Administrivia -- about the author

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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. That's a lot of work, you see, and 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. And I'm lazy. And cautious (see also: sysadmin). Can't I just hang around the middle somewhere?

Well, yes. These days I can. It's no longer either/or, more of an 'and' 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.
  • Are transitioning, just to something like "none of the above".
  • Could transition to something widely recognizable, but not just yet.

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?

Not if you don't want to, or already have a habit using one. I'm not that picky with the people who already know me.

You're dodging the question. What pronoun do you prefer to have used?

For random one-off encounters like the barrista at Starbucks, I prefer the feminine. For people I already know, stick with what you're comfortable with. For people I'll know in the future... we'll just have to find out.

Are you going to change your official answer 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, and several require proof of surgery (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.

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 won't look at me odd 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.

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?

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.

3 Comments

First off, good for you on being brave enough to come out publicly! I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision to make, but I hope that you feel better for having done it.

But, I have to agree with you that, frankly, it just doesn't seem overly relevant to the main topic of your blog or ServerFault or anything else of that nature, so it shouldn't be a big issue. And, I certainly hope that remains true. For me, I know it's pretty much a non-issue. Technical knowledge is technical knowledge, regardless of who it's coming from and their orientation.

I wouldn't hesitate, however, to occasionally include some personal adventures along those lines here. I know for me, personally, the peak of my readership was probably while I was in the middle of my divorce and hardly writing about technology at all!
In any case, I just wanted you to know that you have my support.
(And, FYI, I'm the Network Geek from Diary of a Network Geek, but I had to sign-in under Google to post this.)

Sysadmin1138,

I have been following your blog since just about it started. Our careers have largely mirrored each other.

I started out as a NetWare admin in the academic world (K-12 for me), then moved to Windows around the same time you did. Around the same time you moved from academia over to the private sector I did as well, but today I'm in a largely Linux-based gig in a corporate setting rather than a startup. I've really enjoyed watching how our careers seemed to be a mirror image of each other.

Then today it got even more weird. I came out as transexual about six months ago. I'd always been on the edge between the two, but finally decided (after quite a bit of therapy) it was time to be more open with myself and the world.

I've always been in the same boat. That checkmark of "gender" is very complex. I avoid most forms of social media because it's "real names only" these days and that's not something I've very comfortable sharing. I use LinkedIn only because you mostly have to in our field, but I refuse to put anything other than my professional career on there -- and there's no way I'd ever, ever upload a photograph of myself, for the same reason. (Thank goodness for Twitter. They support your right to be anonymous, and I'm a heavy Twitter user.)

The tech field can be really rough on women. It's even more weird when you're sorta stuck between the two worlds. This year at Velocity there were a few panels for women in tech and while I wanted to attend, I knew there was no way I'd fit in, so I didn't go.

Thank you for sharing. *hugs*

Your sister (or bother) admin,
Bunny

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