Columns Dec 10, 2014 at 4:00 am

Gender Solid

Comments

208
@EricaP: some people think they are entitled to introduce themselves without flirting with you or charming you.

Sure, I suppose anyone is entitled to behave in a manner that makes others dislike them, although that's kind of a strange entitlement, wouldn't you say?

FWIW, Abby wasn't a flirt, and if she was, I assume she would have directed her attention to someone who wasn't twice her age. She'd made a bunch of wooden medallions with symbols on them, had each of us pick one from a bag, and then gave readings that were very sweet and funny. It's possible for some people to be charming without leaning on the crutch of sex appeal, in case that hasn't occurred to you.

And you missed the point, which is more along the lines of @195. Somehow, I'm using the correct pronoun despite the fact that she introduced herself without any sanctimonious pronouncements of her gender.

I guess you see no value in trying to distinguish authentic conversations from those driven by mental illness, youthful excess, or manipulative little shits looking for a fight.

I do.
209
seandr, where did you find "Fuck No, Dan Savage"? It's great.
I love the mission statement:
"Fuck No, Dan Savage" was created to showcase the cissexist, sexist, anti-asexual, anti-bisexual, classist, racist, sizeist, and ableist douchebaggery of Dan Savage, of "It Gets Better" (for privileged queers only) fame.

Slog should put it on a tee shirt.
210
Nocute; here's the thing, as far as I have always understood gender, those parts of me that are different from the other gender( male), is what designates my gender( female)..
How can people claim that we don't have a binary gender structure. When it's so obvious that our bodies do. Some people are unisex. Biologically.. If one is not a man or a woman, I just don't see what's left. There is no other gender to choose.
All those female parts of me, took me a long time to appreciate the magic of. The great design and functionality of..
211
For what it's worth. And one little Australian ain't worth that much.
I think you're great Dan. Just my sort of smart arse,
shoot from the hip with a warm heart kind of human person..
212
LavaGirl,
"I just have been and I am a female."

Right. But you also feel female. What you are biologically, how the rest of the world perceives you, matches up with the way you feel. The very fact that you don't ever think about it, that it just is what is to you says that you feel yourself to be in harmony with your gender.

That's different from the way uncreative et.al. experience their existences.

It's how I feel, too, and until recently, I never considered that one more manifestation of my luck. But now I do.

We have become accustomed to the idea of transgender, that is, of someone being in the wrongly-gendered (and/or sexed) body, of a person assigned male at birth but who always felt herself to be female--the no-longer-unusual "girl trapped in a boy's body" idea, and I would have thought that it would be a small step to go from an awareness of that to an understanding that some people don't feel as though they have a gender at all. I confess that for me, it's not a small step. I can understand it intellectually, but I can't really imagine what it feels like.

But my approval or disapproval, even my complete understanding or lack of complete understanding are besides the point. They're not needed; they're not asked for. All that is being asked of me is politeness and tolerance, and the ability and willingness to honor someone's preferences regarding mode of address and pronoun reference and I can do that. And as others on this thread have said, all I ask is patience if I occasionally slip out of habit and use the wrong form of address or make a similar gaffe.
213
LavaGirl: You're right: "there is no other gender to choose."
It is really hard for me--and I'm guessing for a lot of people--to get beyond the idea that people have to be one or the other of the only two choices presented. We seem to forget that there is always that box marked "none of the above." Sometimes there is a box marked "all of the above," too.

I think it must take great strength to live in that box and great courage and patience to try to explain it to the rest of us.
214
I think that gender is much more than just "those parts of me that are different from the other gender( male), is what designates my gender( female)... How can people claim that we don't have a binary gender structure. When it's so obvious that our bodies do. Some people are unisex. Biologically.. If one is not a man or a woman, I just don't see what's left. There is no other gender to choose. "

That's what people first thought. Then the prevailing thought was that gender was a completely social construction, that it was absolutely separate from biological sex differences. But that turns out not to be the case either. Then there was the thought that perhaps gender resided somewhere at the chromosomal level. But that is also not always the case.
It seems to be a fairly complex intersection of a bunch of things.
215
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
216
Nocute; no, I don't feel female. I am female.
I feel hungry. I feel tired, or sad, or happy.. Being female is just the base line.
I feel all these human emotions etc in a female body.. My female body has interconnected with these human feelings- periods, babies etc..


217
Of course nocute; addressing people as they wish to be addressed.
I took on a Buddhist name 30 yrs ago. Haven't changed it legally, yet it is the name I'm known by. By all, except my mother. She calls me by the name she gave me. And that pisses me off..
I understand that part of it and if I ever meet someone who wants to be known other than as a he or she, I will respect that.
218
LavaGirl: Sometimes there's a disconnect between what people are and how they feel. Perfectly ordinary people can feel hideous and disfigured. This is called body dysmorphia disorder and it's a pathology.
Smart people can and often do feel stupid. Stupid people, more's the pity, often feel themselves to be smart (check out the entire Bush administration for proof).

Surely you've met someone who doesn't see herself as you see her.

You are female and you perceive yourself to be female and the world sees you as female and you feel female. And so in your lived experience, there is no distinction between those things.

But just because that's your lived reality doesn't make it everyone's.
219
@217: LavaGirl, I think that's really all that we're being asked to do and all we might be able to do.
220
No. I don't FEEL female. I am female.. Where do I feel female? When I wipe myself after a piss? When I eat? When I shit? When I read, or sleep, or talk?
When I feel sad. I don't feel female sad..

221
First World Problems: Gender Identity and varying degrees of vegetarianism. I briefly served on a "diversity" committee at work apparently as the older gay guy. It was weird enough until someone INSISTED that we needed a transgender or "gender questioning" representative. Ummmmm... how exactly does one recruit for that? LOL
222
@208 there's no room for someone to introduce themselves without either charming you or making you dislike them?

>> FWIW, Abby wasn't a flirt >>

I acknowledged that she might just be trying to charm you, rather than flirt with you. Although I think there's a thin line between those two in straight culture, when we're speaking of a woman charming a man.

>> I guess you see no value in trying to distinguish authentic conversations from those driven by mental illness, youthful excess, or manipulative little shits looking for a fight.>>

When a group of student leaders chooses to make a public statement about inclusiveness, do you see as mental illness, youthful excess, or manipulation?

My teen's high school has started doing introductions that way, on the first day of school: name & pronoun. While I don't think it's really going to be the way society functions in twenty or thirty years, I do think it's a good faith effort to deal with our changing culture. And I don't understand your scorn.
223
Uncreative, I apologize if I missed it. Is being agender equivalent to asexual? I understand that they aren't identical concepts, but do you feel sexual attraction?
224
I don't know---I'm still pondering over portland scribe's comment (@8) concerning an entire college orientation that focused on using pronouns for personal references...



