An Impossible Balancing Act

One of the frustrating things about being genderqueer (for me, anyway) is the balancing act of knowing you need to constantly remind people of your identity lest they forget and misgender you, but not wanting to make your genderqueerness your most important or defining character trait.

I struggle with this on social media particularly. I want to share all kinds of non-binary memes. I want to boost the visibility of trans people generally, and non-binary people particularly. I want the people around me both online and in real life to see non-binary representation often enough that it actually gels in their brains, so that it becomes second nature to them to think about gender as a plurality much greater than a binary, so that phrases like “both genders” are immediately, obviously *wrong* to them in the way they are to me.

I’d settle, though, for them at least remembering *my* gender.


Possibly especially as a person who is agender much of the time, my (often lack of a) gender also isn’t the only or the first thing I want people to think of as defining who I am. For one thing, that’s a weird and (ideally) boring defining trait – can you imagine if we did that to binary people? “Oh, you know Mary? She’s pretty great. Yeah, she’s a woman. That’s kind of her thing.”

Just no.

The problem, though, is  that I really don’t think there’s a magic formula for the right amount of reminders that non-binary people exist and that I am one of them, for the right proportion of gender-related posts versus everything-else-I-like-and-care-about posts. On the one hand, I know there are people who will take any such reminders as too much, as harping, as being overly preachy or political. On the other hand, I know that some people will take any excuse to backslide,  to conveniently ‘forget’ my pronouns, or simply pretend they thought I’d stopped being non-binary or whatever. Any excuse to blame me for their mistakes and for the harm they cause me when they make them, really.

Those are the extremes, of course, and the people at either end of that spectrum aren’t people I am actually close to or really care about – they’ll probably self-select themselves out of my feed anyway. But everyone exists somewhere between those two poles, and I can’t please them all. I will be harmed one way or he other no matter what I do, and I hate that it is all my job to deal with and manage so much of the time.

I need people to know this my gender is vitally important, but once they’ve properly internalized that, I also need them to understand that it also really isn’t.

This is still the best distillation of this whole mess I’ve ever managed and it still doesn’t quite get the whole picture.

I guess I’ll just keep fumbling along!

Dating while feminist

Relevant to some of y’all’s interests!

For those that enjoy my various and sundry social justice-y thoughts on dating, and especially online dating, check out datingwhilefeminist, which is written by past (and hopefully future) Valprehension guest blogger Spice.

You can also follow her general awesomeness on the Twitter @thepurplecoffee

What is your sexual and romantic orientations? Are they affected by your gender? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge Part 22

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

Today’s prompt: What is your sexual and romantic orientations? Are they affected by your gender?

LOL, so I literally wrote about this already, when I was hosting the Carnival of Aces back in March.

I am demisexual and queer (which applies to both my sexual and romantic orientations), which is to say that I can be sexually or romantically attracted to folks of any gender (queer), but I only experience sexual attraction after forming emotional bonds with someone (demisexual).

(Also can I just say how pleased I am that I got  coincidentally prompted to write about this on Bisexuality Visibility Day? My queerness falls under the bi umbrella, because I am into people of more than one gender!)

My gender is somewhat fluid but always non-binary.

There is definitely a strong relationship between these facets of who I am and how I operate in the world, though I don’t think I will ever be able to distinguish which aspects affecting which other ones. I am certain that being on the asexual spectrum has something to do with the discomfort I feel at being sexualized, which in turn has something to do with my discomfort at being gendered as a woman, but that’s not ultimately what makes me non-binary.

That’s all I have to say about it today, but you should definitely read my Carnival of Aces submission (linked above) if you want to know more.

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

Every now and then, something new shakes loose

[CN: this post mentions but does not directly describe or go into any detail about abuse and rape]

There are just so many weird, little ways that my abusive, rapist ex continues to have na impact on my life and my brain, that eight years later I am still finding new ones.

The thing about my ex is that I knew him for years before we ever dated. We were in the same social group. We were probably friends even (this is hard for me to determine for a bunch of reasons, but most notably because it is only in the last five years or so that I’ve actually managed to convince myself that anyone really sees me as a friend, and also because I instinctively avoid thinking about that or him and because I don’t know how to parse memories I have of him from before I understood what an awful human he was.)

Which, that latter point is what’s messing with me today. Because I realized I have no idea what to do with that entire period of my life anymore. My high school years and memories are tainted. I still have a photo album full of pictures of me and my high school friends and my rapist. I have so many (generally good!) memories that, whenever I start thinking about them, I have to stop, because suddenly there’s his face, there he is in my brain where I don’t want him to be.

I can’t write him out. He was there. And I don’t know what to do with his presence in those places in my brain, the ones I would like to keep parts of.

