Hi! I think that I might be gender neutral, but I’m very confused! I still sometimes identify as female, and I don’t mind female pronouns at all. Would I have to “commit” to being neutral at all times? What kind of voice would I have in feminism/women’s rights issues? Would I have to out myself to potential partners who are interested in females?
Hi! The short and sweet set of answers is: no, a valid one, and that’s up to you. To elaborate:
1) When I first started allowing myself to be genderqueer, I felt like I was required to “present” that way at all times. I felt like if I looked feminine in any way, my identification outside of the binary wouldn’t be perceived as valid. And maybe it wasn’t, maybe it isn’t, and maybe people still look at me and my consistently polished fingernails and decidedly fantastic eye makeup and refuse to reconcile that image with my rejection of the gender people project onto me. Not everyone’s gonna treat you the way you want and deserve to be treated as someone who dissociates with the gender binary, but the people who do are the ones that matter the most anyway! Besides, the concept of neutrality when it comes to gender presentation is like, laughably gendered. It’s not an easy thing to “commit” to in the first place, so why do so when you don’t always want to? That’s not to say that playing around with gender presentation and how you think of it isn’t worthwhile and interesting and rewarding, but it’s not something you should ever feel forced to do. That totally counteracts the emotional liberation of coming to terms with queering your identity.
One of my favorite articles complicates our concepts of androgyny. Pat was a joke character on SNL whose entire persona was a joke about gender from a very binary mindset, but what makes Pat gender neutral? If their personality gave nothing about their gender away, does that change if they would wear a dress or a suit? Does presentation change who they are?
2) Nonbinary people aren’t protected from misogyny and the repercussions of living in a patriarchal society. Feminism is most productive when it’s intersectional, meaning when it gives voice to trans people, women of color, [dis]abled folks, and so on. When it recognizes overlap and celebrates it. When its being used as a tool to fight systems of power, when it doesn’t rely on removing agency from those of less privilege, when it rejects the very popular mindset that “feminism is, and to an extent always has been, a white, middle class movement,” in the words of Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Cosslett of the Vagenda. You have a voice, you have your own set of experiences, and you have a place in feminism. Anyway, that women’s rights issues are referred to specifically as “women’s rights issues” is a product of gender binarism in America, not a conscious focus on only people who are women regardless of assigned sex.
3) Depends on you and depends on the circumstances! Depends on how much you want out of your partner, what you need from them. Would you want them to refer to you with gender neutral pronouns, would you want them to refrain from using gendered words like “girlfriend”, would you want them to begin to identify themselves as queer for you to feel supported and affirmed? I think it really depends on two different axes, the person and their understanding of queer issues and the seriousness of your relationship with them. If I were to casually date someone, I doubt it would come up. But, if I were to casually date someone from the queer community, I would expect them to be able to affirm my gender stuff properly. If I was in a committed, romantic relationship with someone or someones, I would want them to know that part of myself and know how I needed to be treated because of it. There’s no one answer, I think it’s something that you can put on the table when you feel like it needs to be.
I really hope this helps!
I read your blog a lot and I love the advice you give but I saw the other day that you said Laci Green was problematic. I’ve watched a few of her videos and I really liked what she had to say but I was wondering what she did that was problematic so I can know what to watch out for when watching her videos?
If you google “Laci Green problematic” you will find lists upon lists of instances and evidence and whatnot, so if you’re interested in that, look that up. The tldr version is that she makes a lot of comments and does a lot of things that are fatphobic, transphobic, cissexist, Islamphobic, etc. and then responds incredibly poorly to people calling her out for it. She doesn’t take responsibility, she puts the blame on the people who call her out, and just generally mirrors a kid having a tantrum. I used to really love her videos, and she’s definitely taught me things that still matter to me and that I’m grateful for learning, but I just have no interest in actively supporting her.