Remember, everybody, John Lennon had once stated the following back in 1967:



'I am me and you are he and you are we and we are all together.'



Like Matthew Broderick (as Ferris Bueller) once commented, 'Good point; he was The Walrus. I could be The Walrus--I'd still have to bum rides off people.'
225
LavaGirl: So maybe this is a question of "what does 'is' mean?"

Or put another way, who gets to decide how people are defined: the people themselves or someone else.

There's something kind of fascist about someone telling someone else how they fundamentally are.

So to you, gender is something that's decided from the outside: by the genitals you were dealt, but for others, gender or the lack of it is derived internally, something that they get to confer upon themselves as they see fit according to their own principles.

Is that fair?
226
aunti grizelda @224: maybe I misunderstood, but I think they just started the program with the student leaders introducing themselves in turn and saying briefly what pronoun they prefer, before moving on to the rest of the presentation, whatever that was. I don't think they spent half an hour discussing pronouns, just two minutes.
228
@227: you're proposing that adding pronouns to the usual ritual of going around and saying first names is going to make transgender people more conspicuous than they would otherwise be, and therefore a target of abuse? The high school apparently hasn't found that to be the case, though I'm sure they would listen if people complained. I've only heard of parents complaining, not transgender youth.
229
http://nypost.com/2013/05/28/new-challen…

San Francisco Unified School District...recently added a transgender category in student health surveys. The survey found that 1.6 percent of high school students and 1 percent of middle school students identified as transgender or gender variant.
230
This was quite the interesting comment thread.

Personally I only know one non-binary (gender fluid specifically) person and he hasn't told me anything about changing pronouns. I view my own gender as female by default. I'm only somewhat attached to the label because of the sex I was born as. Whenever I have been mistaken for a boy it didn't bother me it just took me longer to realize they were referring to me. In a lot of ways I identify with the non-gender label but I continue to feel comfortable identifying as female. It's just simpler and I don't feel any negative repercussions from it.

On the asexuality questions I do believe it is used more as an umbrella term and it would help to ask people what they mean by it. Even if the daughter of the letter writer finds that her feelings change over time I don't think this invalidates her identifying with the label for a time. I have not come out as asexual but I do think that I fall somewhere under the umbrella while being open to my feelings changing at some point. I was a late bloomer and didn't feel any sexual urges until I was about 16. At 20 years old I am still celibate completely from lack of trying. I feel that I am definitely in the a-romantic category. But I am open to sexual relationships down the line and that makes me not want to classify myself as asexual.
231
Nocute; I'm not telling anyone nothing. I'm just discussing my perceptions of gender as I understand it. And my perception of gender is that it is an internal thing. It is the body's construction. Uncreative and others say they don't " feel" like a woman. My position is, again, I don't feel like a woman either. I don't feel woman anywhere in my body. A feeling doesn't arise, and I go , oh there's that feeling like a woman again.. I just am a woman. Like I just am a human being.
232
18 is too young to label yourself asexual, unless of course you think of asexuality as momentary and not permanent. My husband was not interested in sex until he was in his 30s but he never labeled himself. (We didn't meet until long after that.) Now our daughter is 15 with no signs of any crushes on anyone or interest in dating, even though I had my first crush much younger. Everybody's different. As long as her daughter is happy, I wouldn't worry about it.
233
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story…
>> Carl Siciliano says to me [about the practice of everyone saying their preferred pronouns], these college students you saw identifying with transgender people, the most marginalized group in our society, how different is that from you, when you were in college, identifying with the most marginalized and joining the black Civil Rights movement? He brought me up short. I had to think long and hard.>>

http://bokeh.jjie.org/a-trans-teens-stor…
>> A really great way for people to feel more comfortable introducing which pronouns he/she/they/zhe* prefer...is by teaching people to ask, "What are your preferred pronouns?" While this might sound funny or awkward at first, it is extremely helpful for people who are scared of the way others might respond poorly...It's OK to explain why [you] ask about preferred pronouns, but try not to target a certain person, and try to use this greeting even if you are not aware there is a trans person in the group.>>

http://conditionallyaccepted.com/2013/11…
(Blog by professor who started doing this):
>> One concern that another professor raised was forcing students to out themselves. Without asking for pronouns, trans* and gender non-conforming students can presumably go unnoticed in your class. When you do ask, their turn comes and they are faced with the choice to out themselves or not. And, no matter their answer, other students may make assumptions about them...I, too, worry about this. But...the other alternative is to gender them yourself. At some point, you as the instructor, will likely provide an assumed pronoun and gender identity before the entire class β€” or, another student may do so, "yeah, I agree with her." Asking is at least one step closer toward respecting all students' self-definition related to gender.
234
this all gives me an idea.... I am going to sell "hello...my pronoun is..." stick on name tags. jackpot.
235
LavaGirl: And uncreative is not a woman. Nor are they a man. Like you, they are just a person. A person without gender.

I'm beginning to think there is either a language difference or a willful misunderstanding going on. I understand what you mean when you say that you don't have a feeling like sadness or hunger or cold and think it's somehow female sadness or hunger or cold.
That's one way of defining the word "feeling."

The other way could better be expressed like this: you feel that you are a woman. Or you believe that you are a woman. You are a woman, yes. The world sees you as one. Your birth certificate says you are one. Your genitals indicate that you are one. But you also believe this.

236
"Asking is at least one step closer toward respecting all students' self-definition related to gender"

And normalizing asking/telling pronouns also normalizes the idea that trans* and gender non-conforming people exist and are important.
237
conveying one's identity to another person is an impossible task. With sentience will always come misunderstanding. Try describing a color to a blind person. Or try describing a color to a sighted person without using any other colors in your description. I think some of you are arguing with each other over things that really cannot be quantified. Personally, i wholeheartedly reject being labeled as cis anything or het anything. (even though...according to the generally accepted definitions.... i am both of those...)...My general reaction to it is to think "dont fucking label me".... so i guess the specificity requested by so many these days makes no sense to me.
238
Over 200 posts? So much cyber-ink spilled! So many cyber-trees chopped down! Aaaugh!
239
Uncreative is not a woman? Now I'm stumped..
240
we have gone from "don't put me in a box".... to "please put me in this particular box".... an interesting societal overcorrection
241
Lavagirl.... i know it wasn't meant to be funny....but your anecdote about your mom still calling you by your birth name against your wishes gave me a good chuckle. Family....hahaha. Hope all is well down under
242
LavaGirl: Perhaps I'm misunderstanding uncreative, or misrepresenting them.
It's true that you might look at uncreative and see a woman, but that's not the way they define themselves. Better?
243
@223 Being agender is completely different from being asexual. One can be both, of course, but I am not. Sexuality and gender are two very different things.

