Sunday, January 29, 2012

Age and Gender - A Safe Space Discussion

"I'm of the opinion that boy, man, girl, and woman are four distinct genders. Hey, I also call myself a 64 year old man and a 26 year old young woman, because that's a true statement from so many angles. But even if you disagree with me, you've got to acknowledge that systemic ageism is overwhelming each and every one of us with its rules about gender and gender expression. Men don't wear dresses. Women don't have moustaches. Boys will be boys. Girls just want to be Disney princesses. — that's just a few of them. Age is built-in to our perception and performance of gender." - Kate Bornstein

Does your age impact your gender presentation in any way, shape, or form? How has your gender changed, if at all, throughout the years? Has your age taught you anything about gender, or has your gender(s) taught you anything about age? Join us for a safe space discussion this Wendesday!

Wednesday, February 1st
7:00-8:15PM
Gerber/Hart Library (1127 West Granville Avenue)

Genderqueer Chicago is as safe a space as we can make it. To help with this, we have some working agreements that we would like all who come to meetings to keep in mind while within our safe space meetings. Please check out our working agreements here.

Safe space meetings are strictly closed to researchers and reporters in their professional capacities. Meetings are open to anyone else wanting to talk and think about gender! For more info, give us a shout atgenderqueerchicago@gmail.com!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Literature: A Safe Space Discussion

What kind of literature and media is out there regarding those of the gender variant sort? Anything you'd suggest? Looking for suggestions or warnings from others on what to read or watch? We could talk about anything from bloggers, to gender theory, to erotica. It's all out there, let's share the information.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012
7:00-8:15PM

Access Living (2nd floor)
115 W. Chicago Ave

Genderqueer Chicago is as safe a space as we can make it. To help with this, we have some working agreements that we would like all who come to meetings to keep in mind while within our safe space meetings. Please check out our working agreements here.

Safe space meetings are strictly closed to researchers and reporters in their professional capacities. Meetings are open to anyone else wanting to talk and think about gender! For more info, give us a shout atgenderqueerchicago@gmail.com!

Trans and GenderQueer Open Mic


Center on Halsted and GqC are proud to present...

T and GQ OUT mic

This Thursday! February 16th, 7:30 PM
Center on Halsted Youth Space (2nd floor, behind computer lab)
3656 N. Halsted (at Waveland)

T Out Mic is pairing with GenderQueer Chicago to host an all together awesome open mic and spoken word event open to all. We encourage all gender variant folks, their friends, and allies, to bring a talent, thought, or rant to share. Each performer gets 5 minutes to do their thing and we may have time for encores.

All GQC events are no-cost, cta accessible, and wheelchair accessible.

Transport: EL: Redline to Addison. Bus: #8 Halsted. Street Parking.

See you there!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Body Modification: A Safer Space Discussion


As a group, we seem to tend towards a pierced-and-tattooed bunch;
which of your body mods have special meanings to you? What new ones
might you be planning, are they to mark anything special? For those
who don't have or want any, is there a reason, or are you just not
interested? Or perhaps you once had one that you didn't like and later
removed... Come and spill your ink-covered, hole-riddled secrets.

Wednesday, January 18th
7:00-8:15pm
Gerber/Hart (
1127 West Granville Avenue)
Genderqueer Chicago is as safe a space as we can make it. To help with this, we have some working agreements that we would like all who come to meetings to keep in mind while within our safe space meetings. Please check out our working agreements here.

Safe space meetings are strictly closed to researchers and reporters in their professional capacities. Meetings are open to anyone else wanting to talk and think about gender! For more info, give us a shout at genderqueerchicago@gmail.com!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Assumptions: A safer space discussion


Assumptions are all around us, either in the culture around us or internalized by us. Many of us know that these categories aren't universally descriptive, but that may not stop us from making assumptions and even playing into assumptions to make our way in the world. Are you aware of any of your assumptions? What assumptions do you make? Why? Are you able to check yourself? How do you react when someone points out your assumptions? Are there moments when you feel certain assumptions are useful? Is that problematic? How, if at all, would you shift your assumptions? Come talk about this very interesting building block of culture.

Wednesday, January 11
th
7:00-8:15pm
Gerber/Hart (
1127 West Granville Avenue)
Genderqueer Chicago is as safe a space as we can make it. To help with this, we have some working agreements that we would like all who come to meetings to keep in mind while within our safe space meetings. Please check out our working agreements here.

