Columns Dec 10, 2014 at 4:00 am

Gender Solid


Oh, also, if I actually did tell people I was a woman, I'd be in the incredibly awkward position of having to say, "I am a woman, but I will be upset with you if you call me one. I also will be upset if you refer to me as a girl or lady or any other similar term." I don't think it makes a lot of sense to identify as something that I cannot stand being called. And while I do not feel like I am a man, I mind a whole lot less being called a "man" or "boy" or "guy". Although I think that's due to the general sexism in our culture. Male is treated as a default so often that my mind rejects it less. I don't feel it's any more true of me. But regardless of how I identify, there is still the basic fact that I have never, in my entire life, been comfortable being referred to by female-gendered terms. So, I'm not going to be able to be close to someone or really trust them if they can't respect that. And the nongender label makes so much sense of that preference that it seems outright stupid not to adopt it and use it.
@57. Well, I'm going to try to answer your questions, because I think they are perfectly reasonable and are being asked for the right reason (to educate, not mock.) And you certainly, IMO, are NOT being rude or snide.

*How do you you see yourself?

Well, until I bought a house that was female (house's idea, not mine) I viewed myself as very similar to a house in terms of gender. (Think about it, it will make sense.

*Is it just as a person? Is it something else, too?

My definition of personhood is different, I think, from most folks, so I see myself as a person, but I think other people assume that a person is a human with a known gender, so in that way, I'm not their kind of person. But to me, gender isn't part of personhood (and neither is species....)

*Do you believe that you have a more impoverished or an enhanced experience/sense of self, or merely a different one than someone who feels like a man or woman? From uncreative's descriptions I can see feeling left out of something, but I can't tell if that bothers you--it doesn't seem to--or if you feel that you have something else.

I think on some level it is impovershing in this society, actually. So much of our identity is defined for us. One is a good girl or a good boy and what makes a good boy is different from what makes for a good boy (or at least, this was true when I was young) and so there was a lot of praise that amounted to "you are suppressing yourself, GOOD." That's not what they meant, but that's how it came across -- the more I tried to be both a good girl and good boy (because that was the middle ground in my young head) the more trouble it was because those were different things.

Also, you are divided up into girls vrs. boys sometimes, and you are supposed to identify with them, and it's very awkward when you don't get it. It's like not speaking the language at a college party.

Later on you get pegged as hot or not, and of course, that has higher stakes but is a lot like the good girl/good boy disaster from years before.

All in all, I think I felt most like a human in 7th and 8th grade, when I was past the good boy/good girl mess of elementary school and not quite into the hot or not mess of high school. After that, it's been kind of awkward when I'm not at home or among friends that get it.In general, I'd say that dating makes it worse, because people are very interested in your precise gender.

That said... I think I've been forced to know myself better than other people. They can chalk so much of their life up to 'it's a girl thing' or 'it's a guy thing.' I've been forced to consider my motives much more than others. But it also makes me perhaps self-focused because I'm always trying to hit some medium, where they don't have to think about that as much.

*If you divorce the notion of gender from gender norms and roles, if you believe and acknowledge that any human experience is open to and possible for for any human being (men who cook or nurse, women mechanics and firefighters; men knitters, women football players, etc.) then what do you ground that "feeling like a man" or "feeling like a woman" in?

Mostly it's people talking about how much they love being female or male. They just have a certain quality about them when they talk about this, that I never have. And their body so rarely seems to cause them genuine discomfort. Everyone has days where they feel ugly or chubby or greasy or gross, but I deal with a general sense of wrongness everyday. I've argued often that I put on male clothes and manage to look like I'm very young and borrowed my brother's clothes, but I put on female clothes and I end up looking like a 14 year old drag queen :/

*Do you identify as your biological sex, like male or female, or do those terms fail to capture you, too?

Which pronouns do you prefer?

No, I really don't identify as my biological sex. I tolerate it. However, I use the pronouns I was blessed with at birth. To do otherwise is just to be disruptive, IMO, for no gain.
@ uncreative - Thank you for your posts on this topic. Do you by any chance know of any research that has been done with an eye towards understanding agender-identified folks (maybe something like the MRI studies they've done for folks who identify as transgendered?) I've dug around in Google Scholar several times now trying to find something but I've had no luck at all.
@EricaP - I don't know why people with sex urges but not partnered sex urges are taking the label asexual rather than kinky or abstinent. An attraction to oneself or nonhuman things seems like a kink or unusual bend in sexuality. But I'm not sure why you would announce this kink with a different label than abstinent or just plain kinky. And I think the meaning of asexual as a lack of sex organs or lack of sex drive seems much more clear and useful.

@Uncreative - So much of what you say mirrors how I feel - I don't have a strong feeling that one gender is better, they are just different with different strengths and weaknesses. I think I would feel disoriented more than disappointed with a new body, I feel like I've spent a lot of effort getting to know how this one works but I could get used to a new one. But it doesn't feel weird to be called a woman or she. And I haven't heard the same comments about feeling like a woman that you have, it's always seemed to signify an acceptance of sex organs and typically female priorities. I've never felt less like a woman by having masculine interests too. Your comments of feeling like a woman or man seem to be based on something else. Beyond physical characteristics, behaviors, and preferences, I don't know what makes a person different from others. Maybe a soul or that sort of abstract concept? If you're not talking about sex characteristics, gender roles, or masculine/feminine values, then this seems to be pretty subjective or spiritual.
Thank you, both uncreative and MameSnidely, for your answers. You've both given me much to think of. You strike me as being pioneers.

I suppose it's the idea that you might feel a sense of absence that troubled me. Like defining yourself in terms of what you're not, as opposed to what you are.
It sounds like there is a certain amount of that, but it also sounds as though you don't experience any or too much angst about it. Anyway, I'm grateful to you for taking the time to explain more thoroughly and answer my questions.
@105 Alas, no. But I'd be fascinated by such research. I hope it happens someday or is out there somewhere.

@106 You're kind of asking the wrong person. Ask someone who has a gender what it means to have a gender. I just assume it means something, because other people tell me it does. I don't have any sense of what it means to "feel like a woman" or "feel like a man". I just assume it has meaning, since so many people say it does for them. And if it didn't have meaning, then why would so many people take issue to being put into the wrong gender category?

I guess it's probably for the same reason I do? I don't like being labeled a woman or a man, because I feel like I'm living a lie. I feel like a poser. I am just faking being something that doesn't feel real to me. I guess for some people any category other than "man" or any category other than "woman" feels that way for them.For me, any gender category feels that way and always has. But I don't know what it is based on. I've often wondered it myself. I do know that it takes conscious effort (although less in adulthood than when I was younger, due to practice) to make sure I always consciously remember that I am marked as "girl"/"woman". To remember to join the right line, to use the right restroom, to respond correctly. To not misidentify my gender. Passing as a girl/woman has always been a thing I had to put effort into doing. And part of being older is much more acceptance of just giving up on stupid shit I was taught to do as a kid. I don't want to play that game. I don't want to try to pass as a woman. I want to be comfortable as myself. And my real friends will be on board with me doing so and give me some basic respect toward that. In exchange, I try hard not to disrespect the idea that it is actually meaningful and relevant to some of them to be accepted as a man or as a woman. I don't need to get it; I just need to respect it.
Ms Erica - I've used Mx here before once or twice, and had no idea it was really A Thing.

I'm tempted to ask for hands up from any women here who were ever called "Mrs [Husband's first name] [Husband's last name]". Until about 15-17 years ago, there were a handful of special bridge games after which results were reported by telephone, we were always provided with a sample script, which used that style of address. It ran something like, "First overall in the Mixed Pairs were player number -------, Mr Robert Ferrars, and player number -------, Mrs John Dashwood - when you write about her, her first name is Fanny." I remember once about twenty years ago getting curious and going through the printout of just over 4,000 members in our unit to count how many Mrs Him-Hims we had. We had zero.
On the one hand I think it's great that people are talking about and questioning gender so much. That can only, in the end, be a good thing.

