QueerofGender.com Grande Re-opening Sept. 2014!

Hey everyone,

First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who stuck by QofG and emailed in letting us know how much they missed the site. That and all the well wishes for good health and strength.
It was wonderful to read those emails. Thank you!

So QofG will be re-opening as of September 2014 with a new look and a new format. Here a some of the new changes:

  • We will be requesting articles about gender and the QTPOC experience on top of QofG profiles so if you have any article ideas that you feel fit with the theme of our site, please send us an email.

  • We will be resuming our segment #PuttingFemmesFirst…but possibly under a diifferent name. Hmmm. We will let you know.

  • We will be having a logo contest at an undetermined date with a prize! Woot!

  • Lastly, more moderators will be added edit content and promote the site widely.

Thanks for the support and we will see you in September!

*Hums* See yoooou, in SepTEM-ber….

Hiatus

Queer of Gender will be taking a hiatus for a couple of weeks so that it’s curator can deal with some pending health issues. We are STILL accepting profile submissions for when we resume in the future so please feel free to send those in. However, we will be on hiatus until further notice (So no weekly profile submissions or tweets for now).

Thanks everyone for the support during this difficult time. Please feel free to send us asks, to contact us at queerofgender@gmail.com or contact us at any of the other number of ways on the right sidebar.

We love you!

- The Curator

QofG Profile Submission: Troy Jackson

image Introduce yourself! Who are you? What should we call you?

I’m Troy Jackson a Nova Scotian Afro-Metis Recording Artist, Writer and Performer who resides in Toronto.

How do you identify in terms of gender, sexuality, gender expression, etc?
I identify as a Gay Man. My gender expression is a mildly flamboyant, gay man who embraces his femininity. I love to mix it up. I am a Gemini and a twin.

What are your personal pronouns? 
He/Troy/Honey

Read More

QofG Exclusive Interview: Tona Brown

Read on! But make sure to signal boost and/or donate to Tona’s Indiegogo campaign so she can fulfil her dream of performing at Carnegie Hall!
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Recently, Queer of Gender spoke to Tona Brown, a violinist and performer who was recently named one of 10 Transgender Artists Who Are Changing The Landscape of Contemporary Art. She also has the opportunity to be the first African-American violinist to perform at Carnegie Hall in it’s first ever LGBT Pride event! How amazing! 
Here is what she had to say!

Tell us a little about yourself and your background as a performance artist.

My name is Tona Brown an African American Transgender Violinist and Vocalist who has always dreamed of performing.  I started in the classical world of music at a young age and decided to make it a career at the age of 14 years old. 

Has music always been an important part of your life? 

Music has always been very important to me and without it I would probably not be here to be telling this story! There is something great about being able to communicate through song. Its also amazing to be able to play another character on the stage and not feel like you are yourself.  But communicating through another spirit if you will through this particular character. Its a lot of fun but often times a lot of hard work! But I enjoy it none the less.

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What do you believe are some barriers you face as an performance artist?

Barriers I face as a performance artist consist of discrimination because of race, gender or sexual orientation.   These however have not prevented me from achieving my goals but rather made things take a little longer.  

Who are some of your musical inspirations? Who have been positive influences to you as an artist?

Some of my musical inspirations are Jessye Norman, Leontyne Price, Shirley Verrett, Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Anne-Sophie Mutter to name a few.   But anyone who worked hard to achieve something great! 

Positive influences to me came from my mentor Mr. Darryl Huskey who was the first African American string/orchestral music teacher to teach in a public school in Norfolk.  Geraldine Boone a professor, teacher and mezzo and many other teachers from the Governor’s School for the arts where I attended for my high school education for four years!

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What words of affirmation do you have for artists who are queer/trans starting out and trying to make a name for themselves?

What I would tell other Trans artists is to never give up on your dreams.  Realize that everyone has an obstacle in this industry not just YOU! Never give up! Keep doing your homework to better your craft and go for it!

If you haven’t already, please make sure to donate to Tona’s Indiegogo campaign to help her get to Carnegie Hall! 

~*~

(YouTube Video: Tona Brown as La Principessa)

~*~

To find out how you can submit to the QofG blog, visit us at www.queerofgender.com!

