The Future (or Lack Thereof) of Gender

What do you think gender will look like in the future? Fifteen years from now? Twenty-five or fifty years?

A lot of people agree that the characteristics of a person's physical body shouldn't be used by society to attribute gender to them.

"A person's gender identity is valid", someone will say, "regardless of whether they have a penis or a vagina".

"Oh", says another person, "not just that, but whether they have a beard or not. Or breasts or no breasts. Or whether they have wide hips or wide shoulders. People shouldn't go around telling people their body isn't right for their gender identity!"

A smaller minority -- some nonbinary transgender, gender-critical feminists, genderqueer, gender-outlaw activists, etc -- explicitly want gender to utterly disappear:

"Gender doesn't exist except as harmful sexist propaganda about what it means if you have a certain kind of body", says one feminist.

An activist in a t-shirt that says FUCK GENDER says, "I don't see the point of being 'genderfluid', really. Having a gender is all about limitations, so what's the point of bouncing around from one set of limitations to another set when you can just be outside of all that?"



This question is for the rest of you, the ones who don't think gender itself is a bad thing, but don't want it to be connected to any specific physical body configuration: how do you think gender will survive being split off from an essentially physical anchor?


Let's review how gender has traditionally worked in human society. It was believed that people come in two (usually; occasionally more than two) essential types, which were different from each other in physical ways which was how you knew which type you were dealing with; and that each of these types were fundamentally different in other, less immediately visible ways. Personality differences. Differences in attitude towards what they want out of life. Different ways of behaving. Different ways of signalling what they want, both consciously and unconsciously, which meant differences in how you, the observer, should interpet behaviors. Different ways of experiencing sex and sexuality. Different values, different priorities, different obligations, different purposes in life.

So now, we're saying we're not going to attribute all that stuff to a person based on their bodies. Instead we're going to open up all those identities, and also add a bunch more that people have started identifying as, and establish throughout society that anyone can be any of these gender identities regardless of what body they were born with. So let's assume that really does happen. That people cease to see a person's physical body and mentally paste a batch of expectations of what that person is like.

Well, if it's not based on the body, what one (or three, or six) feature(s) of a person's dress or behavior determines which other expectations society ought to glue onto them?

If no expectations are being glued on from a handful of initial observations, how is that different from a world that doesn't have gender identities? If you don't have expectations from having mentally categorized a person, that person might do or be absolutely anything next. We aren't thinking of them as being "like" other people in that category and "different" from people who are in other categories.

So if you don't think gender will evaporate once we get rid of body-based stereotyped expectations, why wouldn't it? What's your theory on how gendered identities will persist? Will we preserve historically established identities, along with their roles and expected traits? Will we keep the traditional "man" and "woman"? How about the others, like "demigirl" and "demiboy" and "bigender" and "genderfluid" and so on, will we keep those too? Is there an upper limit to how many gender identities we'll believe people fit into, or will it expand to almost infinite numbers of identities?

Or maybe we won't impose expectations on others as part of understanding and accepting someone else's gender identity, but instead wait for them to explain to us how they want us to see them. But if we don't have any preformed notions in our heads, like "what it means to be a man" or "what women are like" or whatever, won't they be in the same situation they'd be in in a world without genders, where each person exists as a unique individual and as "one more person" not not as part of any divisional category?

What are your thoughts?

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You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.


Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page

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This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

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BOOK REVIEW: Ciel, by Sophie Labelle

When I saw that Sophie Labelle, author-cartoonist of Assigned Male Comics, had published a book, I ordered a copy. It was described as featuring a gender nonconforming main character coping with high school, and I'm addicted to stories of how people formulate their unconventional gender identities and how they experience themselves during these formative years.

I wanted to see what Labelle would do with more space to expand into, the opportunity to dive deeper into things with more nuance and complexity than a four-panel strip provides.

(Ciel is NOT a graphic novel, by the way. It's concise at 188 pages but it's made up of text, just so you know).

