When asked to fill out the 'Sex' box in web-forms I always wish for an "It's complicated" option. Because for me it is, and has been since I was 17. On the one hand, 17 years of unquestioned masculinity gives me some damned good passing privilege for "M" (and my government identity documents having the "M" box checked off makes it even better). On the other hand, socially I'm a lot more adept with women, and that's where my source of self-image is based these days. I get ma'amed by shop-staff 3 out of 4 times, so my passing privilege for "F" is good-enough.
I haven't felt strongly enough about this whole "F" thing to push me into a full transition. And really, there are three transitions:
- Social, which impacts anyone who interacts with me.
- Physical, which impacts mostly me, but also includes intimate partners and medical people.
- Legal, which impacts mostly me. And with recent legal changes, soon that will be 'only me'.
That's a lot of work, you see. For the longest time I figured I'd have to present further down the F spectrum than I'd rather present just to pull it off (social transition, but neither of the others). And I'm lazy. And cautious (geez, I must be a sysadmin). Can't I just kind of hang around part way somewhere?
Well, yes. These days I can. It's no longer all or nothing, more of a 'some' or 'none of the above'. This is the realm of the genderqueer, and I am one.
I've been one for years, I just haven't made it part of my public persona. Waves
How does 'genderqueer' differ from 'transgender', which I have seen used?
A tricky question, with a tricky answer. The scope of 'transgender' includes a wide variety of people. The term 'genderqueer' has a narrower scope, which is largely (though not completely) overlapping with 'transgender'. Also, genderqueer is newer, and seems to include people who:
- Aren't transitioning to anything, they're just playing with gender presentation (social transition, sort of).
- Are transitioning, just to something like "none of the above" (social and maybe physical transition).
- Could transition to something widely recognizable, but not just yet (social transition to something non-binary).
As I said, tricky. For more on this, see a handy page I made.
Does this mean I should change what pronoun I use for you?
Only if you want. I'm deprecating 'he', but I haven't removed it from usage yet. But 'she' will continue to work. I promise I won't get upset for misgendering me. Really.
What about 'they'?
I tried it on, didn't like it. I'm not so much 'non-binary' as 'weirdly binary'.
Are you going to legally transition to F?
That'd be nice, but that's a lot of work. The states that even have a legislated policy to change that marker on drivers-licenses all require at least one note from a physician declaring this that and the other thing (evidence of physical transition of some kind), and several require proof of surgery (evidence of physical transition of a specific kind, not happening here). Birth-certificates are another matter, and things are usually more complicated.
The physician/surgeon requirement can be gamed, or so I've heard. Get two sympathetic surgeons to look you over, say "good enough" and sign the papers without actually rearranging bits. The state that issued my birth-certificate requires more than just attestation over the 'appropriate surgery', it defines the surgery so... may have to wait until that state joins the 21st century before trying that. It may be another decade, I'm not in a hurry.
Of course, laws may change. Some nations have a third option for gender already. Some states may move to simple personal attestation. When that happens, yay.
Also, it's not like anyone other than the TSA and emergency medical professionals really look at that marker. Getting an F means I get to have a pregnancy test before emergency medical treatment, and the nice TSA staffer checking my bording-pass won't look at me with official non-expression if my presentation doesn't match the marker.
Are you changing your name?
Nope, I'm keeping sysadmin1138.
No, your wallet name.
Oh. Um, maybe. Need to pick a name first, though. Hard to do that without something to change it to you know?
If I go there, I'll be sure to let the people who care about that know.
[Update 10/2015] Yes, I did. To something nicely ambiguous as to what my 'true' gender is.
Would this whole thing have something to do with why you're the only ServerFault moderator who doesn't have their wallet name on their profile?
Yes, yes it is. I prefer the undefined-presumed-male image on SF. Yes, I'm aware that this blog post will change that. Oh, darn.
Still not putting my name up there, though.
Does this mean you're going to start blogging about gender issues now?
I don't see blog content changing much, honestly. This is a technical blog after all, not a social-issues one. While I definitely do have opinions in that regard, I won't be sharing them here.
Did you always know about this?
Hah, no. The swift upside the head arrived when a friend was crying on my shoulder about how devastatingly gorgeous a mutual friend was and how I couldn't possibly understand how good looking he was. And I realized that, actually, I did. Um, crap.
The introspection from that event triggered the line of questions that brought me to questioning my gender identity. On reflection there were a few signs and portents before that event which should have been a clue that I had an unconventional gender, I just didn't notice.
Wait, did you just come out as gay?
No, bi. By that point I'd been leering (discretely) at girls for at least four years. Having that happen just gave me more people to have trouble talking around, damn it.
Aren't you afraid that this'll hurt your employment chances? You're kinda coming out as "weirdo", and companies don't like hiring weirdos.
The way to think of this is me applying a bozo-filter to companies I work for. Yes it will hurt my employment chances, but odds are I wouldn't like working for that kind of company anyway. Plenty of companies hire weirdos, and even advertise that fact.
More and more states are adding explicit employment protections for gender-presentation, but that really doesn't mean much in the tech-hiring market where hiring for 'cultural fit' is so endemic. And do you really want to sue your way into a job?
[Update 10/2015] Two job-hunts later, and it turns out that having highly sought after skills, and shopping for jobs in very talent-tight markets, means employers didn't even blink. Not a problem.
Does this mean you'll be in a dress for LISA?
Hah. No. Though you may see me in a kilt (A/C and weather permitting; LISA being a late Autumn convention doesn't improve your chances).
Remember that bit about me not going for a full transition because I thought I'd have to go too far towards F than I wanted to go? I still don't see myself in a dress. Just a mite too fem.
That said, if they decide to do another Formal Night, I just might reach for the other side of the closet; last year's suit was about as alien as a dress would be. We'll see.
If you have more questions relating to the transing of Gender, I wrote up a quick gender-thingies 1001 page which should help a bit.