Who gets gender? Who does it belong to? Who gets gender? Who is allowed to understand it?
Does it matter to you?
Every mirror is a funhouse mirror because you probably look very different in every single reflection from how you look to others. You even look different in pictures. This is both a comfort to me and a thorn in my side.
What does it mean to perform gender? How do you perform your gender? How do you view other genders? How is your gender a reflection of what you see?
Does it matter to anyone?
I look at my reflection hundreds of times a day and see something different every time. I am made up of my parts and my perceived parts. I see my mother in the mirror, I see my father, myself at age twelve, myself as an old man, myself as a beautiful woman, myself as a teen heartthrob. This has been a comfort to me and a pain in my side.
How many different genders do you know? What does it mean to perform an intelligible gender? How is performing gender different from performing for an audience? How is it alike? Does it matter to actors and performers?
Fun fact: sleep is the backstage of the performance of gender. Your dreams are just as real as your reality, and, even in your nightmares, you are provided with solace from the ever-booing audience you face every time you leave the house in your gender. (You are still performing your gender in your room alone.)
Who is your audience? Who is the dramaturg for your performance? Who is the playwright? What do you see when you look in the mirror? What don’t you see? Does the mirror care?
In an effort to preserve my own religion, I have observed that God provides certain people with especially challenging lives because He believes that only they have the ability to conquer those challenges. Some do and some don’t. Among these people: Joan of Arc and all the queers.
What are you avoiding, suppressing? How does the trauma and chaos in your life manifest itself in your gender? What do you remember about the cartoons you watched growing up? What do you remember from the last class you attended?
Lying is just queering the truth. To queer something is to obscure it, subvert it. Something queer(ed) is, by nature, backwards or off-kilter. Gender is inherently queer because it is both a lie and very, very true.
What does seeing Kate Bush in a man’s suit do for you? What does attending the Rocky Horror Picture Show do for you? How do you think you look while you’re having sex? Are you a top or a bottom? Is anyone truly versatile?
Celebrities are liars but many of them are not queer. Putting your faith in celebrities, or believing that a celebrity can save you, or trusting a politician can make you into a liar.
How has Judith Butler changed the way you view gender? How has Britney Spears changed the way you view gender? When you draw a self-portrait, what you draw first? How have men controlled how the rest of us perform our gender? How have women?
The more you answer questions about yourself, the less you know for certain. Uncertainty is the root of understanding. Most answers aren’t steadfast. Anything that is steadfast is a lie. Gender is not steadfast; queerness is not steadfast.
When was the last time you took the time to study your own face? What are you doing for trans people? Where do you see trans people? Where are we absent? Using your fingers or hands, how big is your self? Is it bigger than a bread box? What do you do when your self is smaller than the place between your thumb and index finger? Asking for a friend.
Children don’t lie. Children also, for a fleeting moment, don’t perform gender. Children are the queerest things. We all learn how to lie and ideally spend the rest of our lives learning to unlie.
Are you a liar? How has your gender changed since you were a child? How many times has an adult told you that you were performing your gender wrong? How many times have you believed it? Do you always believe what adults tell you?
You can make your own gender by taking all the things you know about yourself and throwing them on the floor. Keep the things you like and throw the rest in the recycling.
Would you say no if someone offered to kiss you right now? Do you kiss your mother with that gender? Are you subversive? Does whiteness paint your gender? How DIY is your gender? Store-bought is fine.