In my personal case, I have only ever been attracted to people after I have gotten to know them. Which apparently makes me demisexual. But I feel extremely weird categorizing myself as asexual and do not want to do that, because it doesn't make sense for me to categorize myself as asexual and having a libido and an active sex life. I've only ever been attracted to cis-males, and this made it harder for me to figure out my gender issues, because I don't view them as men (without great effort), and yet there is something about them that I find attractive. I've never been sexually attracted to a cis-woman, so I find it unlikely I ever will be (but who knows?). Given that I am attracted to less than 1% of all cis-men I meet, I feel I have way too little data to know my potential attraction to people who are any flavor of trans. I describe myself as androphilic for lack of any better term and/or any surprising future attractions that might change my view. My partner describes as a heterosexual cis-man... but there really is no label for people who are attracted to women and some genderqueer folk. And if straight means heterosexual, well, I am a different gender than he is, so that still kinda fits. But the vocabulary for sexual orientation when it comes to genderqueer folk is sorely lacking at this time. We make do with what there is. It'd be a whole lot easier wordwise if we were both bisexual, because then we'd be covered. But alas, our orientations do not arrange themselves for the convenience of our language.

It is true that I get a lot of privilege from appearing to be a heteroseuxal union of two cis-folks. I am aware of this. My closet is very solid. With all of the benefits and drawbacks of a really good closet. I do like the safety aspect of it though. It's a lot harder for those with no choice to pass.
245
@216 I understand. It is extremely difficult for you to perceive any difference, because everything lines up for you. It is like asking a fish to understand what water feels like. They do not feel water. They just are. It is much easier for those of us who have a disconnect to be able to see the lines and differences.

But for you, you are female, and since you never feel like you are not a woman, you are not aware of what it means to feel like you are one or are not one. It's quite possible you will never be able to understand it. On the upside, you will never have the unpleasantness of being misgendered or told you are not who and what you are.
246
As I remember, uncreative said she didn't " feel" like a woman. Again- again; I say the same. I don't " feel" like a woman , yet my body is a woman's body. I don't look at this from the outside, I'm talking the body's construction.. It's way internal. It is.
I am a woman.
Say if some people wrote in. And they didn't " feel" like Human Beings, rather they " felt" like Tigers, or snails or Kangaroos.. How would you or me or anyone answer that?
Gender is a given by nature. Damned nature that people try to change and recreate. How people experience their own Gender, doesn't change that they are really that Gender. To not be comfortable with ones assigned Gender, surely must be a hard road to travel.
247
LavaGirl: I take it then, that you have issues with transpeople, that if someone is born, say, with the xy chromosome, and has a penis and testes and yet identifies as a woman and takes hormones and has top surgery, you wouldn't recognize that person as a woman but would insist on referring to that person as a man.
248
Chairman; Families. Right.
249
@207 Oh, I hadn't realized that was directed at me. I always wanted to have kids, but health problems are making that unlikely. My desire to be a parent is not in any way connected to my gender. I do find the idea of being pregnant and giving birth appealing (in parts... the painful parts I find less appealing, although I have no issues with the use of pain relief during labor). Mainly though, I like kids, so the thought of raising my own has always been something I wanted to do. I've worked with kids at various times, and I found it very rewarding. It's not the same as being a parent, of course. I'm not really clear though on how my desire to have kids is in any way relevant to this discussion, and it is a bit of a painful topic.

I've known a woman who created a child with her sperm. And I've known a man who gave birth to his children. I don't link gender with parenthood in any particular way just because some combinations are more common. And I highly doubt getting pregnant or having a kid would somehow magically imbue me with a gender. It doesn't seem to have for other genderqueer folk.
250
Does it make me a major asshole that I think social identity is the property of the outsider, not the person? I go to many events these days where people are asked their 'preferred pronoun', and I can't help but think, pronouns don't exist to refer to oneself - but to refer to a third person. Personal pronouning is about as obnoxious as actors speaking in the third person, and it's almost as self-aggrandizing and attention getting.
251
@246- lava.... It is my understanding that gender isn't something used to describe animals....only humans.... and modern convention is that someone may be born a certain (or ambiguous...since someone will surely obkect to me leaving that out) sex but that does nothing to define their gender...which is instead defined by their thoughts on the matter....as opposed to something that can be seen from the outside.

As we would never describe a dog as masculine or feminine....because gender is a human concept only.... and a philosophical one to be sure...

In short, most on this thread are talking about sex (male/female/or otherwise) and gender as two distinctly different things that may or may not align in any given person
252
@200 Ah, this is what I get for reading backwards... sorry to spam the thread, just so much to respond to, and I was asked direct questions I didn't fully answer with the last comment. My lack of gender existed when I was very young, before my periods or my sexual attraction to anyone or any sexual desire. When my period started, I felt like I probably had a more physically and genetically typical body than I had suspected. I mostly stopped speculating on whether it was possible I was intersex and my family was keeping it secret from me. Now, when I menstruate, I mainly feel like... well, I've got blood to deal with. That sucks. Oh well,I better make sure I deal with this as well as possible. Sometimes it's frustrating, because if I never have children, then it will have been a lot of work for zero gain. It makes me wish I could take pills to stop menstruating, but my health issues create increased risk of health problems if I do so, which is a really tough medical choice. Especially as not menstruating is otherwise better for my health.

What I feel like when I am having sex... varies. Sometimes I'm mostly focused on the physical pleasure, other times the emotional closeness. Sometimes I'm wondering how can I scratch that random itch on my nose that just had to happen right now, when I'm not in a convenient position to do so and don't want to stop what else is happening... I dunno, probably pretty much the same things other people think and feel when having sex. It's never felt like it had anything to do with gender to me. It never occurred to me to really think about that in connection to not being gendered, because, I really still don't understand why it is in any way relevant. Do other people suddenly feel like women or feel like men while they have sex? It's never occurred to me to ask anyone that. I can say, when sex is really good, I am extremely unlikely to be pondering gender orientation at the time. Honestly, I tend to associate sex with thinking about stuff in general less, not more.

