Navigating my genderqueer identity at Hunter
I do not see myself as either a guy or a girl
Most gay people recall the time that they had to come out once in their lives to their parents, family or friends. For me I had to come out twice, once in regards to my sexuality and once about my gender. My gender was a harder one, because people around me even family couldn’t understand why dressing a certain way and making other changes is not a performance but a need for me to feel more comfortable in my skin. I identify as of now as Genderqueer or some people would call it gender fluid. I do not see myself as just a guy or a girl, and sometimes it sways to the left or the right, but never on one side of the binary. Being genderqueer especially as an anatomical male has been very hard for me in public, because my identity is stigmatized. Men in general are stigmatized for doing anything outside of the boundaries of masculinity, especially if you are more female presenting like me. Because I do not pass as a woman when I present myself more feminine, I am still seen as someone out of line.
Besides living in a binary world, my student experience has not been easier at Hunter, due to the lack of resources, understanding and accessibility to services I need to make my identity safe and comfortable. It’s annoying when a security guard at Baker Hall or in Thomas Hunter feels the need to check your ID, all because I am an anatomical male in a dress that day, and especially if the ID shows an anatomical male, dressing male presenting. I have gotten some of the most nasty looks from the male security guards at Hunter, because of my identity. In the beginning of every class, I am required to sign my name with my legal name, I am supposed to talk in class mentioning my legal name, and I am supposed to correspond with the professor and other students using my legal name. Because I have not had my name legally changed yet, I am still held back by my legal name that is associated to an identity I am not in line with, one that leans towards men. It’s then even harder without confusing anyone as to why my preferred name is different from my legal name.
If a student in my class or a person who used to know me doesn’t know that I switched my name, it can be frustrating and uncomfortable when you have to hear your former name and have it replaced. What is even more frustrating living in this binary world, is being I don’t pass as a woman, I feel less pretty and feminine when I hear other people use “HE” pronouns, call me their bro, man or even interact with me as they would with another man by talking, handshaking etc in a certain way, especially by men. Every queer individual that uses pronouns that is not in line with their assigned gender, knows how frustrating it is to be mis-labeled, but when you are an anatomical male in a dress, I feel when I am called “He” it’s like as if there is a red flag on my face saying please call, act, talk and behave to the way you see other men, even though I am showing you I am not part of the norm for how men are presenting.
At Hunter there are only two gender neutral bathrooms in the entire school, one designated for staff in the west building, and one for students in Thomas Hunter 3rd floor. I find it annoying to have to go all the way to Thomas Hunter to use the bathroom to put on makeup, have my privacy etc when my classes are in North building on the top floors, so I don’t end up having the time to go to those bathrooms. Up until now I have always been using the male bathrooms, but now it is extremely uncomfortable for me to use the male bathroom without men making jokes, stares and sign of disgust because I am a male expressing my identity and strong femininity. But I know when I go to female bathrooms, I’ll always be in fear that someone will ask me why I’m there or tell me I don’t belong — and also because the lines are long I usually avoid the women’s bathrooms entirely. Which leaves me stuck with men, and their judgmental childish masculine ways.
There are so many days, besides having trouble being comfortable with my body and the social pressure from my surroundings to fit the norm for men, that with the stresses I have to endure at Hunter, I kind of throw in the hat not to deal with the discomfort of the bathrooms, pronouns and come in that day dressing more male presenting. For all my Hunter readers out there, people like me can use your empathy, support and sensitivity to help us feel more comfortable in our skins.