The early part of the book left me feeling a little bit like everything about gender and identity was still being painted in primary colors, all platitudes and overly simplified viewpoints that imply more agreement among LGBTQIA people than actually exists. Labelle's Ciel refers to "another gender...than the one the doctors gave me at birth when they looked at my genitals (which are nobody's business, by the way!)" and goes on to complain that for children in many societies, "they're designated a girl or a boy, their room are painted a certain color, and they're given certain kinds of toys to play with".

But Sophie Labelle shifts to more politically complicated territory later on in the story. Tensions are explored around questions of sexual orientation and how they collide awkwardly with nonbinary gender identities, with characters such as Frank, who is involved with Ciel's best friend Stephie, a trans girl. Frank is starting to get facial hair and unclear on whether or not Stephie, who was assigned male, will also.

"You know, she wouldn't be any less a girl if she had a beard like a Viking, or an Adam's apple, or a low voice", Ciel tells him.

"But it would be a little weird."

"Why?"

"People might think I was going out with a guy, or something."

"And that would be a real tragedy, right?"

"That's not what I mean! Some of my friends say I'm gay because I'm going out with Stephie, and I don't care."

"Good."

This conversation gets Ciel wondering about facial hair. Ciel doesn't identify as a boy or a girl. And although Ciel is taking puberty hormone blockers, they're not firmly committed to continuing to do so.

Over and over again, the characters in Labelle's book, in pondering their own identities and their expressions of them, find themselves considering how they are viewed by others. It's an unavoidable part of identity. Sociologists sometimes call it "altercasting" — the act of assigning identities to other people. We all do it, not always with bad intentions, not always with narrowly limited categories, but even when we are aware of all this diversity, we still tend to listen and watch and then regard a person as a trans woman or a genderfluid nonbinary person or a lesbian trans girl or whatever. And we all also spend time and energy imagining how we are perceived, and we take it into account when choosing how to interact, how to present.

In Ciel's case, there is the matter of what name to use. The school's records have Ciel's proper name down as "Alessandro". Ciel is somewhat awkward about asking to be referred to as "Alessandra" instead, more comfortable about asking ahead of time than correcting a teacher who started using the other name. Ciel is even more open and out on their YouTube channel, where videos openly explore what it is like to be trans and gender-nonconforming.

That provokes the most polarized and antagonistically hostile reaction that Ciel experiences in the book — from another transgender person. A video blogger named Bettie Bobbie posts: "Hi everybody! Today I watched a video that made me want to puke, about a gay boy who invented a gender for himself by saying he's neither a boy nor a girl...if you ask me, this video harms real trans people like me."

Sophie Labelle shows us that the world of LGBTQIA identities is intricate and that we struggle with identification and expression, and that there are hurt feelings and resentments and anger sometimes. This is honest and fair.

Through Ciel's tale, Labelle does a slow exploration of presentation by a gender nonconforming person (I would describe Ciel as genderfluid, myself, but the term isn't embraced in this story). Ciel's choice of clothing is presented as an internal dialog, facing the closet several mornings and deciding against the ostentatiously colorful apparel they're drawn to and instead putting on more drab and mundane garments. Only towards the end of the book does Labelle pull back and let us see that choice against the backdrop of Ciel's expectation of their classmates' attitudes and reactions.


Ciel, by Sophie Labelle, Second Story Press 2020 Toronto CA

https://secondstorypress.ca/kids/ciel


———————

You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.


Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

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I Get a Really Nice Interview! FiftyShadesOfGender!

Podcast host Esther Lemmens maintains Fifty Shades of Gender, a series in which she interviews a different individual in each episode to do a deep dive into gender, sex, and sexuality. "Come with us on a journey of inclusion, acceptance and respect", she invites.

Esther Lemmens has a gift for asking the right questions to let her subjects introduce or explain the things most important to them. She senses areas where the person might want to elaborate or make things clearer, and probes in such a way as to give that opportunity.

I've been interviewed several times as a book author with a book being published, but often came away from them feeling less than overjoyed about how my gender identity, or my book, were being presented. But Lemmens has elicited from me the best spoken overview I've ever given.