It seems like you're very focused on my body. I'm not. I know what body I have. I like some things about it, and dislike other things (oh how I miss the knees of my younger days). It's not like I get my period and suddenly go, "Oh my god, I have a vulva!" I know it's there, whether I am using it or not. But my vulva doesn't have anything to do with gender for me, whether it's bleeding, being fucked, or just sitting on a chair so I can type out a comment. Just like my knees do not define my gender, whether they are cooperating or giving me problems and making it clear that they only intend to get worse with more age. If I'm bending down to pick something up, I may be more aware of my knees, but it certainly doesn't make me think about gender.
253
@246 - look up 'otherkin' and prepare to have your mind blown. Yes, there are people out there who believe themselves to be tigers or kangaroos. (Or faeries, or aliens...)



At this point, I agree with nocutename. You're being wilfully ignorant in conflating sex with gender. They are not the same thing. Sex is what's between your legs, and gender is in your brain - your identity, your perception of 'self'.



Uncreative may be biologically female, but neither 'woman' nor 'man' fits their self-identity. There is only 'self', 'person'. That's it, and it's really not that difficult.
254
LavaGirl @246 maybe you're like me, not really understanding how one feels like a woman? Some women feel they are women, some people-declared-male-at-birth also feel they are women. I don't know what those feelings feel like, because I don't have them.

I do have the feeling of being human. If doctors told me they'd figured out I was male, I'd respond: 'yeah, whatever.' If doctors told me I was a cat, I'd be stunned. But I can't describe how I feel human.

If you're like me, then it's hard to even recognize there's a feeling that other people have. It's like color-blindness; until I started learning more about trans issues, I didn't know that some people feel like women in ways I don't comprehend.
255
edit @254: "of the women who feel they are women, some were assigned male at birth."
256
fetish @250, suppose you worked with someone (Pat) whose gender presentation was ambiguous: long hair, wears pants, earrings & makeup, has a flat chest and no hips.

Leaving aside the non-binary pronouns, would you want to know if Pat preferred to be called he/him or she/her?
257
@sanguisuga (253): "Sex is what's between your legs, and gender is in your brain - your identity, your perception of 'self'".
Thanks for that.
258
@ Mr. Ven - Just like we don't have anyone born with Down Syndrome now? Except that's not the case. People do still choose to carry kids with Down Syndrome to term. And Down Syndrome is fundamentally different from sexual orientation or gender identity on pretty much every possible level.

If you want to draw a more similar example from history, look at people who are left handed: born of good, God fearing right handed people, declared evil by the Catholic Church and perverse/savage by crackpot doctors, tortured for "conversion" purposes, and put to death if it didn't work. Sounds painfully familiar, right? But how many parents today would abort their fetus for being left handed?

And I think that's where we're going to go in the future with regards to sexual orientation and gender identity. As it becomes normalized and better understood, I expect the prejudice to gradually fade away. I'm sure there will always be vile people who cling to their bigotry, but that's true of any bigotry. And they will have to keep their mouths shut about it in polite society.
259
Ms Erica - I could easily see asking people who do drag for their pronoun preferences. Mr Savage appears to have a somewhat confusing rule that every man with a drag persona is always called *she* whether in character or not, whether the performer does drag socially or not, and whether the performer also plays male roles or not. I don't really care one way or another, but have just seen other same-sexer writers doing it differently.

I definitely don't like pressuring people for a preferred pronoun in an academic setting. Just off the top of my head, and there's probably something better, I'd prefer a system of welcoming the provision of preference, but openly acknowledging that not everyone will be comfortable with doing so, and using neutral pronouns until a preference is given. My main objection is that it's far too pushy, and tramples over one's right to reserve - rather like telemarketers who call and ask to speak to [Firstname] without identifying themselves.
260
Gender is a scientific field, if you go to a medical appointment, your medical form will be checked as male or female. The need to have "look at me, I'm special" is silly. Every human being is sexual, the labels need to end. The diversity of sexuality is mute point, we're all the same.
261
Dan, you are not very knowledgeable on this subject, and your words are condescending and perpetuate harmful attitudes about both binary and non-binary trans people. Please stop talking about our issues, and instead direct your letter writers who ask toward actual trans people. And you can let your readers know that the gender binary is a relatively recent idea, and people who are non-binary have existed throughout history in several cultures around the world. But knowing that would require you to research before you pop off about things you're clueless about.
262
@253. No, I'm not being wilfully ignorant . Ones gender/ sex is not just between ones legs.
It is thru out the whole body. If the feelings about ones gender / sex originate in the mind. And like anything originating in the mind, can be worked on. To just sit with such a dislocation, is to me, really sad. And to expect me to agree is like me telling a
Person with anorexia that " hey, yeah, you're fat.. "
Lucky I don't spend much time in polite company, MiscKitty.
I don't see my point of view as bigoted. I'm just not indulging delusion.
Though, if I meet a person, who wishes to be called other than he/ she.. I'm fine with that.
263
@262
Being trans isn't a mental illness. The treatment for GID is transition, part of which includes using a name/pronouns that make the person comfortable. You are an asshole. I believe that can be worked on.
264
@262 "If the feelings about ones gender / sex originate in the mind. And like anything originating in the mind, can be worked on."

You sound like the assholes who advocate for reparative therapy for gay people.
266
@262 - What? Just - what?

"If the feelings about ones gender / sex originate in the mind. And like anything originating in the mind, can be worked on."

So you're saying that uncreative is broken? Implying that they need to be fixed, somehow? Well, hell - why not recommend therapy to 'fix' an asexual, then? Or to 'fix' a homosexual? If it's all in the mind, and anything in the mind can be worked on and all that. Unless of course someone's sexual identity isn't tied to their sense of self at all - if that's all in the genitals, and not in the mind. Being genderfluid is NOT A MENTAL DISABILITY and cannot be "worked on" in the manner that you are suggesting.

If someone is uncertain about their identity, and they find a professional to help them work that out, great. But the people who freely proclaim themselves to be one thing or the other or something else entirely have usually gone through a long and lengthy process of figuring their own shit out. They know who they are, and I can only respect the hell out of that.

"And to expect me to agree is like me telling a
Person with anorexia that " hey, yeah, you're fat.. "

If a Hulk Hogan sort comes sauntering up to me and says "I'm a pretty princess", I say, "Great! Let's have a tea party!", not "You need help." That is not my place, and it sure as hell isn't yours. You keep saying that you would respect the person's choice to be called whatever, but it doesn't look to me like you would.

Again - you're putting gender and sex together. They are NOT THE SAME THING.

