What Does it Mean to be Genderqueer?

The Definition and Background of Being Genderqueer

genderqueer
The term "genderqueer" can refer to people who don't adopt fully male or female identities. Image (c) Transguyjay

Are you genderqueer? The term "genderqueer" refers to people who don't adhere to strictly male or strictly female identities and roles. A genderqueer person often chooses to present as neither clearly male nor clearly female, but rather as a gender-free individual whose identity may shift and change over time. His or her gender identity doesn't neatly or completely mesh with societal definitions and norms.

He or she doesn't "match" any one particular gender. 

Genderqueer Identities 

Some genderqueer people are:

Others don't identify with any of these categories, however. A transgender individual is not necessarily genderqueer, and he may or may not be gay. It's a separate issue from sexual orientation. 

Genderqueer individuals are also sometimes referred to as "nonbinary," a relatively recent and as yet not well-known term. 

Background

The Gendercrash website explains:

The GenderQueer term started to come into use in approximately the late 1990's. It has been associated with primarily youth communities and those who are white and where born female and are now along the masculine spectrum, but there are many folks along the age and race/ethnic spectrum that use it to describe themselves and also those who where born male and are along the feminine spectrum.

If You Think You Might Be Genderqueer

If you think you might be genderqueer or you're questioning your gender identity, it can be helpful to ask yourself some questions. The Genderqueer Revolution offers these as a starting point: 

  • Do you ever feel like M, F, or even FTM (female-to-male) and MTF (male-to-female) aren't enough and don't quite fit you? Do you feel that "gay," "straight" or "queer" do not accurately describe you? 
  • Do you feel that your gender changes by the minute, hour, day or season?
  • Do you think that maybe you were meant to have more than one gender?
  • Have you ever felt that your gender isn't so clear cut, or that it falls right off the map?
  • Are you tired of hearing, "You're just confused," when you already know who you are or you're comfortable with not knowing?
  • Does it ever bother you or amuse you when people say you're "too feminine" or "too masculine," or that you "look like a girl" or "look like a boy," with a tone that implies it's a bad thing?
  • Have you ever wished that people would just stop asking — whether they do it sarcastically or seriously — when you're going to start hormones, have surgery and "transition" with the assumption that these terms automatically apply to you? They might, but that doesn't give others the right to assume so. 

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might want to explore the genderqueer identity further. Try to talk to a trusted adult who you know will be open-minded. 

Resources and Support

More and more college campuses are forming groups that welcome genderqueer students. GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary is an anthology, a great book on the subject that might also be helpful.