Posts Tagged ‘genderqueer’
I’m a trans guy who used to identify as genderqueer, but for me it was more of a stepping stone because I was afraid to come out all the way (like gays who falsely identify as bi at first). A lot of what you’re saying resonances with my own gender history, so I’m curious where the difference lies, given that I’m someone who continues to be uncomfortable with misogyny and male privilege but still wants very much to be seen and treated as male. Or is *that* the difference?
—ASQ, on Coming Out Genderqueer
It is definitely true that I don’t have investment in being seen and treated as male, but I DO have investment in not being seen or treated exclusively female. There’s a subtle difference there. And sure, maybe that is the difference between me and a trans guy. Definitely a few of my close trans guy friends have a very similar gender history to mine, too, and then at the final step 128 or whatever, mine says, “and that’s why I’m butch!” and theirs says, “and that’s why I’m a guy!” Being seen or treated as male doesn’t feel important to me or my sense of self, at least not currently. I reserve the right to change my mind on that at any point, if and when it shifts, but that’s been true for almost fifteen years now, so I am starting to relax into thinking it will remain true for a while. Butch feels good. Genderqueer feels good. Trans feels good, but mostly as an umbrella descriptor, as a community membership. More trans-asterisk (trans*) than capital-T Trans, but either are okay. (Kind of like how lesbian and dyke are okay, too, almost good, but mostly just adequate, though not quite accurate.)
I have a LOT of thoughts about all of this—especially how I identify, and my own gender journeys—that are way more complicated than the “Coming Out Genderqueer” article above. That article is purposefully distilled, attempting to talk to people who aren’t in any gender worlds. It’s a rough sketch beginning of all of that, at best, and sometimes broken down more simply than I mean to for the sake of accessibility.
Honestly, there’s no way I could answer “if I had been born male would I still be genderqueer” etc etc. I have no idea. For as much as I study gender constantly, I’m not really sure what being born male would have changed. Everything? Nothing? I just don’t know. I have speculations, but it seems unnecessary to entertain to me. And “if we had full gender equality and the boxes of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ were much wider than they currently are, do you think you would still consider yourself genderqueer, or would you then be comfortable being one or the other?” I have no idea. A society which had wider expression of gender than ‘man’ or ‘woman’ wouldn’t be where I live, so how many other things would have to change too? I’m a buddhist, I believe in interdependence—I don’t think we could change one big thing without a whole lot more changing, too.
I’d say that my most important identification is in being in-between, or outside of, a binary system. Would that still be true if I was male? I don’t know—probably. Assuming that I would have roughly the same personality, would still be a writer, would still really love satsuma oranges, would still crave the ocean, would still get stunned looking at the stars, would still find so much joy in swing dancing—assuming all those personality things were still true, then yes, I assume I would still crave being on the outskirts of things, the margins, where the weirdoes live, on the borderlands (to borrow from Anzaldua). I like the view from here. I get a better view, though it disenfranchises me a bit, too. The edges of things, more than anything else, seem to be where I am drawn. Not to one particular thing—masculinity, or genderqueerness, or transness. It isn’t about those things so much as it’s about being on the edge, for me.
And, a part of me is softly hurt by your comment, of yet another person asking me yet again, basically, if or when I am going to transition. Or rather, if butch is a stop over on the train to maleness. Or, if I was male, would I “have to” be genderqueer. I can’t tell you how many dozens (hundreds?) of people—butches trans men femmes, genderqueer agender androgynous queers, all sorts of genders, over the years, friends and lovers and people who talked about me rudely behind my back, so many of them at one point or another said something, either directly or indirectly, about my—and often, EVERY butches’—inevitable transition. I think butches get this all the time.
I think it’s quite a common story for many trans guys to spend some time presenting as butch, or as masculine identified women in some way, or as genderqueer, or as rejecting gender in some way. Like you wrote—(like gays who falsely identify as bi at first). Yes, that is sometimes part of the story. But it doesn’t apply to everybody all the time, and just because it happens sometimes doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who find a butch identity and stay there, people who never transition to male, who never secretly wish for maleness, or to be seen and treated as male.
Folks in the bisexual identity—to continue to borrow your example—get this all the time too, with people around them assuming, at least for quite a while in the beginning, that bi will be a stopover to gay town. Sometimes it is. But sometimes, it isn’t.
So, is genderqueer a political identity for me? Fuck yes it is. Is it an innate identity? Uh I mean how can we know what’s “innate” and what’s learned, especially when it comes to gender? But say, for a minute, that I do know—I would answer, Absolutely yes. Which one is more powerful? Fuck, I have no idea. That’s like asking me to rank my oppressions, or tell you whether I identify as an Alaskan or a writer first. I can’t hierarchize those. It is a radical, political act to reject the two-party binary gender system, and I like radical acts. I get off on ‘em. It also feels like home in my body in a way my body never felt like home when I was dressed up more femininely, and never felt/feels like home when people refer to me by he/him pronouns. They/them and genderqueerness and in-between feels like all kinds of parts of me can be acknowledged—not “the man and the woman,” because for the most part I feel like those don’t even apply. None of the above. But the writer and the Alaskan, the swing dancer and the cockcentric top, the pretty good cook and the freelancer, the stargazer and the reader, the masculinity and the love of ice cream. The traits that I have that are traditionally masculine, the traits that I have that are traditionally feminine, and whatever in between.