I honestly do not even know what to do with you, especially after so many people have endeavoured to explain this to you time and time again, and much more eloquently than I have.

267
@263. Yeah well. Of course that's gonna be how my point of view is viewed.
Not allowed to say my truth. Supposed to walk on eggshells.
I do think it is sad if people can't/ don't embrace the full power of this organic body, we are born with. Sad, that their minds are disconnected from their bodies. I'm not saying you or anyone else hasn't the right to present as any sex you choose.
Not my business. I can, however, have my own perception of the situation.

268
Ms Kitty - I only brought up DS because I have seen extremely ugly denouncements from either side of those who either abort or don't abort. You asked for an example of knowledge leading to an increase in prejudice; if the knowledge to detect DS didn't exist, women would be spared ugly pressure to abort (which is not to say anything either way about whether the ability to detect is overall a net plus/minus/neutral).

The rest will be a little strained. Left-handedness was always a "soft" prejudice. (Actually, I got a bit lucky on that one; I was educated in the formative stage by rather enlightened nuns who didn't try to enforce right-handedness.) While sincere enough, and harsh enough in application, it was not particularly essential, and was just one among a number of prejudices used by bossy (if the word has not yet been banned) men to help maintain control of other people's lives. It was also based on demonstrable error which could be corrected without significant disturbance to the edifice of the faith.

Orientation is a very "hard" prejudice. It is based on essential points of doctrine - sacramental, as far as the RCC goes. Also, one might well contend that, if religion is done properly, once one accepts the original premise, prejudice against non-heterosexuality (and non-binary gender as well, presumably) is the natural and correct conclusion *for those who accept the original premise*. One can contend to the contrary as well.

Here's the scenario I see playing out should science ever discover *the* cause. Almost immediately, experimentation will start to see: can we alter it? Why? because we can. And, given the vast quantity of right-winger funds they'll receive, they'll find a way to alter it. Then the right-wingers of all parties who control the government will push to enforce universal eradication, and the vast majority of straight cisgender people in the middle who have managed to suppress the thought that they themselves would feel more comfortable if the whole world were straight and cisgender will let this happen while telling themselves that it's really for those poor people's benefit and they'll be much happier when they're just like everybody else.

Now the one thing that suggests to me that it won't play out this way is not some sharing of your optimism, but rather what I think of as the 1984 argument that Oceania requires was with either Eurasia or Eastasia on a permanent basis. Most of the religious powers that be may require a permanent problem rather than a permanent solution. I do, though, think that the general level of support for non-dominant genders/orientations, while probably sincere enough as far as it goes, is relatively shallow. Lots of elected officials give good and sincere speeches, but then undo much of the good effect when they later make jokes that they don't even realize to be heterosexist. (Remove the hetero prefix in the last sentence and the same is true about many people regarding women's - womyn's? - issues, only women, while perhaps not yet at critical mass, at least have significant representation in government.)
269
@267 You're ascribing me issues I don't have. While I can't say I have no issues with my body, they are health related, not gender related. While many trans/genderqueer folk do have issues with their body, I am fortunate enough to be fairly okay with mine genderwise. Probably in part because I don't equate gender with physical issues, so I don't think my physical body doesn't represent my gender identity.

I used to have issues with gender, until I realized I was nongender. Then that fixed them all. I became a lot more comfortable, especially as I started to come out to close friends and be accepted and respected. Now I just have societal/social issues sometimes. People who don't understand or don't respect me for who I am. Although it does make a good litmus test for weeding out people I wouldn't want to spend much time with anyway. Although the older the person is , the more I give them a pass. Since I do understand that it becomes harder to understand new concepts as you become older. And updating one's world view is much more trickier than building it well in the first place. The youth of today will tend to understand such issues much better, because they have so much less to unlearn.

Also, if you do view "woman" as meaning "person with a pussy" then I view it as massively rude for you to ever refer to me as one. It's not just unaccepting of my identity, but also just plain gross. My genitalia are a personal matter, and not something that is to be referred to casually in polite conversation. Going around saying, "Hey person with a pussy" is deeply disturbing to me, and that seems to be what "woman" means to you.
270
I really just want to thank uncreative for all their comments. For the first time in my life I do not feel completely alone and strange and weird and in a dark closet. I too suspected I was intersex until I got my period, and that was really difficult for me to manage every month -- I HATED my body for doing that to me, for trying to turn me into a woman, which I have never felt like. I eventually solved this in college when I got an IUD that stopped my periods, and I haven't had one for closing in on a decade. I have no desire for children, the idea of having one inside me disgusts me -- but I do have a cis-male partner and we more or less present as a typical hetero partnership (except, I sometimes don't pass as a woman, as it can just be too much some days).













Anyway, thank you. I wish I knew you IRL just so we could hang out and you could tell me more about being okay with who you are.
271
I'm glad PAUSE wrote because she asks something I've been wondering about. It would be insulting and stupid to tell a gay man "maybe you just haven't met the right girl yet," but I'm not sure that applies to people who think they may be asexual. It seems very likely to me that PAUSE's daughter may be jumping to gun. Surely the folks in this comments section, valuing sex as we do, can see a problem with that. This isn't just missing out on the school trip. It's missing out on a lifetime of pleasure by closing herself off (if that's what she's doing).



How does one know if one is asexual? I feel like that's akin to asking "how do you know you don't like spinach if you haven't tried it?", but I consider it more important.



42 Philophile-- Asking if asexuality can be healthy because it doesn't lead to reproduction is like asking if educating women in the 3rd world can be healthy since it leads to women having only 1-2 children instead of 9-12. Answer: That's a pretty narrow definition of health.
272
@270 Crimson41, I am really glad you found my words helpful. I just wanted to share my experience, because it seemed that people who aren't familiar with non-binary gender should have at least one real example, but it's really nice if it helps people who are dealing with it themselves.

For what it's worth, what I've found helps with self-acceptance is partly just getting older and further away from an environment, like Middle School, where there are in-groups and outsiders and so forth. In a larger environment, it's more just everyone has their own social groups. I've never lived in a small town though where that effect might not happen. The other thing that helps, a lot really, is surrounding yourself with people who accept you. The people who don't accept you - not worth your time. Maybe you need to put up with them for work, so you do so, but they have failed your test for them, so they are less important to your life. Maybe you accept some family anyway, because you have enough other attachment, but you recognize that you are doing them the favor of accepting them despite this flaw in them. You don't need to bring it up, just know it in your own head. Too many people worry about how other people are judging them and then forget that they too get to judge other people. And the ones who can't treat you with respect - they don't get a passing grade. But the good ones, the ones who respect and care about you, nurture those connections. Remember that these are the awesome people, and don't take them for granted.