On the other, I see seeds of misogyny in how it plays out a lot of the time (as this seems to most often be female-bodied people abandoning the woman-identifying ship). OF COURSE you don't want to be a woman. Being a woman in this culture sucks. As a butch/genderqueer woman myself, I often say that if it weren't for feminism, I'd be some kind of trans. I didn't want to be like those icky girls into shallow things. But I learned early on that there was a battle going on in the world and, like it or not, as a "tomboy" I was on the bleeding edge of it. I found solace in my shared experiences with other women, even though I saw, and to a large extent still do, see myself as very different from most of them. We had a shared oppression growing up in this culture that deeply, deeply shaped us.

But rejecting "woman" as part of your identity doesn't solve any of that. If anything it further narrows the definition of what woman can be. I think a woman can be anything she wants to be, including manly as fuck. When I see anyone remotely gender-nonconforming calling themselves not-a-woman, over and over and over again, I am troubled by the impression it gives -- unintentionally I am sure -- that to not fit in society's mold of what a woman is is to not BE a woman. It says that if you feel x or y, then it's not just that "woman" contains multitudes, it's that you must not be one. It says a woman probably can't be x or y.

I also think that a lot of these people like to pretend they know more about gender and how it works than they do, and I find it infuriating, particularly when people act like there are cut and dried lines between their label and someone else's. NONE of us get it, ok? Everything is blurry! It's an extremely complex psycho-social phenomenon! And a whole, whole lot of it is learned (or intentional) performance, not some innate thing (although there is certainly something deeply innate at work, as PART of it). It's not a binary, but it's not a spectrum either with neatly delineated lines. That, too, is overly reductive.

Like Dan says, you can't pick any one person and be like "you're abandoning feminism and reinforcing essentialism, you gendertrender!" But as a PATTERN, I find it deeply troubling. And I think we can support people living with whatever gender identity makes them happy while still being cautious and self-examining about ways sexism might be at work sometimes.
I'm disappointed, Dan. While it's true that the proliferation of gender choices can be confusing, this results from our social insistence that until we know whether someone is male or female, we can't know how to interact. Our very first question about a new baby is often "What is it" as though the bits between its legs will tell us something about who this new person is, or what they will become. Is it any wonder we have so far to go wrt sexism?

If you turn that around and let go of the idea of gender as identity, most of these other issues simply evaporate. Use neutral terms as the default and you can stop worrying about remembering what each person wants. Let go of the idea that there are two boxes people should fit and most of the issues with transphobia dissipate.

By setting a tone of patronizing exhaustion in your answers you've encouraged one of the less tolerant strings of responses I've ever seen.
It has been very helpful to read your posts, uncreative. I feel similarly (neither boy nor girl, neither man nor woman), except for one small difference which has given me cis-privilege. When you say @103:

>> while I do not feel like I am a man, I mind a whole lot less being called a "man" or "boy" or "guy". >>

That's how I feel about being called a girl or a woman.

It doesn't feel "real" to me, but I don't mind when people see me that way. And, conveniently, I was assigned female at birth.

But I don't "feel" female the way I feel human. I feel sure I'm not just a mammal; I'm a human mammal. And in particular I'm a kinky, loud human mammal.

As for being female, well, okay, I'm American and I'm female, but those are boxes society puts me in, rather than things I feel organically.
I have never thought about how I feel I'm a woman; I've never identified it as somehow distinct from my humanity.

And this isn't about gender roles or norms, because I've frequently made jokes that I'm not "really a girl," despite wearing makeup and dresses, because I seemed to lack some skills that many other girls and women seem to do effortlessly, and because I'm not grossed out by most things that typically seem to bother women. But that was always just a joke. I've always felt female: when I was young, I felt like a girl; when I got older, I felt like a woman. When I was a girl, people often mistook me for a boy as a matter of fact: I developed breasts and hips kind of late--kind of hilariously ironic now, given my proportions--I wore my hair very short--now, as well as then--and I dressed in boys' clothes (Levi's extra-slim jeans with extra-reinforced knees). I was always mightily offended. So I understand that I felt that there was something baseline "girl" about me which was being overlooked because I didn't conform to stereotypical "girl" presentation. But my "girlness" was real to me, and I didn't see it as dependent on how I presented or what interests I had. It just was.

I wouldn't even say it has any special meaning for me. It would be like saying that being human has meaning for me. I like MameSnidely's comparison of being like a house--that's how I feel about being a woman. I don't choose it and it's not an add-on. It's just part of my existence.

Wow. This is very thought-provoking.
@Uncreative - Thanks for the response. It's disconcerting to hear such similarities yet differences in gender perception. I bet it has to do with the people we're around; the most unusual parts of your descriptions seem to be what other women say to you. I don't know any women who talk much about being women beyond practical considerations. Thanks for sharing your perspective.
@110 Then why aren't my cis-male friends abandoning feminism by identifying as men? Why do you want me to identify as a woman when I am no more one than they are? I have never had any attachment to it? When I strongly suspected for years that I was physically not a woman, because it never felt right? As I said, it was only the very late and eventual emergence of my menstrual cycle that convinced me that I was physically female, because I couldn't think of a way that that could be reasonably faked. Does that sound like what it's like to be a woman to you? To constantly expect to learn that you aren't actually a girl? To expect your body to not develop into a typical woman's body with puberty? And if not, then why do you think other genderqueer folk have any less reason than I do?

But really, I'd feel dishonest if I went around telling people about my experiences as a girl/woman. About how being one was mainly about constantly feeling like you're lying and not really a woman. I think me identifying as a woman weakens feminism. I think me embracing the fact that some people can truly feel like a woman and still do whatever they want and behave in a vast array of ways strengthens feminism.

I see the value of including sportiness within the category of being a woman. Of including daintiness. Of including attraction to women. Of including almost anything... but I don't see the value of including not ever feeling like a woman as one of the valid ways a woman can be a woman.

And again, my not identifying as a woman has zero to do with what masculine or feminine traits I have (I don't actually know which traits are masculine and which are feminine... it's hard for me to keep track, and I don't think that way). I didn't reject it because of gender roles. It has zero to do with gender roles. And people seem to keep wanting to make it about them. But you could redefine what it means to act like a woman to be "to act exactly like uncreative does in all things" and then you could criticize women for being unfeminine when they don't write long rambly comments on slog or otherwise act like me, and it wouldn't make me feel any more like a woman. There's no gender role set that would make me feel like a woman. The only mold I felt pushed into that I didn't want to be in was that of being seen as a woman. And I'm not nongender because I'm manly. I am equally not a man as I am not a woman. Man fits me and fails to fit me precisely as well as woman does.

Basically, I don't know why you are so hung up on my genitals. Usually I don't talk about them, and I don't think they're other people's business. But here people are, trying to say what I am purely and utterly based on my genitals. That feels kind of disturbing, actually.

Also, on a side note, there are people who were identified male at birth who are also agender.
#25. But aren't you just reinforcing gender norms if you say "Men don't wear lacy panties (or whatever) and I wear lacy panties so therefore I cannot be a man I must be genderqueer."?

Yep. Trans and genderqueer people do as much to reinforce gender stereotypes as religious fundamentalists do.
@ nocutename - "I'm not trying to be snide or to defend old gender norms or roles. I'm trying to see where I get my sense of being a woman comes from or if that is different from my feeling of being female or my knowledge that biologically and genetically I'm a cis-gendered female. It makes me wonder where this sense of ourselves as gendered comes from, beyond culture."

This is by no means a complete answer but I would like to provide the information I have on the topic: Our gender comes, at least in part, from the physical structure of our brains.

Please forgive the following gross oversimplifications: men have more gray matter (in terms of computers, think of gray matter as your hard drive plus your processor - that is where your information is stored and, well, processed) while women have more white matter (think of white matter as your RAM and your bus - it controls how quickly your information gets delivered). Even before beginning hormone therapy, trans* women have brains that are physically more like cis women than like cis men and trans* men have brains that are physically more like cis men than like cis women.

I don't know yet how agender identification fits into this. I've tried to research it a few times with no luck at all. But if I may hazard a guess... (And not even an educated guess - this is pure conjecture on my part.) I wonder if gender is a spectrum like sexuality. Some people feel VERY female or VERY male while some people feel not female or male at all. And if that's the case, it might be a function of hormones (which might help to explain why some people identify as gender fluid) or it might be tied to the physical structure of the brain or who knows what.

