The Genderqueer Challenge is here.
3. What’s your favourite ways of upsetting gender roles/genderbending/genderfucking?
This is actually a question that I don’t really have an answer to. I’d like to upset gender roles, but I don’t, and that’s actually something I struggle with a lot; I want people to look at me and think ‘queer’ or ‘nonbinary’ or ‘gender????’ (although I understand the risks inherent with that) but they simply don’t. The fact is, I’m afab, I look like most people expect girls to look like, I wear quite feminine clothes when I’m trying to dress nicely, and I also act in the way people often expect girls to — I’m quiet and introverted, I have physical health issues that mean I’m a self-described ‘wimp’, and so on. Nobody really looks at me and thinks I’m upsetting gender roles, which sucks.
It did occur to me, at one point in time, that I could easily go down the stereotypical nb route of ‘skinny white kid with short hair and hoodies who is difficult to read as either binary gender’ but that’s just not me. I wouldn’t like the way my body looked with short hair (I like to keep my neck covered at the back so rarely put my hair up), and you need quite big hoodies to hide boobs completely. I’ve gone through the jeans-and-a-tshirt phase and wearing masculine clothes just makes you look not-like-a-girly-girl-but-still-girl unless you put a bunch of effort in which I don’t care to do. I’d much rather wear a pretty top or a nice dress because that’s what I feel happiest in.
But yeah, this is a thing that kind of really grates on me and is basically the main basis of my social dysphoria. Which is the main reason that I now do have one small way of genderfucking — my name.
I decided I wanted a typically-boyish name (as an aside, I hate gendering these things but I kinda have to for this post to make sense, which sucks) to go with my typically-girlish name (Mara), just so I had some balance and a way of letting out some of that dysphoria and saying ‘I’m here, I’m queer!’ (even if I’m very unlikely to introduce myself by any name other than the name I was given by my parents because I worry about having to explain things). For a while I wanted to replace Mara with something more gender neutral, but I quickly realised that a) I love Mara and wouldn’t give it up for the world and b) just like wearing a hoodie, having a unisex name doesn’t actually signal you as anything other than what you’re read as.
So, in the end, I decided I would go by both Elijah and Mara. I only decided this really recently, actually, so ‘Elijah’ still doesn’t sound like me, but all the same I’m really enjoying it.
Oh, actually, I forgot one thing that I don’t do myself, but that others do for me, which I absolutely love for its genderfuckery — I love when my friends say things like ‘girl — or not’. On the one hand, this kind of thing, where my friends catch themselves about generalising girl experiences to me or calling me a girl, really suck because I’m being misgendered and it makes me feel like my friends don’t really see me as nonbinary. On the other hand, however, it is just so inherently genderfucked to have people refer to you as something other than the gender you’re perceived as that I absolutely love it. Whilst I love when my friends do gender me fully correctly and don’t have to catch themselves (and I would much prefer they did that!), there’s something really exhilarating about having them stop and question their own perceptions of me and if it didn’t involve that one second where I think a friend is going to misgender me, again, it would be the most perfect thing in the world!