I think as one ages, they just need to start deciding, am I going to keep narrowing myself to try to fit other people's ideas and desires about me or am I going to accept myself, even if it means losing some of these people. I prefer the latter, and it turns out, you often don't lose many people. A lot of people are open to learning more and trying to understand. Even if they are confused or bad at it at first, a lot of people will, given a bit of time, really surprise you in a good way. Just be gentle with people when they are first exposed. It takes time to understand new concepts or change one's view of someone they already know.

Also, periods do suck. Avoiding them is a great thing to do if you have the option. Totally on-board with the periods are awful thing.
273
Periods suck even if you define yourself as a woman.
274
@Crinoline

"42 Philophile-- Asking if asexuality can be healthy because it doesn't lead to reproduction is like asking if educating women in the 3rd world can be healthy since it leads to women having only 1-2 children instead of 9-12. Answer: That's a pretty narrow definition of health. "

I know. I was thinking how much it resembled 'gay is unnatural' in a gay man's column. Tried to clarify that having no appetite was very different to me than liking weird food or sex. Having no sex drive is very different from wanting to use birth control, or being attracted to ponies, or butt sex, or choosing to just masturbate and stay single or other ways of managing urges.
275
@uncreative, before reading this thread the concept of "agender" was such a head-scratcher that I never made any effort to understand it. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience here; I still can't quite imagine what it feels like to be agender, but you've explained it so clearly that I understand the concept now. It's very kind of you to share so much about yourself here, and I appreciate it.
276
Mr. Venn, @259, by "neutral pronouns," do you mean "they/them"? Do you propose to use "they" for everyone who hasn't specified a pronoun, or only for people whose external presentation isn't clearly demonstrating a preferred gender. (Where "clearly" is not going to be perfect, but will avoid the issue of putting people on the spot.)
277
A lot of vitriol between posters this week. Those of you calling Lavagirl names because her perception is different than yours are hypocrites. Perception is exactly the thing we are all talking about anyway... our perceptions of ourselves....others perceptions of us....all within the context of conventional gender and sex identification.... So how then can you say that your perception is the right one? There is no such thing in a philosophical debate about identity.

@Uncreative, i agree with post 275 and i thank you for your patience in sharing your perspective.
278
"I don't understand all the 18- to 21-year-olds among my friends who are declaring themselves "gender-neutral." I am a bit older and have always been interested in queer culture and history. But it feels like they have forgotten, or never knew"

Herp derp.
279
Ms Erica - Zed pronouns for choice for anyone who doesn't choose to declare a preference, off the top of my head. There's probably an improvement, but I just didn't like the professor's habit in that last link of yours of pressuring students into pinning their colours openly to a fixed mast.
280
Mr. Venn, what does "Zed pronouns for choice" mean in English? That if you were in a seminar with people whose pronoun preference was unstated, you would say "I agree with zed's point," even if the person seemed to be obviously male?
281
@273 I am not about to disagree with that.
282
Dan, great Playboy interview.. My iPhone 4, is dying on me, can't access the comments section on SLLOTD.. Got to the Interview though.
283
Ms Erica - Whatever the possessive beginning in "z" happens to be; presumably it would have been part of the intro that one wouldn't presume gender from appearance as an equivalent to the desire to pronoun people correctly.
284
nice
286
@ LavaGirl - You aren't the sort of person I was talking about. Mr. Ven is suggesting the inevitability of eugenics to rid the world of gay people should science ever unearth an explanation for why there are gay people. I was acknowledging that people who would be in support of that sort of behavior will always exist but disputing how much power they will have in the future.

That said, research has been done on gender identity and the jury is no longer out on the subject. Trans* people are not delusional. Their brains are physically aligned with the gender they identify as. You are, quite simply, wrong.

http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content…

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20…

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles…

287
Mr. Ven, unless you were attending Catholic school in the 15th century, I am uncertain why you believe that the lack of prejudice you experienced is indicative of a lack of historical prejudice. Being left handed has been punishable by death in more places and over more time than being gay. The religious obsession with same sex attraction is, relatively speaking, pretty new.

I'm sorry that you feel the way you do about science. And I hope the positive changes we have seen within the past 50 or so years are an indication of how fast things will continue to improve. Then maybe you'll eventually be able to share my optimism.
288
@286 it's not that straight-forward. To my knowledge, no one has tested children's brains, and then predicted accurately which children would turn out to be trans. The fact that adult trans people's brains look like the brains of their declared gender may only mean that brains develop gender in response to a gendered society.

@283 thanks for explaining; I lean towards "they/them/their" as terms people already know (and which have a long history as singular), but I'm on board with the idea of avoiding other pronouns until people specify them.
289
My note to MiscKitty @288 does not suggest trans people are delusional; just that people may or may not be born trans -- seems to me that the jury is still out.
290
Ms Kitty - I don't think my experience proves anything, but only threw it in case you thought my response a bit touchy.

My point was that it has been proven for a long time that it is perfectly easy to "do religion correctly" without persecuting the left-handed. One was able over the course of history to dismantle that prejudice without pulling down the whole edifice of religion. Galileo was persecuted and has been forgiven, perhaps exonerated.

On the other hand (and the prejudice against sodomy is quite old enough for me), at best it's a division among faiths whether orientation/gender prejudices can be corrected while "doing religion correctly".

You are saying two prejudices are comparable because of the severity of expression, with which I don't disagree as far it goes. I am comparing the eradication of various prejudices to one of those games in which one pulls pieces out of a structure without its collapsing, that left-handedness happily proved to be one of those prejudices near the top that was able to be pulled off with relative ease, but that gender/orientation are prejudices right at the foundation, almost impossible to remove.

It's not the science, it's the people who end up in control of applying it. Solve the whole universe (like checkers, which I believe has been solved) if you like as long as it remains nothing but knowledge. If someone somewhere knows *the* exact cause of sexual orientation and has been sitting on that knowledge for it never to be used or shared, I salute that person as one might acknowledge the Sudoku World Champion. But I sincerely doubt that the entity funding that scientist would permit it to remain knowledge for its own sake.

