What is Genderqueer?
Thanks to Good Vibrations Magazine for inviting me to repost this blog post I had written on my site jizlee.com. For the last year I’ve been more visible about being genderqueer. It’s an identity I feel is very important to put forward, especially as I find myself receiving more mainstream attention, though I could just as easily identify with any number of other identities I hold to my being. Despite the fact that I’ve used the word “genderqueer, I realized I hadn’t shared much on my site about what the term means to me. So I wrote it out, as gender is a work in progress (for me anyhow).
What is Genderqueer? (for me)
Nutshell: Someone who is “genderqueer has fluid ideas about gender expression and may not identify as being a man or a woman.
The longer story: Genderqueer is a pretty new term. I believe it started to be used early 2000, mostly by youths, as I was then. When I first saw the word “genderqueer in a zine, I immediately could identify.
I also loved other terms such as androgynous/androgyne, genderfuck, two-spirit, trans entity, bi-gendered, third gendered, multi-gendered, fluid, transboi, boydyke, boi, and many more. I was drawn to genderqueer because it contained within it the word Queer. It made since to me as a queer person. My sexual orientation is queer; so is my gender.
As someone who struggled (and still struggles) with gender I found myself uncomfortable with what was expected of me in terms of cisgender appearance and behaviors. Hold on you say, what is “cisgender? I believe cisgender to be a word that can be used to describe someone whose gender expression generally corresponds with the traditional or socially accepted behaviors and attributes expected of the sex that they were assigned at birth. I first saw the word in Julia Serano’s “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity and I’ve seen cisgender described as “the opposite of transgender. I’ve also understood it to be good to use the word because it challenges the assumption that cisgender is “normal. So as a person who was assigned female at birth, many things that society expects of me as a “woman feel unnatural. (And it actually feels extremely charged; hence feminity is something I play with from time to time and explore when I feel safe to.)
Another word that may be more familiar is transgender. The definitions I have experienced around the word transgender often fall inline with my identity, however when I identified as transgender I felt pressure towards becoming the “opposite gender \’ that is to say, I felt a pressure to be a man and to adopt masculine behaviors that felt as equally uncomfortable as feminine ones. I also felt a pressure to alter my body, and it was ultimately my accepting my body which led me to find happiness in the middle. (And like feminitiy, masculinity also feels very charged in a way that I love to explore, particularly in sex.)
Trying to balance between what I at the time felt were these two extremes, I thought of myself as being inbetween cisgender and transgender. Being gender-neutral, and genderqueer.
I say that this is a definition “for me because I am using genderqueer as a label even though I believe it shouldn’t be a label. Many folks like me refuse to attach a label to their identity, something which is complex and when you get down to the science and sociology of gender and sex, it sure is complex. What is a man? What is a woman? When you break it down, the only true definition is the one we make for ourselves. There is no gender test. There’s no “right way to be genderqueer. There’s no dress code, no label, no correct pronouns. For myself, I love the pronouns “they/them, such as “They are so beautiful or “I’m going to buy them a beer. (Cheers!) While I don’t mind being called “she/her, I really prefer epicene or gender-neutral pronouns, especially if it’s a chance to represent me as accurately as possible. Fuck grammar*, it makes me happy!
While surgery and hormones are helpful for many people (regardless of their gender), I believe these are also not necessary to be a “man, woman , both, neither, or whatever we choose to be. And as a queer porn performer, I believe that pornography and the internet will bring the validation of our bodies that we need as a community \’ something which I think is really powerful because even 50 years ago, we were isolated and forced to go to doctors to be treated as diseased¦ today, we can educate and celebrate through websites, YouTube videos, sex tapes, forums, books… and most importantly, each other.
If you’d like to read more, Wikipedia actually has some great definitions on Genderqueer, Transgender, and Cisgender. A good resource is GLBTQ.com, and the amazing project genderfork.com. Got a good gender resource? Let me know!
*Also check out Singular They and the Many Reasons it is Correct.
P.S. I should also add that I have a list of my favorite products (and videos) on GoodVibes.com and I love that the company is so open to genderqueer and trans-masculine folks, which is not common for sex toy or adult retailers. Check out their FTM Shopping Guide and Queer Porn selection!