(Intent of) Explaining My Gender and Preferred Pronouns

I’ve been asked twice this week whether I will start taking hormones soon or if I’m thinking about getting some kind of surgery to alter my sex. It turns out that P will be starting T this October and has also changed their name. My answer is always a clear and plain “no”, but I sometimes have a hard time explaining why.

So this week I had to try and explain my gender to P and my art teacher again, although I had already come out to them a year ago. I had a great conversation about stereotypes, non-binary identities and sexless angels though, so that was nice.

I often just tell people that I’m genderqueer and hope they’ll more or less understand where I stand on the gender spectrum, but the term “genderqueer” encloses so many different kinds of people who all experience their gender differently that it hardly gives any kind of explanation to start with. That is actually one of the reasons why I like the term though. I’ve talked about my sexuality here before and even made a table to separate which kinds of attractions I feel and to which degree, but my gender isn’t so easy to pin down. However, I feel like I have to write this down someday if I want to have a less difficult time explaining what it is I am when somebody asks about my gender identity. So here goes. I warn you that this may turn complicated and end up with me contradicting myself a couple of times.

Let’s start with the easy part. When I’m asked whether I’m a boy or a girl by somebody who I don’t know/will never know, I do what I’m not supposed to do and automatically classify them as cisgender, unknowledgeable of non-binary identities, and faithful partakers of the female-male binary. I then answer with a “male” or “female” depending on the day, simply ignore them or, if I’m in a really good mood and my safety isn’t in danger, answer with a “yes”, “no”, “sometimes” or even a “both and neither”. To be honest, all answers are correct. I’m a girl; I will always be a girl to some extent. But I’m also a boy. But I’m not half girl and half boy, I’m FULL girl and FULL boy. Some people treat gender as some sort of cube which you can fill up with bits of genders and once the cube is full, well there you have your gender identity (25% female, 40% male, 35% neutrois for example). But I’d need more than one cube; I’m 100% female and 100% male.

At the same time, I’m sure the way I experience me being a girl or a boy is probably different to how other people who identify as a girl or boy feel. I don’t really fit in at women or men spaces, and I share no bonds with people who are from the binary only because they share my gender identity. I don’t identify with them. This “neither” feeling would be connected to my non-binary identity, which I refer to as agenderism or neutrality.

Yet I sometimes feel like I would more likely fit in more with the masculine side of the binary and sometimes I lean more towards the feminine side. That’s why I also say I’m genderfluid, and will usually dress according to which way I bend. Of course when this changes halfway through the day, it can cause dysphoria. I had a hard time learning that clothes are just clothes, and I can wear skirts when I’m in boy mode and a shirt saying “I am a boy” when in girl mode. Agender mode is more like an in-between; I’m not particularly feeling more like a boy or a girl. In neutrality mode there is a sense of absolute gender void; there’s hardly anything there, and it would be very hard for me to understand what feeling like a certain gender would feel like. It’s like I forget the concept of gender altogether. This doesn’t occur often though, so I usually don’t bother making a difference between my agender and gender neutral identities.

So to resume all of the above I’ll use my original mathematical formula that combines all aspects of my gender:

Girl + Boy + Agender + Gender neutral = Genderqueer. Emphasis on one of the first four depending on the situation (a.k.a. gender fluidity).

Some people say that gender and sexuality terms only limit who you are and close you into a box. But since I’m in favour of people defining terms in their own way, finding their own meaning, breaking any lines that might limit them and also happen to love words, I see these terms more as a way of letting people try to understand you. My identity overflows from any kind of box that the gender spectrum has, but the term genderqueer is precisely a term that means “there are no boxes for me”, so I’ll be going with that until I find a better one.

Now that my gender is covered, I’ll get to the pronouns. I like he/him/his pronouns because they contradict what is established to be the norm according to my biological sex, so having someone refer to me as a boy makes me feel like I’m challenging society’s binary understanding of gender, which of course makes me glad. Until I realize that they are actually labelling me as male because that is what they see me as, and then I can feel uncomfortable. Because of the same reason, she/her pronouns sometimes also make me uncomfortable. Note that this only occurs when the person referring to me doesn’t know about my identity; I have no problem with any pronouns when used by somebody who acknowledges my gender, which is why I usually say I don’t mind which pronouns one uses after coming out as genderqueer. Any neutral pronouns are great, though I’m more used to hearing they/them/theirs.

The two exceptions are French, in which I prefer she/her pronouns, and Japanese, in which I prefer he/him/his.

And if you want a short Catalan lesson, when speaking I use she/her pronouns to refer to myself, but I usually write using he/him/his. In English this isn’t necessary, but in Spanish and Catalan we end all adjectives with one termination or another depending on our gender. For example, “I am tired” in English upholds no gendering, but in Catalan it would be “estic cansat” if you’re male or “estic cansada” if you’re female. There is no neutral form. But since all substantives have a gender (table is feminine, tree is masculine) I can sometimes manage to make sentences that don’t gender myself, since the adjective then refers to the substantive and not to me (“I am a happy person”: “sóc una persona contenta”). Of course this is difficult to think of quickly enough when speaking, so sometimes I talk with both he/him/his pronouns and she/her pronouns in the same sentence, just to confuse people.