I want to be able to pick + choose whichever ones suit me from whatever possible category. And I want others to have that ability, too, should they want it. I think it’s possible.
Also, I’m sorry—I don’t mean to be snappish about this, and I explicitly DID say, go ahead and ask questions. So, thank you for asking. I’m trying to answer honestly as best as I can, and honestly? Part of me is frustrated with that question, and the commonness in the queer worlds. I am heavily invested in butch as an identity all its own, regardless of the other genders or identities that that person carries too. I am invested in butch identity not only politically, not only for other people, but for my own sake. I am invested in my butch identity. Am I going to always be butch? I don’t know. Do I have secret longings to be male that are unrealized? Not currently, from the best that I know about myself, no.
Do I reserve the right to decide otherwise in the future? Fuck yes.
But … I hope, if I do decide I want to transition, to identify as male, to be perceived as male and treated as male, that I will honor the 35+ years (or, I suppose, arguably, the 15+ years, since I was mostly some other figuring-out-puzzling-frustrated version of me until I was about 20) I spent as a female genderqueer trans masculine butch. One of my most touching moments at BUTCH Voices in New York City in 2010 was when someone, during our ritual/keynote, held up a stone and offered: “My commitment to my trans voice is to honor the butch woman I was for 40-some years.” I know that many trans men were never butch, that if they were a masculine-presenting-woman for some length of time it might’ve been part of their transition, part of their path to male, part of survival, the only option they had, or who knows what kind of other things, and perhaps they never fully occupying the claimed identity of butch. And, similarly, some butches are never secretly wishing to be men.
I only speak for myself, but I, for now, am eagerly comfortable and loving the in-between of genderqueer.
I am extraordinarily excited about the official launch of printed, finalized copies of The Gender Book!
The Gender Book is a project by Robin Mack, Jay Mays, and rife (yes, my rife), who have been working on it for years, literally years, along with hundreds of folks who have contributed and offered constructive criticism along the way. The whole project has been released one page at a time for anyone interested in commenting and giving feedback. Because of that, it’s more than just one book written and illustrated by three folks—it’s a community collaboration, one that has been generated (I mistyped “genderated,” hah) by the communities that the book attempts to explain.
This is a big deal.
I have never seen another book like this out there. There are no genderqueer or trans or nonbinary primers in the way that this book attempts—and in my opinion, succeeds—in being.
Robin, Jay, and rife don’t have any specific gender credentials. They don’t have gender degrees, they don’t get paid to study this stuff. This book was a community service. They looked around and saw that there was a significant lack of a clear, concise primer on non-binary gender, and decided to take on the project to make one. Partly because they didn’t have their own research to rely on, they turned to the communities, and launched surveys to get content for the book. Hundreds of people responded to the surveys, and the book has been slowly built from the data, and from the experiences of rife, Jay, and Robin’s lives in the genderqueer and trans and gender non-conforming communities—with their friends and lovers and acquaintances.
See first, they made a mini Gender Book, now called the Gender Booklet. It was just a quickie, but that was so successful they decided to make a full-length full-color book. The book has been available as a PDF download for free from thegenderbook.com since the first draft was complete, though it has never been available in print.
Drumroll please … Until now!
Pre-order the book now, and support their crowdfunding campaign to get this
Here’s The Gender Book’s origin story according to the creators:
Three years ago, my friends and I noticed a ton of discrimination and just a general lack of education around gender in our worlds. We said, “Why isn’t there just a book you can hand your therapist and say here, read page 29 and you will understand, see you next week.” Based on your site’s content, I think you know what I mean. We thought there should be a resource you can read in one sitting. It should be illustrated and as fun as a kid’s book while going into some real depth and true stories. The book should help people come out and educate their friends and family. Surely a book like that exists, right?
Nope … It didn’t at the time. We (a writer, an editor and a genderqueer artist-that’d be me!) decided to make our own book. After three years and countless hours of work, drawing, researching, editing and coloring pages, the manuscript is now complete and we’re ready to go to press.
The Gender Book is launching a crowdfunding campaign in December to get printed hardback and paperback copies of the book made available to those who
The final book is 94 pages, includes the original, updated Gender Booklet as a tear-out, some reprints of the original surveys the book is based on, and more. It’s made to be accessible to everyone—from queers inside the gender nonconforming communities to gay guys and lesbians who don’t understand the new politics of gender to your grandma.
Check out some of my favorite images from the book:
There are other perks, too. Like for example, some prints of the creator’s favorite pages from the book, custom art, coffee the creators—all sorts of things.
And, if you are so enamored of this project that you want to support it and help out, you can become a Gender Scout, which is the super exciting Gender Book street team, who earns badges doing things like writing poems about gender, making videos, or writing articles (like this one) to help spread the word about the book. I’ve had fun contributing things like this:
This is one of my favorite videos from The Gender Book, which shows the processing of making a page from start to finish, and is basically rife’s creative process sped up 200 times to see it in fast-forward (make it full screen to get the full effect):
Also! As an added bonus, everything donated TODAY Dec 3rd will earn extra $$ from Indiegogo’s #givingTuesday campaign. Sweet!
