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LovinglyMiscontrued's avatar

Am I Genderqueer?

Asked by LovinglyMiscontrued (168 points ) June 30th, 2012

I’ve always had a sense of feminine and masculine traits. I tend to lean more on the feminine side but I do also feel masculine. I am well aware of my masculinity when I’m around women. When I’m around men I’m well aware that I’m not as masculine. As a child I have always felt different and still do as an adult. I’ve just recently within the last few years opened my mind to other aspects of gender and sexual preference. Now I’m on this journey of finding who I am. I know to some people they don’t care about labels, but for me I’ve always had this desire to belong and deep down I think we all do. It would be great if I could get a Genderqueers thoughts on this to get a better sense of how they identify and feel or to find out if anyone else feels the same way I do. Thank you.

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18 Answers

jerv's avatar

Personally, I am secure in both my masculinity and my heterosexuality, yet even I do not fit in. I mention that (especially the last part) so that you will know where I am coming from when I say that the only label that really matters is “human being”.

That isn’t some huggy-huggy feelgood bullshit, but rather a statement that one’s gender, sexual orientation, etcetera, has no real bearing on whether you belong or not, so it’s best to just do what you do and let others accept or reject you just as they would if you had a label attached to you.

Who you are matters less than how confident you are. Wear whichever genders clothing you feel more comfortable in, sleep with the gender(s) that brings you satisfaction, and just know that you belong just as much as I do.

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bookish1's avatar

@jerv: But in a world where labels of gender are slapped onto us at birth and impact us everywhere, from paperwork to employment to medical treatment to people’s attitudes to potential for violence/abuse, they do matter, unfortunately. Saying a gender label doesn’t matter is like saying race or class doesn’t matter because we are all human beings at the end of the day. That’s just not the world we live in.

@LovinglyMiscontrued: There are indeed others who feel like you. Despite all the pressures the world puts on us, the truth that I live is that no one can tell you what your gender is. (I went to a therapist who tried to do this for me and I ditched him as soon as I came to my senses.) And, moreover, there is no one definition of “Genderqueer” that provides a checklist for you to see whether it matches you or not. This fact can be liberating and imposing/overwhelming as well. There are as many non-binary identities other than Genderqueer as there are non-binary trans people, seriously. I guess I’m not being very helpful here, but I’d be glad to talk more about this via PM.

ETpro's avatar

It took me ages to work out my own struggle with this. None of the usual labels ever seemed to quite fit me. To thine own self be true. I wrote up my story here. I’m always happy to share any thoughts I have on the struggle to self identify. Most importantly, you get to shape the mold. You don’t have to fit yourself into one prefashioned by a society used to thinking in binary terms about gender.

downtide's avatar

The term “genderqueer” is a broad label that covers anyone who does not identify as fully male or fully female. It can include people who feel that they are inbetween male and female, or a bit of both, or fluctuating between the two, or some other gender outside of the male/female binary, or of no gender at all.

Some genderqueer people identify as transgendered (and vice-versa) but transsexual people like myself (who are also transgendered) generally don’t call themselves gender-queer because their gender identity is usually firmly male or female, hence the need for medical transition.

Do note though, that it is perfectly possible for a woman to feel masculine and have a masculine self-expression whilst still identifying as fully female. And vice-versa. So just because you may feel that you have traits that are in opposition to your gender-of-birth, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re gender-queer.

I do think labels are useful, as long as you don;t get too bogged down worrying about whether a label is right for you. A label isn’t for you; it serves the same purpose as it does on an item of clothing; it instructs other people on what you are made of and how best to care for you. Just remember that people have different understandings of what a label means; so if you call yourself genderqueer then some people are going to have the wrong impression of what that means to you.

muppetish's avatar

Personally, I am incredibly anti-label. I think they are confusing. I think they are set up to make people believe that they have to have a word in order to construct their identity and belong to something. It is one of those things about language and society crossing over that rubs me the wrong way. That being said, @downtide is right in that genderqueer is a umbrella term that encompasses several very different forms of gender identity. In my case, I do not like the gender binary. I do not believe that specific traits are inherently masculine or feminine. When I choose to wear one colour or participate in one activity, it has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the collective body of decisions known as “me”. I do identify as being genderqueer, but there are many, many people who also identify as genderqueer who maintain a completely different definition of the word.

Some people who identify as genderqueer flip between genders: male one day, female the next. Others believe they are wholly both genders at once. Some believe they cross into a third gender outside the gender binary. See how it becomes a confused word? So if you want the word, take it. Embrace it. But it doesn’t mean any one thing in particular.

I recommend browsing the genderqueer subreddit. You get a good impression of how many different identities this one word refers to.

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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You are whatever gender identity you say you are.

wundayatta's avatar

Labels are political things. You are who you are, regardless of what label you apply. You choose a label in order to have a way to present yourself to the world. In order to establish a toehold on the shore of public identity.

