Raise your hand if you've ever met anyone who identifies as genderqueer. Keep your hand raised if you have no idea what that means. Still, have your hand up? I'm here to help. I met with two genderqueer students to ask them some questions and shed a little light on a situation that can be a little uncomfortable to approach.
So, you're a genderqueer. What does that mean?
Genderqueer, also known as non-binary, is the category for gender identities that are outside cisnormativity, not exclusively masculine or feminine. People may identify as genderfluid, which means that they fluctuate between genders. Others may identify as a gender, or having no gender. Gender neutrality is avoiding distinguishing roles according to biological sex. There are so many other identities, just as there are so many people who fit under the umbrella of genderqueer.
Does being genderqueer influence your sexuality?
Short answer, no. Gender has nothing to do with sexuality. People love who they love. Just because a biological female leans towards masculinity on certain days does not automatically mean they are a lesbian. Just because a biological male identifies as genderfluid does not automatically mean they are bisexual.
What are personal pronouns?
Personal pronouns are pronouns that are associated with a specific person, such as I, you, he, she, it. As a biological female who also identifies with the female gender, my preferred personal pronouns are 'she' and 'her.' Personal pronouns depend on the person, but common personal pronouns used within the genderqueer community are 'they' and 'them.' (And for those of you who argue that 'they' and 'them' should only be used in the plural sense, here is an example that you've probably used: your mom says, "The plumber came today." And you ask, "What work did they do?" You're still referring to the singular plumber, but as you are unsure of the gender, you use the pronoun 'they.') Whenever you introduce yourself to someone, clarify your preferred personal pronouns. Even if you think yours are obvious, it can help to avoid awkward situations when your new friend has to correct you when you refer to them as 'she' when they go by 'he.'
Does being genderqueer influence what you wear?
Yes and no. Someone who identifies as genderfluid could wear a dress and heels one day, then khakis and an oversized flannel the next day. But people also just wear what they want to wear. If your agender friend wants to wear a dress because they find them comfortable, let them! So while people choose clothing based on how they perceive themselves every day, people also wear what they feel comfortable wearing.
Is it weird to ask questions about gender?
I believe that people would rather you ask for clarification rather than making assumptions. So no, it should never be awkward or weird to ask someone a question, whether it be out of genuine curiosity or for better understanding.
Where can I get more information?
Stop in to the Diversity Center, contact Queers and Allies (Q&A), or anyone you know who identifies as genderqueer! Asking questions and wanting to learn and understand is always a step in the right direction.