This is a question that I get fired at me from time to time when I talk about being genderqueer.
I don’t think someone should have to come up with a proposed solution or social change strategy before being allowed to complain about an unpleasant situation. And I do think that the “well, then, what’s your recommendation?” response is sometimes used as a tactic for shutting people up (or making us look foolish for not having a good answer). But that doesn’t mean it’s never a legitimate question.
I’m not particularly interested in acquiring a virtual ruler and going around smacking misbehaving people for using the wrong words or expressing tastes and preferences that leave me out or expressing opinions about people like me that are less than warm, accepting, and welcoming.
Yeesh, that sounds awfully judgmental towards people who get upset about being misgendered, or folks who are sick and tired of surface-level “tolerance” that is sprinkled with derogatory comments and jokes. And I don’t mean to be pointing fingers at them and saying that they’re doing it wrong or are asking things of people that aren’t reasonable and fair.
But my head is in a different place. I don’t face a lot of judgmental hostility from people who harbor hate for genderqueer people. I don’t suffer from the cruel barbs of demeaning jokes and quips about genderqueer people and what they are like and how they behave. I might not like it if and when I start getting a periodic dose of that kind of thing, but for now that would be a step forward.
Oh, sure, I have experienced hostility, but the hostile people were expressing hostility towards gay guys. Or towards transgender gals. Or towards sissy feminine male people. The people with the hostility have not tended to make a distinction there. I think we’re mostly all the same to the ones who hate us. But amidst the hateful rhetoric about men who have sex with other men, and men who become women, I seldom feel directly targeted so much as hit by the general spatter.
They, along with the liberal accepting tolerant folks, haven’t heard enough from my ilk to get a good stereotype or caricature going.
My partner just forwarded me a link to a thread on a message board where someone posted to ask why he gets so much pressure to transition to female. He identifies as a cross-dresser. His situation is different from mine: he gets a sexual thrill from dressing in feminine clothes and from embracing femininity in general. He says “I am a Man. I am straight”; and his connection with the feminine is, as he puts it, all about “my sexuality not my sex”. And yet, because people are more familiar with what it is to be transgender – what the personal story-lines are, what the typical narrative is – he gets told that he’s never going to be happy until and unless he transitions.
He says that’s totally not true; like me, his identity and experience are different, although certainly there’s some overlap with that of transgender people.
I can relate to all that. In 1979 as a University of New Mexico student, the assumption was not that I was trans but that I was gay, but I, too, was the recipient of warmly-intended compassionate friendly advice, that I should accept myself, that I should come out.
People are often amazingly tolerant of identities that they can understand.
What do I want?
I want to shoehorn in a new concept, a new category, into people’s mental set of boxes, their notions of the kind of people who exist and whom they might encounter.
Partly because I believe that the hostility depends, in a weird sense, on conflating sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender identity, and that understanding them as different things challenges the hostility.
Partly because I think a lot of people are like me, and if the world has the head-space to understand us, we’ll be understood and accepted for who we are. Instead of for who we are not.
Partly because – and a respectful tip of the hat, here, towards Walter Becker of Steely Dan, who just passed away – as the Steely Dan song “Deacon Blues” puts it,
“They got a name for the winners in the world,
I want a name when I lose”
… I want a somewhat-recognizable rendition of my identity to be out there, whether people accept and admire it or not. Naturally, I would like to be accepted and celebrated for who I am, but if I can’t have that it is still better to be rejected and hated for who I am than for who I am not.
I got a rather late rejection notice from a literary agent yesterday. At this point, all queries to lit agents have been marked in some fashion – either as overt rejections or as “No reply within 3 months” which counts as a rejection. The same is true of queries to publishers, except that there’s an additional status there: accepted for publication
No queries are outstanding at this point. And at least until next book, my querying days are over, and good riddance. Here’s the final tally:
The Story of Q — total queries to Lit Agents = 974
… as nonfiction: 748
… as fiction: 226
The Story of Q — total queries to Publishers = 31
Accepted for Publication then Publisher Went out of Business: 1
Accepted for Publication (current): 1
This a reposted blog post. Cleared with the moderators in advance.