Genderqueer is defined as: “a gender identity of both, neither or some combination of "man" and/or "woman". The term genderqueer is also sometimes used in a broader context as an adjective to refer to any person who challenges gender roles and binary notions of gender.”
As someone who can easily fit the above definition of genderqueer, I have been both surprised and disappointed by the “controversy” surrounding ENDA, as well as the debate on trans-inclusion and rights in general. The fact that some in the community are questioning if gays and lesbians actually have anything in common with trans-people is dumbfounding. Maybe I am missing some glaring part of the equation, but aren’t we all, on the most basic level, genderqueer?
The language “gender expression and gender identity” really applies to all of us. As LGBT people, none of us really fit into society’s narrow view of gender. Of course this is easiest to see within the trans-community, which challenges “traditional” gender roles. Yet as a gay man, don’t I, by definition, challenge those views just the same? Even the most “straight-acting” among us sleep with the same sex, something society views as outside of how we should act for our gender. They think men should not show affection to men. That is simply too “girly.” The same is said about lesbians: that they are women taking on what society typically sees as a man’s sexual role. By simply being gay, we are already bucking most people’s traditional notions of gender.
Even more obvious to me is the fact that we all suffer from the same basic form of gender oppression and discrimination. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and even many heterosexual people challenge gender boundaries and may be the victims of discrimination and violence as a result. In fact, studies of anti-gay discrimination indicate that up to 75% of such discrimination is caused by a reaction to gender expression, not actual knowledge that someone is lesbian, gay or bisexual. For example, when I’m walking down the street and someone yells “fag” at me out the window of their car, are they doing it because they know for sure that I’m a gay man? Unless I’m pulling a public Larry Craig/Jim Naugle move, they have no idea if I am really gay or not. They are reacting to the fact that I do not fit into their view as to what a man should look and act like. They see a man who looks too feminine and thus makes them uncomfortable.
This is why we have to come together as a community to push legislation that includes gender expression and identity in it. Sexual orientation language does not cover a large portion of the discrimination we face. It is a giant, glaring loophole that is used against us. We aren’t being discriminated against solely because we’re gay, it’s because we don’t act like someone thinks a man or woman should act. That is the commonality that binds LGBT people together as a true community. That is how all of our rights are related and tied together.
It comes down to this: we all are bound together as a minority who is attacked because of how the majority views us. None of us fit into so-called societal norms. We are all genderqueer. We challenge, on a daily basis, how many think people of a certain gender should act or live. Our enemies don’t care which part of the LGBT alphabet you fall under. They only see all of us a group of deviant, gender-freaks. Isn’t that reason enough to circle the wagons and fight as a community?
I would think so. But then again, what do I know.
I’m just a sissy…
Waymon Hudson, The Homo Politico, is founder and President of Fight OUT Loud, a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping GLBT individuals and their allies fight discrimination and hate. www.fightoutloud.org