Hello, reader. How are you? How’s your gender? A good friend told me they were curious how my thoughts have changed about gender over time. So I’ll try writing about it.
gender over time
When I was a kid, I went to church and school. The teacher would call us “boys and girls.” This was the early 1980s. I thought those were the options–boys and girls. I certainly was not a boy, so I must be a girl.
The costuming was easy for me. My mom bought me dresses, and my hair was long and thick. My mom would braid it for me, most days. I had a quiet reticence. I wore girl shoes, pink tights, ribbons in my hair. Girlness was something I knew how to do, and I did it.
I was criticized sometimes that I was not being lady-like. This was a harsh chastisement for getting out of my gender lane. I took that seriously and tried to be more lady-like.
Please imagine me as a six year old, seven year old, trying to wrap my head around the gender expectations that were being placed upon me due to others’ insecurities.
Being lady-like meant I had to stay chill. It was how I sat, how I talked, what I chose to do with my time, how I moved, how I dressed, and a whole attitude. Yes, I was taught to be non-threatening to boys and men. But also non-threatening to the women who were the ones policing me.
I had no idea at the time that I was being treated this way to assuage the fears of adults who really should have had more going for themselves than making sure little Laura-Marie conformed to their narrow ideas of acceptable. No one was a wild hippie or gendernaut or creative artist who told me I could be whoever I needed to be. No one assured me that I could be angry, loud, energetic, demanding, or have a different costume. I was stuck in cis-het girlhood.
The harsh way I was gender policed contributed to my withdrawal. Alone time was the only time I had any chance to be who I actually was. That was about gender but also masking pertaining to autism. Acting normal was hard work, for many reasons. Being alone was my solace.
Was I born an introvert? If not, I would become one as a way of rest, to set down the harsh expectations being placed on me by a dysfunctional culture.
My queerness was more apparent to me as I experienced puberty, and hormones surged within me. I had always liked all genders of people in all sorts of ways. But my sexual desires were becoming more a part of my life, and my sexual desires were not sticking to boys. So queerness was another thing to hide.
There were many ways that culture was telling me that I was not right. Fatness and disability were part of the shame I endured. Later poverty and class were added to the mix. How I navigate multiple ways of being wrong, according to my culture, has been a life-long process. I’m still shedding what doesn’t serve me, learning to more deeply love myself, questioning what I was taught socially and rejecting much of it, steeping myself in queerness in all the ways.
And knowing deep in my soul that I can play with all the toys, not just the girl toys. I can make the life I need, not just a regular life. In fact, I have a responsibility to do that. I can do what I need to do, and I model that to other people, who can see they have choices too. Writing about it helps.
My best friend went to grad school when I did, at the turn of the century. She studied the work of kari edwards, who was a gendernaut writer at Naropa. My best friend was a lesbian but came out as a genderqueer lesbian.
Genderqueer lesbian? If a lesbian is a woman who loves women, and genderqueer means you’re not a woman, how can you be a genderqueer lesbian?
That question alone was enough to blow the lid off my gender ideas, what little lid was left, and I love it. I love the apparent contradiction of my best friend’s situation. The tension of the ideas is energizing and important.
Yes, I need to live in a world where I can be a genderqueer lesbian, or at least be closely allied with one. Our fates are interwoven. I choose to interweave my fate with yours, genderqueer lesbians of the world.
My gender does not need to make sense for you. I have no responsibility for my gender or sexuality or really much of anything about me to make sense for you. Yes, my life will be harder as I’m less legible. But that’s for me to handle. I would rather live in freedom than live in a fabricated lie that’s supposed to keep me safe by meeting social expectations.
Your fears and insecurities around gender and sexuality are yours to carry. I don’t simplify myself for anyone.
Walking down the street holding hands with Ming, I might look like a straight lady who’s with a straight dude. But Ming is not a man, I am not really a woman, there’s nothing straight about us, and anyone who gets to know us can see there’s something special going on. Whether you embrace and support our projects, or deny and tear us down is up to you.
If I get scared, I can hold onto this rock. This rock is part of Parent Earth, who loves me very much. My ancestors survived the impossible to hand me their gifts, and I have a responsibility to use them. Being who I am in a world that tells me I’m multi-wrong is a scary thing to do. But it’s what I’m here for. No one else can do it but me.
What kind of world do you want? My thoughts about gender over time have changed until these days they inform a radical way of living and loving.
I want a world of freedom, which has nothing to do with wars, flag waving, or cis-het white guys. My freedom is about unconditional love. I unconditionally love myself and Ming, and we go from there.