I know that I’ve talked about labels some before, but it’s still weighing on me. So here’s the deal, I don’t know what I am. That’s not true. I do know – I am an awesome chick. There, I said it. What a relief. However… I realized this evening that I might start exploring two different labels. Not so much to identify myself to others, rather, to know myself a bit better and to be in better relationship to others.
I’d be lying if I said that writing this out wasn’t a little bit frightening. These words seem even scarier than lesbian (which as you may recall I don’t like). These particular labels… words really… seem… out there. You’ve been warned.
Pan-sexual. I feel like I just threw a grenade. Let me back up for a minute here. Most of society operates on a perceived notion that there are only two genders – male and female. This is referred to as the gender binary. From what I’ve read and experienced, I’m learning that this is simply not true. Even if you were to ignore the cases of transsexuals (pre and post op), there are still at the very least medically diagnostically proven cases of inter-sex folks. These are people who are born with both male and female organs. Then there are those with an extra X or Y chromosome that drastically affects their gender presentation and gender identity. These folks do not fall into the rigid male / female categories. There are those also who see themselves as androgynous, those without gender, and then there are folks who fall somewhere in between who don’t truly feel that they are one or the other. Now with that lesson under our belt, someone who is pan-sexual is attracted to any gender and does not buy into the rigid gender binary view. After getting to meet Summer, and then chatting with Renée (who has no plans to medically transition), I definitely oppose the gender binary.
So, what I’ve realized is that I’m attracted to women. I’m attracted to MTF (male to female) transsexuals, and I’m finally opening up to the idea of being attracted to men. A friend put it this way, that I’m just attracted to people with good qualities. That my friends is pan-sexual. I really feel that it doesn’t matter who I end up with – whatever their external gender presentation and internal gender identity is… as long as they are awesome.
That was a little heavy. Let me try to lighten it up some for you.
Remember when I said that there are some folks who are totally comfortable with who they are, may not present in traditional gender stereotypes and have no plans to medically transition from one gender to the other because neither one really fits them? Umm… hi. Perhaps a more relate-able or palatable term would be gender non-conformist. Now as I’ve mentioned time and time again, I hate labels. Yet, I don’t mind checking off “female” on forms (not all genderqueers would say that’s true). But there are a few areas that I have a hard time with – mostly in clothing/presentation. I work in an environment with a strict male dress code and a strict female dress code. I’ve been fightingwith management and human resources since I got my uniform to allow me to wear the men’s neck tie instead of the women’s scarf (think flight attendant). For the first couple weeks, every time I had to put on that scarf, I felt a deep sense of shame and humiliation. I can’t even begin to explain how horrible I felt. I would go in my car and cry before and after work because it felt so incongruous to who I am. I had a very female reaction to having to wear something female. None of my friends or co-workers could understand how I felt. Some tried to be supportive… but ultimately they thought I was being overly dramatic and most… most LIKED the scarf. I felt alone. The only thing that changed for me is that I got some safety pins and a paper clip and made it into a tie. For the record, I’m still fighting to get that blasted tie instead.
The scarf / tie
For the most part, I dress in guy’s clothing and I now have short hair. But, I wear girly smelling stuff – bath splashes, perfumes, and deodorant. I even painted my nails. There are lots of areas I’m now realizing that I’m happy with my girly side, and there are lots where I want to keep up with my masculine side. But mostly, I think I try to present a fairly neutral side. I’m not trying to compartmentalize all of it, I just go with the flow.
I’ve felt this way for years, maybe even decades, but I didn’t know what it was called, nor did I know that anyone had similar experiences. I’ve got to say, it’s a little bit freeing to be able to call it something other than “freak” or “wrong” or just plain “screwed up”. It’s not who I am, but it does make up a part of me.
So here’s a very big question to follow up: Where does this put me theologically? Well, I know that God is the Creator and He does not make mistakes. I know that God is love. I also know that my line of thinking flies in the face of what many perceive Christianity to be. Yet, that camp has a tendency to forget that Jesus is all about love and grace. I’ve got to say though, that I’m hesitant to even bring up grace right now. Grace implies sin and/or error. Gender identity and gender expression are merely facets to who a person is. God loves us all – gay or straight, pan or a-sexual, male, female, or somewhere between. He loves everyone. He loves those who are condemned. He even loves those who do the condemning. I could go on and dissect the Scriptures to try to prove to you that I’m not off base, but I think it would undermine the main message of Love.
So that’s where I stand theologically, that God loves you, God loves me, and God loves “them”.