GQ Challenge: Day 23

The Genderqueer Challenge is here.

23. Do you feel comfortable answering questions about your gender to friends? Acquaintances? Strangers?

If you’ve been reading every one of these (well done!), you probably already know the answer to this. Basically, it’s complicated.

I don’t get many questions about my gender in the first place, but I think I can pretty reliably work out what I would do in each situation.

If it’s in person, no matter who it is, I’m probably going to be at least mildly anxious. With friends, if I’m already out to them I might be a little bit nervous. For acquaintances and strangers (unless I specifically knew they were queer friendly) and friends I’m not out to, I would be bordering on an anxiety attack, most likely. It’s not that I specifically mind the questions — I have no shame really and I’ll answer anything, even the most gross cliche kinda thing — but gender is a very personal thing and something that could get me transphobic abuse, so it makes sense to be a little nervous. The rest of the anxiety, where I get to bordering on an anxiety attack even though most people I know are pretty accepting and at best would just be really awkward about it, is just my anxiety, I guess. My anxiety is weird in that there’s too forms: the I’m-stressed-to-bursting-why-is-this-happening sort, which has built up over the last few years through a mix of sublimation and perfectionism, and doesn’t really feel like it counts; and the I’m-going-to-faint-everything-is-shaking kind, which, while it feels more like what people typically portray anxiety as, it’s the one that feels most ridiculous, since it only developed during this year and only occurs during talking about gender as described above, certain times when I’ve been triggered (often when in public), and public speaking at college (and only, it seems, at college). So that’s weird, whilst kind of irrelevant to what I was just saying.

Anyway, another way I talk about gender is through Tumblr, Twitter, and this blog. In those situations, I’m completely fine talking about gender to anyone who asks and I’ll happily answer whatever questions I’m given.

With internet messaging services, my comfort level is similar to that when talking in real life, except to a slightly lesser degree — I’m totally fine with talking to people I’m out to, but, as I recently found out, when talking to other people about gender, I’m still bordering on an anxiety attack; the only positive is that I find it much easier to string words together on a computer than speaking when I’m anxious, so at least I don’t make a fool of myself that way.

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