Saturday, September 13, 2008

GenderQueer

Genderqueer from Wilkipedia:

Genderqueer or intergender is a catchall term for gender identities other than male or female. People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as being both male and female, as being neither male nor female, as having a combination of male and female personality characteristics, or as falling completely outside the gender binary.

No longer are male and female the only ways to define oneself. It's okay to fall somewhere in between or outside of those definitions.

You know what? I think it's fabulous.

I've known so many butch women that just didn't fit in. They were so butch that they were shunned by some of the more femme lesbians. We called them bull-dykes back in the 90s. Or diesel-dykes. Neither of these terms were flattering. They weren't accepted by straight society and they really weren't accepted by some of our gay society either. How very sad.

I'm so impressed by how far we've come. When just thirty years ago, I had never even heard the term lesbian.

I'm so glad that people today have places to turn and words to use to define themselves. I hope it makes it easier for them than it was for many in my day.

30 comments:

Scarlet said...

I had never heard of this term. It's sad when folks can't feel comfortable in their own skins.

People should never be cast out because of who they are...as long as they're authentic and true to themselves, let them be.

RockDog said...

I mean this will nothing but respect, but why does there need to be a label?

No one calls me fat, tall, white, late 30's guy. They generally call me by my name...or at least to my face. LOL

Enlighten me because I am ignorant in this subject.

Have a kick ass weekend!

Jay said...

I've never heard those terms either, but I'm good with whatever people want. Especially if it makes them feel more inclusive.

Real Live Lesbian said...

Rockdog: I think they needed a label because none of the labels that were out there described them. They are't girls and they aren't boys. They are somewhere between or somewhere else on the scale.

They want to be called something, but nothing really fit.

I think most people want to fit in...somwhere...and define themselves with people that are like they are.

It provides them with a group, an identity and then they won't feel so estranged from society.

SkylersDad said...

I have been fighting against labels for Skyler for so long that this will take some getting used to. But can see your point on this, thanks!

Akelamalu said...

I don't believe in labels but if it means that people are accepted then that's OK.

Real Live Lesbian said...

Skylersdad and Ake: I think the problem was that there was no basic identifying category for them. Growing up, either you're boy or girl. They don't identify with either. They don't feel like girls. Yet, they aren't boys. Talk about a lonely road.

I don't think it's about labels. It's more about identity.

RockDog said...

Thanx for the explanation and I agree we should all fit in somewhere. :)

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I hopped over from Potter's Blog. I too am impressed by how far we've come, but I hope we keep moving.

Knight said...

I know people who spent a long time being labeled as things that were not fitting for them. It's nice that society is starting to understand the gray scale and accept the newer tearms used to help describe people. Sure we shouldn't have to label people but we all are labeled in many ways every day.

Hedon said...

Y'all are talking about me. And I just wanted to thank you for being so friendly about it.

It would be hard to explain how much it affects your life. Oh not in any earth shattering sort of way...but it's always there. Like in the first paragraph I was going to say something like, "Even though I'm a big girl...no...boy...no...person...ok now its still nice to be treated kindly." But I didn't want to go through the hassle of explaining the pronoun so I left the sentence out.

I find in a lot of my writing I go out of my way to avoid pronouns when referring to myself. Kinda like how Melissa Etheridge managed to write love song after love song without ever specifying a gender early in her career. I'm ust not as rockin. :)

Lu' said...

I'm impressed with how far people have come but it isn't quite far enough is it.

Biscuit said...

It's an awesome start. I'm torn. Happy that those who wanted a label found one, but sad that we need labels.

I've always just referred to myself as "slightly askew."

Hedon said...

RLL is exactly right its not just about wanting a label, really. Its about defining one's identity.

I mean we all use labels all the time to identify our worlds. We label ourselves, our friends, strange people we see urinating on sidewalks, professors in boring classes, etc.

Is he fat or thin? Short or tall? Old or young? Blonde, brunette or a red-head? Man or woman?

Its a very strange thing to not be able to honestly answer that last one. Certainly not a man... but not really a woman either.

Ann said...

I think it's incredible to even be having this kind of conversation.

I also think it's kind of easy for people who don't need labels to say "why do we need labels" - when they've had the luxury of always having one for themselves. It's like someone who's a billionaire saying life isn't about money, it can't make you happy.

Either way, those who it truly affects have said it's about an identity, not a label - and that makes perfect sense to me.

Fu Manchu Dad said...

I suppose those labels have their place, but it really comes down to what you do as a person. Today, you can wear more or less whatever you want, lots of women's clothes look like what has always been mens wear, men who wish to become women are beginning to win court cases allowing them to dress as women in preparation for eventual gender reassignment. In some places unisex bathrooms are in place, ostensibly to foment some form of equality in the workplace. I personally think it's so that both genders will clean up after themselves for fear of exposing which sex is fouler in public restrooms. A clever ploy implemented by disgruntled janitors. I personally think you should go in whatever restroom your junk fits in. I find that I care less about peoples appearance except as it applies to my kids and that is mostly preventing my boys from dressing like gangbangers and my girls like MTV whores. Are genderqueers going to have to go around correcting people who address them as Maam or sir? What will their tag be? Will all our medical forms etc, be required to have a 3rd box? M, F, or G? Will they be marching in the streets for the right to (insert civil right impinged here)? I don't really know about exclusion in that way as I am in that least excluded of groups, I just hope that for the folks who feel they have found their identity, their inclusion is not overshadowed by activists looking for a free ride at the expense of the folks in between.

