In today’s culture, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to be upfront about their gender and sexual identities. Miley Cyrus recently came out saying that she identifies neither as male nor female, but didn’t mention her preference of pronouns. Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender after hiding her true sense of self as a woman for sixty-five years. Don’t we want to live in a society where we are all free to express ourselves as we truly are and not feel hesitant, or even fearful? I do.
I am, what people perceive as, “A female bodied, female presenting, straight, woman.” These words are not really the things with which I identify. Female bodied: Born with a female body. Yes, I was, but I don’t always necessarily feel that way. Female presenting: Dresses like a woman. I do that most of the time, but don’t when I feel differently. Straight: Attracted to the opposite sex. This I am, but doesn’t mean I am attracted to the most manly of men (which is another broadly descriptive term ranging from bi-sexual to queer, genderfluid, or people that just don’t go by the stereotypical male outline) all the time. Woman: Female. This is the category in which I get placed before all the others. But I self-identify with things that are entirely different than any of these labels.
When I look down at my body, I have don’t necessarily identify as a woman, nor a man. This can leave someone in limbo; sometimes it even leaves me unsure as to how to dress (manly/womanly). I don’t know what spurs these sorts of feelings, but I just sometimes will feel crawly in my skin, because it just doesn’t fit. Where do you go from there? There are so many words that are not mentioned in today’s society that need to be addressed: Queer, bisexual, asexual, gender-queer, femme, gender-fluid, cis-man, cis-woman, and many more. There are millions of individuals who identify with one of these words, so why aren’t they spoken of? So many societal structures prevent us from fully expressing ourselves.
I live in NYC, so thankfully, I feel accepted as someone who classifies as gender-queer, queer/straight, and sometimes even asexual. People throughout the world don’t have this liberty and feel confined to be a heterosexual person of the body gender in which they were born. Identifying as queer, I personally prefer “they” and “them” pronouns vs. “she,” “her,” or “he,” “him.”
“They” is a nonspecific way to address someone who doesn’t identify with a certain gender. This request is extremely important and is hurtful when not addressed properly. When finally coming to terms with how I wanted to be addressed, I was ready to scream out this self-discovery to everyone, and finally have people talk to me or about me with the correct pronoun, only to be denied and let down. I posted on Facebook the following:
“Hey friends! I feel best with and therefore would like to be referred to as they/them rather than she/her. They feels more appropriate with how I self-identify. If you have any questions let me know!”
My responses were a mixture of complete understanding and support, and from others, complete obliviousness and obnoxiousness:
“Can I call you “it”? –asked someone.
“Hello ‘they’, I would like to be referred to ask ‘king *****’, as I would feel better if I were a king. Rather than just Mr.” –someone decides this is somehow anywhere in the same realm as my gender identity.
No, “it” is not at all an appropriate way to address someone (unless they were to particularly request it), for “it” is referring to an object, and I am a person. Also, how could one compare being wanting to be called ‘king’ to how I feel in my skin? Being snarky and sarcastic about someone’s gender preference does not make you seem intelligent. It may be a bit difficult to adjust to these reference changes, but even putting in the effort will be greatly appreciated by those whom request it.
So please, read up on some identity alternatives if you’re oblivious to the options, and try to understand and be respectful. As for me, I hope sharing this article will have people address me in the correct way, for it feels great. And that someone out there learns to do the same for a person they know!
Also by DayRu: What I Learned from Being in an Open Relationship
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Photo: Mandee Carter via Flickr