But I do believe that if we are patient, science will eventually fill in the gaps (if it hasn't already). And we will learn, as we have so many times before, that the people who told us who they are were right all along. And anyone who told them they were wrong about who they are was just plain ignorant.*

*disclaimer: Yada yada teenagers yada yada brain development isn't complete until you're 25 yada yada that's not an excuse to be a dick and it doesn't mean they're wrong just because they're young. Yada.
@ uncreative - Damn. Well, I had to ask. And thanks anyway. I'll keep digging around and WHEN I come across something ('cause if it's not out there now, it's just a matter of time until it is) I'll be sure to give you a heads up and a link in one of Dan's comments sections so you can read it, too. =)
Oh and PS, do NOT call me cis-male. I am male or a man. That is how I choose to identify myself.
@120, fine. Then I won't presume to guess if you were raised male or not.
When I was about 5, I was given a book on the difference between boys and girls. I remember this book because it clarified why I was called a girl although most of my neighbors and playmates were boys - and we had fun with our stupid fort and explorer games so I couldn't tell what made them different from me. The book told me that gender wasn't about behavior or preferences but about biology. Men had penises and women had vaginas, and that shaped my view.

My family didn't treat good boys and good girls much differently. Except I wasn't invited hunting. That was wrong.

If gender doesn't mean physical sex characteristics and their consequences anymore, I hope the new meaning whatever it turns out to be is helpful. I hope it's not "women are shallow and men are pushy" or other bigoted bs.
@25 >> aren't you just reinforcing gender norms if you say "Men don't wear lacy panties (or whatever) and I wear lacy panties so therefore I cannot be a man I must be genderqueer."? >>

We currently have a lot of gender coding in our society. I don't believe it should be legally or socially mandated, but if people want to send certain signals by dressing by, for instance, the female code, I think that's their right, whatever gender they were assigned at birth.

But I personally don't feel female, and wouldn't know I'm female if society didn't tell me so. So I do feel gender-neutral. And conversely I know transwomen who feel like women regardless of their style of underwear.

@122 My personal view is women are people who identify as women. Men are people who identify as men. But that tells you nothing about whether or not the person will help you build a fort, what they like to wear, whether or not they are shallow, etc. It's the only distinction I can find between men and women that seems to make sense and hold up. And I'm pretty okay with things if that's the way it is used in the future.
This comments thread is so interesting. I was born female and have never felt anything but female for my life. I've also been a "Mrs." for 20 years and never felt at odds with it. I think I've learned quite a lot reading posts from people who have different feelings about their gender.
I wonder how pregnancy and childbirth fits into this? Being pregnant really underlined being female for me. Although I guess someone born female and gender neutral could definitely become a mother and still be gender neutral? I think contemplating parenthood is pretty far off for a lot of the college-age people mentioned in the first letter, and they will maybe change parenthood roles and responsibilties to fit their identities.
@125, yup, bearing two children didn't make me understand what it's like to feel female. It felt like I had an alien inside me, though one I didn't worry would eat me alive after it came out. As it turns out, they do eat you alive. I should have worried more about that.
Yeah, but don't they EricaP@126?
They also nourish and keep warm a part in one's heart.
@124 If we're going to divorce being female as well as being a woman from having female genitalia then I am lost. How can you possess female genitalia and not feel like you do, and how can it be healthy to formally reject reality by identifying as something other than female? You can already choose to formally change sex if you want, it involves a lot more than a feeling. When did we start having to comply with the sex preferences of those we're not sleeping with? This seems pushy, the demand to recognize someone's discomfort with their sex, and TMI for acquaintances. I don't think I can change my viewpoint of gender and sex any more than those who have a different viewpoint of gender and sex that works for them. I don't think there's a 'right' answer here; I'll continue to use women/she/her to describe cis women or people who seem to present as women by default because it is useful for me. But I respect at least one known genderfluid person (Uncreative) and I'd like to show that by using their chosen pronoun.
Oops that should have been @125,126. Female means having female sex organs in all animals. Woman is a word that is has more cultural connotations, the concept of the human female. But I'm sure female just means the equipment of XX possessing animals.
@129 Thank you. As a point of clarification/education, and I know it's a lot to take in... I am not genderfluid. People who are genderfluid identify as having a gender that changes, often daily or even throughout the day. I've never felt like my gender has changed. It and my preferences are fairly consistent from day to day. I simply feel like I've come to a better understanding, ability to have words to explain, and acceptance for my own lack of gender. I don't know what it's like to be genderfluid, which is a different way of being nonbinary/genderqueer. I haven't met anyone who identifies as genderfluid, to my knowledge. So, I just am not going to try to in any way represent genderfluid people. However, I do feel that a bit more understanding of anyone in the nonbinary category can help people see how someone might choose to identify as one of the options that is neither man nor woman.

I'm also not gender neutral, because I see that term most often used for people who feel like they fit on a gender spectrum, but are right around the middle of it.I get that view, and I can see how maybe if my life and upbringing had gone differently that might fit me. Maybe? Hard to say. But I don't really feel like I'm on a gender spectrum, because I don't naturally view some traits as masculine traits and other traits as feminine traits for me to be a mix of. I just view gender as entirely about self-identification. So, since I don't identify as a woman, I don't feel halfway away from it.

But the distinction between those who feel like they are on a gender spectrum, but aren't at either of the ends and those like me who don't feel like we are on one at all isn't a difference that will usually matter.

And I really do wish people were simpler. It'd be a lot easier for everyone if there were fewer types of human experiences. I blame there being over seven billion people on the planet. With that many people, you are going to get a lot of weird variations on human experience. And even the minority experiences will often present in many different people. I think the saying goes, "If you're one in a million, then there are a thousand of you in China."
Ha ha ... everyone wants to be a snowflake.
Uncreative. For one. You are not a man, so how do you know what it feels like to be a man? Don't have to ever use those smelly( I assume) public urinals.
Or scratch your balls. Or cover an erection on a train with a newspaper, because another passenger has taken your fancy. Etc..
I really don't think " feeling like a Woman", is , for me, any more than being in my experiences. I just have these experiences in a woman's body.

@133 I do not know what it is like to feel like a man. I am not a man, and I do not claim to be a man. However, I do not consider familiarity with a menstrual cycle to make me a woman. I know women who do not have a menstrual cycle, and I've known a man who does. Gender is not about genitals. The mtf and ftm community has worked hard to get that message out. And there's a huge amount of evidence that it is true. So, I don't see any argument based on the details of my physical body to be relevant to my gender.
As a non-binary identified (assigned female at birth) trans person in my mid-40s married to a trans man, the younger generation's exploration of gender has finally given a name and what is starting to feel like a legitimate space for the way I've always viewed my gender. Don't be fooled into thinking that these "new" genders are actually new at all. The open conversation is new; some of the terminology is new. But the gender identities themselves are not new. In fact, many cultures have had places within their societies for people who fit into some of these supposedly "new" gender identities.
Ms Kitty - But do we really *want* science to find The Answer? I don't trust humans with Absolute Truth on gender any more than I trust them with it on sexuality.


Personally I am happy to file the whole gender question under Holmes-Sun-Earth as I can't conceive of the answer mattering, but I respect those who find the question absorbing and worth their effort.
@16, EricaP :"I'm pretty sure everyone in the room dislikes when people get their pronouns wrong. You mean: "Isn't it okay for JUST the ONE person in the room without the privilege if being able to assume strangers will get it right to share that," I think."

Yes, that's what I meant. It IS a privilege to have people know my gender just by looking at me (or at least it's not a pain in the ass I need to clarify). But I can never give that privilege of correct assumption to the sexually ambiguous, as lovely as that would be. So why is it wrong to simply have ONLY those that WISH to clarify do so? As Seandr, @34 said, to "take one for the team?" Political correctness can be so goddamn tedious!

