Thursday, February 2, 2012

Words and Rainbows

I can remember the first time I heard the term "genderfuck." I was a young gay, attending a meeting of the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth Project in Nova Scotia (sponsored by Planned Parenthood, an organisation that will always always always have a special place in my heart) and one of the members had been to a meeting of the Radical Faeries (I memory gets dusty in my old age) and was showing us pictures. I don't know if it's because I learned the term in such a warm and open environment, surrounded by people who cared about each other and encouraged diversity, but I adore the phrase.


As in, fuck gender. As in, we're fucking with gender. As in, its my gender, and I get to fuck with it. As in, fuck your preconceived ideas about what I can do with my gender. It's offensive, aggressive, but open and welcoming at the same time. I love it.

Since then, I've met a lot of people, and I've been lucky enough to meet them where they could be comfortable and be themselves. I've learned new words, or heard old words used in new ways. I've seen people joyfully take the sting out of insults, taking pride in their identities or else gleefully or angrily destroying the identities thrust upon them. As someone who reads a lot, I love language, and I think that no one else has as much fun, is so inspired, has such an awareness of the power of words as the Queer community(ies).

I just read a link about trans vs trans* where near the end Static Nonsense writes:

Many people, including myself, want to move away from this linear progression that assumes things like surgical procedures and Gender Identity Disorder with all of its baggage, and instead look at things more from the angle of self identity, expression and the effects of socially constructed differences in gender. Because things like genital and surgical essentialism isn’t cool and erases a lot of people who don’t want surgical reassignment or may not even have access to it for reasons such as medical, financial, even cultural. If anything, maybe we should branch away from such terms, instead going with something that focuses more on the concept of gender identity and what it means for people on an individual basis instead of building off of assumptions regarding one or a few groups.

And that last part about identity being about the individual resonates very strongly with me. A few years ago I read an awesomely comprehensive book called Evolution's Rainbow by Joan Roughgarden about the incredible diversity in gender, sexuality, polyamory and all that in the animal kingdom. Pretty much, if you can think of it, an animal's done it. Before there was the internet to pornify everything, animals were already there. And more and more as I think about human gender, sex, and relationships, the more I realize that it is individual. The concept of a binary anything is woefully incomplete, and I'm so incredibly thankful for the people who are challenging our ideas through their choices of language and how they identify themselves, even if they choose to eschew labels or even violently attempt to destroy labels.

The infinite diversity in the ways we see ourselves, our longings and passions, our hopes, fears, desires, and perversions, is something beautiful about life, and humans in particular. The more we learn about ourselves, the more clear it becomes that there are very, very few hard and fast rules, and that change and variation are intrinsic to our existence. The more I learn about our differences, especially from the people who seem to inhabit spaces I never knew existed, the more amazed I am at the complexity and beauty of our planet. I hope that one day, everyone can see the beauty inside of each of us, and maybe one day the people who are now considered gender outlaws and deviants will be seen for what they are: uniquely beautiful individuals who give us a glimpse into the true diversity of the universe.


  1. 1) I've recently learned about Radical Faeries, and am really interested in learning more. Do you have any reading suggestions?

    2) That book about animal sexuality sounds fascinating! I will look it up.

    3) This line: "The more I learn about our differences, especially from the people who seem to inhabit spaces I never knew existed, the more amazed I am at the complexity and beauty of our planet." beautiful. I currently identify comfortably on the binary, but I also reserve the right to grow and change as I learn and become more and more the person that I am.

  2. 1) I know NOTHING about them!!! I'm just happy they exist!!

    2) It really, really was.

    3) Thank you. For gender, I'm comfortably binary, for sexuality I'm comfortable-with-wiggle-room, but I've known enough people to see that it isn't always this way, so I've developed (or am developing) a respect for peoples' right to define themselves (or not) and to change their definitions as they see fit. My lack of understanding should not be a barrier to their rights to be protected.