Genderqueer week(s) in review

A collection of gender related happenings in recent days and weeks.

gender at work

At the office, along with making magic happen with 1s and 0s, I’ve been involved in an agonizing process called:  get the next contract.  There have been numerous work requests  coming in and we’ve been working hard to respond well.  Occasionally we send off responses that are not all they can be, and that’s frustrating.  Also, apparently, our sense of lower quality does not always mean we don’t get a bite, which leads me to a moment when a project manager called and asked to schedule a phone interview with me.  My manager waved me into his office and I sat down.  He was about to call back and schedule it, and told me that the project manager had assumed I was male (the name I use for work is wonderfully gender neutral).  He got on the phone with the PM right away she asked when ‘he’ (me) was available.  He glanced at me, raised an eyebrow and I nodded.  He then corrected her to female pronouns.  At the conclusion of the call, he told me that if ever my pronouns of preference change, I should let him and the rest of the team know and they will follow my lead.  I heart my company.  For now, I’m fine with the way things are, with my gender ambiguous name and my gender bending appearance and my professionally female pronouns, but it is wonderful to know they will support me if I ever want to change that combination.

gender according to kids

Elder Spawn related a conversation she and Little Bit had the other day.  Little Bit was naming all the members of our family, and assigning gender.  “Mama is a dirl, {her name} is a dirl, {elder spawn} is a dirl and Mommy is a boy.”  I just love how gender bent that is.  And yes, she’s just going by her understanding of gender based on appearance, but I love it anyway.

gender and service providers

Not too long ago, I went to a local radiology clinic so I could get my tail x-rayed.  I was handed a printed sheet of information from my file to verify.  First name, last name, birth date, etc., everything good until I got to a piece of information marked ‘Gender’ with the word ‘female’ after it.  I spent several moments staring at that combination of words as my mind whirled and stumbled over itself.  Didn’t help that it was 8 in the morning and my mind was only slowly waking up.  My quandary was both in the word ‘gender’ and the word ‘female’.  I knew that what they really cared about was my ‘sex’, the physical components that make up my body, arranged along a particular pattern.  That kind of information matters when you’re in the business of scanning body parts in various ways.  I wondered why they were using the word ‘gender’ rather than ‘sex’ and could only conclude that it was either ignorance of what that term signified, or a sensitivity/squeamishness to using the word ‘sex’ on their form.  If the form had said ‘Sex: female’, I would have noticed it, but not spent moments pondering it, but ‘gender’ means something specific to me and others.  I didn’t question the term or call anyone’s attention to it that morning, but I am considering some kind of letter to send to my various service providers to educate them about gender variance issues in general and my specific gender in particular.

gender at camp

My Elder Spawn went to Girl Scout Camp recently and had a great time, as usual.  As soon as I arrived to retrieve her, she eagerly pulled me toward her friends to introduce me.

“This is my madre” She proclaimed proudly, and introduced me to each one, about 8 in all were still there.  All but two reacted to her introduction in much the same way:  shocked deer-caught-in-headlights eyes, mouth slightly agape, speechless.  Two of them were a bit smoother and actually said hello back to me.  I’m thinking maybe they don’t see a whole lot of big old butch queers up there in the norther part of the Olympic peninsula.

My Elder Spawn, 12 and a half now, also made me proud by reaching out and befriending someone who wasn’t having a great camp experience.  The particular camper happened to be masculine and potentially trans or genderqueer, and also 3-4 years older.  ES let her know that she could see the other wasn’t having a great time and that she cared.  They hung out a bit that evening and later, ES sent her a note by inter-camp mail.  In the note, she talked about me and the work I do for Pizza Klatch and LGBTQ youth, as a way of giving some perspective on where she was coming from.  By the end of camp, they were hanging out a lot.  And now they’re emailing (though her friend complained that ES was ‘exploding her inbox’ and asked for a smaller number of longer emails instead).  It’s very sweet and another indication that my kid is super cool.

why coming out as genderqueer isn’t always our favorite thing

There are days when I relish my status as someone not completely in the flow of ‘normal’ society, happily flouting rules and norms about gender, sexuality and anything else that doesn’t fit what I call ‘right’.  On a lot of those days, I don’t mind explaining things and educating people who genuinely want to learn about gender beyond the binary.  Today, I explained a bit to my hairdresser, who had no trouble understanding the idea that there are people who don’t fit into the rigid male/female, either/or world.  Sometimes, however, people get a bit too needy when confronted with realities outside their own experience.   You end up with the feeling that they expect you to make it all right for them, that they assume you are available to explain things and that you have endless enthusiasm to celebrate and relive those moments when they ‘get it’.  Sadly, however, non-binary gender folks are like other people in that we get tired of having to explain ourselves and find ways to relate our reality to others.  Sometimes we’d rather not be regarded as an exemplar of gender related causes and events, but are often called on to react, respond, defend or explain such causes and events.  Sometimes we’re just tired and want to live our lives without explaining why we might use one name and set of pronouns in some situations, but not in others.

gender odyssey

This Friday, one more full day from now, I’ll be heading north to attend Gender Odyssey for the first time.  I’m going with one of my best friends, Nic, who attended last year.  We’ve got a hotel room, shared with some other Olympians.  We’ve looked at the schedule of sessions and events and have some firm ideas, along with some more jello-like ideas of how to spend our time.  Whatever we end up doing, though, it’s 3 days of hanging with each other and a heckuva lot of other gender geeks, trans* folks, partners of, parents of, friends of, and combinations thereof.  I am looking forward to not being the only obviously gender non-conforming freak within several miles.  I’m looking forward to meeting Joshua Riverdale (Gender Outlaw) and Maddux (Neutrois Nonsense) and hopefully some other people I only know online at this point.  Also looking forward to drinks and catching up with Jesse Lee and Sean Leao (Gendercast), Joe Leblanc (Butch Voices) , and the wonderfully multi-talented Tobi Hill-Meyer (Doing It Again, In Depth).  Excited to see fellow Olympia activist, Sammy Harvell, presenting.  And of course, scores of other people I know from this area and beyond.  Hoping for great sessions, lots of discussions in hallways, at lunch, over drinks and making new friends.  Also excited to be going to the Blood, Sweat and Queers play party at the SCSPC held Saturday night (GO conference goers pay the membership rate of only $20).  Bringing my boots to be blacked (redded?) and hoping for some play as well.


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