Posted in Being human

A request: Please avoid “gender presentation” when describing me.

This hasn’t happened any time recently that I recall. But it’s become pretty common to describe people in image descriptions as male-presenting or female-presenting if you don’t know their gender.

Please don’t do that to me in any context. I don’t have a gender identity and I don’t have a gender presentation. These are terms developed to describe people with a very different experience of gender than I have. They work for most people. They don’t work for people like me. I get that I’m in a tiny tiny minority. But just please don’t do it. No matter what gender you pick (including nonbinary ones), you’re basically tying elements of my appearance to a gender, when that’s not how my appearance works.

And to be described as male-presenting or female-presenting basically feels like being plunged suddenly into ice water with no warning. Combined with the same feelings I get when misgendered. (Which, for me, being gendered is being misgendered, so it happens a lot. I grasp that being gendered — appropriately — is very important to 99% of the population, so I don’t know a social solution to this, but just putting it out there that this is how it works for me. Not speaking for anyone else genderless. Also I’m not talking about pronouns, I actually don’t mind people getting those “wrong”, I’m talking about being forced into gender in social situations.)

A
I don’t have a gender. Neither does my clothing, hair, jewelry, or appearance. Thanks for understanding.

When I say I don’t have a gender presentation, I don’t mean that people don’t judge gender from my appearance. I mean that how I intentionally decorate my body is not tied to gender. I am not female-presenting when I wear a skirt and male-presenting when I wear my dad’s clothes. I’m just me wearing clothes. Wearing what beard I can manage to grow is not about masculinity and wearing my hair long is not about femininity. Wearing my dad’s clothes and copper nail polish is not about being nonbinary or about trying to confuse anyone. Nor is wearing my dad’s clothes including suspenders but with a skirt. These things just happen, they’re not about gender. Presenting implies at least some amount of intent.

So thanks in advance for just not going there with me. Not trying to fit my appearance into a gender box, not splashing me with ice water, not making me feel more like an outsider to every damn thing than I already feel. Nothing like this has happened recently, I just wanted to explain.

Oh also when I say I lack a gender identity, I mean I lack any internal sense that ties me to a gender. This is not a choice, a political view, or a philosophical position. I have no problem with most of the world having a gender. I just don’t. I have no idea why.

If you hear me describing myself in seemingly gendered terms, I’m likely using them in a sociological sense, or because gender-neutral terms can sound clinical and impersonal. (“Sibling” vs. “brother” or “sister”, just not the same.) Or because the world is a complex place, and so is language, and one word can have many meanings, and I have enough word-finding problems as it is to be precise about language all the time, and so many other things.

But I don’t think you’ll ever catch me describing myself as having a gender presentation. For reasons. Thanks for not doing the same.

Also don’t assume all genderless people feel as I do or that all people with genders are comfortable with the idea of gender presentation being applied to them. This request is entirely personal. People are complicated. Categories don’t always dictate preferences in this regard.

Author:

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

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