A Conversation with Allan D. Hunter, Podcast Episode 14, 2 October 2020.


You should check out her other episodes as well.


———————

You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.


Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/69452.html#comments

Gender-Critical, Transgender, Gender Inversion, & Transsexuality Conference

Hi! Want to moderate a discussion panel? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to lead these four folks to some sort of accord, or, failing that, to moderate their debate fairly and give each one a chance to support their positions.

I'll let them introduce themselves as they deem appropriate --


Lillian: Hello, I'm Lillian. I'm a gender critical feminist. I'm 70. When I was young, I was part of the feminist second wave that attacked the notion that biology is destiny, that if you were born male you were designed to live *this* life but if you were female you were destined to live *that* life. As feminists, we indicted gender roles and gendered assumptions about people. Because they aren't necessary for the functioning of society -- except the unfair parts -- and they aren't good for us as individuals. They are restrictions! We opposed sexist double standards and sexist expectations and assumptions. Anyone might be a leader. Anyone might be a nurturant caregiver. Anyone might be a belligerent asshole. Anyone might be an empty-headed doll-person. None of that is due to whether you were born with a penis or a vagina! Sex polarization that divides us up into women and men is a tool of patriarchal oppression and it exists to the detriment of women. Women are oppressed. Now, me personally, when I was first in the women's movement, well, we were white and straight and didn't pay enough attention to other people's situation. But we've become more intersectional and we listen to black women's voices and the voices of women who come from poverty, disabled women, and other forms of additional marginalization. But first and foremost, society is a patriarchy; that's still the bottom line for me. If men don't like it, they're in charge so all they've got to do is stand down and change it and quit opposing us.


Sylvia: Well, I guess you could say I was also involved in attacking that 'biology is destiny' thing. Hey, everybody, I'm Sylvia. I am trans. Back when I was figuring that out, the word was 'transsexual', and that's still what I prefer to use, but I don't want to offend anybody. I had gender dysphoria, the body I was born with was not my destiny. It wasn't right for me, and I knew it from pretty much the time I was old enough to understand the difference between boys and girls. I know some of you younger folks say things differently, you'd say I was assigned male at birth. Well, I had to get myself unassigned, because my gender didn't match that assignment at all. I changed my body to match my gender. Now, I understand the notion that we ought to have equal attitudes to a person no matter if their body is male or female. Or whether it came with a penis on the front of it or a vagina instead, if you like that language better. I understand saying that what your body is like shouldn't matter and we shouldn't have sexist beliefs. But that's not the world I got to live in. Maybe someday society will be that way but not in my lifetime. Not in yours either, probably. Getting sex reassignment surgery was something I could get within a few years, and I did, and it has made it possible for me to live my life with people seeing me and treating me like who I am -- a woman -- and I don't see why anybody's got any cause for having a problem with that.


Jesse: My name's Jesse and my pronouns are he, him, his. I was assigned male at birth. When I was younger, there was an attitude that what you were supposed to do if your gender didn't match your designation was to go out and get hormones and surgery, and if you did that and you could *pass*, then you were authentically trans. Well, some of those surgeries are expensive and not everyone can afford them, and there's medical issues with procedures, and hormones too, and during my generation we pushed back against that elitist attitude. Because you don't need to have anything specific done to you to make your gender identity valid, okay? It's fine to get gender confirmation surgery if that's what you *want*, and you can afford it and it's safe for you and all that. What is *not* fine is to go around telling people they aren't trans enough if they don't, you hear what I'm saying? And I am a man. Trans men are men. Trans women are women. You body is not 'who you really are', so yeah count me in as well on kicking that 'biology is destiny' off the map. What's up with people deciding they get to decide who you are based on what's inside your underwear? That's creepy. Anyone with that attitude, go perv on someone else, all right? Meanwhile, I hear what you're saying about gender being confining, but it can also be liberating and you ought to think about that. There are strong notions about how to be a man that go beyond being an okay person, it's heroic and inspiring to connect with that. Women, too, womanhood is a powerful notion. I got nothing against people who want to be agender or whatever, but I like being a man.