OH WAIT! UPDATE: The Gender Book has been fully funded! Holy crap you guys. I’m so excited to hold a book in my own hands in the spring!
(Also, did I mention that I bought the very first copy?! I’m so proud.)
(Also, did I mention that after the first 100 donors, rife did 100 pushups while our friend read out the first 100 donors’ names? Hottt.)
BUT while that means that—whew—I won’t be posting every day about how you should fund The Gender Book, you still should STEP ON IT and donate to get your copy of the book. This is the main (only?) way to get a copy, I don’t know if it’ll be printed again.
As published on Facebook, where I could tag at least 20 of ‘em.
Dear family & friends,
Especially friends from my childhood and high school years who have found me for whatever reasons on Facebook, and family with whom I’m not particularly close, and coworkers from previous jobs who I have perhaps never had this chat with:
THE “GENDERQUEER COMING OUT” PART
I have something to tell you: I’m genderqueer. That means I live my day-to-day life somewhere between “man” and “woman,” often facing all sorts of daily interactions where the general public doesn’t “get” my gender, from kids in the grocery store asking, “are you a boy or a girl?” and their mom hushing them and turning away, to little old ladies in the women’s room staring wide-eyed and backing out of the restroom slowly, only to then return with a confused and self-protective look on their face, to service industry folks saying, “Can I help you, sir? Uh, ma’am? Uh … ?”
That confusion, that in-between state, is precisely it. That’s who I am. I’m neither, and both. I’m in-between.
You may already know this about me, just from following me on Facebook and doing whatever sleuthing you’ve done about my projects. You probably know I’m queer. But, if you want to know, I’m going to explain a few more things about my gender for a minute.
If you want to delve a little deeper into my particular gender, I consider myself butch, I identify as masculine, and I consider genderqueer part of the “trans*” communities, using trans-asterisk as the umbrella term to encompass, well, anybody who feels in-between. I’ve been identifying as “butch” for a long time—perhaps you’ve heard me use this word, an identity I consider to mean a masculine-identified person who was assigned female at birth. I consider myself masculine, but as I delve further into gender politics and theory and communities, the boxes of “woman” and “man” feel too constricting and limiting for me to occupy them comfortably.
I have for years thought that it was extremely important for people like me—masculine people with a fluid sense of gender and personality traits, who don’t feel limited by gender roles or restricted by gender policing—should continue to identify as women as a political act, as a way to increase the possibilities of what “woman” can be. That’s really important. And I still believe that is true, and heavily support that category.
Problem is, “woman” has never fit me. I had bottomless depression as a teenager (perhaps some of you remember I was sent to the principal’s office once for “wearing too much black”), plagued often by the idea of “woman” and adult womanhood. I could not understand who I would be in that context. And honestly, I still can’t.
But—even though it is in some ways harder, living outside of the gender norms—this in-between makes so much sense to me.
ON PRONOUNS (This part is important.)
For a few years now, I’ve been stating, when asked, that I prefer the third-person pronouns they and them when referring to me. That means, if you’re speaking of me in a sentence, you’d say, “They are about to walk the entire Pacific Crest Trail, it’s true,” or “Did you hear they just published another book?” or, “I really like spending time with them.”
Lately, when people ask what my preferred pronoun is, I have been saying, “I prefer they and them, but all of them are fine and I don’t correct anybody.” I don’t mind the other pronouns. They don’t irk me. But when someone “gets” it, and honors the they/them request, it makes me feel seen and understood.
There are other options for third-person pronouns which are gender neutral—or rather, not he or she. “They” is the one that I think, as a writer, is the easiest for me to integrate into sentences. I completely believe in calling people what they want to be called (that has always been one of my mom’s great mom-isms), so I always do my best to respect pronouns, but I still struggle with the conjugations and the way those words fit in a sentence.
Some people—particularly those (ahem like me) who were English majors and for whom grammar rules are exciting—think the “singular they,” as it’s called, is grammatically incorrect. But it’s not. It’s actually been used in literature for hundreds of years. Here’s one particular article on the Singular They and the Many Reasons Why It Is Correct. Read up, if that intrigues you.
WHY THE BIG DEAL?
I haven’t sat any of my family—immediate or extended—down and said, Hi, I’d like you to use they/them pronouns for me. I don’t generally tell people that unless they ask. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I haven’t told you, what I’m afraid of, and what is keeping me from this conversation.
I’m not particularly afraid that you won’t “get it” or that you won’t honor it. If you don’t, that’s actually okay. I am part of some amazing trans* and genderqueer and gender-forward communities full of activism, respect, advocacy, and understanding, and I’m very lucky to feel whole and respected in that work.
And really, I believe that the very vast majority of you actually really wants to know, wants to honor my choices. I think you are probably curious about this. But for whatever reason, my (and probably your) west coast sensibilities are keeping us from having a direct conversation.
