What’s your favorite ways of upsetting gender roles / genderbending / genderfucking? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 3

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s question: What’s your favorite ways of upsetting gender roles / genderbending / genderfucking?

The short answer to this is probably “ALL OF THE WAYS!”

I honestly do get a kick out of fucking with people’s ideas of gender and what it means and what gender I am, and what that means, and everything else. But that’s not much of an answer, I guess. So I’ll just give you what jumps to mind immediately:

First, I know that my favourite public moments of gender fuckery are usually the ones when I notice children trying to figure out my gender. For some reason, I put a lot of stock in the fact that children often find me impossible to place within their own sense of the gender binary – I’ve even overheard young siblings disagreeing with each other about my gender. There is something endlessly fascinating about watching them watch me and try to pick up something sort of information that will solve the dilemma for them. But I like it even more when they actually ask. I only wish I could actually engage with them on the question more often, but the adults they are with usually get overly embarrassed on my behalf and try to tell them they’re rude.

I get something kinda similar from moments when adults do something along the lines of calling me “sir… I mean ma’am, sorry” or vice versa. It suggests to me that my efforts to signal my gender effectively are actually working, though I understand that most people don’t know how to read the messages I’m sending, so I take confusion as the best possible evidence that I’m doing it right (in the sense of “how I want to do it”, not in the sense of “this is the sort of response all non-binary people should aim for in their gender presentation” – I see you, femme enbies, masc enbies, and those of you whose bodies get you misgendered against your will no matter what you do, and I love you all!)

The second that that this prompt brings up for me is the way gender (and gender fuckery, specifically) plays a role for me in sex. It’s a thing I’ve never been able to articulate properly, even though I have directly written about it before, but there is a thing where it seems like I can tell when someone who is having sex with me is just interacting with my body as an archetypically “female” one, rather than as my particular, individual, agender/genderqueer body. Even setting aside the cissexism of categorizing bodies this way, if I feel like someone’s interest in my body is directly linked to its “femaleness”, I just can’t.

Maybe it’s that, at some point, if that’s someone’s understanding of my body, then they’ve forgotten about the person inhabiting that body, and are interacting with my parts but not with me (which is just the easiest route to triggering a dissociative episode I can think of!) But also, I do get a kick out of the idea of having kinds of sex that are incomprehensible to hetero-normo folks. Like, my partner(s) and I will fuck however we like, and we will use whatever words to describe the things we are doing that we like, and we will decide what it all means, thank-you-very-much.

…I realize this is part 3 of 30 on this challenge, and I’ve already had two responses that have been semi-coherent at best. This is proving more of a challenge that I thought it would be, and I am hoping that when I am done, I will find that many of these things have percolated themselves into more cogent shapes and I will have more regular-type posts for you on these issues! Onward!

Also, though, seriously, I’d love it if all of y’all told me about your favourite ways of fucking with gender – you don’t have to be genderqueer to answer this question!

Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!


  1. I don’t really fuck with my gender presentation — like, AT ALL — with the apparent(??) exception of cutting my hair very, very short. Which will (from the back) get me that “Sir!…uh, Miss?” thing you talk about. Personally, I’ve always thought of my haircuts as a way of signaling sexuality (“‘scuze me, dyke over here”) or my own brand of feminist fervor (“can’t waste time with all this hairstyling nonsense when there’s Angry Academic Feministing to do!”).

    Hair, phew! I just don’t get it.

    It is a stark reminder though, how tightly gender, sexuality/desire, and politics get tied together — if not intentionally by the hair-haver, then still by the vast majority of the observing (and interpreting) public.

  2. Confusing the fuck out of people is pretty de rigueur for me. Most people when meeting me for the first time and if Brat is with me assume butch lesbian grandma. Watching them having to reassemble their perceptions as the truth about me is revealed is a curious exercise. I’m not a jerk about it, though. That would serve exactly zero purpose.

  3. During a recent conversation about gender identity, a friend said “It must be difficult for you, having such a feminine name”. It kind of is, in a way, because “she” comes more naturally to people than “they”. I could change it. I could choose a more ambiguous name. But I haven’t, I don’t and I won’t because my supposedly feminine name, a name that someone else gave me, does not define who I am.

    I completely understand why some people choose to change their name and seriously, more power to them. People should be free to do whatever they want or need to do to feel OK with themselves and the world. But my small and quiet way of messing with genderness is to keep my name and have zero fucks to give about whether or not other people think it ‘makes’ me feminine.

  4. I’m a cis woman and I like being girly, but sometimes I really like being the opposite of girly too. I was just looking the other day at the black phone charger my queerplatonic partner gave me as it was plugged into my cell phone case – a case that is not at all girly, which has black on it too as it’s main color, it’s black & clear… and thinking about the black twin bed I recently bought which was clearly meant for a boy and not a girl (and all twin beds meant for children and not adults, and there was a white equivalent that was the girly one in the catalogue) but I was just thinking about how I *LIKE* having the “boy” versions of these things. As a kid I preferred the McDonald’s toys meant for boys over the ones for girls, and so if they’d ask if the Happy Meal was for “A boy” vs “A girl” I’d make my parent tell the worker “A boy” and I LIKED combating gender stereotypes in that way, even from an early age, even being content to be a girl. And I absolutely hate the “a girl doesn’t pay on a first date” or “a girl doesn’t message first on an online dating website” norms, and my instinct is never to follow those. I enjoy defying people’s expectations when it comes to my gender, and now that I understand/have the tools to acknowledge that I’m not a heteronormative girl/woman (because I’m an asexual one), I even enjoy that too, that way of being able to be yes woman, but no not THAT kind of woman you assume I am. XD

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