What is #TeamAmazeballs that everyone is talking about?
“It’s a community-driven project where bloggers and like-minded individuals trade content to showcase on each other’s platforms. This can involve anything from a toy swap to an article trade, an interview, to a photography showcase. It doesn’t matter! What matters is that two people take the chance to boost each other’s content by providing a new platform and take the time to truly connect as a result.”
HOW COOL IS THAT? I get to be a part of that. I’ve written one already and am on deck to write a few more. I’ve also participated in a sex toy exchange. So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite bloggers. I am over the top excited EmmelinePeaches agreed to do an #teamamazeballs content swap with me. I’d also like to express my gratitude for being allowed to be a part of this amazing exchange.
By EMMELINE PEACHES
Newly acquired item in hand, I stood over the toilet pressed the object firmly over my vulva and began to let nature do the rest. Looking down at the successes of my first Stand-To-Pee device my heart swooned and my stomach did summersaults. Endorphins rushed throughout my entire body in a moment of sheer celebration.
“Emmeline. Now You are a man”.
Those were the words I said to myself—and in that moment, I wholeheartedly felt them—but what do these words really mean?
What is it to be a man? To be masculine? Is it a state of mind? A social construct? Or does it all come down to the simple action of being able to pee while standing up?
The answer is all of these and more.
Let’s talk gender.
What’s In A Name?
The answer seems so simple at first.
It’s a narrative so many of us have grown up with: A baby comes in to this world and while it’s still screaming and gasping the doctor looks at its genitals and declares there and then ‘girl’ or ‘boy’.
From the doctor’s point of view the process is probably all very clinical. They see so many babies come in to this world and categorizing their sex is all part of the process. But for the child the words spoken by this doctor come with it a lifetime of societal and parental expectations.
Girls wear pink. Boys blue. Girls are beautiful princesses and elegant ballerinas. Boys are daring knights and bold adventurers (and, if there are any doubts about these divisions and just how systematic they are I refer you to GoTN’s Christmas shopping post. 4 adventures my ass).
Herein lies the beginning of a very complicated and highly interwoven form of identity politics that it inextricably linked with society, culture, and our day-to-day lives.
When that doctor says ,’boy’ or ‘girl’ what they mean in reality is ‘male’ or ‘female’—biological sex. But what we hear is an expected gender—‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’—and we then shape and reinforce our children based on these assumptions.
What Is Gender?
As opposed to our biological sex—which deals with sexual dimorphism, differences in chromosomes, and a variation in the internal and external sex organs—gender is concerned with the social construction of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits and the roles that we assign people.
It essentially pertains to the conventional roles that are assigned to each sex and the social expectations that come along with this.
But gender doesn’t just stop there. It also pertains to a fundamental sense of ‘self’ and how we personally identify. Most of us, for example, would either firmly term ourselves a ‘he’ or a ‘she’ and would feel incredibly insulted if we were mistaken for what we assume to be the opposite sex.
But human beings are incredibly complex creatures and, what with gender being a construction that varies depending on geographical background and social groupings, it makes sense that none of us are wholly ‘masculine’ or wholly ‘feminine’. Granted, some embody conventional gender roles more than others but, chances are, even the manliest of ‘men’ and the womaniliest of ‘women’ will act or think in ways that act against their preferred gender association.
This is because gender itself isn’t a set definition, and neither is it a sliding scale where one permanently pins themselves down for life and makes no change nor progression in self. Gender identity (and how we choose to present that identity) is an ever-fluid and highly dynamic spectrum in which we take the different stereotypes that society has made for us and decide how they affect and interact with our sense of self.
Given this it seems ludicrous that we have chosen to limit ourselves to only two options for what our ‘gender’ is. How can two terms encapsulate an entire array of ever-changing personally and socially negotiated traits and mannerisms and their impact on ourselves and others?
When we start realizing just how inane it is to tie sex with gender and then assume that there are only ever two choices then we can begin to start truly learning the potential of gender.
My Head Hurts
Variety really is the spice of life, and deconstructing conventional gender binaries (the man/woman divide) only seems natural. But there’s a problem with this.
