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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Gender Sermon of the Moment

 I have recently had several interactions with a friend of mine who is currently offering generally wise and well-informed counseling to the public on matters of sex and relationships. After a few incidents in which I felt that her gender education wasn't up to speed, I sent this email. This seems like a fine introduction to my personal gender story, which is one of the subjects the Priest/esses of Beyond the Binary would like to share with the public. May it be received with the love and compassion with which it was composed.

I hope this missive finds you well and fine.

I have been wanting to touch in with you about something that hasn't settled well with me. I haven't spoken up before because I felt too upset to communicate clearly and compassionately, and, well, you know we discussed the difficulties in working against the conditioning not to speak up for oneself.

Lately, for me, it has been an interesting process of "coming out" as a gender variant individual. It has been a private affair for me, and one that has felt too unclear to share with others, similar to what I have heard shared by my friends of variant sexualities. I never had an issue with identifying my sexuality as "queer", though most people presume I am heterosexual (and my sig others tend to be straight white men). I have found it to be much more challenging to correct others when they presume I am a cisgendered woman.

It has been easy for me to pass as a woman because of my feminine gender expression, however I often feel more like a drag queen. I like being a drag queen. No one questions me when I use the women's room, (Try using the men's room in the city to get an idea of what it's like to be gender variant) I have been welcome in women's spaces (though with increasing discomfort for me. I wrote a blog post about it here: http://paradoxmysteryandawe.blogspot.com/2013/07/womens-rituals.html ), and no one (friends, family, strangers) feels entitled to ask me, "So what ARE you? A boy or a girl?" as they do many other gender outlaws.
This is important for me to share with you; a person who is offering counseling services to the public on matters of sex and relationships. Gender is a highly-charged topic these days, as it comes out of the cisgendered binary cage it has smothered in for so long.
We have spoken on this subject for three weeks in a row now. The first time, I told you I had a book to give you on the subject, and all was well. The second week, I paid for your counseling services, and in a moment of enthusiasm, you spoke very dismissively about "that gender stuff" as you literally waved your hands as if shooing it away, presuming you were talking to a cisgendered woman. I was in a bit of shock and found myself speechless. The next week, I brought you The Gender Book, hoping it would help you understand the vastness and beautiful nuances of this topic. Again, you said something dismissive about gender and again you waved your hand as if it were a fly in your face. It was then I came out to you as a person who does not identify within the gender binary. Though I sensed some mild resistance at first, you quickly began to adapt this new information to your understanding of gender. Right on!

When you complained of men being dismissive to women's issues, such as rape and sexual predation, you were expressing your own gender awareness and experience. Please consider showing other genders the care and support you want men to show women.
I found the topic of gender to be a serious area of insensitivity in your otherwise considerate and informed services. I have great confidence that you will inform yourself further on this subject, as every person you meet has a gender identity, whether they have explored this and defined it for themselves yet, whether it is static or fluid, whether it is cisgender or agender or the many countless and multiplying identities that people are claiming and reclaiming for themselves.
I am here for you if you have any questions, wish to discuss this further, want some recommendations on resources. There's a lot out there on this evolving issue, and I am grateful to be of service.

With love and respect, Jaina Bee