Our latest article related to gender has been written by one of our supporters Eric Larner. Eric is on instagram as @the.write.cd and @elpaperman. He is a married man living in LA and working as an author and filmmaker that identifies as genderqueer and has kindly written for our blog here at Cross Sword.
Eric Larner, writer and filmmaker
Written by: Eric Larner
I am genderqueer. This word, genderqueer, means I identify as both masculine and feminine, which are two more words that have traditionally been used to describe the energies within human beings. Our collective history is composed of binary concepts: light and dark, hot and cold, male and female. All of which are separate, divided, and often unequal. In recent years, more descriptors have entered the fray, battling for relevance. If I listed all of them, I would quickly hit my word limit. Suffice it to say there are many - so many, in fact, that when I began exploring my queer identity I had no idea which word described me. While there may now be more terms to choose from, there is still a lack of mainstream discussion about what exactly they mean, and some even have multiple interpretations depending on who you ask or in what context you find yourself. Stuck in this quagmire, I find myself outside the binary. The light and dark, the hot and cold. The masculine and feminine.
Genderqueer flag being shown at pride.
Please do not misunderstand. Words are not inherently bad, and they can be liberating in their descriptiveness. But, without an acceptance in the mainstream lexicon, they can also be confusing and limiting. I am genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary. All of these words could describe my experience. Not knowing which to choose, or worse yet, being told which to choose, made me want to give up. Why pick one word? Why not use “me”. I am “me”, right? Let’s collectively scrap the words “masculine” and “feminine” and just be “human”. For a while, this freed me. It gave me permission to act and explore affectation in my behaviors and the way I dressed. But eventually, the labels came creeping back in, and I felt a desire to be able to describe myself and my internal dialogue to others.
Eric expressing himself
People often say caring about your appearance is “vain” (another word). I do not agree with this sentiment. Caring for your appearance can also mean caring about your presentation to the world. Humans are visual creatures. Before words are spoken, most of us make snap judgements based on visual cues. Do you want to be treated like a “manly man”? Dress the part. Do you want to be treated like an “effeminate housewife”? Dress the part. I would never shame anyone or encourage treating someone differently based on their appearance, but I am saying that, as humans, we use our appearance to show the world how we see ourselves. The way we groom and dress can serve as a cue to the world that says “this is how I wish to present my internal self to you”. Problems only arise when we find negative words to associate with the way another person presents themselves.
A genderqueer person at pride
My body is very “masculine” so I choose more “effeminate” clothes to balance that, so I land somewhere in the middle. The word is “androgynous”. I wear dresses, makeup, and heels because they feel true to me. This clothing gives me the ability to present a side of myself that wants and deserves to be expressed. We adorn ourselves with clothes that allow us to tell the world who we are. We may not have moved beyond the use of words, but I hope we are moving beyond the negative stereotypes held toward forms of self-expression that happen to fall outside the mainstream, beyond the gendering of clothing. I hope we are moving toward a place where I am able to walk the streets in my high heels, and someone might just remark, “how cute are those shoes?!”.
We would encourage you to check out Eric Larner and his work and this can be done by checking out his website: https://www.ericlarner.com You can also follow him on instagram using the following usernames: @the.write.cd and @elpaperman
By Dorieo - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80350377