What being genderqueer means to me
written by Joseph Mark (he/him/they/them)
It didn’t come to me as a moment of revelation. I didn’t wake up one morning with an epiphany. For me, it was something that I slowly realised over years of not feeling like I fit in and it took me a while to discover the name of what it was. Genderqueer: somewhere between male and female, and some days I feel like neither at all.
I grew up in a conservative environment, I didn’t know many people who were part of the LGBTQ+ community and I had no idea people out of the binary existed. As I grew older, in my late teens I became more acquainted with the community and even had a friend who identified themselves as non-binary. Through them, I was able to learn about what it means for them to be non-binary and how being simply a male or female was not enough to describe how they felt about themselves. When I moved to university, it gave me a chance to explore what it means to feel different and know what I want and what I am comfortable with.
There was still no word for how I was feeling at this point. I realised that I didn’t want to be restricted with the label of male or masculinity, but I didn’t feel free when I gave myself the label of female or femininity. And identifying non-binary or genderfluid didn’t feel right either. I had no idea who or what I was. I wanted to be able to wear a dress on hot summers days and wear suits on formal occasions. There were days where I thought I was being stupid and ridiculous because I was born male and that was all I could be – that’s what I was taught my whole life.
I don’t remember quite exactly how I came across the term genderqueer, I believe it was online when I was researching different genders, but when I heard it - it felt right. This was how I felt, something in between and both. Simultaneously male and female, but also something completely new. Genderqueer was a way for me to embrace the masculine parts of myself as well as the feminine parts. It was also a term that is different for everyone, it’s something that is transformative, not rigid. It’s a constant exploration – how masculine do I feel today? Do I feel more feminine? Do I want to blend them together or be something entirely new?
By the time I finished university I had taken the label of genderqueer and made it my own. This is who I am and who I will be from now on. At our final year party and at my graduation I bought myself a pink suit to remind myself to be who I want to be and that being genderqueer means I am no longer restricted by society’s expectations of me.
The word genderqueer is an umbrella term for someone who identifies outside of the gender binary (male or female) and can mean anyone who is identifies as both genders, genderfluid, androgynous, pangender, agender, non-binary, third gender etc. For myself, genderqueer is the label I have taken to feel liberated and no longer feel the restrictions of the gender-binary. I can be both, either one, or neither.