A Question About Gender, Or The Lack Thereof.


Not that I’m particularly feminine, but I’ve considered myself cisgender ever since I’ve known what it meant, and never really questioned it until now. I was born female, I liked being a little girl and I mostly like being a woman, although from previous posts you probably know that I very much dislike how we are often treated. I’m lucky enough to have been brought up in a family that discouraged sexism, in countries in which the equal rights movement was and still is very present, and feminism is pretty much second nature to me. I’m proud to be a woman because I think there are too many women who are ashamed because they are women, and being a woman is such a huge part of who I am that I have no idea who I’d be if I wasn’t a woman.

However, after reading Glosswatch’s recent article, a question occurred to me that I’d never thought of before:

What if, without changing my sex or anything physical, I could completely get rid of my gender?

Because gender is a social construct, isn’t it? It may be based on physical anatomy and natural instincts, but like many things we’ve brought with us from nature, I think it’s run its course as far as usefulness is concerned. Like when I get panic attacks because my brain has sent me an adrenaline rush based on the fight-or-flight instinct caused by ongoing stress, I definitely think that gender roles are outdated and that the best thing to do would be to work around those instincts until we inevitably evolve away from them.

But gender itself? Not the roles we box each other into, but the identity of “woman” and “man”? Any strictly cis or trans person will tell you that these are an essential part of who they are. So rather than talking about the usefulness of gender as a social construct, I’d like to think of it as something you can identify yourself as, or not.

But if I don’t want to identify as a woman any more, nor as a man, nor as queer…

What if, without changing my sex or anything physical, I could completely get rid of my gender?

I realise that although it would be theoretically ideal, while I can imagine what equal rights might feel like, I can’t actually imagine the world without gender roles. I can’t imagine what it would be like if all of society automatically perceived me as genderless. I can barely imagine what genderless means.

I’m already aware of my own susceptibility to prejudice and presupposition. When I come into conflict with someone, and I’m thinking about what the real problem is, I like to imagine the whole scene again with the genders reversed. Not only does it make me aware of my own subconscious assumptions; it also, in the long term, gives me a heightened awareness of how people of different genders tend to act and what they can get away with that the other gender can’t. Bearing in mind that I’ve never actually met a queer person, at least not that I know of, so my experience is limited to the binary genders.

What if I never had to do that exercise because the end result would be exactly the same?

I just realised that whenever I thought of people being genderqueer, my vision of what it must be like was still binary, despite everything I’ve read and watched and tried to learn. I could only imagine being able to identify as both male and female at the same time, or by turn. Which is like associating asexuals with bisexuals and pansexuals, and then realising that they’re sort of opposites. Because I have no experience of what a genderless person is like, no knowledge of what it’s like to be them.

What if, without changing my sex or anything physical, I could completely get rid of my gender?

Would I?

One response »

  1. Pingback: A bit about myself | Jaye Em Edgecliff

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