For those you don't know (and I doubt anyone actually reading this doesn't) my beloved partner/fiance/baby-father is bi-gender (the hyphen is useful, or people might think one if talking about Blefuscudians or something). As sie puts it - somedays she's a girl, other days he's a boy. Gendered pronouns get a bit confusing as one would imagine - several people (myself included, unfortunately) tend to default to male pronouns (having been used to knowing him as male for so long), others default to female which she would probably prefer. And often we use gender neutral pronouns (specifically "sie" and "hir"), which I will use in this blog post at least.
And to be perfectly honest, the pronouns issue is the biggest problem for me. We always used to joke that sie was more of a girl than I was and that we got the gender roles the wrong way round in our house. The revelation (to both of us, as sie told me as soon as sie got hir own head sorted) a few years ago didn't really change the way I viewed hir or felt about hir. I think that in itself took me by surprise more - I had the feeling that I ought to be more bothered or at least have some opinion. But no, it was just a "ok then" and some effort to try and remember and adjust my language accordingly. When sie "came out" more recently, I was nervous for hir, but as more and more people were told and accepted it just as naturally as I had, and hir confidence and general happiness increased I was happier too and brimming with pride that sie'd overcome a major obstacle (more internal than external) and was becoming the person sie always should have been. Even the name change wasn't as much of a problem as I'd anticipated, and our son just accepted it in the way kids just do. He's less accepting of the idea that his daddy might be a girl occasionally, but then he also says boys can't have long hair, so what does he know? He's five - he's still learning about this gender thing.
But then, aren't we all? Gender isn't about stereotypes after all. While my beloved delights in nail varnish and can chat happily with workmates about clothes, I really don't grok the whole make-up thing at all. And, sure, clothes can be pretty, and so can jewellry, but ultimately I just want something to keep me warm/cover me up so I can go out in public. The only clothes I'm likely to get excited about are Last Exit To Nowhere t-shirts or the like. It was my fiance who started me wearing skirts and tighter fitting clothes, and admitting being a girl wasn't all bad. I think if not for hir I'd still be wearing geeky t-shirts and tracksuit bottoms. And for every "typical woman" behaviour I engage in, I bet I can find a "typical male" one as well. I don't really "forget" I'm a woman, I just joke I do, but I've never really considered it an important part of my identity, and hearing feminists talk makes me wonder if I'm missing something. Yet apparently I'm a cisgendered woman. I see no reason why I shouldn't be.
And I have no idea what it really is about. I'm hardly an expert and am not in the right frame of mind at the moment to even begin to guess. Because really gender is just another label, and labels are neither a good nor a bad thing inherently but exist mostly for societal convenience. Mostly, but not exclusively. Some people, like my SO, and to a lesser extent myself, feel the need to apply labels to things, including themselves, in order to better understand them. And of course one always want to be able to understand as much as possible, especially oneself. So labels like gender, sexuality, ethnicity etc are as much about a person defining themself as declaring "This is who I am" as they are about society or PTB categorizing people and declaring "This is who you are". Which is why a limited set of labels, defined by the relevant authority, is a bad thing. Which is why binary gender is a bad thing. And forcing people to choose one, when they'd much rather choose both, or neither, or something else entirely, is not only a bad thing from a personal liberty point of view, it also misses out on potentially important information about the sheer variety of people that can and do exist. (I hope that makes sense.)
I drifted off-topic slightly I think. It's late, I'm getting tired as the coffee wears off, and I doubt I really have anything useful left to say. My point was intended to be that I don't judge people by labels, most people I know don't either, and that a person doesn't really change just because the label changes. I call a person by the name they want to be known by as that is the polite thing to do. Likewise, I refer to people by the pronoun set they choose, the title they choose, whatever, because that is simply the polite thing to do. I accept that people have the right to be who they want to be, regardless of whether I understand why they feel that way, and get rather angry at other people who think it's any of their business. I guess that's why I qualified for a "not a jerk" badge.
And just because I muttered a bit about labels - here's the list I think apply to me. I'm a cisgendered, heteroflexible, heterosocial, atheistic, liberal, social phobic, chronic depressive, female geek. Although once again I almost forgot the "female" part. Maybe I do forget I'm a woman occasionally.
tl;dr - gender is confusing, people are who they are.
Blogged with the Flock Browser