Home > Basic Information, Family, FtB > Fuck the (Gender) Police

Fuck the (Gender) Police

I drove around my hometown city last night instead of going to bed because I had had two diet cokes and apparently my body responds very well to caffeine.  There was a special on KROQ, which was my high school rock radio station, of the top 20 songs of each year in the 00’s.  So I was blasting Red Hot Chili Peppers, Papa Roach, Incubus, etc. – the music I listened to in high school, before I discovered glam rock – and driving by all my old hangouts.  I was thinking a lot, mostly about high school.  While we were on a skiing vacation, my mom and I talked about ninth and tenth grade, and all she said about those years was that that was when I acted out a lot.  It was interesting to me, especially because that’s not how I think of those years.  Those were my big “identity formation” years, in which I discovered and came to terms with my sexuality.  Of course, maybe I just think that because I’m the person who it happened to, and maybe she thinks of it as “acting out” because she’s the parent of the person it happened to.

I also thought about being a kid and being perceived as a tomboy, and my perception of myself as a tomboy.  If I ask my parents about that, neither of them remember me that way, but oddly it’s the strongest memory I have of my social life as a kid.  I was very close with three girls in elementary school and we only hung out with each other.  In fact, teachers often commented on this in report cards and suggested that my parents work on trying to get me to branch out.  But we could be mean to each other, as kids often are, and since I had short hair, liked sports, and have had a little patch of facial hair on my Adam’s apple, I was often called a boy.  I always said, I was NOT, but then they’d say, so you’re a giiiiiirl, and I’d say…well, I’m not.  I’m a tomboy.

So I joined the basketball team in sixth grade (my last year of elementary school) to branch out.  Ha, that was a joke.  No one ever talked to me!  And I couldn’t play basketball.  Something that one of my lasting friends, who now identifies as bisexual (and femme, I think…) and I talked about a lot was feeling like we were different, and that the reason we didn’t hang out with the other kids was because they didn’t “get us”.  Do straight people feel like that?  I feel that I’ve had a very queer life narrative…I always knew “something” was up.

After I came out, one of the discussions that my mom and I had was this…restructuring of life narrative to accomodate identities that we take on later in life.  It’s very human to assemble things into single linear flows.  I hypothesize that that’s why math exists to model the stock market: people want to say, “aha, well, I have all this information on how this performed in the past!  obviously, everything works in a straight line!”  Well, I guess the economies of the past year taught us that math sucks!  At least when it comes to modeling randomness – it’s an imperfect science at this point.

But I digress.  Anyway, I said this to my mom: I also dislike it when people restructure their life narratives to accommodate their queer identities.  For example: “my kindergarten teacher was a woman and I really loved her.  So I’ve been gay my whole life!”  That doesn’t make any sense to me.  And it doesn’t make any sense for a lot of reasons. I didn’t have a male teacher until 7th grade!  Of course my kindergarten teacher was a woman.  Elementary school teachers are disproportionately female! And personally, I can’t acknowledge a sexual self before puberty.  I played with my body, and was curious about other bodies, but to me that has more root in inquisitiveness than hard sexuality.  I guess everyone is different, but I certainly had no inkling that I was gay until I was 11 and a certain Ms. F fetched me a handball.  Oh, swoon.

In any case, tonight I went over my personal history a lot in order to try and sort out whether this butch identity is static or based on a reformulation of my life narrative.  Sometimes I feel that I am not as authentic as elder butches because I just am not as…hardline masculine.  But then I think of all the gender policing that happened when I started to hit puberty: “Don’t stand like a boy.”, “You walk like a boy!”, “You hold hands like a boy.”, “You’re talking with a man voice”, “You don’t want to look like a lesbian…go upstairs and change.”, “Girls can’t wear ties”, and I think well, maybe there was something there all along (Those were all actually quotes, and I remember them all! Maybe there are more I don’t remember.)  I guess what is strange to me is that all this policing actually worked, and now I wish it hadn’t.  Standing, walking, channeling a boyish – and what I hope is now becoming a more manly energy, I wish I could do all these things with the ease that once came to me.  But maybe it never left, and all the handwaving I do just seems faggy – a perfectly valid form of masculinity.

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Categories: Basic Information, Family, FtB
  1. January 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I’ll never ever forget my mom saying “you walk like a linebacker” over and over again during childhood. I don’t know if that had a direct effect on my willingness to NOT be what she wanted, or just the natural progression of the faggy butch that is me…….good questions.

    • January 8, 2010 at 3:09 pm

      The way I have thought about it is: If I’m naturally somewhat masculine, and have learned femininity, then my femininity is going to be expressed in a naturally masculine way, which equals faggy. Masculine (1 + Feminine) = Faggy

  2. January 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Do you ever read someone’s blog entry and thing “That’s me! Oh, and that, too! Oh, my mom said that to me all the time!” Well, that’s what I was doing all through this post. I got the ‘you walk like a football player’ from my mom, too, SartorialBut.

    HTBB.. I hear you on rewriting the life narrative to fit current circumstances.. that’s got me thinking, thanks for that. I’m also nodding my head in agreement that gender policing is something we should continue to speak out against, talk about and examine in ourselves. I feel the pull to conform, just like we all do, sometimes I just want to fit in with a group of guys, not stand out, just be accepted, etc. Sometimes that works for me, sometimes not. I’ve had a lot of experience fitting in with my cis-male co-workers and friends, and its funny how quickly they accept me just the way I am, funny and awesome. Lately, though, I’ve wanted more contact and community with butch-male and trans-male guys, guys who will hopefully relate to my maleness and my queerness. But group dynamics being what they are, any community I look to become part of has its own rules, expectations and definitions. There’s always some kind of comforming going on, ya know? And I can’t help myself, I keep pulling back from that full conversion because I like how I am, I like my definition of my own unique maleness. I like queering gender, I like my style of kinky and I don’t want to be told I’m doing it wrong.

    So, more power to ya, be boyish, manly, faggy, whatever you are in the mood for. Above all, be you.

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