Safe space meetings are strictly closed to researchers and reporters in their professional capacities. Meetings are open to anyone else wanting to talk and think about gender! For more info, give us a shout at genderqueerchicago@gmail.com!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I am

Submitted by sometimescoherent

--

I tell people I’m genderqueer, but I also tell people I’m trans*. I get people saying I can’t be both or just silently raising an eyebrow. I’m trying to gather my thoughts on what it is “to be” these things and explain what they mean to me and so it’s a bit stream of consciousness.

In my gender journey I first identified as genderqueer, but would not say I have moved on or it was a placeholder identity. Bisexual was a placeholder identity. Never really attached and tossed away just as quickly as it was found. But no, genderqueer sticks. It’s an identity for me in some respects, but more than that it is a part of my story.

Genderqueer opened up so much for me. It was a lightbulb, an electric bolt, and also a brick to the face. It hurt for a bit, I struggled with the shock, but it was, in the end, enlightening. Genderqueer allowed me to question so much and come into my trans* identity with much more force and confidence. Though it made it by no means easy or perfect, but it gave me perspective. It shattered the images of what a trans person was and replaced it with a vast blank canvas.

I don’t want it to sound like genderqueer was just a tool or a road I used. It is those things of course. But rather, genderqueer is me. It is my possibility unrestrained.

I’m trans, I’m taking hormones, I often struggle with painful dysphoria, and surgery has crossed my mind on more than one occasion. These things are my truth. Genderqueer is also my truth. And I’ll admit I have had and continue to have my own struggle reconciling these two truths. It’s an ongoing process, much like myself. So often what I desire, from friends, family, partners, and from myself is a source of conflict and anxiety. I hope those around me understand, but I know I’m difficult and unstable. I break down crying with almost no discernible reason to those around me and eat a entire box of cookies. I dig my nails deep into my skin to give myself a proper distraction, a pain that is familiar and nameable. So I distract myself. I struggle with these truths and sometimes they overwhelm me.

All these truths, as awkward as they may be, add up. Though I’m not sure exactly to what. Genderqueer sticks because it gives me comfort in not knowing the answer. Above all it tells me there really is no one answer and that it’s fine. But, I can value the pursuit of that answer all the same. If genderqueer is anything to me, it is a method. It is how I cope.

So I’ll always “be” genderqueer, no matter how I identify or express myself. If I want to use binary pronouns, if I want to “pass,” if I want to have surgery, it does not take away from that journey. I am gender queer. I am gender weird, because gender is weird. It is a route we all wander and it does not matter where we may end up. That is if we ever can end.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bathrooms: A Safe Space Discussion

Bathrooms, bathrooms, bathrooms! They can cause a lot of anxiety for folks for obvious and sometimes not so obvious reasons. How do public bathrooms make you feel? Are there things that you do to help ease anxiety caused by bathrooms? Feel free to share your bathroom stories at our next safe space meeting!

Wednesday, January 4th
7:00-8:15pm
Gerber/Hart (
1127 West Granville Avenue)

Genderqueer Chicago is as safe a space as we can make it. To help with this, we have some working agreements that we would like all who come to meetings to keep in mind while within our safe space meetings. Please check out our working agreements here.

Safe space meetings are strictly closed to researchers and reporters in their professional capacities. Meetings are open to anyone else wanting to talk and think about gender! For more info, give us a shout at genderqueerchicago@gmail.com!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

pronouns are not a preference

i've been thinking about a trend within queer and trans-aware circles of asking someone hir pronoun preference. Although i do think it incredibly respectful to ask someone's pronouns, the language of "preference" here is intensely problematic. There is nothing preferred about my pronouns.

My pronouns are "she/her/hers," or if i give you explicit permission, "it." That's all. There's nothing preferred about these pronouns. They're simply the way(s) in which my gender can be accurately and respectfully referred to within the grammatical space of pronoun usage.

The all too frequent way of posing the question, "What pronouns do you prefer?" or "What are your preferred pronouns?," carries an agonizingly problematic social weight. Defining someone else's pronouns as "preference" preserves the privilege of the person making the reference to use the pronouns of their choosing. It reifies the capacity of the speaker to gender the referent.