So, here ya go. It’s not particularly personal, but it’s the beginnings of something, and it’s my offering to you to talk about this, if you want to.
See the thing is, by not having this conversation with you, by not giving you the opportunity to respect my gender and pronouns (even if you think it’s weird-ass and strange and don’t get it), I’m limiting our intimacy. I’m not giving you all the chance to really know me. And maybe … you want to. Maybe this will open up something new between us.
Or maybe you’ll just go, “Huh. Okay. Whatever.” That’s fine too.
If you have questions, or want to talk about all this gender stuff, I am open to that. Ask away. (You don’t always get a free pass to ask weird questions, so you might want to utilize this opportunity.) But before you do, you might want to check out The Gender Book for some basic terminology, concepts, and ideas.
Sorry I haven’t told you yet. I’ve been telling myself that it “isn’t that important,” but actually it’s been a barrier between us, in some minor big ways.
That kid who was in English class with you in high school,
Your former coworker,
Your nibling (did you know that’s the gender neutral term for neice or nephew??),
The older sibling of your childhood friend,
Your best friend from 6th grade,
That queer who was crushed on you before they knew they were queer,
PS: Feel free to steal this idea for your own Facebook pages.
I’ve been working with The Body Electric School since 2000, since I was just barely out and hadn’t even slept with a girl yet, since the year after I left my high school boyfriend of six years right before I had an abortion and decided that was how certain I had to be in order to become the me I was meeting in dreams.
Body Electric changed and formed and forged my adult sense of both sexuality and spirituality. It has interwoven the two of those things, my callings and my desires, my body and my understanding of god, such that I can almost not untangle them anymore—my sexual explorations are a way to deepen my spirituality and sense of energy and self on the planet, my love of and relationship with the planet is a way to fuel my relationships with and energetic exchanges with (read: fuckfests) other people.
Since I got involved almost thirteen years ago, the work has been divided into “men’s workshops,” “women’s workshops,” and “men and women’s workshops.” But the teachers that I’ve been learning from and am coming up under—Alex Jade and Lizz Randall, namely, who are both queer and genderqueer, Alex being on the dandy masculine side of things and Lizz being a femme—along with my friend and butt buddy (long story) Amy Butcher, the coordinator in San Francisco, and I have all decided that we want to bust open the binary gender system within BE, create more room for trans and genderqueer folks to be able to be included in this work, and to start doing more work with those populations.
And voila, the Outside the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic workshop was born.
It is based on the Celebrating the Body Erotic (CBE) workshop model, which is a finely honed workshop that builds on itself from very gentle interaction on Friday night to an intense community experience on Sunday afternoon. It is a clothing-optional workshop where some erotic touch is invited and possible. Everything is done with deep consent, with lots of checking in with one’s self and lots of trust that the others in the workshop are doing that too, and the work is deeply trauma-informed, meaning that we know and expect that we hold a lot of trauma in our bodies, and when we are working specifically on our bodies and our genitals and our relationship with them, we know many things come up. Feelings of shame, fear, being threatened, memories. Lots of things that we may have the ability to actually bring up in a safe enough container that we can let it go. That, to me, is part of the essence of the healing.
But, the integration of new gender policies into the larger Body Electric School has been very hard. The organization is majority run by gay men and serves gay men, probably 80% of the workshops are men’s workshops, and yes, that pretty much means cis men.
We are trying to change this.
The women’s teams have made the decisions to go forward with the women’s workshops as including ALL WOMEN, all trans women regardless of body or surgery or whatever, and all people born female who can bring our female or women-identified parts into the circle. There will be an ALL MEN’s workshop coming soon, hypothetically, that BE is working on. And as we are offering more “mixed gender” workshops, like the Power, Surrender, and Intimacy workshop I’m doing in New York this fall, we are making it “all genders” instead of “mixed,” and inviting anyone with a body to come.
And of course, there’s the Outside the Boxes workshop. It (or another CBE or equivalent) is a prerequisite for any of the more advanced or intermediate workshops. It gives an amazing introduction to how this work is done and what we do with it. It teaches all sorts of basic tools, like consent and breath, and encourages deep embodiment.
I am so in love with this work. I have been working so, so hard to bring this work to my people—you genderqueer trans queer genderfluid gendernonconforming folks whom I adore and whom I am dying to be in erotic circles with. Please come. There are still spaces available in this workshop, though we are going to cap it at 24 to keep it a manageable and good size. Please come. I know it’s expensive, but it is worth every dollar and probably more, and we made it a sliding scale so that we can get as many people there as possible. Please come. Prove to the Body Electric School that this work is worth it, is lucrative, is needed in the world, and is received when we offer it. Please come.
Dear universe, please send a full, abundant, explorative group of people to explore this work in Philadelphia in March. I cannot wait to meet them all. I want more colleagues on this path, and I want more playmates, and I want more support as I pursue this work. I believe so deeply in the power of this to heal us, and I know that my people need this healing as much or more than anybody. It is my calling. I know it’s important in the world. Please send abundance. Love, Sinclair.