@Auntie G, thanks, so far so good... he's coming home tomorrow!
@15: I wish I'd read your comment before I posted because I could've pretty much just said, "Ditto @15."
@137, how long does it take to say the words "and my pronouns are she and her" after saying your name? About 2 or 3 seconds. Times 25 people, that added about a minute and fifteen seconds to the total time you were listening to the introductions.

And by taking that minute and fifteen seconds, the student leaders conveyed how strongly they feel about supporting people who are less privileged. At the moment, the issue was gender. But everyone in the room probably has some area in which they are the less privileged, whether through learning disability, race, class, chronic illness, whatever. Standing up for the less privileged is a powerful signal, and I'm glad the student leaders chose to do so.
AMAB, genderfluid / genderqueer, age 42.

Tell me Dan,

Why would I reject my socialised white / cis / gay / male / privilege(s), and come out of this new sort of closet, only to be misgendered at best, and at worst, maligned, misunderstood, or even mocked by friends, acquaintances, and of course, cis society, for the sake of anything, other than, my own path and life experiences of finding my personal truth from this sort of self discovery?

To follow anyone other than my own heart and intuition, is simply not in my nature.

I applaud those among the younger generation for providing much needed visibility to non binary and lesser known trans identities. There is a huge difference between increased visibility and discussion and a 'trend' Policing how others self identify is BAD.

To say otherwise makes you sound like a right wing conservative writing on an unfamiliar subject, such as say, homosexuality in 1978.

This newfound visibility reminds me much of coming of age in the 80's/90's and the LOUD struggle and gradual changes in mainstream culture of Gay Men's acceptance (and AIDS activism)

We're here, we're genderqueer, GET USED TO IT.

I don't have 'preferred' pronouns, I have 'required' pronouns, if you would like any acknowledgement or response from me.
@131 If you are thanking me for the pronoun, then I thank you for your reasonable courteous presence. I respect that. And apologies for the mistaken label, my memory is horrible.

I think gender is about genitals. And I hope that those who disagree aren't going to push their opinion of what else gender is on me. They can create new definitions and norms and that's fine as long as I'm not expected to agree. I can however learn new courtesy.
Sex is about genitals. Gender is much bigger. Please don't conflate the two.
@142 What is gender about to you that doesn't involve XX and XY norms?

And fuck off, if I see masculinity and femininity as the bare bones differences based on typical XX or XY genitalia, that's my fucking goddam opinion. Mother fucking thought police.
@143. Not for a lack of desire, but I don't think I nor anyone on this thread could provide proper education if you go in with your mind closed up that way. If that's how you want to live, that's fine, but I don't think you should hang out on the slog, especially not in Savage Love column comments.
@144 How was this educational? You shushed me and didn't answer my question. Perhaps you could practice teaching a little more.
@143 I assume you mean based on visual genitalia, not based on actual genetics? Since actual genetics has not been used as a determiner of sex or gender by any society for any significant length of time and badly conflicts with what most societies view of gender has been throughout history. You might find it worth reading this article about the attempts to define gender (for purposes such as Olympic competitions) and how it turns out it is actually impossible to come up with any definition that definitively determines who is "male" and who is "female" that matches with any typical view of "male" and "female". Unfortunately, it no longer is regularly on the internet, but does exist on the wayback machine:">…
Uncreative; " Gender is not about genitals", ??
Er, yes, Gender is about Genitals.
I am a Woman ( Gender), because I have a fanny , into which has gone a dick( belonging to the Male Gender), and out of which has come babies and blood..
My periods are no longer happening. My Gender is still female.
Gender Identity is not only about Genitals. As we see, the mind has a powerful influence on how people experience their own Gender. Or non Gender.

@147 If you prefer, "Gender is not defined by genitals". You can define your gender on the basis of your genitals; that's fine. However, it's no more nor less valid than someone who defines their gender on a completely different basis. So, in general, gender is not about genitals. It simply happens to be the case that for you personally, your gender is linked to that. If somebody said their gender is based on height, it would not make gender be defined by height, even if their gender were defined that way.
As yet another person who both wants to be sensitive to the struggles of others, but is annoyed to the point of wanting to punch someone with the exhausting, ever changing, special-snowflakey-attention-grabbing minutiae of today's gender politics, I approached this from some speculative science philosophy and finally found a paradigm that made sense (and prevented the punching). Two assumptions:

1) Gender and chromosomal sex usually align in an individual, but not always.

2) Gender itself is a continuum with more than one axis*.

*Axis A is male - female; Axis B is feeling strongly identified with a gender - not feeling strongly identified with a gender. (Either of these axes might be more of a switch than an axis, but until we have more answers as to the biological basis of these developments, we can only speculate.)

Taking the two things above as facts allows one to see where all these new terms are coming from, and helps connect them to an experience as old as humanity itself.

For example: If you have an XX or XY chromosome, you will be born female or male as the chromosome dictactes. But if you are born with an XXY, or an X, or an XYY, some other chromosomal abnormality, or if you suffer some variety of damage in the womb, you will be born intersex. This does not mean that you cannot strongly feel that you are male or female, whatever your genitals look like, as gender is almost certainly decided by a particular brain formation, which can be made separately from the processes that create the penis/vagina. As humans rely on visual cues to tell us information about gender, however, others' opinions may not coincide with the individual's. (Also doctors tend to unilaterally "decide" a child's gender by operation in these situations, which is completely horrible and will hopefully stop happening soon - dependent on parents being brave enough to tell the doctors "no".)

Alternative example: A child is born with a perfectly average XX or XY development and comes out as male or female, sex-wise. But the gender process in their case did not align, and they tipped along one of the axes in an unexpected direction. There are a lot of varieties possible here: feeling strongly that you are the opposite gender from your sex, usually causing a strong craving for surgical reassignment; feeling mildly that you are the opposite gender from your sex, usually able to shuffle along with the body nature gave you; feeling completely ungendered, and somewhat uncomfortable with the box society is trying to put you in regarding your sex; and of course the more common occurrences where people feel strongly or mildly aligned with their birth sex.

And, you can really go wild with this paradigm when you add sexuality to the mix, which is aligned with neither sex nor gender, and probably also has its own two axes: a) strong attraction to female genitalia – a strong attraction to male genitalia and b) strongly attracted to genitalia themselves – less attracted to genitalia themselves. So this leads you to some of the ludicrous seeming extremes that can be found at the corners of the movement: a female-born, non-gender-identified person attracted to females (I literally know a person like this) or an intersex-born male-identified person attracted more to personality then specifically what genitals their partners have and thus settle on the identity ‘pansexual’ and wears raccoon tails to conventions (sorry, sorry… but this was a person whose life story I read about on the Internet). And so on, and so forth.

Aside from all this variety - which I believe has always been present in the human population, just covered over by different phrases ("third gender" "other-spirited" "lady-boy" etc.) and variant tolerances for human individuality - there is an entirely separate thing going down, which is college students being absolutely insufferable and wanting to believe that Their Slight Difference From The 'Norm' Is The Worst Pain Ever And Life Is So Hard And Everyone Should Make Way For My Current Preference Or I Can Call Them A Bigot If I Wanna (And Feel Extremely Superior While I Do). This too is an ancient trait running through humanity. I have deep sympathy for those who feel strongly misaligned with their physical gender, and who face violence and displacement from society as a result, and support them getting access to surgery so that they can feel at ease in their own bodies, something that most of us take for granted. Those who feel mildly non-conforming and want the entire planet to know about it, I have zero patience for. Life is as complex as it is short, and I'm going to save the moments I have to spare for trans people arguing for them not be murdered or live their lives in terror for what God and nature have implacably caused to be.

TL;DR Nature created all these weird, wonderful variants of people and let’s all remember – on both sides – not to be jerks to each other mmmmkay? Mmkay then.
Hang in there Philo. Geez.
148. Yep. And the World is flat.. I know we have got to this point before, and it's Xmas.. So I'm not gonna battle you. And I fully respect that people are free to call themselves , whatever name they wish. And to identify with whatever Gender they wish to identify with.
Or identify as having no Gender. As is the case with yourself, uncreative.

@8 I think things like introductions including pronouns at a big gathering like at the college is just going to piss people off rather than build "sensitivity". Who's going to even remember that person's name after 24 other people speak, much less their preferred pronouns? Or if someone works in a shop or something, do they really need to get all worked up if a random customer refers to them as "he" or "she" in passing?

