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Essay: Genderqueer

Posted on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 in Genderqueer

Are you a boy or a girl?” A perplexed waitress at a Dunkin’ Donut in the heart of New York City asked of me when I entered the shop.  “I just wanted a muffin; I don’t think my gender matters.”  I said but she didn’t seem to understand, she was rather too interested on what was in my pants. “Are you a boy or a girl?”  I sighed.  I don’t identify as either being genderqueer but I don’t like having to explain myself all the time to everyone.  Mostly because people can only wrap their head around the gender binary and not think outside the box.  It got me thinking though, why do perfect strangers care too much about what’s in my pants?  It doesn’t matter to anyone unless they wanted to sleep with me.  But, for some reasons, this lady’s whole identity was formed around a world of boys and girls.  I bite the bullet since I really wanted my muffin, “I’m a girl.”  She let out a relieved sigh and then got my muffin.  Again, I was forced into the oppressive gender binary to comply with the needs of an oppressive society.  It isn’t just the males that oppress; it is also other women who’ve been conditioned to think as such.

In an ideal society, I would have been able to get my muffin without being hassled about what’s in my pants.  However, this is America – home of the free if you are rich and fix into neat boxes.  Most people can’t wrap their head around genderqueer – which is outside of the gender binary.  I am something else – not just another gender but I am beyond gender.  People can at least understand transsexual, but when it comes to genderqueer, people just don’t get it.  They want to box you in.  I am sometimes envious of my transsexual allies because they have a gender identity to claim – even if they are handicapped by being born into the wrong body.  I, however, have no place to go.  No identity.  I suck it up and usually go with lesbian because I am female bodied and like women but that doesn’t describe me.  I’m queer but queer is considered to be such a dirty word by polite society.

The LGlittleBinvisibleT community has no love for anyone who’s not a Stepford Gay.  If you don’t fit the mold of what a “safe” gay is – being gay but assimilating, the community turns their back on you.  It is a threat to society, the mainstream, the social constructed order, to be an individual and think for yourself.  We live in a society based on group think with team sports, entertainment and job rhetoric paving the way for the classless individual who functions as a cog in the well oiled machine of greed and anonymity.  I – for one, am not going to be part of any machine.  I’m not going to wear the clothes they tell me to wear, I’m not going to watch their programming (it’s called programming for a reason), and not going to take part in their world of a giant rat race.

I am going to fight the system with knowledge and education, compassion and understanding.   As Crass said, “You can’t change the system by bombing number ten, the people will go into hiding but they’ll be back again.”  The only way to change the system is to change the people.  The only way to change the people is with education.

Sometimes, it’s really hard, trying to change things.  I struggle with trying to get people to understand what “genderqueer” means.  Sometimes, it’s dangerous just being who you are.  Every third day, a transperson is murdered.  I’ve been assaulted before at a punk show which was supposed to be about peace and equality for being a “homosexual. “  I just want a world where I can go to punk shows without getting punched and get a muffin without being hassled about what’s in my pants.  I can’t do it alone.  Will you help me?

Bring on the comments

  1. Katie-O says:

    Really good point! I hear ya and totally agree.

  2. Draco says:

    I am now intrigued by you & am bookmarking you to read more later. I have class tomorrow & it’s nearing 3 am. You remind me of myself, though arguably loving punk way more. I went straight to the goth sensibilities, both in music and dress, though I do love me some fun hair colours. I currently have green hair dye in my bathroom for when I tire of the platinum blonde upkeep. Anyway, I’m rambling when i should be masturbating. Have a great night.

  3. Kyle says:

    I am nodding my head over here. Over the past year or so, I’ve come to grips with myself as genderqueer, of being outside the binary, of rejecting the ‘Or’ that people seem to feel is necessary. And it all works inside my head just fine. Then we get to the place where we need or want to explain ourselves to others and it’s a real challenge. Sometimes I just want to get in their faces with “I’m both and neither, deal with it” but most of the time I want to educate and that’s what I’m struggling with. The words we use to describe gender are binary, and we end up using lots more words to get around that restriction.

  4. Jess Five says:

    Yes, genderqueer is really hard to explain succinctly because first you need to explain gender to explain being outside of gender. I have a hard time explaining it because it’s just something I feel. It’s not like I want to stop being a woman – I mean, obviously, I am female-bodied, but I just don’t feel like that should be a defining characteristic of me. I tend to view people as people – not as categorizing them in my head into different compartments until they show that they do define themselves by labels themselves. I know a woman who is very forward-thinking – hardcore feminist and everything and she just hates all men until they prove themselves not to be a conditioned chauvinist. I disagree with her way of handling the world because you can’t judge people based on their gender – even if most men don’t get what it’s like to deal with the world being female bodied – not all of them are jerks. They just need to be educated. It just gets really exhausting always being a catalyst for upsetting the “status quo” by just being myself but if you aren’t going to teach people, who else are you expecting to? We all need to work together to deconstruct the oppressive hierarchies that plague our society.

  5. Pythos says:

    What I don’t like is being asked “when is the operation?” when I choose to wear a skirt opposed to pants. A)It’s a stupid question, and B)It’s none of your business.

    Do people ever ask women that when they wear pants?

  6. evoltech says:

    Muffins are delicious! Thanks for sharing and staying strong. Solidarity

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