QofG Profile Submission: Thomas Hinyard

Read on! But make sure to signal boost and/or donate to Thomas’ GofundMe for the 2014 Capturing Fire Queer Spoken Word Slam and Summit!

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Introduce yourself! Who are you? What should we call you?

My name is Thomas Hinyard and I’m 23 years old, hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I’m a writer, spoken word poet, artist, and activist. I’m comfortable with being called by my first name, although I should note that I plan on doing a name change in the near future. It shall be kept under wraps!

How do you identify in terms of gender, sexuality, gender expression, etc?

When I was 18 years old, I had concluded that the search for my identity was complete and that I was proud, ignorant of the exploration and experiments awaiting me in my twenties. In the long version, I identify as a Black, queer, androgynous, pansexual, polyamorous man. Queer is used as a summary of my sexual preferences as opposed to pansexual on a regular basis, mostly because it’s common for others who wonder what pansexuality is, so I feel the most comfortable with addressing everything as queer. With the help of my partner Lance, it took much unearthing of this identity and to pinpoint its importance, not shunning any label. I am a person that believes that labels are vital and the only person who holds the duty and responsibility of putting them on you is yourself. They are acts of self-love and affirmation. With these labels, I am happy because they are all what I am. My identity is radical. It pushes the boundaries intentionally, refusing to give in to the heteronormative, homonormative, and cisnormative systems that I found harmless as a high school youth. Those of us with these special, precious identities that hold so many syllables should push them and make those who are in our presence uncomfortable so that their biases become handclaps.

Many people have asked me the differences between “gay” and “queer”. I can only define this for myself. Queer means I am outside of the box and the norm, that I am attracted to people of different genders, not just males, that I am showing my non-stereotypical, non-heterosexist reality. In regards to my sexuality and gender, I have the power to use my body, words, and voice as a protest, a sociopolitical statement that cannot be tuned out.

What are your personal pronouns?

He/his/him/she/her/hers

Funny stories. I used to work in a restaurant on a full-time basis; now once a week so that I can focus on my determinations as an artist. I would get customers all the time who would mistake me as a woman while looking down at their menus, then look up and correct the pronouns. In fact, I just remembered that I wrote a poem about these experiences. It still continues to this day. A word: you are not misgendering me. Either pronoun is correct!


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Tell us a little about yourself. What makes you special? What do you do, write, think, speak about or love? What marginalized communities do you identify with?

I recently was accepted back into my undergraduate creative writing and poetry program online at Southern New Hampshire University, so starting in the summer, I will be giving concentration to that. In the future sometime, I would like to transfer to an HBCU campus because I would like to continue the experience I neglected when I was 19 after I had finished my service in AmeriCorps. I also wrote my first affirming article for Mused Magazine Online titled “My Struggles As A Black Queer Writer” last month. For a while, I had been contemplating on what I wanted my work to be centered on, stemming from a period of introspection, and it was decided that I should speak on intersectionality, my Black queer identity. The determination is to use that in my writing, performance, visual pieces, social media networking, activism, education, and dialogue. I’ve been spending my time having conversations about my experiences with friends from all around the world and writing poems about what I have endured, stories that have been prolonged for a long time. My time has also included raising money for my journey to the 2014 Capturing Fire Queer Spoken Word Slam and Summit in Washington D.C. this summer. It will be my first attendance at a national poetry event and it’s happening during my birthday. The effort has shown that I have a community backing me up and it’s a beautiful thing. It confirms that many believe in my work and that it should shine.

I love my work and craft. Besides them, I love to read. When I was growing up, one of my grandmother’s most important lessons was to open up a book if you want to go somewhere, and that’s what I did. It took me to dreams and those are taking me places. Lately I have been wrapped into “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and “The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra” by Daisaku Ikeda. My latest obsession is with TED Talks, which I already know the subject I would do mine on. I’m also a Janet Jackson aficionado. It is not common for non-straight people to have someone that they go hard for, someone that gave them hope as a non-conformist or just hope in general. For me, that person is Janet. I was 5 when I stumbled upon the Control album, 9 when I came across Rhythm Nation, and 13 when I walked over The Velvet Rope. I also had nostalgia when my mom was playing a less popular album, 20 Y.O., in her car just recently. Each album that Janet produces marks a different era of my queerness. She was the first artist that gave me messages of assurance that no matter which direction I veer to, I would be okay on my path. I’ve even taken tests on which diva I’m more like. Each result has been Janet Jackson! On a serious note, if I ever meet her, I will genuinely express gratitude.