Are you buzzing? Are you intrigued? Get in touch with me, even if you aren’t sure if you’ll do it or not. I can tell you more about it. I want to give it to you, want to give you this gift of this work. Are you feeling called? Listen to that place beyond the “oh I can’t make that happen logistics logistics” “ugh it’s too expensive” “I don’t know I’m so scared!” chatter, and see if it’s time.
Here’s the details on the workshop. Please share this widely with friends and folks you might know near Philadelphia!
Your gender. Your body. Your energy. Your beautiful self. How often has the world tried to force you into the gender binary, asked you to assure it that your pronouns matched what it saw rather than what you felt, required that your genitals conform to expectations, demanded that you deny the complexity of all that is you?
What if you could come into a community in which all expressions were possible? Where gender, sexuality and expression were aligned according to your truth? Where no one assumed what parts would go where? Welcome to Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic!
Come explore your erotic potential through the mind, the body and the heart using conscious breath, movement, process work and massage. Awaken the erotic energy that lies within all of us. Through a queer tantra lens, explore archetypal masculine and feminine energies and the myriad ways they can be expressed. Break down silos of gender and sexuality.
This workshop focuses on the entire body and is conducted in a container that is playful, safe and reverential. Using carefully designed experiential embodiment practices participants will:
- explore the innate wisdom of your body
- expand awareness, sensation and pleasure through conscious breath, movement, touch, and communication, where each person’s choices and rhythms are honored
- learn how to more deeply tune in to your body, mind, heart and spirit
- to receive more fully from yourself and others, and to give without losing yourself
learn to give and receive full-body massage and to focus on the healing potential of sensual/spiritual energy
- learn from your own and others’ unfolding, and feel awed witnessing and supporting our uniqueness and commonalities
Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic is a 2 1/2 day workshop (Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday), often clothing-optional, for those who are ready to vigorously explore new levels of feeling and aliveness, both within themselves and within a community of queers. Space is limited, so please register early.
NOTE: Couples are welcome to attend Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic and have the option of working together or with the other participants.
WORKSHOP FEE: $250-495. This workshop offers a sliding scale fee dependent upon personal financial circumstances. We believe the work is important and those who need it be considered. Please contact the Coordinator to discuss.
Register on the Body Electric website.
Do you remember the Impossible Couture series, where Najva Sol took portraits and Molly Crabapple added embellishments? Najva did another series of portraits, this time genderqueer (mostly) nudes, and Molly did another series of drawings over them.
The result is Transmography: Thirteen Fairytale Portraits of Queers Beyond the Gender Binary, and I’m one of the models in the show. I might have gotten naked on my rooftop in Brooklyn. Maybe. Just sayin’.
The show opens next week, Thursday June 7th, from 6-9pm in New York and San Francisco Lomography stores.
Transmography: Thirteen Fairytale Portraits of Queers Beyond the Gender Binary
by Molly Crabapple and Najva Sol
Transmogrify, Verb: To transform, esp. in a surprising or magical manner
From poets to porn-stars, computer nerds to community gardeners, artists to activists: these portraits capture some of the real gender warriors today. They are trans, genderqueer, or just gender-fabulous, and they deserve their own magical realm.
Each portrait was shot by Najva Sol with a lomo camera, then embellished by Molly Crabapple. Show sponsored by Lomography.
Show Opens At Lomography stores in New York AND San Francisco
June 7th, 6-9pm
New York Lomography Store
41 West 8th Street
Manhattan, NY 10011
San Fran Lomography Store
309 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
I’m going to do my best to at least stop by the New York show, though it does make me a little nervous to see myself (naked!) on a wall. But the shots I’ve seen so far are stunning, I love that one above. Can’t wait to see them all.
"My butch is generally easy-going, and brings me closest to my casual, gender-neutral life-style. Dress-up occasions tend to bring out the more flamboyant parts of myself, depending on the context, my butch helps me stand apart and express genderqueer visibility."Read More
It is my pleasure to invite you to another event this May in NYC: Genderqueer Tantra at the LGBT Center through the Lesbian Sex Mafia.
One of my favorite mentors, Alex Jade, is going to be in town doing a retreat through the tantra school with which I study, and I asked her to make a stop off in the city and do an event with the Lesbian Sex Mafia before she heads out to the retreat center. I’m thrilled she’ll be doing an introduction to tantra.
A lot of folks aren’t quite sure what tantra is, or a cliche and stereotype comes to mind. Broadly, it’s about energy, often as applied to sexuality—but it is bigger and deeper and much more complicated than that. I’m not a tantra teacher (yet) so I’m not even sure how to describe or explain it, but hey, that’s why workshops like this are fantastic.
Plus, it’s tantra in a queer and BDSM context, which makes it all the more awesome. Hope you can come.
Thursday, May 12 8:00pm
LGBT Community Center
208 W 13th St, New York, NY
RSVP on Facebook
Tantra is a school of thought and spiritual practice that allows us to explore the multi-dimensions of spiritual energy in our bodies. Though it often emphasizes the relationship between masculine and feminine, Genderqueer Tantra allows us to PLAY with masculine and feminine energies without getting caught up in rigid gender limitations. Join Tantra and SM practitioner Alex Jade for an interactive workshop that will introduce yo…u to the basic Tantra concepts and invite you to deepen your sexual experiences, increase awareness of the body and mind using sensations from subtle to bold.