FMD

Gnightgirl said...

"GenderQueer" seems derogatory to me. It's a label, sure, but not one that seems to put an intergender person in a very nice light. I thought maybe I was missing something, and looked up the definition of queer, to make sure I wasn't overlooking some "nice" meaning to the terminology. Nothing there. Am I off base? Well. At any rate, I'm more comfortable with "Intergender." I'll just say that.

Fortune Cookies said...

all these labels! sheeeesh, can't we all just get along and look past gender, orientation, race, religion, political affiliation, etc and just see each other as the beautiful humans we are?

Cap'n Ergo "Carthage" Jinglebollocks said...

I could write a book about this. For starters, go into the clothing section or the bikes section of your local Wal-Mart. Boys get blue and ruff-tuff stuff, girls get pink and fluffy stuff. Ever try to buy a winter jacket that is green or orange or NOT a gender colour??

Ever notice how we dress newborn babies (who are not gender specific) in pink or bloo? Ever referred to a female infant as "he" and then get immediately corrected by their parents, almost angrily?

Labels. We use 'em a LOT in this country, ESPECIALLY political labels: look at all that Red and Bloo nonsense from the last election and the knee-jerk party line rhetoric we use. What about terms like "African-American" or "Black" or "Hispanic" or "Asian"?? Trust me, we USE labels all day long, it's just that for those of us who are comfortable in the roles that we've been placed in by other people it's usually not a big deal.

I'm a bit genderfuck (that's MY favourite term!) myself. I"m biologically male and I LOOK male (beard, short hair) but I've got a lot of feminine characteristics. I'm attracted to both genders, my favourite colour is pink, I can be prissy. I'm not transsexual, but I think skirts are more comfortable than jeans (I'm also Scottish, so perhaps not being encased in pantlegs is in my blood). I'm not gay, either, but I've had boyfriends and I like to paint my toenails (though usually I paint 'em blue or black-- macho colours!)

I don't think of myself in terms of maleness/femaleness really at all-- it's more of a continuum that I slide back and forth on. NOW, imagine a kid like me back in the straight-laced, even-more-gender-ridgid world of the suburban 70's growing up with a football player father trying to understand who I am and what I like and why IS it so damned wrong that I like pink stuffed animals and I think that Barbie has better stuff and friends than GI Joe??

If giving people a label of "genderqueer" or "genderfuck" creates a new taxonomy in the minds of others-- "why's he doing that?" "oh, he's a bit genderqueer..."-- then I'm all for it.

Just my $.02...

Hedon said...

FMD,

I'm sorry to say we will be protesting in the streets. You see now that we have finally found ourselves we feel we have the right to demand reparation for all those years of confusion. We demand... snow cones. Free snow cones. One a day. Make mine grape, please.

Don't force us to make up chants... what rhymes with intergender?

Jeff B said...

Great viewpoints here. I wonder if genderqueer becomes an accepted normal how long it will be before someone in that category decides it's offensive and wants it changed to another term?

Damn I wish we weren't so hung up on labels.

Dianne said...

I have really enjoyed reading all these comments. What a great discussion.

I noticed that the definition included "personality" traits of both male and female. I've always hated gender roles - boys don't cry, act like a lady ... these were especially powerful when I was growing up in the 60s/70s and I've noticed they seem to be making a strong return. Nothing makes a person feel more alone than thinking they need to "act" a certain way to be accepted. I've had troubles with that my whole life.

buffalodickdy said...

If they're looking for a way to consolidate labels, how about just using the word "people"?

Jess said...

For whatever reason, I still do not like the word queer as a descriptive for homosexuality...but it beats the shit out of some of the other nasty things that have been said.

gary rith said...

I am a reclusive flake! Not that there's anything wrong with that.

~Deb said...

I learned about this term on LOGO on a documentary and I too, thought it was a beautiful way to express oneself, due to the negative terminology used. Labels can be so destructive sometimes.

Craze said...

I'm also glad we've come this far, but man, we sure have a ways to go. But you're right, it's a much easier society than it used to be. Now if we could work on the law end of things.

Craze said...

I'm also glad we've come this far, but man, we sure have a ways to go. But you're right, it's a much easier society than it used to be. Now if we could work on the law end of things.

~Jobthingy~ said...

i agree witht he feeling of having to fit in.. but its more of a this generation term i think.

my 2 moms would not in a million years call themselves genderqueer. but they are also in their mid 60s.

Travis said...

It would be nice if we didn't need labels, but we've got a long way to go for that. People often have a need to classify things based on characteristics we recognize. It's how people order their world and make sense of it.

The points of view here have been very interesting, and I definitely appreciate that the discussion has not devolved into a more insidious and nasty form of labeling...name calling.

Thanks RLL!