It's not really staying closeted to not feel the need to say, "Welcome, my name is Dan, I'll be your gay waiter today." I don't really need to know the waiter's name, much less their sexual preferences and pronouns. With people that someone interacts with regularly, I can see then saying, "I'd appreciate it if you'd refer to me as 'zim'", or whatever.
@140. I have no problem with how people self identify. Your right. Your business.
What I have a problem with, is people trying to tell me that Gender is some airy fairy thing. I have a problem with people trying to convince me, that my female bits and bobs , somehow, isn't a Gender.
Having given birth to six children and Breast fed those kids for a total
of 12 yrs.. I'm pretty sure my Gender is Female.
@149. I agree, no Violence should come to anybody, in any of their self expressions.. Either self violence or violence from others.
Obviously, for some people the disconnect with their birth sex is very strong.
That the stage seems now( at least in the US), to be so crowded with every
man( or non man) and his dog, just makes it appear as a fad, for some people.
And that, can be dangerous. Because a lot of people will jump on a fad, to deal with inner pain that is not even remotely connected to their Gender.

@155 I don't think anybody is trying to do that. If you tell me that is true for you, then I have no reason to believe it is not. I believe that your gender is female and that it is related to your physical bits. That is true for you. Absolutely.

However, I am going to say that it is not universal. That what is an accurate statement about you is not necessarily an accurate statement about someone else. I will say that you are the best judge of what your gender is.

But I do not want to in any way claim you are not female or not a woman or that your body is not important and relevant to your gender, LavaGirl.
Uncreative; so has the definition of what Gender is, been changed?
Has the US got a new dictionary out that I haven't seen?
Uncreative ; I don't doubt your self perceptions. This whole area is very confusing.
I do feel that there is a faddish quality to it.
Some young kids, trying to cope with their inner confusions about their pains- read all these gender- issues etc.. And go" hey, there's my problem." I'll go get myself turned into the other sex. Problem solved. People talk about it all with such hushed reverence, and yet it needs to be strongly worked thru. So susceptible kids just don't jump on some band wagon..
I think Dan is brave to keep fronting this area with some bite in his tongue.
You, a nearly 40 yr old person, I assume, have worked thru your self issues with some maturity.
Of course, not Everyone shows hushed reverence.
Just from down under here, the US seems to excel at trying to change everything.
Your fanny looks wrong, go get it cut into shape. Your boobs aren't big enough, here let's cut them and shove some gel bag in there. Or whatever they do to tits, these days.. Faces? Shit, can't have Faces actually looking like you've lived with it for your 50 yrs , here, let's make you look 20 yrs old again. Crazy stuff. And now Gender.

@157, take a look at the many definitions posted for "gender" at

Google's dictionary says gender is: "the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones)."
I don't get what's so fucking difficult about live and let live. Or in this case, live and let live and learn other peoples' preferred pronouns. I'm a cisgendered queer woman and I have loads of friends and community who identify all over the gender spectrum (and not that it's that relevant, but I'm 30 and said friends and community are anywhere from early 20s through 70s, easily). I definitely don't have everyone's specific label memorized and I don't "understand" what all of them mean or what it feels like to be that way but that's not important. I have respect for other peoples' lived experiences, I assume that they're the authority on their own gender, not me or anyone else. I listen, I apologise if I use the wrong pronoun by accident, I try harder.

The snark in some of these comments and Dan's original post make me sick. Dan, I've been a fan of yours for years, I've learned a lot from you and I refer a lot of my friends to savage love and the lovecast, but the eye rolling when you talk about this kind of thing is getting super old and it's offensive. Grow up and move on already. Who cares if you think someone's being a special snowflake? just try to use the right pronoun and shut up about it otherwise.
I don't get what's so fucking difficult about live and let live. Or in this case, live and let live and learn other peoples' preferred pronouns. I'm a cisgendered queer woman and I have loads of friends and community who identify all over the gender spectrum (and not that it's that relevant, but I'm 30 and said friends and community are anywhere from early 20s through 70s, easily). I definitely don't have everyone's specific label memorized and I don't "understand" what all of them mean or what it feels like to be that way but that's not important. I have respect for other peoples' lived experiences, I assume that they're the authority on their own gender, not me or anyone else. I listen, I apologise if I use the wrong pronoun by accident, I try harder. Mostly, though, we talk about other things.

The snark in some of these comments and Dan's original post make me sick. Dan, I've been a fan of yours for years, I've learned a lot from you and I refer a lot of my friends to savage love and the lovecast, but the eye rolling when you talk about this kind of thing is getting super old and it's offensive. Grow up and move on already. Who cares if you think someone's being a special snowflake? just try to use the right pronoun and shut up about it otherwise.
I hope Ms Sissou will materialize and provide the French perspective. As possessives refer to the object rather than the possessor, and as native speakers grow up attaching gender to nouns in general, it would be interesting to learn if/how differently structured languages enter the discussion.
PAUSE: Your daughter is who she is, and whether or not she labels herself as asexual doesn't change that. She's someone who feels like she'd be happier being celibate, like she'd rather have her celibacy treated as a natural part of her, and like she wants the assumption to be that she'll continue to feel this way for the foreseeable future.

If she's just a late-bloomer, and she does start feeling like she wants to have sex in the future, identifying as asexual now isn't going to get in the way of whatever she might want to do later. There might be a period where she questions whether the label still fits, but generally, people will do what they want to do, regardless of labels. If she does "miss out" on anything, it'll be because she doesn't have any desire to do it.

One thing that can influence people to cling to a label that no longer fits is if they had to fight for that label in some way or other - people who fought for the right to be gay might have a problem admitting it if they turn out to be really bi, and someone who's been told since they came out that bisexuality isn't real and they have to pick a side might be reluctant to accept that they do lean to one side or the other pretty much all the way. If you want your daughter to feel comfortable with changing her mind, should she ever need to, it's important to accept her as she currently is. If you messed up with her coming out, apologize, and do something nice for her.

Also, if something traumatic happened to her, she probably would have shown other signs besides just disinterest in sex. Disinterest in sex on its own means nothing.
If someone wants to be called by some pronoun that isn't necessarily apparent from the way they look I'll do my best. And if I mess up and get a gental reminder that's cool.

But if I mess up and get a lecture I will probably stop even trying. Just the way it is.

In the end however, while I try to respect a person's wishes in this regard, it doesn't change the fact that even if I put on a dress, grew out my hair, wore make up and high heals, and called myself Linda, if I get hit by a bus and the coronor puts me on that metal slap and starts cutting, when he starts dictating his notes into his voice recorder he's going to start with "white middle aged male".

In the end what I want to be called, how I think of myself, it isn't going to matter. When I'm on that slab I'm going to be male, like it or not.
@146 I mean female vs male, XX vs XY, typically egg producing vs sperm producing human functional differences is what gender, masculinity and femininity mean to me. For instance women are generally more concerned with conditions of pregnancy and birth and it is more masculine to be concerned with paternity and maybe making others feel safe enough to sleep with them or something. It's more feminine to fight with mind games and more masculine to fight with fists. I'll show common courtesy to those who think differently and refer to them as makes them happy if they respect my thoughts in turn. I know it won't make everyone happy but it works well for me and that's the achievable goal in life. Other genders I can accept as introduced. But my viewpoint of women and men makes the most sense to me.

I think other opinions are valid too. But I want shown the same respect.

@163 "Have you declared war on (pre-op) transpeople?"
I wouldn't take a trans person seriously unless they were on hormones and working toward legal sex change. A male in men's swimwear with a beard, no hormone differences and Sex: M on driver's license is a man in my mind no matter how they choose to be addressed. Doesn't mean I can't show them respect. But if they start telling me their opinion on gender is the right one or I have to agree with their self perception, I'll tell them to fuck off too.

