Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
April 12
Young. Female. Poor. Right-leaning but confused. Opinionated. Looking to sharpen my writing skills for college.


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AUGUST 18, 2009 1:07PM

Straight + Gender Queer = Invisible

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I first realized that something about me was different when I was in high school.  I was wearing plaid boxers and oversized hoodie while I drank straight from the carton of OJ in the kitchen.  My dad, who'd never do such a disgusting thing said, "Honey?"

I said, "Sorry, dad, I know you hate it when I do that, I'll stop."

"No, no.  Did I raise you to be a boy?  Did I do OK?" 

The funny part is that my dad is no man's man.  He'll change a tire, but I think he'd rather die than shoot a deer, or for that matter, eat unreheated leftover pizza.  In my years of digging through his stuff, I'd never found so much as a Vargas print, let alone a Playboy. When I was a little girl, he bought me plenty of My Little Pony toys and pink hair holders.

"No dad, this is just how I came out.  Sorry about the orange juice."

Shortly after that, I gave the girl thing a try.  I bought tight jeans, cute shirts, and plenty of make up.  Every morning I got up and put on my drag, thinking that word.  Drag.  I gave away all my old clothes, my boxer shorts and oversized pants.

Then the trouble started.  "Where you going?"  "You're legs look nice in them heels!"  "Let me buy you dinner!"  "Let me buy you clothes!"

I was 17.  I was scared by all this attention, and I didn't feel pretty.  I felt like a fraud.  I'm heterosexual, but I certainly didn't find these men attractive.   The tipping point came when I was in a library, reaching for a book.  I was wearing high heels and a skirt, and man said very audibly to his female friend,

"Look at that!  Disgusting!"

She laughed merrily.  I'd wanted to fit in, but men either wanted to fuck me or found me disgusting, girls assumed I was stupid, then became cruel when I got A's.  So I swung back around.  I gave myself a mangled pixie, wore a suit jacket instead of a tight coat, and went back to loose pants and shirts.

Now men yelled, "Hey faggot get out of my way!" Or they cruised me, then left when I answered in a high pitched voice.  Girls either hit on me, or made a disgusted face if I approached them about anything but the time.

I enjoyed passing.  Men never harassed me, and if I didn't want to wait in line at the ATM after dark, I'd pull my hood over my face as I approached.  Bartenders ID'd me and then pointedly looked at the F in the lower left corner.  I was free to move as the threat, rather than the threatened.  It was intoxicating.

I didn't know why I was this way.  Then I read an article about gender queer people.  I didn't want a penis, but I wasn't exactly a woman either.  I suddenly had a label.  Then I read more about the movement.  No one, it seemed, was like me.  A boi who didn't want to sleep with women or gay men.  I wanted to go to meetings, but was warned by a lesbian friend that I wouldn't be accepted, it was gays only.

Once again, I couldn't find my box.  The gender queers didn't want me because I had sex with men, the girls thought I was a sexual threat, and straight men wrote me off as a fag or a dyke.  I met men by treating them the way they had treated me when I was a woman, that is, I was blatant and aggressive.  It worked.

I am outside of everything.  I keep telling my husband that soon everyone will be like me, that someday my kind will rule the world, with our mix of masculine logic and feminine intuition.  Since I have never met another like me, that is just horse shit I repeat to keep myself from feeling so Other I could die (or go back to drag.)

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See Mina Harker, Dracula.
Since having a label is so important, why don't you just make up your own and start your own group? You could be the boi-senberries or something.
Genderqueer! That's a great name for it, and I'll have to remember that. I used to work with someone that fit that description, with a slight, curve-less build, a completely androgynous dress style and appearance, a speaking voice in the range where it could belong to either a man or a woman (think Michael Cera or Katherine Moennig) and a non-gender-specific first name. It took six months before her gender became clear, and only then because she played in a mixed-doubles tennis tournament with an outwardly male co-worker as her teammate. The uncertainty as to her gender became an issue on more than one occasion due to the limitations of the English language and its lack of a neuter pronoun. (Yes, there is the word 'it', but that's generally considered insulting when used to describe a human being, despite the total absence of any alternative)
At one point while her preferred gender (I say preferred simply because her biological gender is not only unclear, it's none of my damn business) was still unclear, she had even brought her boyfriend around, which left a lot of people even more confused than even before. All in all, a weird situation.
@ The Buzz- I do have a label: Gender queer. I just don't fit in with the other gender queers, who tend to be homosexual women.

