Issues with Social Genderqueer

I’ve noticed that there are (at least) two different types of genderqueer individual: the person who desires a genderqueer body (penis and breasts, no sex characteristics at all — ie: neutrois, etc.) and the person who claims genderqueer as their primary gender identity.  I understand the first, at least in theory.  After all, they simply have a slightly different form of my own medical condition: they feel that their body should be different from what they were born with.

The second…I take issue with.  Not because I want to try telling someone how to identify, simply because it’s illogical.  Most social genderqueers believe that there is no such thing as gender, they believe that every person has some feminine traits and some masculine traits and we’re only taught to view them as “male” or “female” because of our socialisation.  This is a nice enough premise, right?  After all, what is considered a “masculine” trait in one culture can easily be considered “feminine” in another.

I can accept the idea that we’re taught certain things are for men and others are for women.  I think there’s more to it than that, but I at least can understand the theory they’re working with.  What I don’t understand is why this means anyone who doesn’t conform to perfect, 1950s gender norms must suddenly identify as genderqueer.

This is a common issue in the FtM community.  A guy comes out, claims a 100% male gender identity, and then a few years later decides that he must be genderqueer because he’s not as stereotypically macho as he thought he’d be.  It makes very little sense, particularly given the premise that the genderqueer community is working with.  If all gender roles are socialised and you’re trying to subvert that then wouldn’t it make more sense to embrace life as a man with some feminine characteristiscs?

Normally I’d stay out of this particular argument simply because it has nothing to do with me.  I’m not genderqueer therefore it shouldn’t affect my life.  It does though.  When more enlightened people find out I’m trans they assume I must also be genderqueer because I’m not a macho man (and never will be).  They assume that I must be purposely trying to make some political statement about gender when in reality I just like glitter.

I try very hard not to make my own frustration colour my views of the genderqueer individuals I meet.  I try very hard to make sure that I’m not acting like all those HRC loving gay men who despise flamboyance simply because they’re not flamboyant themselves.  Still, at times I find myself just wanting to shake a few of the people who identify as both FtM and genderqueer.  Partially because it’s illogical (how are you male and other gendered at the same time?), but also because it once again puts transmen in a different category from all other men.

I know men who are more effeminate than I.  I know men who put on gorgeous gowns every weekend, men who parade around in fairy wings and short shorts.  I know men who would make far better women than I ever did.  Those men very rarely identify as genderqueer.  They engage in far more gender blurring than most genderqueer identified people, but they are secure in their identities as men.  Not only that, no one asks them if they consider themselves anything other than male.

So yes, I do get offended when people — particularly other transpeople — hold me to a different standard.  I don’t like (US) football.  I don’t like cars or wrestling or hunting or beer or women.  I like musicals and pop and crafting.  So do many other men.  Just because I was born with a vagina does not mean that I should be treated differently from every other man in the world.

4 thoughts on “Issues with Social Genderqueer

  1. I think perhaps you are missing the point here. You make some decent observations but genderqueerness is not about one’s ability to (not) fit into a super-macho or super-stereotypically feminine gender presentation. Genderqueerness is about how one feels on the inside. It’s sort of something you just know.

    This is why someone who is female, male, FTM, MTF, etc in SEX can also be genderqueer in GENDER.

    You are also incorrect in saying genderqueers believe there is no such thing as gender. There very much is such thing as gender, it’s just that many of the norms for it are socially constructed. So, there is no such thing as a concrete, worldwide definition of, let’s say, the “male gender” as it changes from place to place.

    I consider myself to be genderqueer because I don’t feel comfortable identifying as any gender. I see parts of all of them in myself. I do not assume that everyone else has the same feelings (another thing you assumed) because I don’t care. I think everyone should be whatever they feel they are. For me, fluidity is a reality. Sometimes my gender surpasses my body parts and other times it’s connected. Sometimes I want to change my body and sometimes I don’t. Most of the time I feel like there is no one gender for me. Just as my sexuality is queer (though mostly leaning towards an attraction to femininity or androgyny in people) my gender is queer because it does not have one little normative or binary box to fit into.

    I didn’t mean for this comment to be rude. I found this page through stumble. I hope this adds to the discussion more.

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  4. hello! as a genderqueer transperson, not a transman, but a transperson, i’d like to say a few things.

    i believe in the gender binary. that is, i believe that it works reallyreally well for some people. for example, some binary-identified people neatly fit the stereotypes of the gender binary. other people DON’T fit the stereotypes, but identify as male or female anyway. i totally respect that.

    the gender binary doesn’t work for everyone, though.

    here’s a bunch of random facts about mx. punk: i don’t wear dresses, i don’t wear makeup, i hate organized sports, i’m outspoken, i dig thrash metal and hardcore punk, i love bracelets, i love stickers, i love getting dirty and playing rough, i hang out with guys, i giggle a lot, i love to sing, i wear a lot of mens clothes.

    that frothing/glistening sea of facts has nothing to do with my gender, though. sure, it’s a pretty even-(ish) mix of traditionally male and traditionally female things, but who cares? i don’t identify as genderqueer because i’ve assessed my attributes, my hobbies etc. and they’ve added up to “genderqueer”. i identify as genderqueer because it feels right to do so.

    i have no idea why i feel genderqueer, actually. i can’t explain it, dude. i don’t know why the gender binary doesn’t work for me. all i know is that i’m not a man, i’m not a woman, and i’m going to use the handicapped/family bathroom whenever i please. huzzah!

    so the point of this confabulation, i suppose, is that i agree with this statement:

    “Just because I was born with a vagina does not mean that I should be treated differently from every other man in the world.”

    damn straight. the fact that you identify as a man is the only thing that matters AT ALL.

    that said, just because i was born genderqueer does not mean that i should have alter my FAAB body. my body is genderqueer, people.

    anyway, interesting post; it made me think stuff. that’s always a good thing. 🙂

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