Allan (me): I'm Allan. I never bought into all the junk that gets glued onto a male, beliefs and assumptions and all that, because I didn't get issued all that stuff along with the body in which I was born. I grew up with messages about what it means to be a man, and also messages about what it means if your body is male and you don't match that description. Feminism told me that was sexist and I could ignore it, so I did. Until I couldn't. The world was too much in my face about it to ignore. So I became an activist. And yeah, biology isn't destiny. I agree that gender has its positive uses. Androgyny means expecting everyone to be in the middle, like beige or something. I'm not androgynous, I'm femme. Meanwhile I understand about it being easier to change your body, or to just change your presentation, how you look to the world, to get folks to think of your body as the body that goes with your gender, so that they'll get your gender correct. But the world got in my face and I'm returning the favor, I don't want to pass, I want to take the fact that I am male but also feminine and shove that at people. My body is not the problem, it's people's notion that if your body is male that makes you a man, a masculine person. That's what's got to change. We don't change that by converting male people to female people so they can be correctly regarded as women. Damn right our gender identity is valid regardless of our body. That means I get to walk down the nude beach with my flat chest and facial hair and my penis bouncing against my testicles and that doesn't make me a man. I want to be accepted as femme without lipstick, corset, boobs, or tucking. And patriarchy is in my way. I don't care if you want to call me a feminist or what, but I'm in the struggle against patriarchal oppression for my own damn reasons. And, yeah, I get to call my body male. I don't need to believe that I'm female in order to validate my gender identity. That's the whole point. It's *not*, and yet I'm still as femme as anybody.


———————

You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.


Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

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Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/69371.html#comments

Thoughts From a Song: Running Up That Hill

In gender outlaw and other LGBTQIA Facebook groups and internet forums, someone will occasionally ask "What songs really reached out to you and made you feel recognized and understood?"

I need to remember to nominate Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" the next time someone asks.

It may not have a giant billboard sign on it proclaiming it to be relevant to gender inversion and being genderqueer, but that's where my head went when I first heard it, and how I interpret any time I've heard it since. "If only I could", Kate sings, "I'd make a deal with God and I'd get him to swap our places". Many of my trans friends, who have often plaintively wished that the transgender women who didn't want their penises could donate them to the transgender men who did, and receive a uterus and fallopian tubes and vagina in exchange, should be able to relate.

But that's not quite how Kate came to wish for the exchange of positions, to be sure. Her angle of approach has more to do with a concern specific to sexuality of the non-same-sex variety: "It doesn't hurt me; do you want to feel how it feels? Do you want to know that it doesn't hurt me?" Not every listener seems to immediately think that the "it" she speaks of is sex, but that's totally where my head went. She's conversing with a male lover who is concerned about how this is for her. Because he doesn't know, never having been female.

My feminist women friends are ready to hoot in derision. "Men don't spend much time worrying about whether any sex practice hurts women. They think that's what we're there for. And that whatever gets done to us must be hot for us if they find it hot, whether it's the joy of gagging on a dick or being raped and choked or just the everyday joy of being objectified and catcalled to by strangers, men never try to put themselves in our position and imagine what it must be like to be us. Or if they do, they have pathetically impaired imaginations!"

But not everyone who is male of body is a man, and not all sexuality involving a male person and a female person is heterosexuality. Because heterosexuality is an institution, one that is defined by and depends on seeing the sexual partner as Other, as utterly alien, one whose feelings and thoughts can't be approached by imagining what it would be like, because, well, because It's Different For Them. Because They're Different. And reciprocally, for people whose interactions and attractions are not defined around that alienating difference, there is likely to be that fervent wish to understand, to know what it's like.

"Let's exchange the experience", Kate says. That's intimacy. It's empathy.