I always stress that I am not Black or queer first. Both are deserving of care and visibility. I have first-hand experienced oppression from Black gay men who would immediately condemn my queerness. It was Maya Angelou that said that when someone shows you who they are, to believe them. People from different walks interact with me every day and I still am learning that we must not dismiss something that we do not understand. If we dismiss, we are a part of the ongoing human problem.

 
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What does your gender and/or gender expression mean to you? Does your gender identity and/or expression play an important part in your life? If so, why?

I find it incredible that I can stretch myself. There are no boundaries to expression of gender. I can let my hair hang down and allow my facial hair to be scruffy, resembling of a common image of someone who practices Rastafarianism. I can also shave everything, pull my hair back, and partake in glitter and the several pashminas I own. We dabble and expand these expressions, becoming vulnerable to the acclaim and scrutiny. If I decide to wear dress shoes and a tie one day, hoop earrings and cut-up shorts the next, there is no acting.  It’s just a tall, skinny, Black queerdo hippie who decided to be who they are.

How does being a part of the marginalized population[s] you identify with affect the way you see gender?

It’s times like this where I am grateful to have a strong circle of friends and lovers, a support system of mentors, teachers, and community. I now have a desire to question people’s personal pronouns, just based off their appearances. There is nothing wrong in questioning because after you are answered, you are educated in how to proceed. Discussing gender with others, as well as being forced to look at those who bend gender, is ongoing social homework. I am not afraid to admit that while existing in marginalized populations, I have had to declutter, decolonize, and peel what I learned about history, race, sexuality, gender, and religion. Gender is not black and white; it is everything you can mix and thicken on a painter’s palette. Even the rainbow itself doesn’t show all it’s pigments and hues.

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What words of affirmation do you have for those who are Queer of Gender, specifically those who will find similarities in your experiences to their life?

When we finally love ourselves, we are ready to take plunges. My stories hold value and each one represents a moral that I take pleasure in appreciating. I was 19 years old when I came across Nichiren Buddhism and began to start a serious practice soon after. I can easily name all of the things that brought me to the lowest parts of my life since I became a Buddhist: dropping out of college, estrangement from my father, battles between being in a career that brings me misery and developing my craft, poverty, losing my job due to discrimination, losing dear friends from their own bitterness, rape, sexual and emotional assault, misunderstandings about my identity and faith, etc. Those are stories.  

Today I hold no grudges in my heart. When I was able to extend forgiveness in the aftermath of all and any situations with people and experiences, I was able to move on with my life and my aspirations. The forgiveness was for me. Nichiren Daishonin, who was the founder of the Buddhism that I practice, said: “Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens.” In Buddhism, we chant to become better people and undergo human revolution, a transformation of self to absolute happiness. Discovering who I am was a long hard struggle. The lessons that we are dealt provide us with obstacles to enhance and create a brighter future, providing stepping stones out of darkness. Happiness is not a privilege; it is a necessity that everyone is entitled to. Whatever your path is, realize that your situations and struggles are there for a reason. When you triumph, you will be radiant as a lotus flower. I have referred to myself as a survivor until I was corrected by a friend who saw a nude I posted, a picture that I took of myself without clothes as a revolutionary act of loving and accepting myself as I am. He said I was a conqueror. That is a truth that cannot be denied. We can all be conquerors.

We want to promote you! Where can we find you in the world/ on the interwebs?

Facebook: Thomas Hinyard
Twitter: @afrohippiequing
Instagram: thomashinyard
Wordpress: thethomashinyardblog.wordpress.com
E-mail: thomashinyard @ yahoo.com
 
I’m based in Baton Rouge, but I am willing to be booked for performances, open mics, showcases, conferences, etc. You can expect future articles from me to be published at Mused Magazine Online and a few appearances on the upcoming YouTube web series, Brunch With the Boys.  As mentioned earlier, I have a campaign to raise funds for my trip to the Capturing Fire Summit on GoFundMe. Anything that can be contributed is appreciated. 

