Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

SidesSeer

Trying To Understand Genderqueer Through Bicultural Identity

Recommended Posts

SidesSeer

Hi All!

So, a couple of disclaimers. First off, I'm sorry in advance if I minimize anyone's experiences or offend anyone in any way. Second, I am cis-gendered, so I accept up front that I probably will never completely understand being otherwise. I just wanted to share some thoughts I've had recently. Any responses are welcome.

I think I understand being transgendered. You're biologically one sex, but feel like the opposite gender. That's pretty straight forward. What I have a hard time wrapping my head around is being gender-queer or agender or gender-fluid. I viserally associate it with floating in space, and not anchored to a gender. Which, to me in my privileged state, sounds really confusing and a hard identity to live with. I'm perfectly aware that this mindset is kind of dick-ish, and not really validating, which is why I'm here.

Here's how my sense of empathy works. I detach familiar feelings from a concept, and try to apply them to a different concept I'm trying to understand. For example, when I was first trying to understand asexuality, the AVEN article about eyebrows really helped, where I took the "huh?" and "why?" feelings associated with eye brows, and imagined reacting with them to sex. Again, I'll never fully understand it because I'm not asexual, but I can empathize and understand it to the extent of being a supportive ally.

Okay, enough disclaimers.

Recently I've been struggling with my cultural identity. I was born to a Mexican mother and Spanish father, and raised in a predominantly white community. My mom upholds a lot of Mexican values and beliefs, which she raised me with, but experiences with my white friends have made me basically white in practice. Most people assume I'm white by my physical appearance.

It's all very confusing. Sometimes a white friend will say something, and I'm like, "no, it should be this way," based on my Mexican upbringing. But then when I'm around Mexicans, I'm very aware of my white behavior. When someone mistakes me for white, it feels weird, but saying I'm Mexican doesn't really sit well with me either. I don't really fit into either race completely comfortably, and it's hard for me to identify with either. Some days I "feel" more white than Mexican, and vice versa. I know there are other people like me, but everyone I know seems to have settled in one identity or the other. Most days I wonder why it even matters, why society worries about this. I look in the mirror, and sometimes wish my skin wasn't so pale. On the other hand, I like my Mexican curves. Inwardly, I like my family loyalty, humility, and resilience (things I've learned from the Mexicans in my life), just as much as I like my honesty, outspokenness, and individuality (things I learned from white friends).

Do these feelings sound familiar to non-cisgendered people? Replace white and Mexican with male and female, and is this what it's kind of like? If I'm on a sensible train of thought, this has really helped me be more understanding of gender-queer people. Thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A_L

I have had a similar experience with my cultural identity and I am also agender and I guess the experiences are sort of similar for me. The only difference is that I feel in between two cultures (Chinese and American) but I don't feel in between the two binary genders, I just feel that I don't have any gender at all.

I'll start by explaining the culture thing first: I am Chinese but I was adopted into an American family and everyone in my family is white and most of my friends are white. I feel more connected to American culture but it feels wrong for me to identify as American and people don't usually accept that answer when I tell them I'm American. I've found that people will ask me where I'm from and then they'll say "but like where are you really from?" I don't feel comfortable identifying as Chinese either because I know nothing about the culture. One of my friends said that they don't consider me Asian because I don't act Asian, whatever that means. However, people often have trouble considering me as anything other than Asian because of the color of my skin. I've been described as a banana (yellow on the outside and white on the inside) and although this was said to me in a particularly nasty way, I do think that it's accurate. On the inside, I feel completely American but when I look in the mirror, I see that I'm not, at least not by society's standards. I don't fit into either culture.

Now for the gender thing (I was assigned female at birth): For most of my life I've never really felt entirely female. I didn't like to do any of the things society has deemed "girly" and I rejected a lot of those societal norms. I also knew that I wasn't a boy and didn't want to be a boy. Growing up, however, I didn't know that there were more genders than male and female so I felt trapped in a female identity. I tried to fit and I eventually did but with a lot of identity squashing. I guess that I feel more of a connection to a female identity but mostly because I was raised that way for most of my life but I don't want to be seen as female. I don't want to be seen as any gender because I feel that it doesn't have anything to do with who I am as a person if that makes any sense. I just want to be seen as a person with no labels or expectations or boxes I have to fit into.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Heart

The idea of "floating in space, not anchored to a gender" fits with my gender really well actually! I often describe my gender as "floating around the phase-space of genders". I'm genderfluid though, and not all genderqueer and/or nonbinary folks have fluid genders. Many of them do in fact have an anchor, it just so happens to not be on man or woman ;)

And it's not just you; it just is really confusing! :P At least for most of us. I took forever to figure out what was up with my gender, why I would feel fine one week but convinced the next week that I was trans. How could I possibly be cis one week and trans the next?? I figured it out eventually, but it took a while. And I do give myself some slack for that; after all, it was a moving target ^_^