Unfortunately, people in our society are not often allowed to self-determine their gender. Typically gender is assigned at birth, and enforced rigidly, even violently. This trend is made more starkly apparent in the stories and experiences of queer, trans, and gender non-conforming folk. Our genders are consistently questioned, or harassed, or belittled, or simply disbelieved. The trend of gender as being something that is done to a person, rather than by a person, is indicative of the nature of gendered oppression in our culture.


What's more, to consider a queer or trans persons' pronouns as preferential distinguishes them as inherently different than the normative framework in which cis pronouns operate. This differentiation creates separate linguistic planes; planar separation here is intrinsically linked to an existent gendered hierarchy.

Admittedly, i expect this to be my experience when i’m interacting with relatively unaware non-queer folk. It’s a sad fact of life given our current society. Now, this is not to say that this cannot change or that we shouldn’t work toward an increase in awareness and gender sensitivity in our culture. But, the world won’t be perfect when i wake up in the morning.

What’s more troubling to me is that the issue is carried into queer circles. Frankly, i hold these people to a higher standard. There’s an increased exposure, and it follows that certain hierarchical trends shouldn’t continue. But they so often do.

This language of preference is one way in which that process takes place. Imagine asking about someone’s preference regarding something non-gendered. Say, for example, you’re going out to pick up pizza and you ask, “What topping do you prefer?” Say then, that the person responds “olives,” and then the pizza place doesn’t have olives. Not to be too presumptuous, but you’d probably bring back a non-olive pizza. This may be accompanied by a tacit apology or deflection, but at the end of the day, it would most likely be ok to not have olives on the pizza. This is true because that’s a preference.

Gender doesn’t operate in this way. My sense of self is not your option. By asking someone what pronoun they prefer, what’s being implied is “I will try to respect your identity but I may fuck up.” There’s a sort of deflection here. Allowing one self to conceive of acknowledging a pronoun as anything less than absolutely necessary is completely disrespectful to a person’s identity. Someone else’s identity is no one’s option save hir own. Period. To not own the responsibility of respecting a person’s pronoun is an oppressive operation of privilege, and needs to be checked if we’re ever to gain a liberated sense of gender.

So, what are we left with? How does one express respect? Why not simply ask, “What are your pronouns?,” or “What pronouns do you use?” These methods both acknowledge the fact that someone else’s pronouns are not truly known until they’re explicitly stated. This is good, because it checks the possibility of assumption. What’s more, in these phrasings, the burden is appropriately placed. The person’s pronouns are cast as theirs, as necessary.

This is a point where I am thankful for English grammar, and this is a rarity, because “pronouns” is plural in the above phrasing. This can refer to a single set of pronouns (ex. Ze/hir/hirs), because a pronoun set contains multiple pronouns. It also allows for a person to claim more than one set of pronouns; it allows for a complication of identity at the discretion of the person answering the question.

After the above question is answered, and the responsibility placed where it belongs, it’s necessary to respect said answer. i can’t count the number of times i’ve heard queer folk say something to the effect of “I just 'they' everyone because it’s safer.” i’ve experienced this myself, and it feels so incredibly disrespectful. It either means that a queer person has willfully disregarded hir capacity and responsibility to inquire about how to respect, or has ignored the fact that a pronoun has already been made explicit. In either case, the importance of self-determination is cast aside as unimportant.

Don’t get me wrong, i’m all for using neutral pronouns when they are appropriate. However, these can be as ignorant of one’s gender as using an incorrect binary pronoun. When someone calls me “they,” they aren’t acknowledging either my femininity or my sense of self as a queerly gendered creature.

Sadly, queer space is often the only space in which i even stand a chance of not being rendered significantly invisible. This trend of universalizing “they” relinquishes the responsibility to accurately refer to someone and makes queer space unwelcoming and un-affirming in the same way that non-queer space is.

So let’s get it right. Let’s get it right in our community, and then let’s spread it. Queer folk are under constant fire from the outside world, we shouldn’t face the same problems within our own circles. What’s more, we’re constantly expanding our sphere of influence merely by existing. Whether we want to or not, we’re setting precedents for the future of gender in our world. Let’s not continue the old, patriarchal framework in which gender is not defined by the Subject. Let’s shift this dynamic in our community now so that we can then expand self-determination in broader culture as well. But, disregarding politics, let’s work to respect each other for the sake of respect itself.

Website graphics and design by Andre Perez