Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Diversity Lesson 101: GenderQueer/Intergender

We have talked extensively on the blog about how society has constructed a gender binary system of male and female, we are each expected to fit the roles of our biological sex. For the majority of people this is a non-issue and they conform well or closely to their aligned role. Some people who are intersexual do not have a clear biological sex, they are to some degree male and female internally, externally or both, and this can pose a dilemna for how they self-identify with regards to gender identity. The other group of people are transgender, they are biologically male or female but their identity does not match their body parts and so they seek to bring harmony between their mind and body through either living as or having elective surgery/hormones to bring their mind/body closer to their gender identity.

This brings us to the subject of Genderqueer AKA Third Gendered/Intergender, which has been gaining steam as a movement but also as an alternative label for self-identification. These are individuals who don't want to self-identify as male or female. Some identify more with one gender than the other but live a line of blurred gender. For example a muscular biological male who is athletic but feels comfortable putting make up on, would be an example of someone who is blurring the gender roles, or a womyn who seeks to wear a dress yet also take testosterone to develop more masculine features.

Individuals who self-identify as gender queer may consider themselves to be both male and female, androgynous, being neither male or female, or falling completely outside of the gender binary spectrum. Queer is a broad terminology that encompasses different identities and thus genderqueer can be a range of different gender identities in which people experience.

How do I deal with someone who is Genderqueer?
Please never presuppose someones gender if you are uncertain, it is better to ask how they feel comfortable with you referring to them as opposed to you putting a label on them. It can be a simple question of asking name and what pronouns they feel comfortable with.

Genderqueer Pronouns
Some genderqueer people may feel more comfortable being referred to by a more prominent gender role they seek such as he/his/him, or she/her, hers. Others however may prefer a gender neutral terminology such as "ze", "per", "zir", "sie" and "hir", "zhe", "hir", "zes" or singular "they" instead of her/his. Other individuals feel comfortable alternating between the masculine/feminine pronouns. There is not one clear cut answer since genderqueers as a group comprise of several gender identities and each person has their own unique variation.

What is their sexual orientation?
This is a common question. First, its important to note that sexual orientation and gender identity are completely seperate. You can be a butch female and be heterosexual, or an adrogynous bisexual. The way we express our gender is seperate from our sexual orientation, ex: take Ru Paul a famous drag queen who self-identifies as heterosexual. Intergender people may be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, or asexual. Some genderqueer people prefer to see themselves as pansexuals which means they are open to all genders sexually. Thus someone who is pansexual would have no problem being in a relationship with someone who is male, female, genderqueer, or transgender.

Thank you for your openness on gender variant people and please seek to spread knowledge and love on the subject matter and on other issues of importance to the broader Queer community.

Below are some helpful links on/for the Genderqueer community:

Some YouTube videos on the subject:


Nicky said...

Oh Please, STOP ripping off the intersex name and idenity. Just stop it. Intersex people are not the same as them. Stop using that intergender crap because their is NO such thing and what you are doing is cheapening them intersex name and idenity. You need to stop ripping off the intersex name because that name belongs to the intersex people and your so called name "intergender" is just a bunch of crap. Their is no such thing as intergender and they are not intergender. They are genderqueer and that's just that.

Anonymous said...

wow Nicky, I think people should label themselves, not be labeled.
I'm "non-gendered" I have faced a lot of abuse by feminist, lesbians, and women in general. I do however feel that my gender expression in interconnected with my sexual orientation. I understand for some it many not, but it seems the DSM IV has empowered a lot of stigma around homosexuals trying to escape there old diagnosis and this has caused some othering of the T/Q by the LGB... :( I think this is why I'm not that fond of the hetronorms in the LGB community... but I still try to support the issues.....

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I just gave a big presentation about Genderqueer individuals at my pretty ignorant school. This would've come in handy, but nice article.

Queers United said...

Ignorance is fought through education, great on you for presenting to your school!

Was it a powerpoint I'd love to see it.

Nicky said...

The only complaint I have is that it rips off of the intersex community and the name intersex. The reason why I am upset over it, because the name intergender, sounds to close and worded to close to the intersex. It would make people feel and think that intersex is sounded and worded the same. That why, it's very wrong to call GQ people intergender because that would create an even larger confusion with society and theirs already enough confusion with the trans community, who have been muddying the waters anyway.

We intersex people don't need any more crap from the LGBT community and we curtainly don't need the name intergender out because that would create an even larger confusion on society.

Queers United said...

Nicky you are again confusing gender with sex. You have physical makeup of parts from men and women so you are intersex. The intergender person can also be intersex, but most are biologically male or female, and just their gender identity (in the head) and their expression (clothing, actions) are both.

Nicky said...

I think what you are doing is ripping off the intersex and creating a name that sounds similar to the intersex and what you are doing is so wrong and what you are doing is ripping off the intersex people.

Anonymous said...

hello.....before i do a huge post i will test to see if this goes through....hello to everyone if it does.......and fair play to all of us for keeping this as civil as we can on such highly sensitive issues!

