarth in an entry
  5. What are the words you use to describe yourself? How have those words changed, and/or what words have you used that you no longer use? – answered by pip in an entry and rabid_bookwyrm in an entry
  6. I’m asexual and genderqueer and I’d love to hear from somebody who’s had more experience with being both. But mostly I’m interested in learning how other people have separates sexual attraction, romantic attraction, and gender orientation? – answered by pip in an entry

Gender Presentation

  1. I’m good with my intellectual genderqueerness, but I’ve put very little effort into presenting it physically. For people who have been through this, where are some good places to start? – answered by pip in an entry and rabid_bookwyrm in an entry
  2. What sort of clothes/shoes do you like, as a genderqueer person, as those are very segregated in department stores? How do you feel about looking for clothes/shoes/other things to wear? Is there a particular style of dressing that you like and you feel adequately addresses your GQ-ness? If no, how do you reconcile this? – answered by pip in an entry
  3. How can presentation be shifted towards neutral while still embracing aspects of feminine and masculine clothing? For example, wanting to wear handmade earrings but still appear neutral or wanting to wear skirts. How can people with genderqueer identities present neutral while wearing gendered clothes and not just wear jeans and a t-shirt all the time? How can one be elegant and gender neutral? – answered by meloukhia in an entry
  4. Personal hygiene – do you prefer typically male or female products? – do you prefer typically male or female products? – answered by pip in an entry

Gendered Language

  1. Pronouns: Aside from the endless hassle of “getting people to use the right one,” what other issues are there? How about any other gendered language? – answered by pip in an entry

Education and Interaction as/with a Genderqueer

  1. I was wondering if anyone here would share their thoughts on gender neutrality as a concept and ways to talk about gender with children. Perhaps there are things you wish your parents had known or thought about while raising you? Perhaps you know of children’s books or media that has positive portrayals of people who don’t fit gender norms? – answered by indywind with a list of links on the subject
  2. How do you deal with being genderqueer in relationships? Telling partners, losing partners because you don’t fit into a “traditional” gender role, etc. – answered by pip in an entry
  3. Do other genderqueer individuals have similar experiences in spaces devoted to their biological sex? i.e., the muddling of sex and gender, the assumptions that they are equivalent and binary, to a degree where it is alienating and painful? What is an appropriate response? Am I the one transgressing into a space I do not belong, or is there a problem with cissexism leaving genderqueer females (or males) out in the cold? – answered by v_angelique in an entry

Debunking Genderqueer Mythologies

  1. ‘Nonbinary people don’t experience dysphoria’ – answered by meloukhia in an entry

Related Links (Please share if you find more!)

All Questions Previously Asked

How To Ask And/Or Answer Questions

This project is an ongoing one for as long as I can hack it. It is absolutely encouraged that you share this list with anyone and everyone. All people are welcome to participate in any way they see fit!

  • Have a question? Leave a comment with it! Please put “Prompt” in the subject line and limit yourself to one topic per comment, but feel free to leave as many prompts as you can think of!
  • Have an answer? Reply to the prompt with “Taken” in the subject line. I encourage you to type an entry and post it to your individual journal/blog or the FONSFAQ community on DW, but if you would prefer to leave a comment for an answer – better than nothing, so go for it! Please remember to leave a link to your answer when you post it. There can be an infinite number of answers to a question – please feel free to throw in your views on something that someone else has already weighed in on!
  • Have a topic you’d like to talk about that hasn’t been prompted yet? Leave a comment on this entry saying what it is and that you have taken it. Write your entry, post it, and leave us a link!
  • There is only one rule: be respectful of everyone. Any topic is welcome; just do your best to present it without insulting anyone. (A lot can be forgiven, but making an effort goes a long way towards that forgiveness.)