Social Stance Saturday: They/ Them/ Theirs (By Nikkie McLeod)
Gender is everywhere, and is added to everything! Even the most arbitrary and inanimate are gendered. Like, being tall, having broad shoulders... Wearing clothing that is just comforting and comfortable has a gender. Gender is used to discriminate, and to define who is allowed to do what… And because of this dynamic, where, inorder for me to exist, for my life, my existence to be accepted, as is; I have to demand my place in pronouns: They/Them/Theirs.
Every time I am referred to, addressed as he or she, I really disappear, and an awkward weirdness surfaces. This disappearance/weirdness is not a trend. This is not some new philosophy I recently discovered, as there is evidence of people like me throughout history; spanning many, if not all, cultures. An excellent book covering this historical aspect is Leslie Feinberg’s Transgender Warriors. Yes, I have a better way of explaining what I experience when I’m referred to and addressed as he or she, but I’ve always felt this actual interruption... I have been stopped by my selfhood.
My earliest experience of this disappearance/weirdness is being ten and unable to decide if I am male or female. I was filling out a data form for an examination, and I remember how disturbed I became, and experiencing perplexing difficulty deciding. I really want you all to consider this, because it is an existing reality I live with ever since I was a little kid!
This stop still happens. It has so much of a place, that I now understand why my experiences with people, even experiences with people whom I love are moments of “designation”. Like, here is where I exhibit a thing which works with here - essentially being an impostor. Yes, I do recognize both my femininity and masculinity, but it is generally related to a role for a dynamic. Such as, I am most masculine when I’m walking the streets at night alone. I actually crawl, and “hard”, like a gangster, as I am the most macho of machos. A lot of this “hard” crawling is a response to being attacked one night, while walking home. Even though the following article was written in wake of the “Pulse” murders, its listing of ways one can be an ally is still relevant: https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/06/allies-after-orlando/
Most times I can get away with - for lack of a better expression - passing as a dude, being the most macho of machos, because I am too tall and too muscular to be a woman… Or am I? I can’t count how many times this has negatively impacted me. For instance, earlier this week, I was walking ahead of two little kids, and I suppose their parent. The eldest of the kids, blurted out, “That’s a girl? Really?” Insinuating me. What the adult failed to do was correct the kid by asserting that no one’s gender and gender expression is privy for public debate.
The same goes with what we regard/place as feminine, and even though it is maybe (maybe?) less likely I’d be physically attacked, it’s very apparent I am not really femme, not really butch, not really a dude. I feel this distance not only with cis people (some of whom I love and completely cherish), but even with queers (some of whom I love and completely cherish). This magnifies my perpetual state of being an impostor outsider… Because, at my very core, I reject this. My very core shows up with these roles/categories making it strange and weird. Making it uneasy. Making me an imposter.
It is because of this organization of the world being “normalized” in this binary paradigm, that there is non-consensual “corrective” procedures being performed on intersex children. I found this article to be helpful: https://www.them.us/story/intersex-allyship-101
For many years, I have been lax about pronouns, as a way of accommodating other people’s comfortability before my own. Which has been detrimental to my well being, because as mentioned a disappearance of self occurs. An erasure of who I am from my very core. Here are two articles: one which addresses the high rates in depression and mental illnesses in the LGBTQIA communities, particularly in youth, and another which gives a more in-depth explanation as to why we should respect the usage of the pronouns (or however a person self express their gender) They/Them/Theirs.
Here I am. Living, breathing as THEY/THEM. Always have! You are only confused because you do not want to listen, and you do not want to hear. It is inconvenient to really listen and really hear, because then you’d have to really think deeply about everything... Happy Pride!
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