But what I find it hard to get my mind around is what it feels like to describe yourself with both male and female pronouns. I want to know: how does your body lead you to describe yourself that way? Or is there some kind of disconnect, and what caused it? What does “genderqueer” really mean?
How can we possibly tell someone who feels that their gender is centered in their body, who feels normatively sexed/gendered what it feels like to be liminal, living on the threshold, in neither one space or the other, but in both spaces at the same time?
My knowledge of who I am doesn’t shift much, but I have learned that my performance of gender has to shift depending on the point of view of the observer. How they see us defines how they understand us, and so we need to formulate some assumptions about how others see us.
Those assumptions, though, have to created though the experience of stigma, and stigma is a tool that authorizes abuse & dismissal.
When we are both he & she are we saying that we are two different and contradictory things? Or are we saying that we have the experience of being two different and contradictory things?
Until you have seen your gender shift in the eyes of someone you are engaged with, like when the police officer sees your driver’s liscence and stiffens, well, you don’t know what it’s like to feel the gender slip.
It’s so easy to gender slip for us, with another part of our experience or biology coming to the fore, that we know it is impossible to be one thing or another. The Guy-In-A-Dress Line, you know?
So is it any wonder that with that gender slip experience so many of us feel like we are both? Isn’t that better than feeling like we are neither, even if both feelings are a reflection of how we experience liminality, being on the threshhold?
“I was man, I was not man, I was woman, I was not woman,” Kate Bornstein said. You can’t not be something until you have been it, because you have to have been married to be divorced, have to have been immersed to be separated.
“The great thing about getting older is that you are still all the ages you have ever been,” said Madelaine L’Engle. And when I told that to Kate she immediately said “and all the genders!”
How does it feel to be both? Just a little better than it feels to be neither.