I tend to think of those who are on hormones and legally changed sex as the new sex and expect them to be sympathetic to the common issues of that sex. I also assume gender based on presentation in practice as well.
@169 If you were on that slab after years of hormone treatments, with visible secondary sex characteristics (boobs), the coroner may not be so quick to judge you as male. Even less so with genital surgery but that skeeves me out.
True, although it wouldn't take much cutting to figure it out. However my point is that simply wanting to be seen in a certain way doesn't mean you will be. You can request that people refer to you as he, or she, or they, or it, or zim, or what ever, and they may even comply with that request. But it doesn't mean they aren't going to still look at you and think of you as what ever they think you "really" are just the same.
I fail to see what is so attractive about the asexual label that abstinent people want to hijack it for themselves. Is it that it contains the word "sexual" so it makes them feel better as a sexual identity? Asexual means no sexual organs or no sexual urges. It does not mean choosing to abstain or can't find a suitable partner to have sex with. That's called abstinence. If asexual starts to mean abstinence, we'll need a new word for the libido less.
@170, all of your generalities break down in certain specific situations. If you're dealing with someone who was assigned female at birth, feels female, and presents as female, they won't object to you viewing them as female, and no one else will object either.

The problem comes when all those traits don't align.

Some people refuse to call someone male if they find out that person was assigned female at birth, regardless of how long they have presented to all intents and purposes as a male.

Some people refuse to call someone male if they find out that person still has female genitalia, regardless of what other treatments they have undergone.

Some people will call anyone male who makes an effort to present as male.

Some people will call anyone male who requests male pronouns, regardless of their presentation.

Everyone has an opinion, like everyone has an asshole. I will show people common courtesy, regardless of their approach to gender issues. But I will not respect your approach if I disagree with it on principle.
@174 Just as I don't feel right telling someone they are not the gender they identify as, they should not feel right telling me how I should perceive gender either. I think in every post I said courtesy and showing respect is great. But policing thoughts or pressing the "right" opinion on others is rude. I will not ask about pronouns with introductions until it becomes common courtesy, but I have no problem using other pronouns if my default is incorrect. 99.99% of the time my way works better than asking for pronouns. I feel it's really inappropriate for others to ask me to change my perception of gender to suit their taste.
Ok, first, obligatory disclaimer, none of the following is mean to upset anyone (unless you like being upset, in which case enjoy yourself, just don't involve me in it).

It seems to me that there may or ought be a distinction between asexuality (no interest in sex) and monosexuality (no interest in a partner, but having a sexual appetite).

@10: Yeah, in the Dumb and Dumber vein of comedy, perhaps. PC run amuck to insane absurdity is how it sounded to me initially. Some commenters seem very supportive of making the whole tour unwilling or at least unexpecting participants in the one individual's expression of their? sexuality.

Re the asexual daughter and @15: gender and sexual development are sort of reliable, but not foolproof biologically; several percent of the population prefer same-sex relationships (which one would think darwinian selection would remove), and a pituitary lesion in a female can present as lack of interest in sex and infertility, and it's quite treatable offering increased satisfaction with one's life. The usual genetically determined genders, XX for female or XY for male, are accompanied by rare occurrences of XO (female with one X chromosome), XXY (low testosterone male), XYY (high testosterone male at elevated risk of incarceration), XXYY (in cats this may get you a male calico), and XXXX. Even that is an oversimplification; XY with an SRY gene mutation develop physically female. Knowledge is power, and such things as chromosome 23 type and presence or absence of a lesion are testable. Then informed choices or action or inaction or simply understanding of the origin of differences can occur.

One of the advantages of living now rather than long ago is that there is scientific support for some underlying causes of not neatly fitting into one of two categories, and so in many locales less inclination to engage in shaming or literal bashing.

For the people I know personally who are other than straight male or straight female, it saddens me that their lives have contained extra challenges including increased risk of assault and reduced numbers of potential partners. Life is hard enough in the middle of the bell curves and harder elsewhere in the distributions. And they are terrific people I'm glad to know.

@18: well done

@36: I'm trying to grasp your meaning, but feeling confused between on the one hand the freedom of both men (to some degree) and women (to a greater degree) to engage in behaviors stereotyped as one gender or the other, and on the other hand feeling that identity is what we feel we are, fairly independently of what we choose to do. For example, a person born with a penis who still has it (or at least most of it) and prefers sex with other
persons born with penises will typically identify as a male.

It's also sort of sad that versatility is treated asymmetrically. A girl can be good at or simply enjoy stereotypically male activities and be called a tomboy or considered more capable and versatile as a positive. A boy adopting activities stereotypically female activities in addition to stereotypically male activities or behaviors or in preference over the stereotypically male activities or behaviors would typically be viewed as "less than".

Some of the gender roles are particularly absurd. Compare the perception of a woman who can tie sailor's knots, and a man who knows how to knit or sew. They are both dealing in sequences of manipulating fiber assemblies to create desired results.

@42, absolutely, "what do you mean when you say asexual" asked in the moment would have been good. The answer might have been something as simple as "I'm still a virgin and don't want anyone pawing me right now".

Or it could be "I can't imagine ever wanting someone to touch me like that." (or like uncle Ted did when I was little. Or aunt Marge.) The kid in question is a teen and may not have either the language or the full understanding yet of what she means, still figuring out what she thinks. A friend of mine whose marriage ended because her husband couldn't take sex with his beautiful wife occurring only once a year and got her friend pregnant but could not get her pregnant showed both symptoms of an anterior pituitary lesion: little desire for sex, and infertility. The friend's mom bore several kids but was also a once-a-year woman according to the friend, and they both thought her dad's sexual frustration was very funny. Yikes!

@51 Not pathologize so much as "That's unusual and interesting; let's see what we can learn about that or from that." Because sometimes it is a symptom of actual physical pathology in the medical sense. Low sex drive is a symptom of a pituitary tumor. Asexuality also correlates, and so may relate, to low self-esteem or depression. A helicopter-parented teen is probably at high risk for both low self-esteem and depression. Also, that questioning of health is a part of a process that can progress to understanding and acceptance, according to AVEN. A parent of a minor has a moral and legal responsibility to provide appropriate care, and that includes appropriate medical care.

@64 Funny. Especially the last line, where the specifically forbidden pronoun is used in the prescribed response.
And shouldn't there also be substitutions for "My" and "me"?

@74: sometimes efficiency is not the priority, that drama is.

@96: Thanks for the exposition. It sounds to me like you don't feel the alignment between brain and sexual physical characteristics ("plumbing") and behavior that we straights (are I think fortunate to) feel. To explain that alignment, I imagine would be as difficult as it would be for a woman to explain to this male what it feels like to feel female, or for an always sighted person to explain color to an always sightless person; some experiences just don't explain well. Or rather, if I understand you, the alignment you feel is not match between brain and your plumbing, or match between brain and opposite plumbing, but no-match-found, or disconnect between brain and other physiology.

There's a lot more to each of us than sexual plumbing, which makes the inordinate emphasis on "Are you X or Y" (omitting the rarer but numerous other cases) seem weird after thinking about it a while.

@133 or deal with a hormone cycle every two frickin hours, or the outright unreasonable societal demand to be more successful than the rest of your own gender or all of the other gender (financially, yet have an intact family, athletic prowess, etc.)

@134 etc; So can we unpack it somewhat as follows:
gender corresponds to self view (possibly related to brain structure) and is multiple choice/spectrum;
sexuality to preferences and behaviors and is multiple choice/spectrum;
sex (as a noun) as physical construction and is either/or/mixed/ambiguous (F, M, ambiguous development, or mid-transition);
DNA would be yet another category, since some embryos develop ambiguously and there are more than 2 DNA possibilities;
cis or trans (stayed or switched to).

However: there will still be forms used by bureaucracies with only two boxes, check one, M or F. Generally that portion will be labeled either sex or gender. Decide for yourselves how much to add as margin notes, or not. Pick your battles, don't wear yourself out.
Yeah Hunter, I did think that later.. Do the British call their pussy a fanny? Thought is was Aussie slang.
Apologies. I don't have a magic body where babies come out of my butt.
@176 Actually, there's little reason to think that not reproducing wouldn't be selected for by evolution. The problem is people tend to look at evolution on the individual level (which is how we think about most of the world), when it operates on the genetic level. For example, if you have two sisters and one reproduces and the other never does, but helps to raise the nieces and nephews, then both sisters have their genes passed on and the children have better odds of survival. The sister who does not reproduce, but only aids in child rearing, is only getting half benefit, but undergoes none of the risks of childbirth and pregnancy. And might even be able to have more than twice as many surviving children of her sister than if they both tried to raise their own children. Especially since pregnancy causes many physical changes and risks permanent decreased efficiency, which if you're out in the wild could be a fairly extreme problem.

