So what’s a genderqueer, eh?
Submitted by crewjacket:
[Note: This very minorly edited article was written by me in summer of 2010 for the queer blog Below the Belt (http://feed.belowthebelt.org). I am no longer active on the site but will be posting old articles every two weeks on my Tumblr.]
I don’t ID as male, I don’t ID as female…I ID as genderqueer.
“So what’s a genderqueer, then?” you may ask.
Well, let’s start with a bit of a correction here…genderqueer isn’t really a noun. It’s an adjective. You wouldn’t ask what a transgender was, would you? Oh, wait…some people actually do that. Well, stop right now.
The correct usage would be “genderqueer person.” See, “person” is the noun, and “genderqueer” is the adjective. The more you know.
Well, what are genderqueer people like? Hell if I know. Unique, like everyone else? Genderqueer people just usually don’t identify within the binary gender system of male and female. We may identify as both genders, neither gender, or a gender completely separate from the generally accepted gender spectrum. Baby boys wear blue, baby girls wear pink. Pants for boys, dresses for girls. Period. I wish people would get up and off those stereotypes. You know the “gay rainbow”? Well, I’d say I’m Yellow Green in that crayon box. So I suppose that’s what a baby me should have worn. If I could only protest to the pink as an infant. Well, actually, my parents were more of the modern type that dressed all their children in various clothes, pants on baby girls, too…and they weren’t adamant I keep my hair long like a good girl. Ha! Good girl! I’m neither of those, and I think my parents got that a long time ago.
Most genderqueer people—people such as myself—tend to identify as a “gender” (I put that in quotes to denote that gender is not always fixed) somewhere in the middle of the fancy gender spectrum. At one end I suppose you would have the “manly-men” (which could include both cisgendered and FTM trans people, if they identified as being ultra-manly) and on the other extreme the “feminine-women” (again, cisgendered or MTF trans people who identify as female female FEMALE). “Genderqueer” is pretty much just an umbrella term that is used to cover bi-gendered, androgynous, third-gender, or gender-fluid people. Again, the people in the middle of the spectrum. I just go with “genderqueer” for myself because, well, it works. If I had to choose a subcategory, I suppose I would be androgynous. But “genderqueer” is a more inclusive word. So let’s just keep with that one. Then we don’t leave anyone out. We don’t want to do that now, do we?
Now we’ll go to definitions. Something like a Cliff’s Notes for gender identities. If you pay attention, you’ll know more when you read other posts of this nature. The kids will give you credit for being down with it, just like they do to Craig Finn. Sorry, you probably have no idea who that is. Forgive me. I just needed to do that to fulfill my little sidetracked mind.
There are two basic and important acronyms that will be important for you to know, for genderqueer and binary-identified trans people alike: FAAB and MAAB. People usually have no idea what those acronyms mean, but that’s okay, because you’ll know now. The acronym FAAB means “female-assigned at birth.” It is important to use this acronym if you want to denote to other people what your, well, gender assigned at birth was. Did you wear the pink or the blue onesies? It is important to stress the “assigned” part because, well, a lot of genderqueer people don’t identify as either gender or they identify as both at the same time. So saying that a person is a “genderqueer woman” would be grossly inaccurate. And it is also kind of rude, insensitive, and taboo to say something like “She was born a woman,” because NO ONE is born a certain gender. A person may be born a certain sex, and gender and sex are different things. Gender is mind based, sex is chromosome based. They’re not interchangeable, even though a lot of people think so. Again, the more you know.
By what I said above, you can probably infer that MAAB means “male-assigned at birth.” AWESOME. Now we can go on.
I said before that FAAB and MAAB are important acronyms to know. Well, we should probably also define bi-gendered, androgynous, third-gendered, and gender-fluid, just to be good and inclusive. We’ll do this quickly. A bi-gendered person typically feels that they are both genders at the same time, or sometimes at different times, and often (without thinking about it) construct two personas to represent their male and female sides and different personalities. This is NOT the same thing as “Multiple Personality Disorder,” which, I’m sorry, but I must say it because it grinds on me, has been called “Dissociative Identity Disorder” for over a decade. Well, it’s not that, whatever you want to call it. It’s just a person who feels they have two separate sets of characteristics—one male, one female—that can’t be resolved by constructing one “gender.”
Androgynous people are, well, androgynous. People who are androgynous often feel as if they are right in the middle, and they want to stay there. Oftentimes we will wear clothes and cut our hair to deliberately look neutral in gender. Androgynous people such as me tend to think of themselves as both male and female at the same time, but unlike bi-gendered people, the two genders are neutral and can be resolved into one consistent gender identity. Androgynous people may also view themselves as neither gender, or both AND neither at the same time, like I do.
Third-gendered philosophy is pretty straightforward. A person who identifies as third-gendered basically feels as if they do not fit into either binary gender in any way, and are completely separate from the male/female gender dynamic.
Gender-fluid people are people who tend to identify as relatively neutral with regards to gender but will vacillate between “male” and “female” presentation. This is usually quite limited, and gender-fluid people tend not to view themselves as two separate gender identities—gender-fluid people pretty much slide back and forth on the spectrum but stay pretty near the center. It depends on the person how far they move from center, but gender-fluidity could probably be described with a comparison to a grandfather clock, which has a swinging weight that goes left and right of the neutral position. I myself am pretty gender-fluid, but I tend to stay closer to the center of androgyny.
Yeah, you could probably get all of that information off Wikipedia.
I’m not speaking for all genderqueer people by any means. That would be impossible due to the variety of people included within the “gender,” if you can even call it that. This is all me. This is the world according to my experiences with my own gender and how my other genderqueer friends describe their own identities. This is meant to be helpful, but don’t go around assuming that you know everything about this now. You’re more well-informed, but you won’t completely understand unless you live it yourself.