A misconception about being androgynous/genderqueer/other
August 20, 2012 § 13 Comments
As an alternative to the binary categorisation of gender (and/or sex), there are many who prefer a ‘gender spectrum’ model – women at end, men at the other, other genders somewhere in the middle. An improvement in some ways – but contributing to a misconception that I’ve heard used against trans people who are neither men nor women (or perhaps both, or variable) – that, not being women, we must have moved ‘up’ the gender spectrum in the eyes of the world, and have acquired some degree of male privilege in any dealings with society at large.
I can only speak from my own life, and from that of friends – but the number of times I’ve been granted male privilege is tiny, in comparison with my quotidian experience. Where the majority consider ‘male’ and ‘female’ the only two options, being an openly androgynous/GQ person doesn’t bring me closer to ‘male’ in their eyes – it means that I’ve utterly failed at gender. Losing cis passing privilege means being treated, regularly, as a freak – one who has failed at being a woman and failed at being a man. This isn’t an attitude I’m guessing at – it’s been explained to me in explicit detail. You see, I’ve failed as a woman by ‘mutilating’ my body – and I can’t succeed at being a man, because of not having a penis – so I’m consigned to a veritable (forgive the pun) no man’s land. My own feelings on the subject are frequently dismissed as deluded.
When I say I live outside of the gender binary I don’t say it lightly – it’s not simply a convenient phrase, or an expression of being male but not quite – it’s a very real and often painful summation of what it’s like to live outside of the gendered norms of most of the world. I don’t want to start a fight about who has more gender privilege – simply to acknowledge the fact that gender privilege/oppression is not a straight line running from woman to man – because some of us don’t fit onto that line to begin with.