Human beings may be highly complex but we’re also extremely lazy. Like helluva lazy.
Our brains do not like thinking beyond what they deem necessary and try to keep things under simple, neat little labels as much as possible. It’s because of this that we rely so much on the binary of right/wrong, day/night, open/closed, man/woman, etc. It’s simply an easier way to think.
Much like gender itself, gender politics is an ever-evolving sphere of sociological concern and it can sometimes seem like it’s constantly changing, or that it varies wildly from person-to-person.
But there is a way that we can respect the gender spectrum and give our brains the rest and simple identifications that it craves, and this is through labelling.
Common Gender Terminology
Whether we like it or not, we are prone to labelling and categorizing things in life. No term or definition is perfect. These are what I see as some of most commonly agreed upon terms that are of use for gender queer identities and those trying to understand them:
Gender Queer: Yup—I did start this list with a word I literally just used. How astute of you to notice. A gender queer person is someone who does not follow the conventional structure of gender that we mentioned above. These individuals may identify as neither gender, both, a flowing combination of both, or maybe even a ‘to be decided’. I personally identify as gender queer, although I often present as feminine and use female pronouns. My gender is not a static state and so I feel very defiant against the gender binary. Down with the system, and whatnot.
Gender Fluid (or sometimes ‘Bigender’): While a gender fluid person may identify as gender queer a gender queer person is much less likely to identify as gender fluid. This is because gender fluid individuals adhere much more strictly to conventional gender binaries of the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ and tend to rely upon these binaries to essentially flow in between the two states. Some consider gender fluid individuals to be problematic, due to their endorsement of the gender binary, but this binary is arguably inescapable (even if it’s problematic).
Agender: Similar to asexuality, to be agender is to have no strong or direct association with any form of gender. This is distinct from being gender queer and gender fluid because it represents a complete apathy when it comes to engaging with gender, rather than a strong emotional response to any particular gender identity. It is possible to be agender and still be straight or cissexual—as gender, sex, and sexuality work on different spectrums.
Transgender: A transgender person is someone who has chosen to live as (or strongly identifies with) the gender that is conventionally assigned to the opposite sex as their own biological sex.
More than many other gender variant communities, trans individuals have been exposed to a lot of physical, emotional, and mental distress as they fight diligently for their rights. This is perhaps because trans individuals are perhaps one of the most prevalent and visible form of gender variations in mainstream society and therefore receive a lot of ire brought about by confusion, tradition, and prejudice.
Cisgender: A cisgender individuals is in the common position of finding that their gender identity and their biological sex happily align with one another and they feel wholly (or, at the very least, mostly) comfortable with being identified as the gender that their sex would culturally imply.
Because this state of being is so normalized and so systemically reinforced it can often be hard for people who exist within the cisgender narrative to accept individuals that challenge their worldview.
In such instances I highly recommend compassion and a willingness to communicate and listen from everyone involved. In an ideal world, we’d move forward through careful and considered discussion rather than the assumption that conversations are battles of each other’s fundamental beliefs that need to be won at any cost.
How Do I Respect These Different Genders?
Well, that’s easy. Acknowledge them!
Allow people’s gender variation to be a valid option in your mind. Perhaps one of the easiest, yet significant, ways to do this is to use a person’s pronouns correctly. Rather than assuming an individual is a ‘he/him’ or a ‘she/her’ take the time to ask someone what their pronouns are if you’re unsure. Or, alternatively, avoid the issue altogether by using the ever-respectable ‘they/them’.
If you’re uncertain about a person’s gender and they’re willing to discuss it then feel free to ask them questions—in a calm and respectful manner of course. Listen to them rather than aiming to challenge them. They are the expert on their own gender identity and how they chose to embody and present it.
At the end of the day gender is a highly personal affair, shaped by so many different factors in life. Hopefully the above identities will help you get a grasp on just a few of the wonderful gender variations that are out there but it is in no way comprehensive. To find out more you’ll simply have to do your own research, read around, and curiously and respectfully listen to the lived experiences of others.
We all interact with gender to one degree or another, but it’s up to you to consider the extent to which your gender (and the gender of others) affects your life.
All The Best,