Our current social politics often teaches us that empathy isn't real, that it's illusory. "Don't speak for them. You aren't them and you don't know what it's like". It is entirely valid to say "You should not speak for people when they can speak for themselves, especially if they've been kept voiceless by their marginalization". I agree with that. But some go on to say "Don't think that you know what it's like. You don't. You can't. It is arrogant of you to think that you do. You aren't them". It's not a nuanced position, as stated; and if it discourages people from thinking it possible to know what it's like, it can turn away their inclination to try. To imagine, to wonder, to watch from the outside and attempt to conjure up an awareness of what it must be like from the inside.

We can't even identify as part of a group without empathy. Transgender feminist author Julia Serano acknowledges the legitimacy of the statement that some have made to her: "How do you know you are 'a woman'? How do you know that who you are is the person that women are? You've never been one, you've only been yourself!" Serano agrees that she's never been anyone but herself, but, well, that's true for the person directing the question. How does a cisgender woman know she's a woman in the sense of having an identity in common with other women? She's never been any of those other women either, how does she know what it's like to be any of them, and to claim a commonality of identity? Only by observation from the outside. Which is how Serano knows the same thing. It's how I know I'm a femme; it's how I knew I was one of the girls (despite being male) when I was in grade school. It's empathy. The power to look across the divide and bridge the gaps and recognize and relate.

"We both matter, don't we?", Kate Bush asks.

Yeah, we do.


———————

You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.


Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

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Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/69026.html#comments

Review / Interview in QueerPGH!

"...the book has some problematic aspects, and may be at odds with some of our queer values today. This seems to be by design, conveying a much different world for queer people."

— Rachel Lange, Senior Editor, QueerPGH



If you were ever part of a children's classroom drama group or were in a choir or rock band as a 4th grader, you may have encountered the "review that isn't really a review". The kind where the writer discusses how adorable your group was and how earnest you all were up there on that stage, and how cute your costumes were. The names of the lead singers or the performers in the primary roles are all dutifully mentioned, and the writer will generally find some nice things to say about the precision of the delivery or how nicely all in tune you were. But you don't get scathing criticism or a pointed comment on how your group chose to stage it, because the writer figures that no one goes to those things to hear the music or watch the dramatic tale unfold.


So-called "third party" politicians often get the same treatment when they run for office. If they get interviewed and covered at all, the questions are softball questions: "Tell me about your main issues", or "What made you decide to run for office?"; the interviewer rarely probes the marginal candidate's most politically vulnerable spot to see if the candidate has a good answer, like "You say you would close the town widget factory because of the toxicity levels. Seven hundred local citizens have jobs there; what's going to happen to them? And where will the airplane industry get their greasy widgets from, won't the cost of air travel jump through the roof if you do that?" They don't ask because the writer doesn't assume it matters to the voters, because this candidate isn't going to win the election anyway so who cares?


Rachel Lange of the queer publication QueerPGH apparently takes me seriously. Not only that I have something to say to the LGBTQIA community but that people might pay attention to it, that it might have some impact. In her interview with me, she asked some of the most provocative and probing questions I've faced.

She isn't wrong in her summary statement: I wrote GenderQueer not to add my voice to the chorus of voices that were already out there, but to add a different voice. To tell a story about an identity that was not already being explained and given a name. And she's quite right—I have often found myself at odds with activists who represent some of the other shades of the queer coalition rainbow, because some of the concepts they use are injurious to the identity I'm writing about. Some of the rhetoric they like to use erases people like me. I'm not unaware of the existing social dialog, so in rising to my feet to present my tale, my dissent with them is indeed by design. Not that I'm out to antagonize or deliberately cause dissent in the community, but because that erasure of which I spoke needs to end. I'm not out to negate anyone else's identity, and I hope readers of my book will see that. But I very much appreciate the candor and seriousness of the questions.

Book Review: Gender Queer: A Story from a Different Closet

———————

You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.


Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

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Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/68746.html#comments

Umbrella

Several times in several different groups somebody has asked about the difference between "transgender" and "genderqueer" and "nonbinary" and then somebody else has posted something like this:



I don't like that illustration.

So what's my problem with it?

