Coming Out as Genderqueer
Deal With It
You know, I gave quite a lot of thought to the idea of writing about this topic. Probably too much thought, really. A pretty primary concern was, What is the point? You know, is it like an ally thing? Because I’m less visible than most LGBT folks, so solidarity or whatever … or maybe just becoming visible should be the point? Given that my own understanding has been decades in the making, maybe talking about it could be helpful to any younger versions of myself who might be out there? Because, while I can say with confidence, I’m here, I’m genderqueer, get used to it!, the truth is I really have no clue how common or rare it is, to find genderqueer folk in the population in general.
Anyway, the biggest reason I just went round and round about it in my head was that I leaned towards dismissing the question of if there was anything in it for me to “come out” … I told myself that there really wasn’t, but that was really kind of a lie. It’s a lie because I have done this with some folks in my real, not-online life, and I got two kinds of responses about it, both kind of troubling.
The less troubling response was the shrug. Gender is super important in our society, but I think the whole point of making the concept of gender a binary is to keep it simple. It’s just either/or, black or white, ones and zeroes. Everybody desperately needs to know if you’re a boy or a girl, but once that part is settled, the consideration of gender itself, as a concept, just goes away. Gender is made invisible because nobody has to really think about it, and I’m pushing against all of that when I point out that I don’t fit within the binary concept. So, I can understand if you want to shrug and say you’re not going to think about it. It never feels great to be dismissed, but there are worse ways you can be treated.
So yeah, the more troubling response I’ve gotten was being told I was only saying I was non-binary because I “just wanted to be different.”
What’s so troubling about that is that it left me with no good way to respond. If I don’t argue, I am agreeing that I “only want to be seen as different,” which effectively erases the reality that I am not Male. But, affirming this reality only fuels the increasingly frustrated, “Stop making me think about gender!” response. And the point really is not just to make anyone frustrated, just like the point really is not “just to be [seen as] different.”
Look, the point is to be seen as I am … and y’know, if it’s frustrating for you to have to think about it occasionally, I guess I’d suggest having some sympathy for the reality that I have had to think about it a whole lot less occasionally.
So, no, I am not Male. I’m also not Transgender. I am genderqueer. “Non-binary” works, too. Probably the most specific you can get, term-wise, would be Androgyne. But, I think that can be confusing too, since I think even most gender-savvy folks would tend to think androgynous means a woman dressing more like a man, or vice versa, and that’s not really me, at all.
I dress like a man, and I am a man. I’m just not male. I am also heterosexual, though the life-long experience of folks being doubtful of this has really been the most consistent and telling indication that I am in fact Queer. But, I can respect if some Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender folk feel like Genderqueer squeezing in under that umbrella is a bit too much, so … yeah, Genderqueer, if you feel like Queer is co-opting. I’m pretty flexible.
Am I cisgender, then? I would say so, just to delineate between trasngender and genderqueer. I have always been comfortable in my body, as I was born in it. I feel no need to transition, just like I also feel no need to cross-dress.
This, at long last, brings me to the point where all my thinking around and around has finally run aground. “So,” I can imagine one asking, “if you are a cisgender, heterosexual man, who by all standards of dress and outward signifiers of would appear to be a man, what then is the point of saying that you are Genderqueer? What does that really mean, and what does it matter, for anyone who interacts with you?”
Well, I can only answer here that all the thinking that I have done is not in fact because I am an overly simple-minded person. Which is to say, when it comes to the question of what exactly does Genderqueer mean, I’m afraid there just is not a very simple answer to that question. It is complicated, and while I can appreciate that this may not be the most satisfying of answers to the question, I would also just point out that very little of real matter in life tends to be really simple. I know we would often wish that it could be. But, life is so very rarely just like what we would wish, isn’t it?
As to what does it matter? Well, it only matters if you would like to understand me.
That much is totally on you. My part is just to make a good faith effort to be understood. So for that, look forward to Part 2, which should be titled something like, “I’m a Girly-Man and a Goddamned Badass.”