I wish that this could have been some sort of easy-to-navigate guide to gender, but if I attempted to write it, you would probably be left with more questions than answers.
I live in a wonderful little bubble, my social circle is extremely open and progressive, which becomes very obvious when you venture outside it. I desperately try to keep up, because I really want to learn it all and not offend anyone with my idiotic approach. However, I have no idea what’s going on. I know that I have a lot more knowledge than people outside my little bubble, and can navigate the topic in a sort of safe way, but I’m really just winging it to the best of my abilities. I’m tagging along, trying to soak everything up, trying to learn and get better, but sweet Mother Mary, I’m so lost. Sometimes I feel like I’m up to date and then realise that things have changed so fast that I don’t even know where I got left off.
I just don’t want to offend or upset anyone. It’s as simple as that. I’m in a pretty privileged position here, I’m a cis woman, which basically means that my assigned gender matches who I actually am. I was born a woman and I really am a woman. I’ve never felt like I was in the wrong body, and even though I have some days where I feel more masculine and boy than others, it does not make me question what and who I am.
I want to end up in a position where it comes completely natural to me to ask people about their prefered pronoun. It still feels weird and awkward, and I forget all the time what it was, and then I have to ask again, and that would be more awkward, so better just shut up until someone else addresses the person, so I have at least a slight idea about what to do. Sometimes I ask someone who is cis like me, who then get’s a little upset, because I am so lost and focused on this, that I end up assuming everyone is queer or genderfluid or whatever. The level of awkward I can become is insane.
I’ve ended up in a place where I’m scared to even ask anymore. I know a lot, but I don’t know everything. I try to read up on stuff and whenever I come across something I don’t know, I do some research to figure it out. Holy fuck, that makes it even worse! Then I read an article from a transgender woman saying a lot of words I once heard about and then another from a genderfluid person, who talks about the same things, but with words I didn’t even know were real words. I have a very unhealthy relationship to Wikipedia, and I’m even ashamed to admit that I use that, because there are so many people out there who would tell me that the information found there is faulty or out of date.
Then I get told to just ask people. That they wont mind and you are just making sure. And you know what happens?
(This is of course not all, but honestly, it’s the majority of people I ask who are not already friends of mine.)
I don’t want to ask anymore. I know that I’m not stupid, but that look makes me feel like the kid eating glue, while staring at the wall. It’s never anyone elses job to educate me. I completely understand how fucking annoying and tiring it is to explain the same shit over and over again, that’s a feeling I have in regards to feminism too. Having who you are questioned and examined all the time must be such a shitty experience, I understand that. I’m not blaming anyone for feeling this way and I don’t blame anyone for giving me this look.
So I simply stay away from the questions. I do my research instead and try not talk about things I don’t know anything about, or that I’m slightly unsure of. That means that I still know quite a lot, but I’m far behind and can never really be completely sure that I have all the facts. Or the names. Or the explanations. Or the reasons behind the words and explanations and terms. I’m utterly and completely lost, just walking around in the dark, hoping I don’t bump into anyone that would then get upset or angry with me, for ramming my big face into theirs.
However, because I do the research, because I know things, that I’m not really sure I actually know, people ask me. When I’m asked, I’ll try to answer. And because I have read 17 articles on the same topic and have thrown hours of my life at Wikipedia, hoping with all my heart that it would throw something useful back, I can now shuffle through all the knowledge that I’m fairly sure is out of date, or so new that no one really knows how to define it, in a panic, trying to find something that can be even slightly helpful. It’s stressful and confusing, and I make damn sure to end all sentences with ‘I’m not completely sure though, I could be wrong’.
I’m hoping that one day I will end up a place where my brain will fucking chill and I can be slightly confident in conversations about gender. I’m hoping that one day I won’t be hopelessly lost and confused. I’m hoping that one day my research will pay off and I wont feel like a fool. I’m hoping that one day I will stop feeling awkward and be helpful.
But it is not this day.