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What’s your gender? – Part II

March 30, 2009

I’ve been thinking about a fun Trans 101 activity we could do at school. I really want to get my fellow students to rethink gender, but it’s hard to convince people to come to an educational thing voluntarily. So maybe I should start out with the people who come to our diversity group meetings (queer-straight alliance type thing we founded last year). I could print out a version of the Yay! Genderform and hand it out. Sarah from Genderfork thinks that might work, and I do too (thanks for the idea, Sarah!):

Hey, so I’ve been on this little kick lately to try to get people to see their gender as a list of descriptive words. For example, I want to claim my gender as: female, androgynous, queer. The people I explain this to tend to get it — it makes sense. But then, when I ask how they identify, I get a deer-in-headlights look of “Oh! Um! Off the top of my head? I dunno!” I have a little theory that if I handed them a list of pre-approved Gender Words, they’d have a much easier time with this exercise.

Maybe people would be overwhelmed at first, but if you include funny terms, or words that cisgender people can relate to, they might loosen up and play along (things like “glamorous” and “friend of Dorothy” should be well-received among a queer crowd).

Julian also suggested printing out your gender badge and handing it out to people. I’d like to make stickers and paste them onto every form that asks you to check “male” or “female” (a “none of your business” sticker would work, too).

PS: The Yay! Genderform is now 929 terms strong — I suggested “puto” and “tortillera”, which are Spanish for “fag” and “dyke”. The list seems to be growing every day!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2009 3:28 pm

    Puto! And tortillera! Some cholo with a handlebar mustache called me totillera the other day. It was amusing.

    • genderkid permalink*
      March 30, 2009 9:49 pm

      Wow, I didn’t think you would ever hear that in the US… I didn’t consider all the Latin American people who live over there. I personally love puto — I use transputo as the Spanish equivalent of transfag (I haven’t ever heard anyone else saying it, but I hope it’ll catch on).

  2. March 30, 2009 6:42 pm

    hi genderkid! I found your blog through genderfork, have been reading it for a little bit… I am 30 & am just starting to try & figure out my gender identity… I totally didn’t have the toughness or determination to even question these things when I was still in high school — I’m very impressed by your thoughts and articulateness about all this stuff!

    I’ve been thinking along similar lines of what you write about in this post: strategic ways of opening up people’s thoughts about gender. I live in a small city in the north-eastern u.s.a., and my crowd of friends (for various reasons) tends to be pretty non-queer — very queer-friendly, not necessarily gender-role-conforming, but at the same time very accepting of the traditional gender binary. there’s a tradition here of wheatpasting posters up around town, on light-poles or whatever, mostly to advertise rock shows… so I think I’m going to start pasting a bunch of simple prints with good gender inquiries, probably somewhat lifted from Kate Bornstein: “are you a boy or a girl? …are you sure?” or “…how do you know?” Open-ended questions.

    now I’m inspired by your thoughts here, and the gender words list, to make some other posters that say: “what gender are you?” and then have a list with check boxes, of many different terms. thanks for the resources and the list of words and the thoughts!

    • genderkid permalink*
      March 30, 2009 9:34 pm

      Gee, you’re welcome Jean; thank you! I’m glad you got some ideas out of this blog. I’d really like to see the posters you come up with; the ones on your site look great.

      Your comment made me think of a larger-scale gender intervention… I’m not sure how I’d go about doing my part, but I like imagining a worldwide movement of people who surreptitiously make people question gender.

      • April 5, 2009 10:19 pm

        thank you! I will definitely share pictures of the posters, when they happen, which might take a little time (as everything does!), but should be soonish. if you want to email me your mailing address, I’d be psyched to send you some physical copies too.

        worldwide movement to instigate gender questioning… yes! maybe this is already in progress… the internet offers us tools & connections that were unavailable even 5-10 years ago… and the ability to propagate new ideas without having to have control of mainstream channels. maybe I am optimistic… but… well, I am optimistic. !

  3. genderkid permalink*
    April 9, 2009 11:34 am

    Oh, I’d love to see some actual, physical copies, but I’m still living with my nosy parents… Thanks for the offer anyway!

    You’re right, about the internet; GenderFork for instance is a great example of worldwide gender exploration. And optimism rules :)

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