*this originally was a response to a question on a group. I liked the answer and asked if I might post it here. Thankfully Misha agreed.
All the basic books like Gender Outlaw, Gender Trouble, Transgender Warriors, Queer Theory, Gender Theory/Read My Lips, etc, etc, all are very good.
What we’re all saying, including the authors of these books, is that slowly, over the millennia, the powers in society have, since the murder of the last matriarchal tribes in Sumaria, in multitudes of unspoken, subconscious acts, (the acts themselves wern’t subconscious, but their application to gender was), shifted social power to be concentrated in males in the patriarchal system. They have skewed the learned “viral” information we pass on from generation to generation in favor of masculinity as being the gender of socio-political power, and femininity as being the gender of emotional expression and familial cohesiveness. All this applied to individuals based on the shape of their genitals. We know how well this has worked, and it gets reinforced by violence on playgrounds and in bedrooms and boardrooms and homeless shelters, and our religious institutions, etc.
What we face as gender-queer people is a social ignorance. Individuals, in general, have had their ability to self-gender-determination taken from them by a language that expects us, from the day we begin to grasp language, to take responsibility for the determination of the gender of another. Our language and the customs we hold around gender force us to “gender” others. We are given no other language to use, and the English language forces us to continue reinforcing the millennia of training we’ve received on the place “each sex”, has in society, (as opposed to the SE Asian languages where the speaker has no way to “gender” the listener or any others, but the speakers self references allow them to express their own gender (as narrow as that still may be), ie. in Thailand “yes” from a male is “Krap” and “yes” from a female is “Ka”).
None of you will be able to totally change the fact that our society has been brain-washed in this way in your life times. What we can do is to start to take bites out of it. We can be ourselves, we can choose to expose ourselves to the taunts of ignoramus’s, and the askance looks of the curious and confused. We can choose our own gender and the form of expression that it will take as we attempt to describe our internal feelings using unique combinations of the clothing society gives “normal” folk to express masculinity or femininity, (unless you are talented in using a sewing machine and clothing construction).
Every day those of us who wish to do the hard work of changing peoples minds about what gender really is past the shape of the flesh between our legs (intersex inclusive), we will have to stand out there, play in our bands, do our nursing work, bag those groceries, etc, and face those who will scratch their heads at us at best, catch us in the alley and beat the tar out of us or take our lives at worst. And what we will do, by sheer force of numbers that don’t match their stupid theories of what men and women should look like and act like, what we need to do…we will be true to ourselves, we will love ourselves, and we will change society. Not today or tomorrow, maybe long after anyone reading this has passed the expiration of a normal life span, but we will make the world better for our children, for our nieces and nephews, for the little 5 year old down the block who’s still being dressed by his parents, but fantasizing about expressing a different gender …who if he did it today could have his life snuffed, possibly painfully, by ignorant parents who fear what people will say if their child looks weird.
All any of us can do is to support each other in this painful, but blissfully rewarding life that we share independent from the masses of lemmings who secretly hate themselves.
And know this…
If you want a trump card, whether you want to be the best trombone player or the best psychologist, or the best lawyer, or the best at any endeavor your choose, bring your whole self into it, bring your gender queerness into it. A few of you may encounter resistance, possibly even violence, but more of you will be embraced, and loved for loving yourself. It really does show through. Your unique visions will inform and guide your creativity and you will be capable of more and better works which will give you that edge to show the world that if they will stop fucking with our self-concepts and our self-confidence we will make the world a better place. And they will love us. Know that amongst the few in my family who have rejected me, many more have shown me that I’m loved for being me.
Hugs to you all and Namaste, Misha
Misha Elizabeth Balch, LPN, PSN, RC,
Gender Alliance of the South Sound, Founder, and Twice Board Chair;