I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple of years about gender and sexuality. I’ve been learning a lot more about other people and about myself too.
I’ve mentioned before that I only recently learned that demi-sexual is a thing, and is in fact, a thing that explains so much of my life (and why I will never ever be able to do modern-style dating if something terrible happens to DH).
I have *always* thought that gender was just a construct and an unfair one at that. I have never understood the actual concept of people being male or people being female. Male and female to me was always something that society assigned and assigned roles for based on my chromosomes and physical characteristics at birth. I’ve never cared about my clothing being masculine or feminine, just that it be comfortable and appropriate for whatever venue I have to be in (I LOVED grunge in the 1990s, and my pandemic wardrobe is DH’s old t-shirts with workout shorts/pants). I have always figured I was female because it is much easier to be female than it is to be a trans man. If DH was ok with it and I had a magic wand, I would totally switch sexes and reap the benefit of all that male privilege.
At some point, I realized that other people do identify as male or female and not because society has tricked them, because trans women exist. In order to give up that male privilege, they must really truly identify with being female. Thus it makes sense that some people truly identify with being male, even if their chromosomes are XX. And there are likely XX-types who feel they must be women and XY-types who feel they must be men. This is just one of those things that I don’t understand, much like the way my demi-sexuality makes it so I don’t understand instant sexual attraction. But just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. People are different and that’s ok.
After a lot of thought, I have decided of the types of genders listed out there, I am probably non-binary. But I’m also the kind of non-binary that doesn’t have gender dysphoria (so I can’t even answer many of those “am I non-binary” online quiz questions). That is because I don’t understand the concept of gender at all (except as a construct of how society views me). I don’t care if people gender me male or female or non-binary or what have you. People who are non-binary who really identify with not being male or female might have negative effects being mis-gendered as something they’re not. Me, I don’t care. It’s not that I need to come out because I’m fine with how other people gender me (other than the whole misogyny thing) because my view of gender is exactly that– how other people gender me.
Lots of people have started listing their preferred pronouns on their zoom profiles and email signatures. The idea is that if CIS-gendered people (that’s people whose gender identity matches their chromosomes/sex characteristics) start doing this, it will seem more normal for trans and non-binary people.
The one part of my gender identity that seems real is that I do not want to label myself. I do not want to bring attention to my gender. I don’t want to list she/her because I resent being treated in the way that women are treated. I don’t want to put down he/him because people look at me and see a woman and that would cause cognitive dissonance and problems I don’t want to deal with, even though I would prefer to be treated as if I were male. (I wish we were *all* treated like white men on the lowest difficulty setting and given the benefit of the doubt etc.) I don’t want to put they/them because it doesn’t bother me to be referred to as she or he and I know it’s hard for people to get used to the they/them construct and I don’t want to be the person they practice on. (Maybe that’s selfish? But I don’t think I have to always sacrifice myself. I’m already gendered as a woman by society.) I don’t want to draw attention to myself or to have to explain this whole, “I don’t understand gender” thing. Someone would likely try to explain it to me(!)
On a recent anonymous survey, we were given multiple choices for gender and I happily picked female and non-binary. When I only get to pick one of male/female/other, I assume they mean “how do others view you” so I pick female. I think this is different from the pronoun listing because with the pronoun listing it really feels like I am saying, “this is what I *prefer*” and it isn’t. I would prefer people treat me (and everyone else) like a dude. I would prefer there not be genders at all! (But I understand that some people prefer gender, so as long as it isn’t hurting others, do what you will.)
If I were forced to do the pronoun thing, I would write: (whatever/whatever). But I know that seems flip and not helpful for people who want to make their genders clear because it is part of their internal identity. So I’m glad we’re not forced. (Briefly considers an email sig with “pronouns: it’s all good,” rejects it.)
And I think this is ok. I’m not making fun of listing the pronouns. I understand why they’re important, and I think it is great that CIS people are adding them to their profiles. But I do not want to do it myself. Not because I think they’re bad or wrong but because I really do not want to label myself with a gender. I hope this absence doesn’t harm anyone or make me less of an ally, but there’s so little that I care about when it comes to gender that the fact that I do care about this one thing… well, I think I should listen to myself, especially since I’ve determined it isn’t coming from a place of internalized bigotry. I don’t want to lie and say I prefer she/her when I in fact do not prefer it. It turns out that I really do care that I don’t care.
Also, I love the comic strip, egscomics even though the beginning is immature and the storylines take years. I think it’s neat how the author has played with gender identity and how different cast members have different levels of it. Now I have the Ranma 1/2 season 1 theme stuck in my head.
Have you put pronouns on your stuff? Why or why not?