Tuesday 13 August 2013

Twenty-Four Questions.

Another set of questions, another sequel – this time to CN Lester's earlier ‘Twenty-One Questions’ on trans issues. This time it's ‘Beyond the Binary’: “twenty four questions about gender, sex, sexuality, genderqueer issues, trans issues, stuff, things, the kitchen sink etc, answered by an amazing panel”, this time comprising Alex Drummond, Hel Gurney, Jennie Kermode, Nat Titman, and (again) CN themself.

This time the first question was mine. “Three related questions in one: How would you define sex and gender from a genderqueer/non-binary/neutrois/etc perspective? How do they intersect and/or conflict? And in the latter case, how might such a conflict be resolved?”

The answers you can read for yourself here. What surprised me more than anything was my own response to them: they made me cry. I don't expect anyone else to be affected like that. It was just... people talking my language (the sometimes abstruse language of gender theory) and saying things – deeply personal things (because gender) – that I agree with. Such as:

CN: I think ‘gender’ is a word we use to describe the ways in which we present our bodies, the way we talk, write, pitch our voices, move through the world, the work we do, the way we work in relationship to one another, who we identify with, how others see us, how we capitulate or rebel against that viewing, what we hope we are, what we’re frightened we are, and how we navigate societal structures concerning the above.

Nat: Each genderqueer/nonbinary/neutrois/etc person will have their own perspective on sex, gender and transgender and how their own experience of gender intersects and/or conflicts with that. We can guess what these may be based on the language and labels they identify with or use to describe themselves, but any writing on gender that falls outside of the binary must acknowledge that there is no single narrative that reflects how everyone in this group conceives of, expresses and describes their gender, or rejection of gender.

Hel: So, in a fully gender-pluralistic world, neither oppositional sexism nor traditional sexism would make sense. While ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ would probably continue as visual codes if nothing else, I’d expect (or at least hope) that they’d become value-neutral things (rather than standards to which someone is held because of their body morphology and/or gender identity, or an unequal pairing in which femininity is devalued compared to masculinity.) … so that’s my dream of a queer-feminist utopia, anyway.

As I wrote below the line: “I feel like I’ve come home.” :)

PS If you're interested in my lengthier (and mostly personal) comments, see questions four, six and thirteen.