To identify as genderqueer is to first off say that you are different. It generally takes a great deal of need to be willing to establish yourself as different, publicly speaking. It usually means you really don’t like the way it has been inheriting the labels your parents and friends put on you. You just don’t feel at all comfortable.

You take on an unusual label in order to get out front of your unusualness. You risk being discriminated against or bashed. It takes a bit of bravery to do that for many people. It becomes a statement.

Sometimes people do it to call attention to themselves. I think you probably have to be quite extroverted to do that. But for introverts, I think it is something done as a last resort. They need to be who they are, and they can only do so if other people understand they are different. So it is a political statement and a wish to be given respect for being something different.

I don’t know how well it works. I know I prefer not to label myself with respect to the ways I am different. My differences do not have to do with sexual identity. They have to do with mental health. Very few people in the real world know my mental health status, and those people do not include my family. So, politically, I have decided it is easier to pass for normal than to call attention to my issues. Each of us makes our own choices about these kinds of things.

jerv's avatar

@bookish1 You seem to imply that the natural order of things is to be as our society is today; that Western culture is correct to be ashamed of nudity, that it is acceptable to dehumanize others merely because they do not share the same opinions as you, that one must submit to those with more wealth…

Native Americans had no issues with those men who identified as women. The fact that we have devolved to the point where we have major hangups over it tells me that we are trying to be as unnatural as possible, That we are trying to shed our humanity just to prove that we are not primitive.

No, you are correct that that is no longer the world we live in… but it once was and should be again.

bookish1's avatar

@jerv: No, heaven forbid, I did not mean that “the natural order of things is to be as our society is today”. Meaning gets mangled sometimes through online communication ;) I didn’t think we had any fundamental disagreements here.
But in society as it is now, for people who are not white, or heterosexual, or middle class, or cisgendered/cissexual, or stereotypically ‘sane,’ etc. it is often important to have names for the attributes/identities for which they are discriminated against. There’s no need for Straight Pride Day because that is every day, everywhere, for instance.
These people (I am one of them) still have to function in a society that largely doesn’t give a rat’s ass about you if you are not white, heterosexual, middle class/rich, cis, binary gendered, etc. etc.
If I didn’t make use of the labels which the fortunately flexible and evolving English language offers me, I would be stuck still being called a “woman who identifies as a man” or some other unfortunate patronizing crap. Having a label both helps me navigate this highly imperfect world as it is, rather than wishing it away, and also gives me a slight chance to modify other people’s attitudes.

MissAnthrope's avatar

It sounds like you might be. As has been mentioned, ‘genderqueer’ covers a broad spectrum of gender identity. It’s whatever feels the most right to you. I consider myself genderqueer; I like being female and female-bodied, but I have a male side that can’t be ignored. I started experimenting with cross-dressing in the last year or so and it does something really unique for me. It’s not really sexual, just internally very satisfying.

jerv's avatar

@bookish1 This seems to parallel another discussion I am in with @wundayatta regarding group identity. While there are certain labels that apply to me without question (there is no refuting that I am a white heterosexual male), there are enough aspects of me that cannot easily be labeled, and I consider it foolish to attempt to do so. Maybe I have enough self-esteem to disregard rules I feel are petty and/or arbitrary, maybe I have just resigned myself to acknowledging that no matter what label I adopt, I will never truly fit in and thus am more willing to endure the fact that society is flawed than I am willing to change who I am.

Either way, I feel no obligation to compromise myself for the comfort or convenience of others, and every birth-male I have known who feels more comfortable in a dress and heels than in “masculine” clothes feels that way. Society is made of people, and that means that people can change society. That is why women are allowed to vote in America; people saw an aspect of society that was flawed and fought to have it changed. A society that cannot adapt will not survive, and another society that is better suited to reality will take it’s place; whether by change or replacement, society will accept new concepts.

bookish1's avatar

@jerv: Yes, I agree that society is deeply flawed. That is why I feared being beaten at a bar yesterday, because some little snotnosed teenagers couldn’t figure out if I was a “man” or a “woman.” Note that this had nothing to do with my self-esteem, or claiming any sort of identity or label. I didn’t even speak to them.
Mods, feel free to delete this. I know it’s off topic.

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jerv's avatar

@bookish1 It’s always tough being different… and by “tough”, I mean that sometimes somebody threatens to beat your ass. That is part of the challenge.

Then again, I cannot help but recall why a friend of mine moved out of the Midwest; a scary story involving a disappointed and confused would-be rapist. They had no inkling that she wasn’t fully female until she was forced to undress at knife-point. My point is that it’s also dangerous even for those that appear/act normal because asshats are everywhere.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I think people spend way, way too much time trying to pigeon-hole traits as either masculine or feminine. Bloody hell, what difference does it make? Half the shit people attribute gender to is inanimate anyway. I mean, we’re not French, fer chrissakes!

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