Gender free

I love the idea of being “gender free”. People could be themselves, rather than being “masculine” or “feminine”. A gender-free society would liberate everyone, as no-one really fits the stereotypes. However, our society is riven with gender stereotypes, and pressure to conform to them; so, now, gender free could mean consciously resisting such stereotypes, consciously bringing out aspects of the personality which do not conform, and lessening unconscious attempts to conform. Such free people would embolden and empower others to free themselves.

The term apparently came out of gender-critical people objecting to being called “cis”- so there are three categories, transgender who change gender, cisgender who are happy with their gender, gender-free who reject gender. Someone with a EU ring of stars as their profile picture- how much we might agree on, if we met- tweets “I reject gender as a restrictive and damaging social construct. My sex is female and that is enough for me.”

That does not mean that it should be in opposition to trans rights. “Gender-free” people would admit there is a problem with gender as constructed now. Not all people do. Many people are very happy with gender stereotypes. So we could be allies. There is only a problem if one group objects to the other’s way of subverting gender.

But then I looked at twitter, and found something to contradict that. “Gender free” is a new concept, and there is no Authority handing down definitions for it; so different people may define it differently. “Gender free folk are not saying they are exempt from gender norms. They are saying they don’t have a sense of inner gender identity.” That is merely opposed to trans rights, and not (by itself) seeking any change to oppressive gender norms. All I could say to that was, OK, but I have. I am female. And I am feminine.

Here’s another tweet making this a battle when it need not be, from a person with a male name and another ring of EU stars. “Gender is fine as long as it is not a weapon to erase women. Too often it is.” Um. I am unclear how 30,000 trans women could erase 30,000,000 cis (or genderfree) women, and I fear the erasure is going the other way.

I did not create the term, but would hope it might come to mean something which would subvert gender norms without subverting trans rights, or monstering trans people. However that is unlikely, so I hope it will die the death as not a particularly useful term. There is a twitter account “Gender free” which confusingly uses Monica Helms’s transgender pride flag, which I would insert here except it has not been Recommended for General Interchange by Unicode, and is not recognised by wordpress. The twitter account is simply abusive: “Came out as gender free. We are valid” it proclaims, as an attempt to subvert the claim of trans identity. They want to steal our words, and deny us the words we use. If they say “TERF” is a slur, I doubt they would accept COPCOC

completely ordinary people with completely ordinary concerns

as a word to describe themselves. Like Neo-liberalism, theirs is an ideology which seeks to hide by denying the word. “Genderfree” is “@peacetruth”.

I don’t mind calling anyone valid. I am irritated that she would not return the favour.

7 thoughts on “Gender free

  1. I agree, and have thought for a while that requiring to conform to a gender, and tell the State about that, is only about control. Though my sister might add that social and health planners need a bit of info for the future, I would love just to be me, without having to conform to one thing or the other, or excuse myself if and when I feel like being neither… The requirement to conform is tricksy.

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    • Telling the State is different, now that marriage is almost equalised. For most reasons, it does not matter what sex you are. For health matters, “Do you have a cervix?” is the question for cervical screening. Trans men often have. Telling each other is happening here. On the internet, people tell each other that trans rights as currently established wrong women, and find more and more arcane ways of saying it. Some of them post a dozen times a day or more. It is obsessive.

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  2. Like many people on the autism spectrum, I didn’t pick up on social pressures that make neurotypicals conform to gender stereotyping. Well, I eventually did because it got me bullied, beaten up and worse when I “stepped out of line”. Not the best way to learn.

    In NZ society I find it difficult to understand the subtle difference in the ways those who identify as female, and those who identify as male expect to be treated, and I’ve been unable to work out a set of rules that can be applied in a way that won’t cause offence frequently. I do much better in Japan, because the rules of etiquette as they apply to men and women, and between men and women are very clearly defined.

    Personally I feel I could cope better if I could respond to others according to how they project their personality rather than what their gender appears to be. I think if I was in my twenties today instead of in the 1970s, I’d self identify as X instead of M or F, partly on principle, and partly because today I think it would be safer to do so now than it was 50 years ago.

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  3. One day children will be brought up what I would term ‘gender free’ which is without being forced into any specific gender name, and consequently, they will also be educated in a manner that allows them to have sex with whoever they wish – they will be allowed to ‘be’ and be with whoever they wish and whoever they are and the differences will not need to be specifically celebrated, the people will be celebrated as Barry says. It might sound like a utopia, but it is a realistic one that I absolutely see coming. People will look back at the savages we still are and be astounded, as they will when considering how animals were tortured for our wants as we destroyed the planet purely through stubborn, finger in the ears want, and as we do now looking back at slavery and prison sentences for being gay. I don’t think I’ll be alive to see it, and it’s quite possible that the world may well be literally on its last feet when it happens, but it will do.

    Esme nodding upon the Cloud x

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