I don’t appear queer anymore. Along the same lines of bythebi’s last post, I am a person born female who is dating a person born male, and everywhere I go I am seen as straight. While I recognize that I get an enormous amount of privilege with this arrangement that I was previously denied in same-sex relationships (such as no special sets of questions or looks when signing a lease, buying apartment furniture with just one bed, going out on a romantic dinner, bringing my partner home to may family, etc.), I also feel a loss of identity and belonging within the queer community.

I am no longer visible as queer outside of myself and my personal network. Last weekend my partner and I invited his friend, a gay man who does not know that I identify as anything other than a straight woman. He shrugged and said, “Sure, I guess I’m up for some straight drama?” I was shocked for a moment, then retorted back, “Who you callin’ straight?” But he just laughed and carried on as if I was just being cute. While he didn’t mean anything by it, I was so angry at him for the rest of the night for making such an assumption, an assumption he should know better to make being a queer person himself.

Yet while I think that all queer people should know better than to make assumptions about a person’s identity, assumptions that they themselves have to deal with, there is no consensus among the queer community what “queer” really means. Hell, we can’t even agree what “gender” really means. I made the mistake once of venting to a trans friend of mine about the importance of gender in our society, how angry I was that I was seen as a woman and automatically placed in a box I don’t believe in, and how I just wish everyone would (I believe my exact words were:) “open their eyes and see what a bullshit construct the gender binary is.” He paused for a moment, then replied tensely that while he understood that I was frustrated with being seen as a different gender than I identify with, that not everyone sees gender as just a “bullshit binary,” and that he believes deeply in nature of gender, because otherwise what was the point of him transitioning if it was just from one constructed gender to another? I had nothing to say to this because, in truth, I struggle with the issue that he just named.

As unboxedqueer mentioned in their last post, getting rid of the idea gender binary “would unravel the bit of headway that trans people in the world have fought so hard for.” And while I am not going to negate anyone’s sense of identity, just like I don’t want anyone negating my sense of identity, the way that the queer community views gender right now does not leave much room for people who do not want to identity at all. Yes, there’s room for lots of variations in between the genders, but if you don’t want to identify as anything and the idea of having a gender at all makes you cringe, I have not found a practical place for you outside the theory books. (And if anyone’s found one please let me know!).

I have considered transitioning to a man before because I feel so un-womanly. I often try to pass as a man, yet I look very femme, even when I wear my butchest of clothing and keep my hair cropped. However just as I don’t feel like a woman, I don’t feel like a man either. While I love wearing “men’s” clothes, I equally love wearing “women’s” clothes. I love my name, a fairly common “girl” name, and have no interest in changing it. I prefer being called male pronouns just because it shakes things up a bit, yet it’s not accurate with my identity because I feel no more male than I do female. I tried for a while using the neutral “ze” and “hir,” but even I don’t fully understand when to use which sometimes, and the thought of trying to explain to my grandparents how to use these pronouns just makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Overall, it’s just not worth it to me to transition because there are no parts of my life or identity that I want to change other than how people perceive me. Which ultimately, I have no control over. I can yell and I can scream and I can tell them when to use which pronoun and why I hate it when people call me my partner’s “girlfriend” and why I never want my kids calling me “mom” and everything else that comes with it, but I can’t change how they see me in their head, especially strangers who I never have the opportunity to have this conversation with. I can’t pass in a store as a man, and I don’t want to. But I can’t help passing as a woman, which I don’t want to do either.

I could deal with all that before, because at least I could still be seen as gay. At least people wouldn’t put me in the straight box. At least I could still appear queer in that sense. But I fell in love with a person who happens to have a dick, and now I’m not a dyke anymore either. There is no space in the visible queer spectrum for me. Once I explain a little bit more about myself, maybe slip in some tales of my ex-girlfriends to “prove” myself, then I can squeeze through the queer door and pass for a little while. But then my partner shows up and back out the door I go. And as much as people say that “bisexual” is an equal part of “LGBT,” (a label I also have an issue with and much prefer pansexual if needing to choose) in my experience you’re only bi/pansexual if you’re dating someone of the same sex; otherwise you’re just a straight girl who slept with a few women in the past.

I have a few friends that I’ve known for a while, when I was visibly queer, and they often tell me that it doesn’t matter how a person’s seen, it’s about how they identify. And I tell myself that it doesn’t matter, that it does only matter how I view myself. As while ideally I agree, it shouldn’t matter what people think, especially the strangers who I’ll never see again, it doesn’t make being seen as a woman, or as straight, any easier. It makes me feel invisible.

I miss the community. I miss being able to be completely myself within the community. Yet now every time I become friends with a new queer person, I’m just dreading the point where they’ll ask if I’m dating anyone, and after I say that it’s a man I have to wait to see if they’ll be open to that or if they won’t be calling me for coffee or drinks anymore. I understand that there’s a need for a tight-knit and potentially exclusive community to a certain extent, because otherwise it can become an unsafe space and the queer community needs to feel safe within itself. But how can we make it safe without judgment? How can we create a queer community where you don’t have to “prove” your queerness, and where queerness is not dependent on who you’re dating or sleeping with, but who you are? When does that day come?

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