On the one hand, I am much better than I used to be, than I was when I started this blog. None of this is causing me sleepless nights anymore (I have new, less traumatic reasons for those now! :P); even when a new random anecdote of awful that I don’t think I’ve ever shared with anyone bubbles to the surface – just another puzzle piece of memory that never quite completes the picture – it doesn’t make me feel like my guts are trying to claw their way out of my throat anymore; I can sit quietly with those memories and be at peace.

But I don’t want that to be the only way I can engage with these other memories, the good ones with friends, during a time when I was only just beginning to figure out who I was. Right now, there is just this 7-year gap in time where I don’t tell stories about my life – if we’re close, you’ll hear about when I was a kid, and about everything since I finished my bachelors degree, but those formative years of adolescence and young adulthood are mostly a big no-fly zone.

Really, this all brings me back to a point I’ve made before: I hate, hate, HATE so much that one person’s actions, which have no consequences for themselves (unless you count me eventually breaking up with him, which is pretty minor in a grand scale) have had such a far-reaching, damaging impact on me. I am permanently altered by the things he did to me. And the ugliness stretches across a huge part of my life, and it always will. And I, when all I did was survive, am left with the exhausting work of fixing it all myself. Or really (more often than not), of finding ways to work around the scars, of ways to cope with what can’t ever be fixed.

It is not my fault. It shouldn’t have to be my responsibility, but it does. There is no one else’s it can be. And I will never not be angry about that.

Valprehension: now on Tumblr too!

Yup, I’m expanding my social media empire again (lololol)!

You can now follow me on the tumblrs if you want. As with everywhere else, the tumblr will get all of my regular Valprehension posts, plus whatever I feel like reblogging. Also: if you’re on tumblr, let me know, cuz I want to follow y’all!

“How has your relationship with yourself been affected since you realized you were Genderqueer?” 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 21

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

Today’s prompt: How has your relationship with yourself been affected since you realized you were Genderqueer?

Realizing I am genderqueer has had a profound, and wholly positive impact on my relationship with myself, in ways I find hard to articulate. It gave me a kind of freedom and new perspective to think about who I am to myself, who I am in the world, who I want to be, and who I am capable of being. All of this is true, though I am hard-pressed to say exactly why it is so.

Realizing that I am genderqueer was the start of a much larger and longer journey toward rediscovery, and toward reclaiming myself from all of the miscategorizations and mislabellings I have experienced throughout my life, (and will undoubtedly continue to experience as long as I live.)

Realizing that I am genderqueer has been instrumental in my ability to relate to and feel at one with my body. Although I do experience some degree of body dysphoria, having an understanding of that experience, and being able to articulate it to myself is an important part of being able to handle it. It helped me to better understand some of the reasons why I was so prone to dissociating from my body, which in turned helped me learn how to avoid having that happen.

Realizing that I am genderqueer, or more importantly really, simply realizing that genderqueerness exits, and that it was a thing that could apply to me, that does apply to me, released a million tensions I never knew I had been carrying around. I don’t really know what else to say about it.

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

Questions from the search terms: “genderfuckery meaning”

For some reason, I’ve been feeling more of an urge to respond to these lately. I think I am just not coming up with ideas elsewhere, and I still want to write *something*?
Anyway, from my search terms: genderfuckery meaning

So, what is genderfuckery?

Wiktionary‘s actually a good definition of what it means to genderfuck:

“To subvert traditional notions of gender identity and gender roles”

‘Genderfuckery’ can be used to describe any act of genderfucking, or in other words, fucking with (or messing with) gender.

Genderfucking is similar in concept to gender bending, though it is more likely to be used in more extreme contexts. People who genderfuck are probably less interested in bending the limits and meanings of gender, and more interested in straight up breaking them, and putting the pieces back together in different ways.

In practice, genderfuckery might look like:

– Someone doing things or wearing things that seem at odds with their gender (or with the gender they are perceived to have)
– Someone presenting in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for strangers to identify their gender

Or sometimes it can be more personal. For me, learning to re-embrace feminine clothing styles sometimes has been an important personal journey; though it actually often has the impact of making my gender seem less complicated to some observers (it seems to match more with what their perception of my body implies my gender should be, or something), for me it a personal act of resistance against the pressure I feel to constantly perform my genderqueerness in a safe and (relatively) understandable way. People are more willing to accept androgynous presentations from non-binary people, and more likely to consider my gender to be fake or something I am making up if the things I do don’t fit into this androgynous idea of what it means to be non-binary.

But, in fact, that is exactly what makes my refusal to adhere to the nascent norms of non-binary gender a form of genderfuckery. I refuse to be boxed in by what other people want my gender to mean, or to look like.

So, um, yeah. That’s what genderfuckery means to me :P