Alex Jade, MSW is an erotic educator, sacred intimate, psychotherapist, and student of Tantra. She is on the faculty of the Body Electric School and she has produced and taught independent workshops in Seattle for over 15 years. She has mastery in clothes-off hands-on experiential erotic education and the use of ritual as a healing tool. Alex’s specialties are gender exploration, classical Tantra, SM, and exploring with an open heart and mind.
Founded in 1981 by Dorothy Allison and Jo Arnone, the Lesbian Sex Mafia (LSM) is the oldest continuously running women’s BDSM support and education groups in the country. We are located in New York City, with a membership primarily in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. However, we also have members along the East Coast, across the country and even in Europe!
LSM is a support and information group for all women 18 years of age or older, including transexual and intersexed women who live their daily lives as women and all female-born transgender people who feel they have a connection with and respect for the women’s community. And, who are interested in fantasy and role playing, bondage, discipline, S/M, fetishes, costumes, alternate gender identities and uninhibited sexual expression in a safe, sane, consensual and confidential way.
On Gina Mamone’s mini-interview, a commenter named MS wrote: “Can you post a definition of or primer on what gender queer means?” Kyle Jones was kind enough to comment in reply and explain a bit, and I proceeded to ask him to write up his own primer on genderqueer. Here it is.
This is a guest post from Kyle Jones, Butchtastic.net
Genderqueer people, by definition, are united by their rejection of the notion that there are only two genders.
Beyond their rejection of the gender binary as the sole way to describe gender, there is much diversity within the group of people who call themselves ‘genderqueer’—it’s a catch-all term that includes sometimes contradictory identifications. For example, some genderqueers identify as neither male nor female, some as both male and female. Some see ‘genderqueer’ as a gender in and of itself, some may identify this way because they feel they are beyond gender—genderless or a-gender.
I led a discussion on genderqueer identity at Butch Voices Portland 2010 and almost everyone who attended came to this identity from a different place. There were those who described a fluidity of gender, a sense that they were a mixture of male and female. Some people wanted to move beyond the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ entirely. They didn’t see genderqueer as being a region along the gender binary axis, instead many described it as independent of that spectrum. Based on the diversity of personal definitions expressed in that session, we started to talk about a gender cloud rather than a gender spectrum. Because ‘genderqueer’ is an umbrella term, to really know how an individual relates to it, you’ll need to know their personal definition of genderqueer.
The term “genderqueer” can also be used as an adjective to refer to any people who transgress gender, regardless of their self-defined gender identity. And some genderqueer individuals also identify as transgender, because their gender identity does not completely correspond to their physical sex. Genderqueers may have any sexuality/sexual identity, any physical sex. There is also diversity in the way genderqueers relate to pronouns. Some prefer gender neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘them’ or the alternate forms “ze,” “per,” “sie” and “hir,” “zhe,” “hir.” And some prefer to stay with traditional male and female pronouns, though they may use them in less traditional ways. Other terms similar to genderqueer are genderfluid, gender-variant, bi-gender, third gender, two-spirit and gender non-conforming.
If you find all of this a bit confusing, you’re not alone. When I come out to people as genderqueer, I’m more surprised to find people who are familiar with the term than those who aren’t. And when I’m asked to define genderqueer, as I was for this article, I find it challenging, especially with people who aren’t comfortable or experienced in considering gender beyond male and female. In my experience, most of the world is still not ready to go beyond the gender binary. It takes a lot of work and effort to learn the new vocabulary and open your mind to alternative ways of seeing gender. One challenge I still have is trying to get my head around the idea of being ‘genderless’. I know that much of the way my brain has organized information about the world is still ruled by the existence of distinct genders.
As I mentioned, I identify as genderqueer. Butch describes my appearance, genderqueer describes my gender and queer describes my sexuality. My personal genderqueer definition is that I am not male or female, I am male and female. I have two distinct gender identities, each with a name, a set of pronouns and sexual preferences. Sometimes the distinction is obvious and sometimes more fluid and combined. One visualization I use is that of a tree with two trunks, each coming from the same root structure and base. My male and female identities have some shared history as well as some that is separate. As I visualize my ‘tree trunks’, they start together, then grow apart, come close again, intertwine and grow together, then diverge again as you look up the tree. My male side has a distinct personality, accent, sexual drive and issues. It has also been suppressed more, being less accepted by the outside world and, as a result, is the less developed and mature of my two identities. My female side, having had more time at the forefront, takes the lead in most situations, although my goal is to become more balanced.
You may be thinking, this person has multiple personality disorder. Though I’m not a professional, I know that’s not the case. I have multiple genders, which means I also identify as transgender, because the male side of me does not match my female body. I’ve had some awesome and unexpected experiences lately where strangers have seen my male side. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being recognized and acknowledged as male—something like a rush of adrenaline combined with a strong sexual charge—a big ol’ ego boner.