291
Nature versus nurture is a really difficult thing to determine. Even if we learned that newborn babies had a set gender preference and identify trans people at birth, we still couldn't say it was nature. Fingerprints are my favorite example. Fingerprints are known to be primarily nurture (I was going to say entirely nurture, but it looks like there might be some genetic predisposition influencing the outcome), but they are determined before birth. And once set, extremely difficult to change (well, at least painful... you can add scars or you can lose them entirely if you lose your fingers). It's important to remember that caused environmentally does not necessarily mean malleable. If gender is similar, then it wouldn't be easy to test for. But I have no idea if it is. And even though we have some understanding of how fingerprints are formed, you can't really control or choose what sorts a baby will have, because the factors are too difficult to influence.
292
@286. I will look at those links later. Monday morning here- week begins.
My only query re brain scans on trans* people are- were any done when they were children? The brain- as we know now- is elastic. It changes with the experiences the person goes thru.. I'm keeping my mind open.
293
Mr Hunter - And Mr Limbaugh and I both appreciate Penelope Pitstop.
294
I just read you made the same point. EricaP
295
LavaGirl, thinking of you today, with the situation in Sydney still unfolding...
296
I consider gender to be a purely biological and physiological quality. Any additional meaning attached to it is purely social and subjective. Biological gender does exist on a spectrum, and it's scientific nature is not fully understood.

IMO, modern language need not and should not have any gender specific usage, simply because it should not be necessary to perform an assessment of someone's biological characteristics prior to initiating the most basic communication with or about them. Similarly, Sir/Ma'am/Mr/Mrssz are pretty much obsolete at this point. I also think it is not necessary to include gender on official forms, as a person's gender is immaterial in most legal matters. It could be argued that the observable character of one's biological gender should be a part of their private medical record and should never appear on official documentation outside of medical or forensic contexts.

I would be curious to hear some perspectives from speakers of other languages in which gender specific usage is much more pervasive than it is in English.

I firmly believe that people should do whatever makes them happy, but I do have a point of criticism of the voluntary adoption of non-traditional gender identity. If I were to identify as "trans-racial" and to insist that even though I was born white, society should acknowledge me as a black man, or as "aracial" or "racial-fluid," I don't think anyone could be expected to take me seriously. And really, what's so different about race and gender, or for that matter, hair color? They are all biological characteristics that are sometimes ambiguous, sometimes atypical, but nevertheless what they are. They both carried strict social expectations of behavior and status at one time, but that is changing. Many of us are preferentially attracted to particular values of these variables. But in the end, they are only physical characteristics. Shouldn't we just let gender blend into the countless other variations of the human form that need not be acknowledged outside of medical/practical consideration or personal aesthetic/sexual preference?
297
@ Erica P & LavaGirl

To my knowledge, no predictive studies have been done on children. But I will dig around later and if I find anything, I'll share it. All of the studies I posted were done before the individuals involved began receiving hormone therapy, which is an important bit of information.

Regarding the "nature vs nurture" question, I would recommend that you both read about David Reimer. A brief summary: David Reimer was a cis boy who, after a botched circumcision, was subjected to removal of his testicles and was raised as a girl. They begun giving him estrogen when he was eight. All of this was done under the supervision of a prominent psychologist at Johns Hopkins. It didn't work. They were unable to turn David Reimer into Brenda Reimer.

The details of the case are truly bizarre and it certainly isn't sufficient evidence from which we can draw definitive conclusions, but I thought it was worth mentioning just the same. If you'd like to read more about it, the Wikipedia page is a great place to start:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reime…

@ LavaGirl - Something else that might interest you regarding brain elasticity - studies similar to those I linked have been done to compare the brains of homosexual and heterosexual individuals. As with the studies of trans* individuals, they found that there are structural differences in the brains of the individuals they examined. For example, the suprachiasmatic nucleus of homosexual males is almost twice the size of the suprachiasmatic nucleus of heterosexual males (Swaab & Hofman 1990).

So if you believe that brain elasticity is relevant in trans* people, do you also apply that belief to gay people? Or do you believe, in the case of the latter, that it's okay that their brains, and therefore their identities, are different? And if you accept that the difference in gay people isn't a delusion, why not accept that the difference in trans people isn't, either?
298
Yes. Very bloody scary. I'm many miles Nth of Sydney, in the state of Queensland. My third son has just driven down there for Xmas, with his girlfriend. I have friends living there.. Thanks.
299
Yes, the situation in Sydney is terrible, and I hope everyone comes out alive and safe.
300
And the Siege continues.
I realized that each foetus starts as female- then several weeks in, the male transition will occur, or not. The male with the XY chromosomes. The females with XX.
Clever , as it is the male who determines the sex of offspring. A male contains the male and the female chromosomes. So gender, when one looks at it from all angles, has some porous edges.
Seeing this Male energy unleashed in this siege. And all that vicious, cruel
Male energy erupting in Syria and Iraq. It is all, very complex. Lots of shades . Certainly, it would seem, Gender lies on a continuum..
303
@ 302

Hunter, as someone who speaks a few other European languages, I agree with you. Biological gender is so woven into the Slavic and Romance languages that "gender-neutral" speech is basically impossible. Verb endings, adjectives, and other parts of speech all match the gender of the person acting or acted upon. In Russian there is a "neuter" gender, but it would feel bizarre and dehumanizing to speak of a person that way. There are default genders for a person who might be either - a "chelovek" (person) in Russian is male, whereas "une personne" (person) in French is female - but when you actually speak of a real person, the linguistic contortions that would be required to avoid gender would be too much for anyone to bear.
304
d
305
It looks like we have some new neighbors. Unless you live in a city that has a fuck-you attitude to newcomers, you're going to want to know something about them.

Because, let's face it, most people don't know (or don't know they know) folks who are gender-neutral, bigender, a gender, pangender, genderless, genderfluid, genderqueer, gender-nonconforming, gender-questioning, gender-variant, genderfuck, trigender, and/or inter gender.

Since it's the way we learn here in 21st century, there is an acute need to hear personal narratives about people on what I'll call the gender spectrum. For some, it may be idle curiosity, but in my case I want to hear people's lived experiences.

Of course, I'm going to respect whatever gender-appropriate pronouns may pop out of the discourse whether or not I'm familiar with the people they apply to. But this is age when we're exposed to saturation-level coverage of identity politics. This brings us endless interviews and profiles of people who simply want their identity recognized and respected. It's easier to be persuaded by another human being's story than by volumes of peer-reviewed theory coming out of the country's queer- and gender studies departments.

Where I draw the line, however, is when a cause feels its necessary to attack others in order to advance its claims. A theme in the gender-indenity struggle is the need to escape the binary system that recognizes only male and female genders.

Great idea! But can we please do that without creating a different binary in which gender-freedom advocates toss brickbats at cis-gendered males?

