5 Questions This Genderqueer Person Would Like To Answer for You
I get it, gender can be tricky to understand. Here are my answers to some common questions asked about my gender identity
I knew almost immediately in the pause she was taking, to collect her thoughts, that she felt she was stepping on heteronormative eggshells. “Of course you are who you are, and who you are is completely real and needs to be acknowledged. I’m just not understanding it.”
This statement was made by an acquaintance of mine, with only good intentions, in regards to my gender identity. Again, her statement was totally fine. Actually, it’s a very productive statement that promotes discussions that need to happen. This led to her asking questions that I was more than glad to answer to further her understanding of what gender identity is.
As I am the “Q” in “LGBTQ” (both in sexual orientation and gender identity), who happens to also be a Queer rights activist, who also happens to work in Queer education, so she couldn’t have asked a better person these types of questions. So couldn't have the million other people before her that have also asked me similar types of questions.
Whether you’re cishet or LGBTQ+, getting to know parts of the human experience that you are both close to and distant from should be embraced with open arms. I would like to reanswer five common questions I’ve been asked about my genderqueer identity just to have that information all together in one place.
If you’re also LGBTQ+, you aren’t Google. You aren’t a representative sent by the Queer council. It can get exhausting constantly explaining who you are when you shouldn’t have to in the first place. If need be, copy/paste this article link for a curious someone to read. Though my answers center around my individual identity, this can generally apply to most gender-marginalized people.
“So, what does it mean to be genderqueer?”
The best part about gender is that though there are umbrella terms with characteristics many people universally correlate with, gender is still a very individual sense of self.
I go by (They/He/She) pronouns and I consider myself neither cisgender nor transgender. I intentionally place “They” first in my preferred pronouns as I do consider my genderqueer identity under the nonbinary umbrella. For example, on medical or otherwise forms asking for my gender identity, if there is no option to write in that I am genderqueer I choose the gender nonbinary option (if that is even available) because I consider myself to be so.
A widely used definition of being transgender is when your gender identity does not correlate with your sex assigned at birth. Transgender people are still transgender regardless if they choose to undergo gender confirmation surgery or not. Personally, I do not individually identify as transgender even though my sense of gender identity matches the umbrella definition of what being transgender is. I don’t have any current desire to undergo gender confirmation surgery, and I feel that though I’m not cisgender, my sex assigned at birth (male) neither completely correlates with nor completely differs from my gender identity.
This isn’t a denial of my sense of self. This is my truth. I just don’t feel I connect with an inherent or lived sense of transgender identity while I still very much identify with the “GNCNB” in “TGNCNB.” Transgender and Gender Nonbinary are both umbrella and individual terms, used in both ways.
“Since your pronouns are ‘They/He/She’, how do you feel you are multiple different identities at once?”
I’m not multiple different identities. I’m genderqueer.
As much as I consider myself genderqueer/nonbinary, I consider myself as much as a man, as much as I consider myself as a woman; not cisgender or transgender. This is all occurring in one existence, as one spectrum, moving along in life as one identity.
With this, I consider my physical body, like my sexual organs, to correlate with my gender identity because they are genderless. Body parts aren’t gendered because that is scientifically incorrect. That’s sex assigned at birth.
“How do I use ‘They/He/She’ pronouns?”
I noticed this misconception from others that they put this pressure on themselves to use all the pronouns I go by equally when referring to me or speaking about me. This should not be the case. My pronouns are all equal in recognition and validity, but that doesn’t mean you should put unnecessary action into them.
As long as your intention is uplifting and you aren’t denying my gender identity, use whatever pronouns I go by that you want. You can stick with one, or you can interchange them naturally. Trying to use them all in the “same breath”, or actively counting your “usage distribution” of the pronouns I go by is not the inclusion Queer people are seeking.
I appreciate the consideration, but that perception of how pronouns work is not accurate.
“How does your genderqueer identity work in relation to your sexual orientation then?”
Gender identity, sexual orientation, even gender expression are separate yet intertwining entities. Gender identity is how you describe your personal associations with gender. Gender expression is how you display your gender identity (masculine, feminine, a combination, neither, etc.) Sexual orientation is who you are sexually attracted to. Additionally, romantic (emotional) attraction is not always synonymous with your sexual attraction.
As I mentioned, I’m Queer identifying in terms of my sexual orientation and my gender identity. I’m mostly sexually and romantically attracted to cisgender men, transgender men, and masculine-leaning nonbinary people. I am not usually sexually and romantically attracted to feminine-leaning people, and almost never attracted to women.
Queer, for me, is the acknowledgment that I am absolutely a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and that sexual orientation and gender identity are on a spectrum regardless of who you are or how you identify. These two variables occur as natural variances of human existence.
My sense of “Queerness” also recognizes that though there are people and characteristics I know I will be attracted to for the rest of my life, that other factors may fluctuate as they have before, and both of these occurrences are perfectly okay. This does not mean that who I am is a “choice” though. No one “choices” or “prefers” in regards to their sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Wait, didn’t you used to identify as a cisgender gay man?”
Yes, I did. After some self-discovery, I realized I’m not.
Queer “all-around” feels more natural to me and who I am. To say we are concretely anything seems very limiting and not scientifically accurate. However, I say this only to uplift all people’s identities and not to diminish anyone LGBTQ+ or cishet who are comfortable and sure with who they are, as I am as well. This also doesn’t diminish the identity of those who are unsure, curious/experimenting, questioning, or hold no labels.
Self-discovery doesn’t end until the day we die.
That covered a lot of the bases, so if you want to learn more by getting involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy that is always a plus too.
I continue to make clear in my activism that Queer rights are human rights, and Queer policy is progressive policy. Gender identity and sexual orientation are inherently a part of LGBTQ+ matters. However, we all hold these aspects of who we are, as these are all human aspects. Educating yourself and others while standing up for what is right is a must.
This only connects us closer to each other, the individual collective.
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