~*~
Open Intersections

When I was seventeen years old I believed

There was jazz inside of me because I had

Listened to enough of it to

Determine that my connection to scats and saxophones

Would be beyond musical marriage even as

These hands play percussion on and off.

But it was in the way I walked

Talked, snapped fierce, had

Everything rolling off my queer accented

Tongue, reeled someone in to view 

My power.

Jazz existed in

Those things.

Jazz existed in

Jazz was

Me.

All my grandmother’s gumbo and

Summertime crawfish and beer became 

Fuel for the maintenance of black books

Coded in black phones for those

Who wanted bayou booty

Fishing as far as Laplace, Louisiana and

Made one of the thickest salmon I caught

Cum in the drivers seat.

Jazz put the jazz in

Me.

Sister Billie
Sister Ella
Sister Dinah
Brother Duke
Brother Charlie
Brother Satchmo
They were the deacons and deaconesses serving

From the speakers as my temple

Sought liberation among the boys

Never all at the same time but 

Consecutively and consistently.
I recall each affair by name

Enjoyment of kisses

Sculpture of the dick and

Sweetness of the load.

Because I listened to the standards

The classics, the ones history

Taught me were legendary for the ears

I declared jazz was dead and

That became a negative cause to

My freedom

Backed up guilt in the aftermath of

Short term lovers, one night stands

Callbacks and broken hearts decomposed

On pillows

Laid out the overtures of sexual

And romantic musicals accompanied by the

Plucked guitar strings that were formerly electric.

It was walking with pegged legs

Loving around eggshells

Tipping on tightropes with the 

Loudest bells that were precursors to hell.

The xylophones reached conclusion that

My heart preferred the company of

More than one
I holding the tokens to the

Land of love notes matching ripped sheet music

Of stones becoming fluid

Souls infinitely intertwined and the jazz would

Come back into form.
I leaped into the most exotic wilderness

Held the hands of those I nursed

Companionship for and said

“I love you…
And you…
And you…”

The sky covering us.

I grinned at what was my new birth

Inside me a summer’s yoke

Exhaled as

Brand new autumn.


~*~
To find out how you can submit to the QofG blog, visit us at www.queerofgender.com!

#PuttingFemmesFirst: Aryka Randall of TheFabFemme.com

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For Queer of Gender’s first #PuttingFemmes, we spoke to Aryka Randall, Creator of TheFabFemme.com, a site that has garnered a huge following since it’s creation in 2009, catering to femmes of all genders.

Hi! My name is Aryka Randall and I am a twenty something (I won’t say how many somethings) blogger from San Diego California who resides in New Orleans Louisiana. I’ve been writing and blogging for 5 years now and over those years I’ve learned a lot about myself as a woman and as a creative being. A few random things about me…..I hate tomatoes, I rode Arabian Show Horses on a national level for 8 years, and I have two dogs named Molly and Panda.

My personal pronouns are probably she or her. I’m a self-proclaimed “femme” so I don’t mind being labelled as such. I do however enjoy the term “queer”. I think it’s a great term for people who don’t want to be labelled and thrown into a category.


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Femme means a feminine person to me. It’s not limited to gender or sexual orientation. Anyone who really enjoys indulging in their femininity on a daily basis is a femme in my book. My femme looks like a little bit of vintage glam mixed with a little bit of new age glam. I appreciate anything cheetah or pink and my nails are always painted some uber girly color. It’s just me. Being a gay woman and being feminine is interesting because people automatically assume you’re straight based off of your appearance. People don’t treat you like a “real” lesbian and if you’re dating another feminine woman it’s even worse.


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As for my sites of marginalization, I actually don’t feel like being a part of marginalized populations affects the way I see my femmeness at all. I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum regardless of how many people were watching. I think that my femmeness is unique and beautiful, and I will always be me regardless of what the rest of society thinks.

As for my words of affirmation to femme-identified persons, I would say always be true to yourself. If you’re anything less you’ll be miserable.  