While foregoing fathering children has less obvious benefit, it is still the case that focusing on aiding in the rearing of a relatives children can potentially be of more benefit than having your own. Also, a lot of times characteristics that are beneficial in some cases occur in cases where they aren't as beneficial, simply because evolution isn't planned and can't precisely target maximum efficiency (see nipples on virtually everyone despite minimum evolutionary use for about half the population). It is quite possible that both homosexuality and asexuality have survival value and aid in the passing on of genes. Especially if they can be triggered by certain kinds of environmental conditions (possibly being born to someone who has had many children already or being raised with many siblings). I'm not saying that that is the case, because I think we don't know enough to say. I'm just saying that it could be, and it would make some sense for it to be.

Although I strongly support general mental and physical health check-ups for everyone. My ideal world has annual mental health check ups (there are a lot of mental health issues that catching them early makes them more treatable with better outcomes, but people tend to get help when the problems become quite dire). So, I support it for the asexual daughter, but I also would support it if she had any other orientation. It's just a good idea to always rule out potential health problems. Yes, she should probably tell her doctor she doesn't have a libido (assuming that is what she means), and also get checked for any other issues. Catching serious problems late can be so frustrating and heartbreaking.
@76 As to gender roles, they are sad and sexist. The imbalance you speak of seems to be based on the general view of women and femininity as inferior. So, a girl trying to act more like a boy is seen as understandable. Some people will disapprove and some people will actively praise it, but it's still seen as more understandable, because she is trying to act like the more valued and more esteemed class. Whereas a boy acting more like a girl is more taboo, because it threatens the notion that girls are inferior, and why would a superior want to act like the inferior class? The solution, of course, is feminism and sexual equality, because that whole mindset is idiotic and awful. Similarly, things traditionally done by women are given less value and esteem than things traditionally done by men, even if it makes no sense, like your craft example. Also, when a profession transitions from mostly done by males to mostly done by females, we find that the wages paid for doing it decrease and the esteem given to people who do it also decreases. This even works cross-culturally, since most cultures value women less. You'll find that the professions esteemed in the US are given less esteem in countries that have a higher percentage of women doing them than we do. It's a rigged game for women, since if too many of them go after the same high-paying professions, then the professions stop being high-paying. Again, feminism and viewing people as equals regardless of sex or gender is the ideal solution to the problem. Then boys can knit and play with dolls and be respected and girls can have equal pay and be raped less often. Win-win.

As to your response to my post @96... it is hard to put into words. I tried to do my best. I'm not sure I can explain it any better. But I know I don't view myself as a woman. I considered the option of man for a while, and it feels slightly better, but I don't think it'd be a good fit or make me happy, and I don't think I am one. I'd probably know more if I tried living as a man for several years, but that's a huge undertaking for something that doesn't feel quite right either. And I think if I were a man, I would know it. The transmen and transwomen I've known all seemed to have a much clearer view of their gender as being right. And agender feels very, very right. Especially since I have to actively work to view other people as men and women. I don't normally view my partner as a man (although I acknowledge that he is one), but will sometimes put in the extra mental effort to try to do so, because I respect his self-identity. Trying to view people as having genders is a fairly new thing to me I've been doing as I've learned to be more tolerant of gender diversity, because I've come to believe that it actually means something to other people, even though I don't know what that is. And I'm not quite sure what it means to view someone as a man or as a woman. So, I'm still kind of at the baby-steps area for that.
@160EricaP; I googled Gender- and saw the definition confusion.
Hey, I'm open to learn. I'd like to understand. Like. What benefit is there in not being gendered? Does it free one up to be, or do or wear anything? As far as I experience my life- I have had that freedom for many decades. Though, my mothering has defined my actions a lot, of course. It's a position I have learnt to take seriously. It's a big job..
For those female born , say, who don't have kids, I can imagine the field out there of how to be is vast. So, how does not identifying as ones born sex enhance ones experiences. Can gender really reside in ones height, as uncreative suggested? Then, to me, that just makes the whole Gender issue have no substance at all..

Thanks for that, experience @176. A real tutorial! I'll need to re read it a few times, but I like your style.
@180: I think you are making a fundamental mistake when you ask "What benefit is there in not being gendered?" This question proceeds from the assumption that an agendered person has deliberately chosen to identify as such.

Based on what uncreative has told us, that is not their experience (and, I would guess, not the experience of many other agendered persons). They did not deliberately choose to be agender; that is just the way they are, as you are female and I am male.

For an agendered person, selecting a gender would be a deliberate choice, and one I expect many have made in consideration of the costs and benefits. But it isn't a choice they all make, nor should they have to.
Yup. Not having a gender doesn't create new things I can do. I could do all of those things before I could explain why I didn't want to be viewed as a woman. What it creates is happier interactions with other people, because I feel that they see me for who I really am and better understand me. And I feel like I don't have to lie to them and pretend to be something that I am not.

The constrain of going around saying that I am a woman is that I am forced to pretend and feel fake and wrong.

As I said, it isn't about clothes or gender roles or anything of that nature. There is no action that could make me be a woman. There is no action that I can take that a woman should not be equally free to take. The sole difference is that I am able to honestly be myself. Something a cis woman can do simply by identifying as a woman.
BB @182. Well , that's where I am confused. How can one not feel gendered , when one is gendered? The gender itself, defines one's experiences.
One is a human being. A person. Not the same experiences as say, what a cat has.
Then , I am a Human Female. For my breeding yrs, hormones for that activity raced thru my body. Blood flowed monthy( when not pregnant). Tits had milk, when feeding etc. penises went into my vagina etc etc. I have been a female human , and these experiences have just confirmed that. Have I felt female?
When I look at glamorous women, I think, no, I'm a different sort of woman.
I have no special feeling of being a woman, my body and it's hormones, have defined me as such.
Now that I've passed thru the change, and my hormones are different. Have I become something else? No. My fat pussy is still there, asking for attention.
My tits still sit at the front of my body.

@184 Everything that you list is your experience, and there are people who have experienced those things who do not identify as female, and people who have not experienced those things who do identify as female.

Your lack of the experience of not feeling gendered is exactly mirrored by an agendered person's lack of the experience of feeling gendered.

It is no more useful to ask "how" than it is for a straight man to ask how a gay or bi man is sexually attracted to other men. There is no "how", at least not at any level necessary for normal human interaction; there is just an "is".

You yourself sum it up eloquently LavaGirl when you say "I'm a different sort of woman." Fundamentally, you feel like you are some sort of woman. You then look around and see a ton of things that mesh with that - your body looks like you expect a woman's body to look, your body works like you expect a woman's body to work. Everything in you makes you feel like a woman. But I don't have that. I do not feel like any sort of woman. You somehow have the experience of meshing with your body and it all fitting together for you. Which makes it hard for you to imagine what it would mean for it not to. Just as I do not have that experience, and have difficulty imagining what it would feel like to have the physical details of my body be sufficient to make me feel like a woman. Or to feel like a woman for any other reason.
Ms Lava - Mr Savage has informed the podcast listeners that the usage at least in Scotland of that particular F-word is the same as your Australian usage. Apparently a drunk Scotswoman who breaks coffee tables taught him a charming ditty that Highland schoolchildren sing about each other's grandmothers.
@ Uncreative - Thank you so much for your intelligent, well-articulated posts on this issue. Your posts are always intelligent and well-articulated, mind you, but as a biologically, psychologically and socially male member of our species (i.e. one who's gender identity aligns with his physical characteristics), I would not have been able to understand by myself what you have so clearly explained.
Dan, it is really gross to me that in your response to your first letter, you first condemn policing gender identity, and then, in the same breath, encourage people to feel free to mentally ridicule other folks for expressing their gender identity. I had expected better from a columnist with your audience and breadth of experience. I'm sure you don't give two shits what I think, but as a longtime reader I really look forward to the day that you apologize for being disrespectful and wrong on the subject of non-binary gender identities. In the meantime, you've just made it way harder for me -- one of those "genuine article" folks you mention -- to come out to my family and friends without being dismissed as ridiculous at best, which was already my worst fear and which already impedes me from seeking the care and treatment I'd like to receive. I'm really disappointed.
@EricaP: About 2 or 3 seconds.