This is a frustration I share with other genderqueer and transgender people—the feeling of being partially invisible, of spending most of my days being partially unseen. I think we all share a common need to be seen and celebrated for who we truly are, and not just the easily understood fragments, but all our wonderful complexity.
This article is meant to be a starting point for people new to the term ‘genderqueer’, but it’s by no means the last word. If you’d like to learn more about variant gender identities, here are some excellent starting places:
- List of blogs by Butch, Genderqueer and Trans authors on Butchtastic.net
- Beyond the Check-boxes: Exploring Genderqueer Identity, hand-out for my session at Butch Voices Portland 2010.
- Wikipedia: informative and non-judgmental articles on a wide variety of gender and identity topics:http://en.wikipedia.org. Source of some of the definitions above.
- Transifesto, Trans-lations page: Matt Kailey’s list of terms used often on his blog, relating to sex and gender. Source of some of the definitions above.
- Polygender.co.uk: resource pages with information on genderqueer and transsexual related topics.
- Gender Queer. Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary, Joan Nestle, Clare Howell, Riki Wilchins (2002) Alyson Books, New York.
- Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us 1994, Kate Bornstein
- My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely 1997, Kate Bornstein
- Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, 2010, Edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman
One of my particularly favorite sex toy stores sent me a slew of packing cocks to review – cocks that aren’t necessarily hard enough to fuck with, but which you can wear around and feel that weight between your legs, to tuck into jeans and rub up against your honey when you go out dancing, to get a little squeeze on the ride home, to fuck with gender, to feel more complete, to feel more powerful, just for fun.
Even before I begin this review, here are two cocks that Eden sells that I discussed with the fine sex educators at Eden which we decided that were not even worth reviewing because they’re awful toys.
- The Soft Touch Penis: appears to bend like my favorite Silky, and is realistic, so I was curious. I’m told it is made of awful material which has pthalates (which can cause all sorts of bad things), smells funny, doesn’t really bend, and is not harness compatible.
- The Blush: Though it has a slew of reviews at 5 stars (?!! Who are these people?), the material – Ultra Realistic – is awful. If it comes into contact with your skin, it can give you yeast infections. Just reading the descriptions of the material makes me nervous: “extremely porous, dirt can easily hide.” “Dusted in a powdery material” to keep it soft, but that means it needs constant maintenance. “Store each toy separately in a plastic zip bag or thin sock because the porous surface can absorb dyes from other materials. These materials are also very incompatible with many substances.”
The Futuristic Flexi-dong I did receive to review, but it’s made with this same substance. As soon as I took it out of its packaging I knew I could never insert it, and I didn’t even want to slip it into a harness and see how it packed because I didn’t want the material anywhere near my cunt. I didn’t even want to hold it in my hand! I stuck it back in its plastic bag, and I’ve barely even played with it. Sorry, Flexi-dong, but that’s a great big FAIL.
Moving on, though, to the fun stuff.
Mr. Limpy – I know, I know, stupid name, it’s as if they have to camp-up the fact that people without penises are making their own, you know, because that’s a step UP in the hierarchy of gender power. Mr. Limpy is pretty darn cool. This material is Superskin, which, though porous, is non-allergenic and doesn’t leak chemicals like the Ultra Realistic. So that’s the material.
Mr. Limpy packs excellently. Mwah – it’s practically perfect. It’s very limp, obviously, but that means it fits so comfortably in just about anything I wore, from tight tight briefs to loose boxers by themselves. I’ll speak to packing straps when I talk about Mr. Right, below, but I do want to note that the easiest way to use Mr. Limpy is to just tuck him into some tight briefs. You just have to be slightly cautious if you go to pull your briefs down, for whatever reason – it’s possible that Limpy will tumble out, and that wouldn’t really be good. Not only might it tumble onto some dirty floor (public restroom), but it also might be very embarrassing to have your penis roll around on the floor.
I love the way this one feels; it’s lightweight, but still has enough of a tug when it sits in my briefs that every once in a while, I remember it’s there, and I feel … comforted by my little secret tucked away.
This is the packing cock that I reach for most weekends, it’s become part of my undergarments, like a binder.
Playing … uh, no. Unless you get a particular enjoyment of receiving blow jobs on a totally flaccid cock, this is not a cock to play with.
Mr. Limpy is realistic, to a degree, but it only comes in this funny cotton-candy pink color. I don’t mind the pink terribly, but partially that’s because it’s fairly close to my beige/caucasian color, close enough that when the lights are low it doesn’t look completely detached from my body. Still, people of color would probably be disappointed with the lack of flesh-tone, and some folks who don’t like pink (I know you’re out there) would probably be put off by that.
Next up is Mr. Right & his packing strap. This is, in many ways, the packing cock that everybody’s been waiting for, and of course it was made by the amazing Vixen Creations, who make some of the very best cocks out there, and are very gender-forward.