@Dead messenger-I try really hard not to make people uncomfortable, (unless I don't wanna wait for the ATM ;) ) as I too have one of those in between names. If someone's looking really carefully at me, I throw in something about my husband and our beautiful wedding. (I'm in a state with no gay marriage.)

Thanks for commenting!
I dropped once by a friend of mine that was sick in bed and I remember how I could not take my eyes off his PJ pants. I realize now that he must of thought it was weird, but the fact is that I have exactly the same PJ pants -same color, same cut. And I was not sure if I bought them form the men's department or if he did bought his from the women's.
I can look very feminine if I try, and I hope I am still attractive for my age but I'd rather wear pants, collared shirts, flat sporty shoes, boxers and men's PJs. I can actually buy most of the items from the women's department - and this fact only makes me think you are not as alone as you think....
Maybe this is the editors at work and not your own thinking, but on the home page your post suggests you find logic to be 'masculine' and intuition to be 'feminine'; I think that as long as we continue to genderize what are essentially *human* traits, we will always create categories that exclude people.

I look stereotypically feminine. Many men attracted by my somewhat traditional prettiness are offput by my directness, finding it 'unfeminine'. Women often get crushes on me, though I'm not the least bi-curious.

I often find that people assume I'm unemotional b/c I am so rational. That's patently ridiculous - they are not polarities. All humans have emotions - we simply don't all experience or express them the same way, nor do they figure equally in the way each person makes decisions.

Masculinity and femininity are not 2 discrete buckets. Gender is a long continuum, and it contains room for everyone. Especially people like you.
@ Sandra Stevens: To clarify, I have traditionally masculine thinking in many areas: If someone starts to vent, I have to remind my self to listen and ask questions rather than immediately problem solve for them. Not all men can't listen, and not all women are great listeners, just some broad generalizations. On the other hand, I am very sensitive to other people's moods, a traditionally feminine trait.

Isn't it a shame that rationality makes women unattractive to some (ubliberated) men? Keep doing what you're doing, let's poke some holes in those gender buckets! :) I know you said that they don't exist, but as you & I both know, they exist in a socially constructed kinda way.
First of all, there's nothing wrong with you. Secondly, I wish that people would stop putting people into gender and sexually-orientation boxes. There are some of us that just don't fit nicely into a box with a marked label.

You are who you are. You are a beautiful person. You are happy being you. That's fantastic.
Great post. I really appreciated the candor with which you told your story. I think trying to discretely categorize humans so that we can check little boxes next to their names will eventually become an anachronism, but I also fear we're a long way off from shedding what seems to be our need to correctly identify and classify someone just by how they appear to us.
Nah, you aren't anywhere close to the only one like "You". The problem is that in most communities the true gender queer are disguised, much like you. I think that with some more looking, especially in the larger communities, you will find that gender queer is one of the most diverse groups within LGBTQ.

BTW, GQ’ are also one of the most recently “out” segments, so you will be seeing more and more of “You”s appearing, so like Gwendolyn Glover said, don’t sweat the labels and boxes cuz they are pretty much wrong for everybody.

Congratulations on being one of the earlier ones to join us in the LGBTQ community. You ARE welcome.
Keep in mind that, regardless of your sexual orientation, your gender presentation makes you a target for homophobic and transphobic violence and harassment. That alone should get you some support and protection from the LGBTQI community. If people are yelling, "Hey faggot get out of my way!" the rest of the queer community should sit up and pay attention.

Your persistence in representing your gender the way that you want to is courageous. You might be one of the few straight genderqueers in your hood, but you are not alone in facing discrimination. Keep searching out the people who will support you, even if it means plowing through the people who don't.
Oh, I can so relate to your post. When I was in my early 20's, I felt that the trappings of being female were lame, lame, lame. Make-up was stupid, heels and hosiery were ridiculous. I dressed like a boy, but I was not a boy and wasn't gender confused. I just thought it was stupid to act like a girl. This was in the 1970's. I moved to a more female looking style when I went looking for a job, to fit in better. I got used to it. Never really did fit in.

