today i will totally do stuff (like come out)

my partner is just fucking plasmic.

he seems to really accept my gender (or absence thereof) and to understand that the gender binary is a social construct that doesn’t work for everybody.  we have casual confabulations about gender expression, gender identity, and trans issues.  my partner hasn’t called me his girlfriend in ages; he calls me his partner.  he tries with all his furry might to apply non-gendered pronouns to me.

my partner still snags on the pronoun thing.

when he tells me silly stories about us in the third person, he generally calls me “it”.  i guess he’s ok with calling me “it” when he’s being silly, but he won’t call me “it” when he’s being solemn.  i don’t mind being called “it”.  i think the word is so jarring that it makes it harder to use feminine pronouns by accident, if that makes any sense to you.

we’ve been experimenting with the “ze/zer” pronoun set with some success.  the trouble with it is that you have to over-enunciate the words in order to make them sound different than feminine pronouns.  mostly, though, “ze” is fabulous.  my partner is getting better about using my name or “ze” instead of feminine pronouns and i’m veryvery stoked that he’s as supportive as he is.

when my partner is chatting to someone other than me, however, he usually uses feminine pronouns.  like if someone says, “how’s mx. punk? is she still looking for work?”  it’s understandable that my partner might say, “she’s happy and awesome— except for the part about looking for work.”

it isn’t that my partner thinks of me as a female— i know that.  i know he respects my gender and i know he tries veryvery hard to avoid applying feminine pronouns to me.  it’s just that other people trick him into applying feminine pronouns to me.

still, that’s pretty good for a cis man who only knows one person of non-binary gender and who grew up believing that the gender binary had the last word in everything.  actually, that’s pretty good for ANYbody— i know a few queers who aren’t half as understanding as he is.  i know i’m lucky to have such a supportive partner.

i want more.  is that greedy?  i want my partner to suddenly stop with the feminine pronouns.  i want to be out as genderqueer.  not out as in telling people when it’s appropriate, but out as in being instantly recognized by strangers for what i am.  i want people to know what i mean when i come out to them as genderqueer.  sometimes, this closet is stifling.

i know this culture doesn’t really leave space for non-binary gender and i know that isn’t going to change anytime soon.  i totally accept that.  really, i do.

i think my discontent may be more about the times i haven’t come out when i could’ve and less about whether or not my partner occasionally calls me a girl or whether strangers assign me a binary gender.  i think i would feel less stifled if i tried harder to be heard/seen/felt.

i need to come out to more people.  i need to speak up for myself a little more often than i do.  sure, sometimes it just isn’t appropriate, but why haven’t i come out to my landlady?  she would be cool about it and she’s like family to me, so why haven’t i told her?  why haven’t i come out to any of my teachers?  why do i let so many people who might be down with my gender just see me as something i ain’t?

this has gotta change.  now.  today i will not stand by while people make erroneous assumptions about my gender.  today i will totally do stuff.

tomorrow, too.

update (june 26, 2011)

i came out to my landlady a few days ago— and she said, “i know, mx. punk”.  dude!  she said she didn’t know that i cared about pronouns, but that she’d already picked up on my otherness.  she didn’t think i was female!  she said so!  and now she’s calling me a person instead of calling me a girl!  holy flying caterpillars!

i’m too excited to even type properly hjdfhjdsf7bhfjfffd!!!!!!

update (two minutes later)

oh, yeah.  a flying caterpillar isn’t really that absurd.  i mean, if the caterpillar waits awhile it’ll grow up to be a butterfly.  fuck.  ok, so pretend i wrote, “holy flying porcupines” instead.  ok?  ok.

update (two seconds later)

porcupines don’t fly, right?  am i right?

4 responses to “today i will totally do stuff (like come out)

  1. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more, mx. punk. Hell, that’s the first step in feeling free of the whole concept. The only way you’re going to start shedding this gender-binary is by coming out about it, which I fully understand is not easy in anyway. But, I think you can do it.
    Also, never forget that you need to define these terms to most people. Oh god, half of what is written on this subject might as well be “what do we mean when we say (blank).” It really is sometimes shocking to me how there are all these academic discussions of culture and identity that would help people that have never penetrated outside of the academic sphere.
    As a random side note, while you might not mind being called ‘it’, there are deeper connotations involved of objectification, which as a heterosexual male I must say can get uncomfortable when referencing someone with female sex organs. Has your partner tried using the word ‘they’? I’ve often made attempts to sport its use as a gender neutral pronoun, and while most people often stumble over its common usage as a plural, I do find that it’s workable. Still, I’d need to know how someone in the loop (as it were) feels about it.

  2. yep, i spend a lot of time educating people; that’s just how this works, i guess. i come out to someone, they have no idea what i’m talking about, i define terms and answer questions, etc. :)

    it’s pretty rewarding, honestly, to have the opportunity to broaden someone’s understanding of gender and related issues. even when people are rude to me, well, i tried. and maybe time will accomplish what my careful explanations can’t accomplish.

    as to using “it” as a non-gendered pronoun, i totally understand why other people don’t want to call me “it”. in fact, the people who DO call me “it” are generally being rude. i know the word has certain connotations which are difficult to get away from; i don’t really go around asking people to call me “it”. although, if they DID and if they didn’t mean it as an insult, that’d be fine. i guess i just find it interesting that when my partner tells me silly stories about us, he calls me “it”. in these stories, the word “it” has no negative connotations. it just feels sweet, comfortable, and right. however, when he’s being serious, “it” regains all its real-world meanings and becomes insulting (from his point of view). we’ve been experimenting with ze/zer pronouns with some success, however.

    “they” is pretty awesome. people use singular “they” all the time and it can be really comfortable. my only concerns about it are that it isn’t a new word, so people don’t perk up and pay attention when they hear it (i guess “it” has the same problem), and that it can be a bit puzzling. for example, “mx. punk told me they think 3 inches of blood is rad!” in that sentence, you might suppose that “they” refers to several other people rather than to mx. punk. again, though, i’m fine with whatever non-gendered pronouns other people are comfortable applying to me.

    thanks for sharing your thoughts, mark! it’s always splendid to get feedback and to have brilliant discussions. huzzah!

  3. I have had the “coming out” conversation with a student that I work with. He is F/M and told me how he wish he did not have to “come out” because it is such of a hassle in our bigendered society. I told him that yeah it’s a complete hassle, but with some people you have to because it is such a socially constructed norm.

    Also, it can be hardest to come out to people that you know really well and care about versus someone you barely know and don’t really care about. I definently realized that. Once you let those you are closest to really get to know you, it’s way easier to do the same when it comes to everyone else.

  4. it’s totally true that coming out to people you care about is tougher than coming out to strangers. i’m currently in the process of coming out to my family; it’s actually going pretty well. nerve-shaking, though.

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