I identify as genderqueer and I do not identify as transgender, and that umbrella diagram sticks me into that category whether I like it or not. That diagram creates a hierarchy in which all genderqueer people are transgender (but not vice versa). That means that any statement that transgender people make on behalf of all trans people is going to be considered to apply to me and other people like me. Because we're defined as being under that umbrella.

Let's look at some of the broad all-inclusive statements that many transgender people have made, shall we?

a) A person's gender identity is valid regardless of their physical anatomy. You don't have to have a medical transition in order for your gender identity to be valid. You don't have to "pass" in order for your gender identity to be valid

Well, that one is wonderful, I'm totally on-board with that! It used to be that society's understanding of what it meant to be trans was that you went out and got yourself a medical transition to make your physical anatomy correspond with your gender identity. And that certainly didn't describe me! So this is a good change, a good shift. The problem is with additional assumptions and assertions that they very often attach to that, such as

b) A person's physical anatomy is not a polite topic of consideration. Anatomy is utterly irrelevant to identity and nobody's business. It's totally inappropriate to be identifying a person on the basis of what's inside their underpants

and...

c) You should not use any anatomy-based terms except to refer to the binary sex assignment that our society coercively attributes people to at birth. If someone identifies as a woman or girl, you would be misgendering them if you did not consider them female; if someone identifies as a man or boy, to not regard them as fully male is transphobic and misgendering also

and...

d) Any insistence that sex and gender are two different things is politically offensive and based on wrong out-of-date science that is now disproven. There's no such thing as "biological sex" because intersex people exist and there are multitudes of body variation from chromosomes to organ structures, so the binary is just a social construct and there is no physical sex.

Well, let's unpack some of that. (Because we don't all wear the same packers in here, okay?) In reverse order, my intersex-activist buddies do want to make a distinction between sex and gender. It's important to them and they're tired of "intersex" being used as an argument for why "biological sex doesn't exist" and otherwise ignored. Intersex people have bodies. They have bodies that other people found embarrassingly different. So embarrassing that they often coercively assigned their bodies to male or female with a surgeon's knife, without their consent. Intersex people can't discuss the fact that their body differed at birth from the body of either male people or female people if "male" refers to gender identity instead of physical sex. Intersex people can't identify themselves if people in society are confused and say things like "Oh me too, I've always had a female side, I wanted to dance ballet instead of play baseball". I'm not intersex myself, but I can't even explain that I'm not intersex if the language doesn't let me explain that although I was never a boy or man, my physical configuration wasn't unusual for male people. That it's my gender that's queer, that my sex falls into normative classifications.

I identify as a femme or girl. But unlike Teresa, my transgender sister, I would not be misgendered if you called me male. Teresa would be; she'd find it insulting and demeaning. She identifies as a woman and definitely female. But I'm not Teresa. I identify as male. I identify as femme or girl. My sex and my gender don't match. I'm genderqueer. And if you're going to raise a giant umbrella over my head and say we're all transgender, you can't go around making blanket statements that support Teresa's identity but erase mine.

If it is no longer necessary to "pass", to look like a typical cisgender person of your same gender, then it should not matter if people do make some guesses about what's inside my underwear. Because no matter what's in there, we already agreed that it doesn't invalidate my gender identity, right? So it doesn't have to be kept a shameful secret. I've got the anatomy that most directly caused my mom's obstetrician to designate me as "male". It's an unfortunate social fact that the same anatomy also caused my birth announcements to incorrectly tell everyone "It's a boy!", but the "male" part wasn't wrong and I have no reason to hide it. I was a male girl. Perfectly queer and not typical, and quite healthy and happy with that, thank you.

I propose this umbrella instead:



Notice that under this umbrella, several terms appear in multiple places. Because some genderqueer people do identify as transgender, whereas some do not; similarly some nonbinary people identify as transgender and others do not, and some nonbinary people consider themselves genderqueer while others do not, and vice versa and so on.


———————

You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.


Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
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I Get Reviewed by the Taos News!