Please - make a space for yourself in the society with help from allies, create your new pronouns and be happy! Just be kind to others along the way.
306
@50 I think it is pretty insensitive to say things like, "I really can't wait until we get past all this crap and can just move on to 'hi I'm so and so'. Because seriously, who gives a shit? Good people are good people regardless of their gender id"
Yes, people should be judged on their actions rather than just their identities, but that does not mean that identities are not important. In fact, I would wager that your own gender identity is very important to you and a core part of how to see and perceive yourself. Also, gender identity is not the same thing as gender norms. For instance, I identify as male and have always felt it as a core identity. Similarly, I also identify as gay and that is also a core identity. But I do not support traditional gender norms and am a gender non-conformist.
I feel when we say to people who have non-normative gender identities that they shouldn't make a big deal about their identities and bring it up in social interactions because gender shouldn't matter, it's the person who matters, we come from a position of privilege. We ignore that our traditional, male or female, gender identities are acknowledged and respected and are always part of social interactions and yet we tell nontraditional gender identified people that their identities should not be acknowledged as it's not important.
This reminds me of how ignorant straight people sometimes complain about why gay people have to "come out" and make such a hue and cry about their sexual orientation as no one cares and we should all move on from focusing on sexual orientation. They forget that sexual orientation is a fundamental aspect of one's personality and heterosexual orientation is by default acknowledged in culture. Gay/bi people have to come out and have to declare their identity and asking them not to make a "Big deal" about things that "don't matter" is akin to asking them to be invisible.
307
@306 - I look at it this way: I am not a christian. I am agnostic, you could round me up to atheist. People wish me Merry Christmas all the time. They mean no offense, it is standard speak for our culture as a tiding of hello. I could correct them; they have just made an incorrect assumption that I believe in mythical sky spirits and celebrate the re-packaging of pagan rituals.

When you get to the point of knowing someone on an intimate level, then one usually enters the realm of trying to navigate the world of personal affronts (like how I remind myself not to mention Halloween to a colleague who is of some religion that doesn't celebrate Halloween). Correcting day-to-day language spoken with no ill intent and insisting that strangers understand personal identifiers comes across as entitled and offensive.
308
Hey Tim Horton:
I was thinking of you~ message me over at the yahoo address if you want and update me on your efforts to reinvigorate your sex life with Mrs. Horton.

Also, I think you have the "entitled" thing backwards @307. Is it entitled to want someone to acknowledge your identity correctly?

I understand what you're saying about goodwill and no ill intent and all that, but what you're advocating seems to me to be a form or erasure or elision. It's not so much affront that we're talking about as simply making room for someone in the minority to be visible.
309
@306

Not invisible, normal. Unremarkabe... in a good way. Sexual orientation is going through a similar process. First someone made of big deal about coming out as gay and all the allies made a big deal about accepting them. Nowadays, many people I know who are gay or elsewhere on the orientation spectrum never really "come out," I just hear that they are seeing someone of the same gender, and I think "Oh. Cool" and go on about my day. (I live in San Francisco... results my vary by location, of course) The spectrum has broadened too. Society used to focus on orientation binaries (gay/straight), but now we have as many orientations as we have values of any other identity variable. There are also people who engage in non-hetero sex and don't feel the need to apply that to their identity labels at all. So as someone else mentioned, I would say it's unnecessary to say "Hi I'm Todd, I'll be your gay waiter today" and that does not mean I want gays to be invisible. It's just that, really, who cares? Of course in many communities there is still rampant discrimination and harassment of anyone who falls outside of gender or orientation norms, and how to deal with that is a separate question, but ideally, as more and more people express their identities in more diverse ways, it's going to become less of a big deal, regardless of the specifics, and that's a good thing.
310
Well that all went to shit.. I know nothing about guns- except thru movies and TV.
That crazy man was visible thru the cafe window for a minute , minute and a half yesterday. So, a sniper couldn't have taken him?
Our Police, bit like yours- shoot and kill , when they could have shot in the leg , not killed. Irate husbands, a mentally Ill person.
This guy wasn't going to be talked down. Now, two innocents are dead too..
311
When it comes to when to correct errors, that is a very different issue. I don't go around correcting everyone who misgenders me. If I'm at a store doing some shopping and somebody says, "Can I help you, ma'am?" or "Excuse me miss, you dropped something." I don't correct the gender error, because they don't care and I don't care that much and we aren't going to have deep and meaningful interactions. It's annoying in the little paper cuts sort of way, but I'm used to it. However, if it's a social setting, then I do correct them unless I don't have the energy. Because if I'm going to socialize with somebody, it's a big thing to get wrong, and it's hard to have a good, close friendship if they misunderstand this basic part of me, and if I wait a long time to tell them, it'll become this weird secret I was keeping from them. Not all social interactions will lead to good friendships, but why sabotage them right from the start?

So, it's socially important. But random strangers or people in passing, enh, whatever. Although I do sometimes correct people without thinking, the same way one might, on autopilot, say the correct pronunciation of one's name when one hears it mispronounced.

I'm going into detail about my personal gender here simply because it's the thread topic, and many people will have a greater empathy and acceptance of genderqueer folk if they have greater understanding. I can't speak for all genderqueer folk, of course, but my one story seems to be of some value to some people, and it's what I can do.

@296 I agree that gender is subjective. However, subjective things are deeply important. Religion is also purely subjective, but many people are quite connected and feel their religion, or lack thereof, is a deeply meaningful part of their life. Other people don't give much thought at all to religion. People vary a lot. But part of having meaningful social connections is having people understand you. The subjective is most of what identity is. Subjective experiences are most of what life is, for that matter. So, you can't just write off something because it is subjective. The emotional qualities in music are 100% subjective (although most humans will perceive them similarly because most humans process the experience similarly), but I find music deeply meaningful and important largely because of those emotional, subjective responses.
312
@uncreative, thanks for the words of advice. I'm kind of just starting to open up about being nongender/agender to people, and changed my pronouns on facebook, that sort of thing. I guess I'm really lucky my partner was 1) not surprised and 2) not bothered in the least and just happy with me being who I am. But I do struggle with the self-acceptance sometimes and I'm sure you're right to say that comes first. After spending my early 20s trying to convince myself to be comfortable in dresses and heels, now that I dress completely androgynous, I feel so much better and true to myself. It also helps that I have a number of trans friends and I recognise the difference between them and me, in that they generally need corrective surgery, and I feel (like you) that I'd be pretty much the same, and feel pretty much the same, no matter what genatalia I have. So, eh, not trans...just...outside of the box, I guess.

Anyways, thanks again for your ongoing discussion.

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