So, if you'd like to more intuitively understand gender fluidity, I'd suggest imagining the scenario I wrote about just above. You're cis one week, then trans the next week suddenly, then for a month you're cis again. And then, just for fun, you lose your gender-feelings completely and forget what gender feels like for a few days (genderless/agender). And every once in a while you get a gender feeling, but it's not the same feeling as man or woman. In fact, it's a third gender (neutrois). That one may be harder to empathise with, but it's there. Like... if man were blue, woman were red, and a mixture of the two were purple (androgyne or bigender, or some other gender that's inbetween or a mix).... then neutrois would be yellow. Not a mix, not one or the other, just different. If we were talking cartesian coordinates, then maybe your "man" value would be the x axis, your "woman" value would be the y axis. And if you're agender, you'd have zero of each and would be at the origin. But the third gender, neutrois, is when you magically notice a third axis, the z axis!

Those are just the genders I experience. There are more, of course, but I am less able to explain them from an intuitive point of view, since I don't experience them directly myself.... I hope what I had to say helped a bit. :cake:

As for the Mexican/white person metaphor, I think that works quite well with gender. If Mexican were one of the binary genders (eg woman) and the white half of you is the other gender (eg man) then what you're describing would be exactly what androgyny is; a mixture of the two, not purely one or the other. Often andryne folks describe what you describe, feeling like they don't fully "belong" as a man or as a woman, but are a combination of both. Sometimes one side of them is more evident in one context while another side is more evident in another.... and sometimes it's a bit fluid. But the analogy works very well I think!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SidesSeer

Wow! Thank you both!

A_L: ALL of this! The Mexican equivalent of Banana is Coconut, and though I've never been called it directly, I've sometimes comfortably thought of myself that way. Maybe not quite because of appearance, but I speak very-well-accented and fluent Spanish, and there are those Mexican days I have.

Heart: Hey, the "not red or blue but yellow" explanation makes a WHOLE lot of sense! Thanks! Do you have any or know of any other posts/threads that expand this idea? I guess I'm wondering what yellow "feels" like? Although for that matter, I'd have to really think about what red and blue are like. Huh.

I'm really glad I wrote this post, and am super grateful for the understanding and responses. Cake!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A_L

You could try checking the gender discussion section of aven. There seem to be a lot of sources there that might be helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Heart

I'll see if I can get Dodec in here, they have an amazing colour/mirror analogy somewhere that I can't seem to find right now... I'll go PM them and see if they want to weigh in :) They're agender rather than neutrois, but their explanation is really good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dodecahedron314

I have been summoned by the almighty Heart! :D

Now, I'm going to say right up front that I'm not at all qualified to comment on the multicultural side of this discussion, because my background is white, white, white, and white, with a little bit of white on my mother's side. However, what I do have a reasonable amount of experience explaining is gender, which is kind of odd because I don't actually have one, but that fact is kind of what led me to this explanation of it in the first place.

The way I think of gender is like a mirror and a window. If you think of your mind, the sort of mental environment where you're sort of anchored, to use the OP's terminology, as a room, then it's possible to think of gender as a mirror in that room, and a window from it to the outside world. The window is the gender the rest of the world sees you as--by default, that's what's called your assigned gender, the one that's based generally on your original physical characteristics at birth. That window is the one through which you interact with the world, and so the color of its glass--say, red for assigned female, or blue for assigned male--often dictates people's perception of you (i.e. how others see you is, in this case literally, colored by the gender they see you as). However, inside your little mental room, there's also a mirror, and the tint of that dictates the way you personally perceive yourself, the actual gender you identify with--and that does not by any means have any necessary correlation with your assigned gender, the color of your window. You can have a red window and have a mirror that's also red (cis female), or it could be blue, (trans male), or purple (androgyne), or green (genderqueer/maverique), or multicolored (bigender/polygender), or normally silvered with no extra tint (neutrois), or the color could change depending on how the light hits it (genderfluid), or maybe your mirror just plain isn't there at all (agender), or it could be any other way that you could possibly think of a mirror being or not being. Some people can't stand the fact that while their mirror is one color, the light coming through the window is another--the tints of everything in the room are off, the shadows are all wrong, they look in the mirror and don't look like themself--and that distress is dysphoria, which a lot of people deal with by bringing the color of their window more into line with that of their mirror, through transitioning so that their bodies and the way other people see them match their gender. Other people don't mind the contrast, and just kind of sit back and marvel at the lights and how they interact within their identity-room --after all, nondysphoric trans people certainly exist. Anyway, the point is that the mirror can have any characteristics, and you're the only one who can tell what they are and know exactly what the interplay of mirror and window feels like for you personally.

Again, I can't speak to the cultural side of things here, but I hope that odd little extended metaphor helped shed some light (pun...slightly intended) on the gender aspect of your contemplation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...