Queer 101: Being Genderqueer in a Sorority (& Other Exciting Adventures)

cassgender_by_pride_flags-d8zu7it.png

Cassgender??? More like BADASS-GENDER!!! (via pride-flags-for-us.tumblr.com)

Hey, queer human beans & allies of Kenyon! Remember me? In case you’ve forgotten, I’m Caitie March ’19, one of the writers for Queer 101. Today’s article is going to be a bit different from all the others, because I’m going to be talking about my own ~personal experiences~ here at Kenyon!! Long story short, gender is weird, coming out is weird, and I’d really like to talk about it. I hope y’all will be down to talk about it, too.

So. Gender. If you follow me on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, you most likely saw my posts from National Coming Out Day where I (somewhat impulsively) came out as genderqueer (yay!). Since then, I have been working through some gender stuff with the love and support from my wonderful friends, but have also been doing some exploring of my own. Realizing I’m not a girl halfway through my college experience has opened up a mixed bag of love, support, relief, anxiety, and confusion. I identify as cassgender, which means several different things for me personally. Here’s an itemized list, just for fun.

  1. I am not a girl. I am me.
  2. Any and all pronouns are a-okay.
  3. Some days I’m like, “eh” if people see me as a ‘girl’ and some days I’m like, “nah.”
  4. If you asked me, “so what’s your gender?” I’d respond with, “I’m not sure and I’m not tied to anything specifically.”
  5. I often get confused about my own gender sometimes. It’s a process. I’m still in it. I’m still learning.

One of the things I’m coming to terms with as I navigate my personal Gender Vortex is the question of gendered spaces. I’m a member of Alpha Sigma Tau, Kenyon’s only national sorority. Sorority. Sisterhood. I am not a girl. Here lies my dilemma. I love my sisters. I love being a member of AST. I love everything this organization has brought me and I’ve received nothing but love and support from all of my sisters. However, there are definitely days where I’m not sure how I feel about being part of a sisterhood. I can be a ‘girl’ sometimes. I can even be a ‘girl’ and still feel like me. It’s just not all that I am. The gendered language of sorority life doesn’t make me too uncomfortable, but it certainly feels odd at times. This has nothing to do with AST and everything to do with me. What matters most is the ties I’ve built with my sisters and that’s what I’m going to focus on at the end of the day. I’m a member of Alpha Sigma Tau, but I’m not quite a sister. I’m a sibling and I’m very much okay with how that feels.

What I’m starting to realize is that it’s more important to focus on discovering my gender for myself before looking outward and trying to convey who I am to other people. There are always days when I wonder if I’m ‘doing gender right’ or if the way I experience gender is valid. I wonder if I still deserve to be in genderqueer spaces. I don’t want to invalidate or minimize the experiences of others who might suffer from dysphoria or violence more directly than I do. To dispel these doubts, I focus on the good days– the times when people checked with me about my pronouns in a kind, respectful manner, or that one outfit I wore that really made me feel like myself. I try to remember that my identity is valid, no matter how many women’s organizations I’m part of, and that those women’s organizations are still accepting me with open arms even though I’m not quite a ‘woman.’ I am myself and I will continue to learn about myself as I explore my gender. My gender identity might even change as time goes on, but change isn’t a bad thing. This is who I am and even though it can be confusing, uncomfortable, and terrifying, I know I have the resources to bring positivity into my coming out experience.

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