After months and months of getting nice reviews in college newspapers and, at a lower volume, LGBTQIA press publications, I'm finally getting some reviews published in mainstream newspapers. Two weeks ago I made the Los Alamos Daily Post and now, extending my coverage in the New Mexican press, I'm in the Taos News.

Taos, like Los Alamos, is an eclectic little village, with a diverse and culturally savvy population and many farflung former residents who may still subscribe to the local paper.



"When Derek Hunter moves to Los Alamos from Valdosta, Georgia, in eighth grade, he is bullied mercilessly. A tall, thin boy with glasses, who likes to wear stovepipe pants and slicked-back hair instead of bell-bottoms and long tresses (this is 1974), he embraces nonconformism mostly because he has nothing in common with boys his age.

What he knows about boys is "ribald and crude" and a "constant undercurrent of threat." He favors the company of girls, who are more accepting and physically attractive. Boys he begins to think of as "them," as the enemy. And they return the favor in terms of verbal and physical bullying.

In this tortured litany of harassment mostly set in Northern New Mexico, author Hunter, who lived in New Mexico until the mid-1980s, before moving to New York to become an activist in gender theory, presents a coming-of-age novel of ambivalent identity that the protagonist ultimately figures out on his own."



— María Dolores Gonzales, Taos News https://www.taosnews.com/tempo/dont-forget-we-are-mexican/article_0b71eca2-1303-5733-b2b1-3d5a2c5151e1.html

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You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.


Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page

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This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

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Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/68292.html#comments

Social Justice and Defunding the Police

One of the changes that some people have been advocating for since the police killing of George Floyd is to "defund the police". In some quarters, it's certainly a less than popular idea--nervously worried people glance at each other and try to visualize what our world would look like if the police all just packed up and went home. Most of these worried citizens haven't required a rescue from the predations of dangerous people in the last year, but still they think of the police as necessary protectors, a force without which there would be violent crime threatening us around every corner.

Me, I think there's something out of whack when our official organized response whenever there's a conflict between people is to go in with the attitude that somebody is the bad person, that somebody is the perpetrator, the evildoer. As if no two people could ever end up frustrated and feeling mutually thwarted and angry unless one of them was a bad person and the conflict was their fault. I think if you're a parent and your children are fighting, or you're a teacher and your students are furious and yelling and making threats, or you're a supervisor on the job and your employees are arguing and screaming and shoving each other, that you go in with the expectation that you need to listen to both sides, and the anticipation that there's going to be some way that everyone can get what they need out of the situation or at least enough of what they need that there's a solution everyone can live with. I'm not saying it's always going to work out that way, mind you, but you go in with that attitude. Not with the attitude that someone's in the wrong and needs to be stopped and then punished. And frankly if that's not your approach, if you don't go in looking to see how to make peace between these squabbling people, you're not a very good parent, a very good teacher, a very good supervisor. That over time you're going to contribute to the problems and make the fighting worse.


So why do we have police, when what we generally mean by "police" is a professional force that goes in to intervene specifically looking for lawbreakers to arrest? There are, in fact, some police forces in some locales where the officers are more inclined to go in and get people settled down and listen to all sides and remind the people in the community that we need to stick together and work together. That does exist. But you know, and I know, that that's the exception, not the general rule. People who aspire to become police officers don't imagine themselves doing inpromptu counseling sessions on the sidewalk. The people who wince at "defund the police" aren't worried about not having mediators in blue uniforms to get both sides listening to each other and working towards a mutually acceptable solution either. Instead, we've all been brought up to think of the police as the ones who get the bad guys. They have fast cars and radios; they have sticks, guns, and handcuffs on their belt. They will stop the criminals and put them in jail. Yeah, that model.

I'd like to see the police as we know them replaced with people who have been trained in defusing and mediating. And if the existing people wearing police badges feel like they didn't sign up for that, replace them with people who took social sciences and humanities courses in college.