I appear very female in my appearance now that I'm gray haired and 50+. But I refuse to dress full-out girl. And I acknowledge that I'm gender neutral in a lot of ways. I relate to people in a direct way. I find the company of girly-girls annoying. My best friend is a straight man. My hobby, playing music, is guyland. But I'm comfortable.

More power to you. You're just fine.
Your writing made me feel like I understood... even though I'm not you, for a moment I stood in your shoes. Thanks.
I'm glad to hear that there are other women like me. I was tomboy growing up in the 1970's and look the part. To make it worse, I was rather deficient in the looks department and was therefore teased unmercifully by pretty much.... everyone. Guys, girls, geeks, nerds, stoners, kids who weren't "out" yet, teachers, family members...

Anyway, great writing, I know where you are coming from and thank you for sharing.
I'm curious as to what your husband thinks?
Awesome post. I wish you everything...
Outstanding, fascinating post! Thanks for bringing another voice to the table regarding gender. Although it is more a social construct than anything, it can still be pretty damn confining. Congratulations, however, on staking your claim on who you are, and who you aren't. I think you're right - the visible spectrum is ever-growing.
This is such an important post I wish I could rate it twice. I have been researching sexuality for an article I'm writing and it's an endlessly fascinating topic. I don't know if you've read anything by Mark Simpson (often cited as the guy who coined the term metrosexual) has written on sexuality? His articles on metrosexuality in The Independent and Salon are pretty great. They suggest that sexuality has been sort of co-opted by marketing, that our sexuality is just as narcissistic and capitalistic as it is sexual. Anyway, here is a link if you're interested:
Wow! I feel like I wrote this. I feel the same way. I'm not a lezzie, but I totally dress like one. I always wanted to express myself in this way , but I couldn't find the words. Thanks for finding my words.
Wow! That would explain a lot of the people I know including parts of myself although I do like having sex with men. Interesting.....
the more nuances that are added, the better for everyone. I'm sorry the LGBT community near you did not give you the love you deserve. Thanks for sharing your story BikeLizard and for having the courage to be yourself.
I don't feel that you are trying to "label" or compartmentalize just for the sake of having a label, as some have suggested here. What I see in this post is more of an explanation and opportunity to help others understand that not everybody fits into a nice, neat acronym or group word. (By the way, what are all those extra letters on the end of LGBT?)

I also have so many of those traits. I hate shopping. HATE. I do not particularly like to dress up, although I love seeing dresses on other women. I hardly ever wear makeup--although I do sometimes wear some mascara and such because I'm a natural redhead, and without it, you can't see my eyelashes, which creeps people out. I'm not homosexual, but I don't really have an aversion to giving it a try--I'm more of a "love the person, not the genitals" person.

But I have NOT got a genderless or gender-neutral body. I think this is more of an attitude, a brain thing, not a body thing.

Great post, Lizard!
Identity is so often a personal and sensitive thing. Thank you for writing and sharing this with us. I look forward to reading more of your essays.
Well, when you form the club, send me an invite. I suspect there are a lot of us out here.

I think I have reached a personal "post-gender" plateau, although I am still keenly aware that others are often confused that I do not fit into a well-known bucket. I tend to think of the characteristics that I have (or foster?) to be driven by a need for a life that is practical, efficient, and comfortable.

I am not particularly driven to pursue things which place some other quality above these. For example, when choosing a car, I have no interest in fast or sleek-looking cars. When choosing clothing, something impractical (e.g. high heels) simply has no appeal for me. What do these things have to do with gender? Mostly, I think that society has imposed the "feminine" or "masculine" qualities on these choices.
@ Deborah Young- The husband has always had a fetish for 'real lesbians', rather than porn lesbians, so that works out all right.
You are not alone. Although, from the comments that have come before mine, I think you know that by now.

I will say that it bothers me, a LOT, that the ONLY gender queer examples we ever see are lesbians. The same for the transgendered. There are gay transmen, there are lesbian transwomen and there are straight gender queer women.

We all need better representation.
BTW, I have to ask. At your wedding, did you go the dress route or tuxes? That is my one concession, I feel like if I ever get married I want to do the full-on wedding drag. Actually, it would probably be something extremely hippie dippy, but a dress none-the-less. Except I'd either be barefoot or in combat boots. Heels are for suckas.