Words, identity politics, and a case of the blahs

Over the last year and a half or so, I’ve been steadily moving away from describing myself as genderqueer and toward just using non-binary. I deliberately avoided the word ‘genderqueer’ entirely in my coming out message at work, just because ‘non-binary’ seems less intimidating somehow? I’m not even sure.

Genderqueerness definitely feels more inherently political, more inherently “fuck you and your entire gender system” than non-binary does, to me at least. Because queerness itself is kind of inherently political, about rejecting existing systems either by struggling to get by outside them, or by trying to build your own.

And, a few years ago, that was why I preferred to call myself genderqueer. Because I was still in the process of figuring myself out (I mean, to some extent I always will be, in all kinds of ways, but when I was first coming into my non-binary/genderqueer self, there was a lot of things all happening at once in a way that no longer applies. At least for now.) Because that shit was hard, and scary, and it seems pretty clear that leaning into that fear was part of how I coped with it. Because my defensive instincts often take the form of a strong offense, really.

But I haven’t really been feeling that way lately.

I kind of just want to be able to exist as my gender (or lack thereof, or whatever) and have that be ok. Or rather, I suspect that the fact that I have carved out some pretty significnat spaces in my life where I d ofeel that way is very seductive. It’s nice to feel that I can just be me and that the people around me aren’t going to interpret that as a political move. I am so lucky, and so privileged, to be in that position so much of the time now. I want other people to have that, and I know that means I need to keep fighting, and keep making this a political issue so that one day it won’t have to be for anyone, but also, maybe I am just falling into a gentler version of that fight?

I don’t really think it’s because I have de-radicalized in any particular ways, although I think the last year or so has softened my distrust of the average person, and I definitely have more emotional resources for dealing with people who actually mean well, but just don’t quite get it (whether ‘it’ is related to trans/non-binary issues, or whether it is about other social justice values, either specific or general). To some extent this just means that my approach to advocacy has shifted from ‘angry queer’ to ‘nice, friendly, forgiving queer’. Which, I think both approaches are valid and valuable, so maybe I should just stop worrying so much about which one I happen to have the resources for at any given moment?

At the same time though, I am worried that’s a cop oiut. Because I think I have definitely been tired of it all, for quite some time. Even my writing here lately has quite had the direction it used to have (though I don’t know if that’s something that’s coming through, or if it’s just how I’ve been feeling about it. I am pleased with the Shit Cis People Say alphabet either way.)

I hope that being tired is all it is, anyway. My regular seasonal-changeover depression has settled in (though mildly, thankfully), and I haven’t been taking as good care of myself as I should be, so the compounded impact of not quie enough sleep and kinda crappy eating habits definitely aren’t helping.

I am also thinking that I may be a little bored of focusing so stringently on gender issues in my writing here. I used to cast a broader net and talk about other feminist/social justice issues more often, so maybe all I need to do is let myself feel freer to write about whatever I find myself drawn to for awhile! I mean, I already started doing this with last Wednesday’s post about coloring sheets, anyway.

Hopefully those of you who read this blog regularly will find my various thoughts interesting!

4 comments

  1. This is also how I have been feeling recently! I recently stopped actively identifying as transgender because it just didn’t really feel right anymore. I had been leaning rather aggressively into the label because of political reasons. I also had a minor crisis from constantly questioning my gender and putting so much pressure on that. I declared a gender break and participated in much less Discourse, and am now at a more comfortable place of rather infrequent gender thinks.

    I don’t know, it does kind of feel like a cop out, but has been really good for me, and I have been rediscovering interests I had before thinking about gender became my full time job :P. On one hand discovering that “not everything has to be about gender all the time” is such a relief to me, on the other hand it feels like a major cop out. Dropping the label especially felt like I was abandoning people who didn’t have the privilege of not having to identify that way..?

    But I guess everything has its season… I enjoyed your post about colouring sheets! I’m currently working on a post about the history of timekeeping haha. I think that gender diverse people thriving in any field are revolutionary just by being, even if they aren’t directly organising. Just people being happy and healthy and passionate wherever they are, whether they are trans-rights activists or rock climbers or engineers or librarians helps “the cause” imo.

    1. Yes! It’s funny how it’s easier to see things like this when it’s about other people than yourself, so thanks for taking the time to write this out! Gotta stop being so hard on myself :)

  2. Makes sense to me, the whole ‘feeling less confrontational, more forgiving’ thing. You’ve been pushing the radical commitment edge for a very long time, and experiencing radical life shifts throughout — and I’m not just talking gender. It’s both normal and healthy to find yourself in a friendly, forgiving, and (sounds like) fallow period, after all of everything.

    I mean, this is what I’m telling myself too?? And either you and I are both right…or damnnnn, me and my own blog are in some totes deep sh!t right now…

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