*T-shirt says: ‘People assume that gender is a strict binary of male and female, but actually – from a non-linear, non-subjective view point – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly… gender-bendery… stuff.’
It’s been almost two years since I wrote ‘The Last Post’, but recently I’ve felt the urge to revisit this project because I wanted to come out publicly as ‘not-a-lesbian-anymore’.
To be fair, I don’t think I was really a lesbian to begin with. It was a label that was almost perfect for me, but not quite.
Back in 2002, after taking part in two of Diane Torr (dancer, educator and pioneering drag king)’s ‘Man For A Day’ workshops, and reading everything I could about gender roles and gender identity and transgender people, I told a group of young women in my lesbian peer support group that I considered my own gender to be ‘neutral’. Unfortunately, no-one really had a clue what I was talking about, so I reluctantly abandoned the conversation for another decade and a half. Of course, I hadn’t heard of the term ‘non-binary’ back then, and I doubt any of the L.I.P.S lassies had either, because most folk I knew were still grappling with the idea that sexuality and gender were two totally different things!
I suppose, by the time this blog goes live, quite a few folk who know me will already have been told that I am now using the label ‘agender’ to describe myself: this is a gender identity that falls under the trans and non binary umbrella and basically means that I am not male or female or any gender in between; I have also been asking people to refer to me using the pronouns ‘they’, ‘them’ and ‘theirs’ because I feel they are more representative of who I am, and I do want to be visible.
(I’m trying really hard to explain all this clearly, but if anyone is bewildered then this link might be useful: http://www.transstudent.org/gender)
As well as switching my pronouns, I prefer to use neutral terms to describe myself: ‘person’ or ‘human’ instead of ‘man’ or ‘woman’; ‘sibling’ instead of ‘sister’ or ‘brother’; ‘child’ or ‘offspring’ instead of ‘son’ or ‘daughter’; and ‘partner’ or ‘other half’ as opposed to ‘girlfriend’ / ‘boyfriend’.
There’s a list of gender-neutral terms here (http://genderqueeries.tumblr.com/titles) and some of them are truly awful and I would never use them in real life, but there’s a few I really like: ‘Nibling’ (gender-neutral term for niece or nephew) is particularly cute.
So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the conversation surrounding my gender has been very positive. Although, Antonia did announce to some of our friends in the pub the other week that I was ‘asexual’.
‘No, hen,’ I said, ‘that’s a whole different thing!’
I’d like to be very clear: I still fancy Antonia; I still fancy women. Those things haven’t changed. I’ve not really changed. I’ve just discovered new words that better reflect my sense of self, and with that I’ve regained much of the confidence I had fifteen years ago.
I don’t know for sure who or what I’ll be in the future. I used to think that gender and sexuality were things that were fixed, and that anyone who came out more than once had just made a mistake… not anymore.
I think I’m simply the sum of my likes and dislikes and the experiences I’ve had so far… and those experiences will fade and new ones will take their place. And I’d like to think that no matter where I am or who I’m with, or what my circumstances are, I’ll always be a decent fucking human being.