Anonymous said...

ok.............hello queersunited,nicky and the anonymous person-----though i would prefer anonymous people posting to reveal who they are on some level! a naturally born intersexed person
its my duty to inform all of the intricacies involved in the term "intersex"
queersunited you said"You have physical makeup of parts from men and women so you are intersex"
nicky you responded with"Wrong again you idot and so confused. Their is no such thing as intergender" intersexedness is predominantly genetically defined due to me having xxy chromosomes and being naturally deficient in testosterone.......i may look predominantly more male than female at this stage in my life but that would be due mostly to taking T for 13 odd years!intersex is not exactly how you describe it queersunited,but i look forward to discussing things with you further!the optimum word being discuss-not just arguing!
nicky!first-there is no need in calling anyone here an idiot-we are here to discuss and learn and teach.....and there is a word called intergender...and i believe we need to incorporate rather than segregate and equally discuss these sensitive issues

Queers United said...

peace welcome, and im glad you are open to dialogue, I knew typing that it wasn't the best way to describe it, but it was quick typing. See, Nicky is intersex and transphobic, with a strong hate towards gender nonconforming people. Time and time again they come here and make fun of trans people, and it is unacceptable, there are intergender people whether Nicky likes it or not.

Anonymous said...

peaceandparty, I'm with you on that one, but my main concern is that intergender is to close to being worded as intersex and the word "inter" would closely and loosely be associated with intersex.

I would rather they get rid of intergender because it would be to close to being worded as intersex and it would cause an even larger confusion with society and it would even confuse parents of intersex babies and kids.

The fact is, I don't like the idea of genderqueer people calling themselves intergender because it's to close to being associated with intersex and my main concern is that it will cause confusion with society and people would confuse intergender with intersex and that's not what I want to see anyway.

The fact that QU is ripping off the intersex name and calling people something that they are not and calling people something that is to close and can be construed as being loosely associated with the intersex. I feel that if they press with the idea of intergender. Society is going have a hard time and even confuse us with them and that's why I am calling for intersex to distance themselves from the queer community and any quack ideas that the queer communities have because what they are doing is endangering the lives of intersex kids and babes.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Luckily, I went to college with a broad spectrum of gender queer folks and got this info young, but I am constantly baffled by how many people have NO idea what to do if someone's gender doesn't meet their expectations.

As for the argument above, it's somewhat silly. Using the Latin prefix "inter" isn't going to screw anything up for intersexed people. If it is, we should also stop using the words "interstate," "interoffice," and "internal," just in case. Until there is better diversity education, folks will continue to confuse sex and gender, but that doesn't mean we should use appropriate terms just because it might confuse "the straights".

Siver7325 said...

I think genderqueer and intergender are two separate things. I consider my self intergender because I feel like I want to change my body to be inter-sexed. I could label my self genderqueer and break conventional stereotypes of gender and be considered between genders or both genders and keep my female body, but that isn't what. In my opinion genderqueer refers to gender identity and intergeder refers to body image.

Leo said...

I am an intergender person its an androgyne term which is a psycolgical condtion in which on person's innate gender idenity is midway between male and female. Genderqueer is indeed something else comptley. Intergender is a real idenity and is a form of psycolgical androgyney. As to an genitalia not being clearly male or female. Someone's innate gender identiy is not clearly male or female intergender. You basicly identify as the middle so if your a female born indivial you should feel that you should look like a boy and vice versia whilse keeping your body the same.

Anonymous said...

I was very shocked to see Nicky's reaction to this article and his/her repeated attempts to exclusively coin any word beginning with 'inter' so that the intersex community can remain unscathed by our filthy genderqueer ways. Being intersexed AND exceedingly sexually conservative, and also hateful (why would you call someone an ignorant idiot just for disagreeing with you?) is quite a feat.

Anyway. Although Genderqueer and Intergender are, according to Wiki, pretty much synonymous, I will still try to explain the best way I can the (small) difference between these two terms and the reason they are both necessery. The root 'inter' means something like 'between things', the same way 'intra' means 'within things'. So internet is a net connecting different things, while intranet is a net system inside a specific company/firm/whatnot. International is something that has been agreed or spread between nations. Interspace is the space between things, a synonym to interval. ETC.

Therefore, someone who is intergendered psychologically identifies with something INBETWEEN the traditional male and the traditional female gender. They have elements from both genders, can often relate to both genders, and feel like inbetweeners. If one imagines traditional feminity and masculity on a psychological spectrum, these people are the ones that will fall anywhere between the two ends as far as how they identify themselves goes. They might be born male, female or anything else there is, but GENDER is an issue completely independent from born sex. So someone can be intersexed and intergendered, if they are born with XXY chromosomes and FEEL like something between a man and a woman, or like a bit of both. Someone can be born intersexed, but end up identifying with the male or female identity, and build their life around that gender role, which would make them intersexed but not intergendered. Someone might be born a male or a female, and yet be psychologically experiencing both genders, or something inbteween. In which case they would be intergendered but not intersexed. Is that all clear?

Moving onto the term genderqueer. Remember the spectrum we talked about? Well genderqueer is a term that is no meant to only mean those inbetween man and woman, but also those OUTSIDE the spectrum. Those who are both interchangingly. Those who are neither. Those who choose to be something entirely different. Those who are fluid and versatile and everchanging in their gender. Those who reject that spectrum notion altogether, and who don't think matters of gender can fit into such graphs. Those who have constructed a new gender just for themselves. Even those who transgress gender as a notion and ridicule it. Genderqueer is pretty much anyone who is not MAN or WOMAN. An intergendered person can be said to belong to the genderqueer category, but NOT ALL GENDERQUEER PEOPLE ARE INTERGENDERED.

I'll go to sleep now, my head hurts.


SANTARII said...

Nicky has a point. The term intersex is an important one for intersex people, most biologically male and female people don't define themselves by their biology, but often do define themselves by their gender. For intersex people, that biological definition/undefinition is used as an identity because of the oppression intersex people recieve.
Using a word very similar to intersex to describe a gender could potentially amplify the idea that intersex people aren't really men or women (when the majority are).
Though personally, I don't think that intergender is particularly close to intersex, or close enough to cause much, if any, confusion.

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