I'm reading a book, mainstream entertainment fiction. Michael Connelly, The Closers. Like the overwhelming majority of police procedurals and mysteries, it's about murder. Because our steady diet of laudatory praise and respect for the police is centered around murder. It's not so easy to see why the enforcement of the rule that you shouldn't go around killing other people is somehow reinforcing our existing social inequalities--I mean, yeah, sure, you can no doubt come up with a scenario or two where somebody is in a situation where they have a moral right to kill someone (their rapist, the slaveowner who stands in the way of their freedom, etc), but it's a reach. We think it's a rare situation where killing someone isn't just plain inexcusable.

But most of the situations that police officers intervene in aren't murders. They investigate property crimes and occurrences of people shouting and shoving, and respond to situations where one person feels threatened by another; they look for violations of drug laws and they watch for people misbehaving in their vehicles; and they show up to investigate when there is vandalism or theft.

We didn't always have them around, you know. Yeah. We haven't always had a professional police force in the modern sense. Furthermore, the history of their existence is pretty tangled up with maintaining and enforcing an "us versus them" division or two in our society. The kind where one group is defined as "them". The bad people, the criminal elements that the other group needs to be protected from. And in the United States, the number one "them" group has been black folks. The entire notion of "criminals", the widely shared belief in a "them" who would otherwise threaten our safety and security here in our own homes and on our downtown sidewalks, is heavily interwoven with our notions about race. It's not always painted as overtly so, but we're made to fear the anger and hate of black people. (Why, because maybe we think they've been mistreated and deprived and just might have an understandable reason to be angry and hate us, ya think? Little bit of white guilt turned inside out to become a fear of a righteous wrath, perhaps?) Several white people have pointed out that it's an act of white privilege to call the cops any time there's a possible conflict, especially when the people with whom we're having a conflict are nonwhite people. They point out that for a nonwhite person to make a similar call, there's a legitimate worry that the police, upon arrival, will not help but will instead treat them as the cause of the problem. I watched a video earlier this week where a group of black teenagers called the police when they'd been physically attacked by someone else, only to have the police pull out guns on them when they showed up.

Meanwhile, we have the calls for social justice. I've never liked that phrase. "Justice", as in Department of Justice, as in dispensing justice from the judge's bench in the courtroom, is part and parcel of the police model. The notion that somebody is a culprit, an evildoer who is at fault and deserves for bad things to happen to them for the evil that they've done.

You can't really have it both ways. If it's a better approach to get everyone talking and listening instead of barging in designating somebody as the bad person, I don't think that changes when the alteraction is not about a cluster of teenagers arguing in a parking lot but instead is about different broad social factions arguing about oppression.


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You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.


Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/67960.html#comments

Los Alamos Home Town Newspaper Reviews My Book

I have had many nice reviews printed in college newspapers and I've been reviewed in the LGBTQIA press. And I've had notices and interviews in mainstream papers that speak to the existence of the book, but which weren't actually reviews of it. But until this week I did not have an actual review of GenderQueer printed in a mainstream municipal newspaper.

So it seems utterly appropriate that the first to do so would be the Los Alamos Daily Post, the newspaper from the town where I attended junior high and high school. The newspaper from the town where most of the action in the book takes place.

Lifestyles Editor Bonne Gordon was a great interviewer; when she called me to ask questions about my book and my experiences, it was obvious that she had not only been giving the book a close read but was also familiar on a deep level with the relevant backdrop issues. We discussed gender from the standpoint of LGBTQIA experiences and feminism, and how things have changed (and how they haven't) over the forty years since the events described in the book.

Los Alamos is both a small community and a special, well-known one. It's received far more literary attention than a typical village of 12,000 inhabitants would, but not so much that the people who live there don't become interested when a book about living there goes to press. So with any luck, the article will spark some local interest in reading my book.


Putting the Q in LGBTQ: Growing Up 'Different' In Los Alamos — Bonnie Gordon, The Los Alamos Daily Post


———————

You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!

My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.


Links to published reviews and comments are listed on my Home Page

———————

This DreamWidth blog is echoed on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Blogger. Please friend/link me from any of those environments on which you have an account.

————————


Index of all Blog Posts
comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth -- https://ahunter3.dreamwidth.org/67586.html#comments