The material is silicone. That’s right, silicone. Silicone is pretty much the gold mine of sex toys, because it can be completely sterilized, it doesn’t carry funny leaking chemicals, it can be used with multiple people (because you can sterilize it in between). Aside from Silky, which is not silicone (sadly), I haven’t spent money on a cock that wasn’t made out of silicone in many years. It’s a really great material, it’s got a little give to it, though not as much as the ultra-realistic or elastomer or “vixskin,” but enough that it’s a little bit floppy.
It is very easy to pack with Mr. Right because you can pick up this fantastic packing strap by Aslan leather that was specifically made for Mr. Right. It’s elastic around the waist, so it has some give, and the back of the little pouch is leather. The problem with the strap is that the leather backing is quite wide. I prefer my balls to hang fairly low, almost between my legs, and because the leather is wide, it doesn’t fit there, it has to be worn higher. That’s a bit annoying, I’ve found.
You don’t need the packing strap to pack with Mr. Right, though – you can tuck it into your (semi-tight, I’d recommend) briefs and be good to go.
Also, because Mr. Right is silicone, it doesn’t have the give that the Superskin of Mr. Limpy does. I also find that I hang right, by which I mean, my cock tends to get tucked on the right side of my body at the crease of my hip. Mr. Right is much more rigid and can only really comfortably pack the way it looks in the photo, because that’s the way it’s molded
All that said, though, if you’re new to packing, you can probably get used to how Mr. Right feels – it’s just because I’ve been packing with other products and prefer my cock to feel certain ways that I have a bit of a hesitation here. Despite my critique here, though, It’s still probably the best packing cock out there, and I wouldn’t give it up, I’m so glad to have one in my toybox.
It’s kinda hard to play with Mr. Right. Sure, he’s a bit harder than Limpy, but he’s still not hard. At best, you could probably give/receive a blow job, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to ask someone to suck such an unhard cock, even for a review. Sorry, just too awkward and a little ridiculous of a request.
Mr. Right is the most realistic of all the cocks I reviewed. It comes in vanilla (pictured, with a nod to acknowledging the race-hierarchy), caramel, and chocolate colors, which are a pretty good range of human skin-tone. The flexibility isn’t perfect – it doesn’t have the hardness of Silky or the softness of Limpy – but it’s a great middle.
Last, but certainly not least: my buddy the Silky. Those of you who have been reading me a while know how much I love this cock, so it’s kind of biased of me to even attempt to review it here, but I’ll try to put it in terms of comparison against the other two.
The material is elastomer, which is pthalate-free (whew!) but still porous, and must be used with a condom every time, because it can’t be sterilized. Keep it clean, people!
It packs well. It doesn’t pack as comfortably as either of the other two cocks, meaning it is bulky in the trousers, and sometimes the base is kind of awkward. It’s semi-hard because it has an internal spine, but that’s also part of what makes it great. The elastomer material is actually quite squishy and gives a little at a squeeze of a hand or mouth, it’s just the spine which makes it a little more awkward to pack with, because it doesn’t mold against the body in the same way. The spine, though, means that it can bend in just about any direction that you like, so I can (and often do) hang right and tuck this under whatever harness strap I’m using to hold it on.
Oh, you do kind of have to use Silky in a harness. It wouldn’t really sit in your briefs comfortably, and it doesn’t fit in packing straps (usually packers are held in packing straps by their balls slipping into a little pouch). I recommend a really small harness like Bare as you Dare because it’s such small material under clothes. Many of the leather ones are hot and uncomfortable when wearing under slacks or jeans.
It plays – oh gosh, does Silky play. It can be bent slightly up to have a wonderful g-spot curve, which I like. It’s a fabulous size for a blow job cock, not too big, but still significant. I’ve found that it’s a very easy size for most girls to take, not too big, not too small (though for marathon sex days I tend to find that girls want something slightly bigger, eventually).
It’s the only cock in this review that you can actually strap on and fuck with. Thank you, oh internal spine of Silky!
Here’s the catch though – the elastomer material combined with the internal spine means that the spine breaks, or even, sometimes that it actually rips through the material. I have never had the spine rip through the material, and I’ve been packing with this cock for about 4 years. I have had the spine break – in fact, I’m currently on my fourth Silky – but I have never had it break during sex. It’s broken when I’ve been packing (probably bending it the same way over & over doesn’t help), and broken when I fell asleep wearing it. But don’t let this discourage you: at this point, I just accept that the cock will last about a year, and then I’ll probably have to replace it. Yes, it’s more expensive than a silicone cock which is pretty much a lifetime guarantee, but you can’t pack-n-play with a silicone cock like you can with Silky.
There’s just nothing else out there that is comparable.
Silky is only somewhat realistic – it is fairly realistically shaped, I like the ridges on the cock, the head. But it has no balls (boo), and it only comes in funky colors – Eden carries blue and purple only. It also has a teeny little smiley face on the underside of the head, which I forget is there and tend to completely ignore. I’ve seen that commonly in from toys made in Japan.
Alright folks, there you have it – six cocks, three useless, three on a very nice scale of pack-to-play, all having their own pluses and minuses. Any questions?
If you pack, what do you use? If you decide to buy one of these to test out, leave a comment or write it up on your blog and share how it goes. We could use more discussion of this type of stuff in the genderqueer sex-positive blogosphere.