That doesn't make it any less annoying.

Or self-defeating. If the goal is to get people excited about a trans-friendly world, I don't think turning a college orientation into a pronoun circle jerk is the way to go.
P.S. You know what does get me excited about a trans-friendly world? People like Abby, a delightful young trans woman who wandered into our camp on the playa and regaled us with her charm. She hung for about an hour, and incredibly, there wasn't a single mention of pronouns.

Go, Abby, go!
I don't doubt that a lot of people hear statements about other people's genders or sexualities and tune out. I understand that it's this whole new thing that people feel like it's a lot of work to adjust to. I will admit that I am, myself, not entirely on board with a lot of these identities in terms of their objective validity.

I will also say, flat out, that my opinion is fucking irrelevant. There are too many people out there still saying that my feelings as a gay man are irrelevant, that I just want to be special, that I'm damaged in some way, that I'm wrong for defining myself as I do, for me to go to someone else and perpetuate that cycle. If you're a transgender asexual polyromantic troll otherkin who prefers the pronoun "Xks", cool. That's you. I hope you'll explain that to me at such a time when we have the opportunity and familiarity such that I'll remember it, and that if I do, on occasion, err in referring to you, that you'll remind me gently of your identity.
@1 - insufferable
@ Mr. Ven - I'm trying to think of an example in which widely understood and accepted understanding gained through scientific research has resulted in more prejudice rather than less. I cannot. Can you?
Re pronouns: Based on this comment thread, there seems to be an implication that there are anecdotal examples of people using the wrong pronoun when talking to someone. I don't see how this would come up. The only pronoun that I ever use to refer to someone that I'm talking to is 'you'. Why would someone use a third-person pronoun of any kind in this situation?
"It would be rude and dismissive of me to tell them that it's just a phase, so I would never do that, but I don't really understand the point of being gender-neutral."

Is somebody asking for your judgement? I don't understand the appeal of watching sports on TV (and I've tried), but so what? People seem to get a kick out of it, so good for them. Not understanding something doesn't mean you need to level a judgement on its merits.
Maybe it's my (ugh) cis-privilege, but I've never given two shits about how someone refers to me so long as 1) they aren't being intentionally insulting and 2) I know they're referring to me. My name and pronoun is just a handle to me, not actually me. I've thus accumulated a number of names and nicknames over the years, as I don't care enough to correct people who use a new one.

So to me, insisting that someone use some special form of address in referring to you sounds like douchebag narcissism, an attempt to force everyone to acknowledge what a special special snowflake you are. I know what I am. I don't need you to know it as well.
@195: "Pat made a good point just now. I want to follow up on what they said."

I Hate Screen Names @197 made an interesting point. I'd like to follow up on what she said.

Not really.

@191 some people think they are entitled to introduce themselves without flirting with you or charming you. Shocking, I know.

Uncreative; thank you. Glad it's not a bun fight. I am interested in understanding this situation.. Like with the Labia post last week, when I saw I didn't have an opinion on how good or bad it looked. I've never really stopped to feel where my sense of being female comes from, or is situated.
I was the third daughter out of four. I often felt I was my fathers surrogate son.
I was a " tomboy".. I also wonder, if I hadn't got pregnant at 20 yrs of age- and been forced by that very experience to realize very clearly what my gender is- where my energies would have gone.
The Women( 1972),and gays were just erupting all over the world. It was a time of intense theory and change and very exciting. Women were rejecting that" biology was destiny".
Yet there I was. A single Mother,
Having to live my biology.
For you. 20 odd yrs younger. The world was different. AIDS for one had shattered the freedom of the gays. I was out of Sydney by then, living in alternate land on North Coast of NSW. Partnered. More breeding!
I just keep feeling that my gender has defined my experiences.
My more masculine mind( having identified with my father) did baulk at the traditional aspects expected of me. I insisted my partner be closely involved with our children rearing. Men were starting to enter the birthing rooms.
If you don't feel like a woman. What do you feel when your periods come? Or an urge to be a Mother, have you had those? Are you a Mother? When a Man enters you( if you go with men)? How do you experience these experiences?

@189. Really? You give Dan that much power?
EricaP. Not only Dan who has a bite in his tongue.
Lava: Women who don't like men, or don't like being penetrated, are not less of women than the women who do. Same with women who don't want to be moms.

I know you're not directly saying that people like me ARE lesser women, but it sounds like you're saying some things that kind of mean that anyway.
203: no. That's not what I'm saying. Why does everyone think the worst?
I'm just trying to understand how uncreative felt, if these situations occurred for her. I should have extended the qu to include women touching her..
Not being a Mother? Go for it. Hard bloody path, in my experience. Don't know if I'd do it again.. Just trying to find what the experience is like for uncreative
If and when she has some atypical female experiences .
Why would you jump to the conclusion that I would think women who loved women or didn't want children are lesser women? The Feminism I was/ am part of, was/ is about throwing off the shackles and celebrating women's right to choose their own paths in life.
Ms Kitty - Assuming that the result doesn't have to be only or even primarily an increase of prejudice, one could perhaps count prenatal discovery of birth defects (recalling discussions of Down's syndrome). Not to say that such discovery hasn't been a net good, but I'm sure it's played out for a relevant number of people in such a way that they'd have been better off had there been no such knowledge.

I appreciate curiosity about whether something *can* be done, but don't trust an unfettered can without a should. Should a definitive cause ever be found, science would immediately begin seeing whether it can be altered "because we can". Within a century, we'd be down to two exclusively heterosexual genders.
LavaGirl, I'm going to try to take a crack at it: it seems that you're conflating sex with gender and being female with feeling like a woman.
Almost all your examples of how you experience feeling your gender or feeling like a woman are grounded in your biological sex: the ability to get pregnant, to give birth, to breastfeed, to go through menopause, the sex organs you have and the way you have sex. Certainly those things can be gendered, but gender is more than or distinct from sex.

So what if you had never had children, would you still feel like a woman? If your answer is "yes" (and I'm guessing it is), than your sense of yourself as a woman has less to do with your experience as a mother and more to do with something else.

You say you were a tomboy. That means you didn't like to do typically "girly" things, or you also liked to do things that society generally thinks are for boys. But it doesn't necessarily mean that you didn't think of yourself as a girl or feel somehow female--I'm not saying "feminine", I'm saying "female". It means that even as you climbed trees or played in dirt, or built things or played sports with boys, or went fishing or whatever, and even as you eschewed talking about fashion or trying out hairstyles or makeup, or playing with dolls, or whatever it was that most girls were doing, you still had a sense of yourself as a girl, right? Did you think of yourself as a boy? Did you think of yourself as being neither a girl or a boy or some days as being a boy and some days as being a girl? If you thought of yourself as being a girl, even before you first got your period, if being referred to as a girl didn't feel somehow wrong, then your gender and your sex matched up, even if you were years away from the destiny of motherhood that your biology had in store for you. But not everyone has that same experience.

Whether uncreative has periods or has or hasn't wanted children (men can want children, btw, and that desire doesn't make them feel less male, does it?), they don't feel like a woman (or a man).

My body is aging and I'm overweight, I now have that age-related far-sightedness (my arms aren't long enough to read things!), but inside I still feel the same way I did when I was 20. My sense of myself isn't necessarily grounded in my physical reality.

Does that make sense? I start to confuse myself!
Nocute. It continues the discussion.. I haven't really thought about it . Whether I feel like a female. I just have been and I am a female. Of course men want children too, I was asking uncreative how she felt when ( if), she thought of being a Mother.. Thanks for sharing your version.

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