Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hello World

The last couple of weeks have been unhappy ones in the m/m (male/male) romance community.  Frankly, I haven't had the stomach, or the heart, to follow it all.  What it boils down to is that a male author was "outed" as being female.  The author then said, "actually, I'm transgendered."  And then it all got dicey.

Some people were livid that this author had been "lying" to them, and didn't feel they could believe the transgender claim.  Other transgendered authors were frightened by the public exposure, and horrified by the demands that other "women" writing in the genre declare themselves.  The charge of lying was particularly hurtful to the trans community, since the identity of a transgendered person hangs on who they know themselves to be, and how they choose to present themselves to others, not necessarily what's between their legs.  The whole thing was complicated by the fact that the author in question most definitely did lie by using a male model friend's picture as his author photo and even sending this friend out once to do a signing as the author.  (And there was some other fishy stuff that I'm not really clear on.)

A hell of a mess, huh?

The ignorance and transphobia revealed by the whole situation has been enlightening, and not in a good way.  The m/m romance community has always seen itself as being a welcoming, accepting place.  Suddenly the transgendered and genderqueer members are feeling attacked, and a lot of other people are offended and confused by the charges of bigotry.  The whole thing makes my heart hurt.

Other than a general dislike of bigotry in all shapes, why is this kerfluffle so upsetting to me?  Because I am genderqueer.

You hear a lot of gay people say, "I've always known I was gay."  For me, this is the same.  I've always known I was genderqueer.  I just never had a name for it until this summer.

Let me back up a minute and explain what this all means.  There are a lot of different ways to define genderqueer.  For me, it means that I don't think of myself as being a woman.  I don't particularly think of myself as a man, either, and I have no desire to have gender reassignment surgery to become one.  I am just... me.  An individual floating somewhere in the middle, taking whatever I want from both traditionally male and traditionally female identities.

I discovered the term this past summer, and had about 5 minutes worth of panic over the whole thing.  Oh, no!  I'm genderqueer!  What am I going to do?  Then I settled down and realized, hello, dumbass.  You're going to keep going just like you always have.  Because while I may suddenly have had a word for what I've always felt, that didn't mean anything was going to change.  I've always interacted with the world as a genderqueer person.  I've never tried to pretend that I was anything other than who I am.  Acknowledging the label doesn't make me any more or less than I've always been.

I know that I'm very lucky in this.  For some people, acknowledging their trans or genderqueer identity means big changes.  Or painful hiding in a public identity that doesn't match their inner reality.  I could go along for the rest of my life and never say a word.  Just "pass" as cisgendered (another nifty word I learned this summer which means that your identity/behavior matches your sex).  Let the world make their assumptions and skate on by.

But after seeing all the hurt and anger of the last few weeks, I felt like I needed to say something.  Maybe if people know someone who is different, they won't be so quick to judge.  Maybe they won't be so quick to fear or hate, because there's already one perfectly ordinary genderqueer person in their life, even if it's only their online/blogging life.  So here it is:

I'm genderqueer.  I'm not lying.  I'm exactly who I've always been-- I just never before had the courage or felt the need to throw that label out there.  I'm perfectly normal.  And my transgendered and genderqueer brothers, sisters, and others are just as deserving of respect as our cisgendered brethren.  We're all just folks. So let's approach each other with a little more love, OK?

8 comments:

  1. With love is ALWAYS the answer! Hello you, happy out day, and hey, for yesterday (right?) lets also add a big-across-the-interwebz birthday hug from me to you!
    Julie

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  2. Thanks, Julie! I had a lovely birthday yesterday. Mom raided the party store, and I got to wear a headband with flashing dealie boppers and a wand that says "Another Year of Being FABULOUS", which is completely true!

    I may struggle with some of the actions of his followers, but Jesus had some really important things to say about love.

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  3. Happy birthday!! Please post a picture of the dealie boppers and wand!

    I believe that we all are who we are and I'm not really big on pasting labels on people. If you choose a label to fit you, I'm fine with it, but it doesn't really affect the fact that I try to approach everyone as an individual, as their own person. I also believe that there is a wide range of behaviors for genders, so wide that the overlap leaves very little to nothing for either gender to completely claim as their own beyond the obvious can you write your name in the snow when you pee. Approaching each other with love is an excellent policy.

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  4. Anonymous3:00 PM

    Hello back at at you! As much as I am "the World" welcome. Except, you're just as you've been, as you said. But howdy, anyway!
    MaineBetty

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  5. Thank you, Maine Betty!

    Karen, I was going to get my dad to take a picture of me with my new hair cut and the dealie boppers and wand tonight. But then the stylist had to cancel-- her son was having emergency surgery. We haven't had a chance to reschedule yet, but looking at what I've got going, I think it's going to have to be after Thanksgiving. I promise I'll post something, but it might be a couple of weeks.

    On the up side, if we don't get to schedule until after Thanksgiving, I'll get to do what I really want to with my hair, which is dye it green. We're going to my brother's in-laws for Thanksgiving next week, and I know if I show up with green hair they'll give me grief. Loving grief, because they really are good people, and we get along really well. But grief none the less. And I'm not really up for that right now.

    I was planning to avoid the whole issue by getting some blonde highlights this time around (I haven't had any color applied to my hair in almost two years, so I'm back to a lovely combination of gray and mouse brown) and then going green after the first of the year. But I'm just as happy to go right to green if I can!

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  6. I like you exactly as you are.

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  7. Thanks, Fokker! Back 'atcha!

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  8. How on earth did I miss this post? I hope your birthday and outday, as Julie puts it, were filled with wonderful people and things. (Although, I already knew this about you when you did that anonymous post for the Betties, so it's not news, but go you for no longer being anonymous.)

    Also, still waiting on the wand/dealie bopper pictures. And did you do the green dye? I want to see that, too!

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