Monday, 22 December 2014

An Obscure Conan O'Brien Reference

When I did that Toronto-based political survey a couple of weeks back, I noted that it asked you if you were male or female despite having previously asked if you if you believe there are more than two genders. I find the question "What are you? Male or female?" to be a little bit offensive, but usually I think of that offensiveness being rooted in an ignorance that will require another generation of humanity to stomp out. When you've already taken note of the fact that many people do not identify with that binary asking people to slot themselves into one shifts a bit from ignorant towards asinine.

I take online surveys just for fun somethings. I am signed up to more than one survey service where they supposedly pay you miniscule amounts to take surveys. They will often ask for your gender and give you two options, so I get this question a lot.

Am I male or female? Well, people who know me probably have a pretty strong opinion on what the obvious answer is. If I don't like answering the "M or F?" question then it's more because I have an issue with the question on principle than because it's actually a tough question for me to answer. If I picked female a few times, or picked another option when actually offered more than two options, it was only out of disrespect for the test makers.


I know I have no intention of transitioning from male to female or from male to something else. On the other hand, Julia Serano's hypothetical offer for $10M to transition - a thought experiment that makes most people realize how deeply they identify with their assigned gender - is something I would snap at were it available for real. The reason I won't start living as a female is because I don't feel strongly about my gender, not because I'm decidedly male.

Even moreso it is because I like to go unnoticed, and I have the sort of body that would be tagged as a male body even after thorough surgery and hormones. People would see me on the street and mentally check off "Woman who used to be a man" or "Man dressed as a woman" right away. I'm not exactly inconspicuous as I am, but that is counterbalanced by my male privilege - I get to be ignored because of my maleness in a way that women don't. Ten million dollars would buy me more right to be ignored than being female would cost me, though, because I'd get to just withdraw from society.

This is an idea I don't really know how to explore. Because I don't always identify with myself, this question is particularly hard for me to approach. I did some digging online about how to think about your gender but that pretty much turned up a bunch of infantile "Are you male or female brained" quizzes. I recall hearing positive things about Kate Bornstein's "My Gender Workbook" so maybe I should look into the updated 2013 edition of that.

I'm not even sure why this matters to me. I'm going to keep being "daddy" and "he" and "sir" regardless of the outcome unless millions of actual dollars are on the real table. I don't have to be a man or a woman to think or feel different ways - I fall two or more standard deviations out on so many scales that there is no need to frame it another way. But perhaps it's worth looking in to. It probably couldn't hurt me to learn more about myself one way or the other.

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