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Make sure Aryka’s blog at TheFabFemme.com 
FB: www.facebook.com/thefemme
Twitter: www.twitter.cm/thefabfemme


~*~

To find out how you can submit to the QofG blog, visit us at www.queerofgender.com!

QofG Profile Submission: Ali

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Introduce yourself! Who are you? What should we call you?

I write about how I identify below, but I am recently going by “Al” by those closest to me, but I am also trying to embrace my spirit name, phoenix.  I enjoy both.  I am also known as “ali”.  None of these are my legal name – which is an odd/interesting combination of masculinity and femininity – which has been a challenge to accept regarding my gender identity.

How do you identify in terms of gender, sexuality, gender expression, etc?

I am pansexual, queer, sapiosexual, demisexual, metamorphasexual, genderqueer, a kinky switch, non-binary pagan (my own term), evolving in my two-spirit identity, poly, a recently realized ambivert with a preference for introversion, a social justice and equity activist and advocate, gender and sexual diversity activist, sex positive, a writer and performer of erotica, left leaning, feminist/humanist, practice anti-oppression and value human equity, a scorpio who is always finding new identities that resonate.    

What are your personal pronouns?

In the past 6 months, I have been using singular “they” and ze.

Tell us a little about yourself. What makes you special? What do you do, write, think, speak about or love? What marginalized communities do you identify with?

I am a social worker, consultant and trainer that runs a private practice.  I am also a group facilitator that assist people that have attempted suicide.  I am a writer, social advocate, community activist and inclusion worker. I work with many diverse communities and feel honoured to do this work.  I am a lover, a fighter, and work to make the world a better place one day at a time.

I described my identities above – all of which fit in with marginalized community.  I did not mention that I come from a lower working class family and I was the first to go to university.  I used my brain to escape an abusive home and find a way to create safety for others since I never had it. 

I love many things that are dark, poetic, goth, and in alternative culture (tattoos, piercings, steam punk, sci fi genre, horror and cartoons). I love love, safety, inclusivity, acceptance of diversity and unity.

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What does your gender and/or gender expression mean to you? Does your gender identity and/or expression play an important part in your life? If so, why?

I was only able to find clarity in my gender in the past few years.  I knew from a young age I was different, but did not understand the gender umbrella until my late twenties, and came out in my early thirties as genderqueer.  Gender is incredibly important to me, and I still struggle with it because I was assigned female at birth but do not wish to be defined as such – and others always assume and use female pronouns with me.  I also struggle with typically seen as feminine features such as my hair, and often have to out myself and explain these things to strangers because people ask a lot of questions about wigs when I wear them, or about my natural hair.


I have recently had to make a difficult decision in my professional life – by not changing pronouns on my business website, because I have been told that people are often confused and uncertain about how to approach me when I ask them to use gender neutral pronouns, so I use it as a “teaching moment” to come out while I am working with clients and organizations in my professional life.  Although I find this exhausting, it seems necessary because few people really know how to navigate the gender spectrum.  Gender has definitely become a central focus in my life the past several years.

I have recently started coming out to all my new clients and informing my previous clients about my gender because many people seem confused by my changing gender presentation, and also sometimes unclear about how to use gender neutral pronouns with me, so I am using this to help others learn and validate myself.  It has been VERY positive.  It has also been very healing to do this in my personal life.  I am still coming out to many.

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How does being a part of the marginalized population[s] you identify with affect the way you see gender?

As I have started to learn about colonization, and experience the erasure of this identity from my own family line, it has made me consciously aware of the complexities of how culture, spirituality, and identity intersect.  It is something I am still sorting out for myself, and reconnecting with.  It has been a very long journey.  Two-spirit identity in particular is isolated in aboriginal community, and feels like the most complex of all to find peace with.  If anyone knows how to find out more about my history other than contacting twospirit.com in Toronto, or geneology.com (that is affordable), please let me know!

As a queer person, I feel solidarity in my community and in the work I do.  I feel confident in my knowledge, skills and how I can positively change homophobic and transphobic attitudes on a regular basis.

As professional in the poly and kink communities, I still walk a fine line since I identify in these stigmatized communities.  I need to access the safety of every situation and choose when and where to speak about it.

