I've been writing and drafting a huge post about gender, and my gender specifically, for most of the last ten years; the current version is about 1100 words long so far. The perfect being the enemy of the good, however, and thinking way too much about things to ever do them being an archenemy of mine, I'm going to try forgetting about that and just getting some tl;dr down here.
Here is an awesome FAQ. The short definition given there is: Genderqueer is a term used to describe those whose gender is non-normative (“queer”) or who “queer” gender through presentation or other means (queer in the latter case is being used as a verb).
What do you mean, you're genderqueer?
I guess the short version is that it doesn't feel particularly natural, easy or comfortable for me to think of myself as a woman, but nor do I feel like a man. I don't really understand most of the assumptions people make about gender as a binary divide between Men and Women. From what other people tell me, it's possible to have a strong, steady, innate feeling of one's own gender; I'm pretty sure mine is all socially constructed, however. For me, 'woman' has always worked best as a political identity. I think I first saw the word 'genderqueer' at the age of sixteen, and I've been circling back to it ever since then. Since this year, I've finally been brave enough to use it about myself. (This is very condensed! Feel free to ask me more questions if you want more details.)
Are you changing your name and pronouns?
Well, I am moving more and more to using the name Rae instead of Rachel. It sounds pleasingly gender-ambiguous, looks beautiful written down, and keeps a link to the name my mum carefully and lovingly chose for me. Besides all of that, it's also the name of the amazing Arctic explorer Dr John Rae.
As for pronouns, my favourites are undoubtedly ve/vis/ver, as coined by Keri Hulme and used in one of my favourite books, Greg Egan's Diaspora. E.g., Ve gave me vis business card. I gave ver mine. These aren't widely known, though, so for practical purposes I would love it if people used they/their/them when referring to me. Singular they is grammatical and has plenty of precedent in English.
She/her/her is, well, okay, I guess. I'm used to being called by these pronouns, obviously. But using they, or any gender-neutral pronouns, for me instead would be very much appreciated.
Are you planning any medical transition stuff?
Short answer: nope. If there's a longer answer, that's probably for a different blog post in the future.
But what does your boyfriend think?
He is lovely and supportive, as well as being handsome, clever, and tolerant of my love for bad puns.
This is all very complicated. I want moar info!
For other people's writing, I'm going to throw down an unordered bunch of links:
- Genderqueer Identities has looooots of info and news about just that, and is also the source for the genderqueer/non-binary pride flag above.
- Beyond the Binary is a new online magazine for UK non-binary people. I helped fund them on IndieGoGo and they sent me a nice cloth patch.
- CN Lester is a genderqueer/androgynous singer-musician who makes stunningly beautiful music. I enjoy reading their blog, and this post in particular, On being a traitor really resonated with me.
- Genderfork is "a supportive community for the expression of identities across the gender spectrum."
- I'm not generally a redditor, but /r/genderqueer is a nice, low-key, positive place to lurk.
- I liked this article about an agender teenager finding their place in the world.
- The Genderqueer Activist is a space for coordinating non-binary activism for greater effect.
- There's even a Nonbinary Wiki.
- Perhaps you would also like the stuff in my genderqueer tag on Pinboard?
It doesn't feel right to link to them all individually without asking, but there are many genderqueer/agender/non-binary bloggers and MeFites whose writing has helped me in thinking about all this stuff, and I'd like to thank them.
That is pretty much everything I wanted to say, I think.