The very first thing I want you to notice is that this is titled My Genderqueer Manifesto. It’s not The Genderqueer Manifesto nor even A Genderqueer Manifesto. This one is mine and no one else’s. Just like my gender(s). And like my gender, I reserve the right to modify it on a whim, to update it to reflect new knowledge, and for it to be completely nonsensical to those outside of my head. Modifications, updates, and other changes may (and likely will) be made without this document ever being updated.
I am genderqueer.
In that big QUILTBAG in which so many of us hang out, you can find me in the Q and the G. G for genderqueer. Q for queer. But not Q for questioning. I’m not questioning. I am the question. My life, my identity, my practices are a big fucking question mark, and I love it that way.
So what’s it mean when I say I’m genderqueer?
- It means sure, I’m a guy. Except when I’m not.
- It means sometimes I’m a girl too.
- It means sometimes I’m neither, or both, or something else entirely.
- It means I’m rarely a man, and even less often a woman.
- It means that when I fix a car or build something that I don’t feel manly or like I’m living up to the gender that is assigned to me. It means I’m really more of a tomboy in those moments.
- It means that I’m not crossdressing when you see me in skirts and makeup. I’m not wearing women’s clothes. I’m wearing my clothes, thank you very much.
- It means you can refer to me as “he.” Or “she.” Or “ze.” Or any other personal pronoun you prefer. They’ll all be right enough, and I don’t mind any of them. Well, except maybe “it.”
- It means that my beard is pretty and girly, at least when I want it to be.
So what does it not mean when I say that I’m genderqueer?
- It does not mean that I want to start taking hormones or have my body surgically modified. Some genderqueer people do. That’s cool. It’s not for me.
- It does not mean that I’m under any obligation to make my identity apparent to others. Most days I’ll be in slacks or jeans and a button down. You’ll likely not actively notice anything about my gender.
- It does not have any bearing on my sexual orientation. I’m mostly attracted to women, and also to other genderqueer folks. I’m sometimes attracted to guys. None of that has anything to do with my gender identity nor with my gender expression. I’m just omnomsexual.1
- It does not mean that I feel I was born in the wrong body. I fit my body perfectly. I am my body. My gender and my body are inseparable, but that doesn’t mean that I let others assignation of gender to my body limit me.
I notice that my expression of gender varies along with where I am on the extraversion/introversion spectrum. The more extraverted I am, the more stereotypically feminine I am likely to appear. The more introverted I am, the more stereotypically guy my appearance will be.
But no matter my expression, I am always genderqueer.
Even when you can’t see my queerness, it is there. It is who I am. It is how I am. Forget that if you prefer. My queerness is not your responsibility, and it does not need your recognition. But forget it at the risk of failing to see and understand me.
Queer is a territory of tension, defined against the dominant narrative of white-hetero-monogamous-patriarchy, but also by an affinity with all who are marginalized, otherized and oppressed. Queer is the abnormal, the strange, the dangerous. Queer involves our sexuality and our gender, but so much more. It is our desire and fantasies and more still. Queer is the cohesion of everything in conflict with the heterosexual capitalist world. Queer is a total rejection of the regime of the Normal.
I refuse to let myself be managed and policed and limited by narrow, binary gender. I am both/and/neither/nor. I am “Yes, ma’am,” “Yes, sir,” and “I don’t know what to call you.”
I am a walking, talking, living, breathing question mark exploding every binary that tries to catch me.
1) Omnomsexual. adj. Involving, related to, or characterized by a sexual propensity for people who are nommy; of or involving sexual activity with a person or people who are nommy, or between individuals who are nommy.