So which pronouns do you all prefer? And how do you identify gender-wise? I challenge you to try and describe it (if not in the comments in a post maybe?). I hope I managed to make some sense…

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12 thoughts on “(Intent of) Explaining My Gender and Preferred Pronouns

  1. I identify with a lot of what you’ve said here, though agender is not something I ever seem to feel myself to be. Even when I’m not feeling particularly masculine or feminine, I still feel like some sort of gender. I have no words for it, but it’s definitely not no gender. Words are hard 😛

  2. That was great to read – always fascinating to see how fellow queer and fluid siblings feel about themselves.

    I like they/them/theirs. Being fluid, I’m all over the spectrum and can float about – what you said about wearing the wrong clothes & it causing dysphoria really rang true for me – my girl-side has been known to throw a fit for feeling too scruffy. Similarly there are times I’ve been in a situation where a dress has been required and I’ve been reduced to tears because all I want to do is curl up in a hoodie and jeans.

    A friend called me a snowman a couple of months back and I loved it so much I’ve adopted it, even though it was meant in kind jest. So yes, I’m a happy fluid snowman, should anyone ask.

    • Snowman is fun 😀 Janitorqueer did a while back a post about which names non-binary people use to express their genders, and there were some very original answers there.
      I actually skipped my end of highschool dinner party (we don’t have prom in Spain) because I had no idea what to wear.

  3. Yes! Olly – we like kaleidoscope in our family, too 🙂 It is interesting how much I’ve left the binary behind, once my child showed me how archaic it was and went and exploded it. I guess the result of the explosion was the kaleidoscope.

  4. This post makes me want to read more about what people feel of their genders, from the inside out. Especially those who feel their genders strongly.

    Gender is something I have a hard time pinning down, but I agender comes close, maybe leaning toward femininity or “demi-female” would be alright good descriptors? It’s hard to say. I mostly know that internally I don’t feel ‘male’ to my understanding of male, I certainly don’t think of myself in male pronouns, I think in neutral or feminine.
    Someone else on here talked about how they felt that pushing boundaries of ‘Cis’ would be a good idea, so on my about page I’ve adopted the term: “cisgenderqueer” for myself. Because I don’t intend to transition, but I feel like I fit under the genderqueer umbrella.

    I have and easier time when it comes to how I’d like to look, I think about appearance preferences, or describe them, and hope the shadow it casts when I shine a light on it illuminates the shape of what might be causing those feelings.
    Body isn’t the same thing as gender, so it is not always relevant, but still, it gives a sort of idea.
    Mostly I like my soft jaw and lack of facial hair, I go back and forth on if I want/like curves, and am indifferent to almost everything else. Except the boobs; I dislike the boobs.
    My plan is to reduce them to almost nothing once I’ve had children, and I’m hoping that once that happens I’ll stop having the negative reactions. (I have cried a lot over their existence. I often feel like they are only pretending to be a part of me, I’d like them at least mostly gone.)

    I think you’re right that the middle isn’t quite so simple as boxes. I don’t feel like I fit in the female box neatly, it’s far too big for me, but (at least at this point) I reject the male box because it has no space for me. If I have a box then it’s mostly the agender one, the non-binary one.

  5. I feel like I’m about 75% male and 25% androgynous, but it fluctuates somewhat. I’m not out to very many people, and I happen to be pregnant at the moment which means I’m always read as female, so I still use she/her pronouns most of the time. I use he/him when I’m around close friends. I plan on buying more masculine clothes once I have the baby and binding once I’m finished with breastfeeding, so hopefully I will eventually be able to pass as male (although I’ll probably look about 14 unless I decide to go on T which is unlikely).

  6. Thanks for this post! It’s always great to hear what people have to say about their genders in detail. I use they/them/their pronouns, because they don’t make me squirm in side like she/her/hers or he/him/his. My gender can be different things on different days! I have a little description of it on my blog’s about page, although the idea of trying to capture it all right now feels overwhelming.

    Also, I included you in a chain-style blogging award! Here’s the information: http://captainglittertoes.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/lovelyvery-inspiring-blog-award/.

  7. Do you know of Storms model? I tries to explain the fact that a Kinsey-3 bisexual is not necessarily 50%hetero+50%homo, but they could be 100%hetero+100%homo or 20%hetero+20%homo, finding as a byproduct a room for asexuality. Not only can Storms model be applied to gender putting as many axes as independent genders you conceive, but even Storms was inspired in a previous bidimensional model of gender with axes for masculinity and femininity, where you could be placed as 100%masculine+100%feminine. Which additional axes would you need in order to completely express your gender?

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