I need to navigate my gender in each different situation, and think about the space I take up, or do not, and how this creates or diminishes safety for myself and others.

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What words of affirmation do you have for those who are Queer of Gender, specifically those who will find similarities in your experiences to their life?

We each have our own journey that we need to discover.  It is VERY important to find time and space to do so, and to make sure to have support in this process.  It is not easy to navigate and figure out who you are when you identify with any marginalized community.  It is really hard when you identify with a fluid and non-mainstream identity, but it is rewarding to finally discover who you are and know where you fit in the world.  It can be a very painful but rewarding experience.  YOU are important, and so is your experience.  Never give up and know that you are not alone!

We want to promote you! Where can we find you in the world/ on the interwebs? 

I have a private Facebook account that I am active with – but it is “invite only” with those I feel safe to add.  I also email and text.  If you wish to be in touch with me or talk more, contact the creator of Queer of Gender and ask for my info.

My business is called “Inclusive Counselling, Consulting & Training” and can be found here: www.inclusive-cct.ca

~*~
Blog: The Story of a Genderqueer

When I was young my mother sewed, so she used her skills well, and enjoyed making me dresses that matched my sister – who was two years younger than I. This was not complete though unless we also had matching hats. I remember feeling humiliated – like I was being paraded around and put on display for the world to see how “pretty” I was in this false femininity that was forced on me. This hit a peak during Easter, and we have the pictures to prove it. I look back on this now with embarrassment. However, I knew my mother was proud of me and this was her way of showing it. I’m glad I could give her those moments of connecting to me through femininity before I was able to articulate I identified otherwise.

At age 7, I distinctly remember demanding my mom understand that I no longer wanted to wear dresses or skirts, but I wanted to wear turtlenecks and pants. From that day on, I fought my mom tooth and nail whenever she tried to make me wear those adorable matching dresses. I won the fight, and did not not wear a skirt or dress again until my early 20s. My father was particularly upset with this – because “girls had long hair and wore pretty dresses” which infuriated me as a child. The forced messaging around gender haunted me, but I did not have the language to articulate it that young.

I did not know how to express my gender questioning at age 7, and no one asked me how I identified either. Why? Because I grew up in a small town in southwestern Ontario – in the country, the eldest of 4, playing second mother to my younger siblings. There was no time to think about me. I had responsibilities because of my absent and abusive father.

I remember overhearing the adults talking about things here and there as the years passed. I remember watching television with fascination whenever gender was the topic of interest. I knew something was different about me, but I did not know what or how.

This confusion stayed with me until my early 30s. I learned that I had aboriginal ancestry and that all of my identities were marginalized somehow. I never fit in, because I was not like the rest. I questioned everything. And my gender was the biggest mystery of all. Once I learned about feminism and the gay and lesbian movement in the late 60’s in Canada, I became enamored with figuring out who I was. I started studying sexuality. I realized that I was very fluid…..moving past a bisexual identity to claim pansexual and queer labels amongst others. I got used to responding to ignorance about how I identify. No, pansexual was not about a love of frying pans, but the ability to be open with the possibility of loving anyone regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. MY identity is not something to make light of – it has taken a lot of blood, sweat, tears and loss to discover over the years!

I soon realized that I could float between identities comfortably because a small part of me was with all of them. I was most comfortable in a mixed group. I did not like to be separated or segregated based on gender. I did not identify as a “woman”, so when others presumed this about me, it was frustrating. Not everyone defines themselves based on biology. To me, this was limiting and unnecessary. I was more interested in defining myself through concepts and claimed identity then what people presumed I was. I was not proud of where I came from – there was too much shame and abuse. It was refreshing to realize that assumptions mainly make you the ass, not me!

Studying gender felt like one step closer, because I was at the crux of so many years of anguish of being mislabelled and misunderstood. I first learned that transgender referred to transsexual people – those who wanted to medically transition from one sex to the other. I did not fit in with that definition – so once again, I came to a dead end with understanding my gender. I existed in treacherous waters where others wanted to label me in ways that did not fit. I became impatient with people called me “mam”, and when they saw me with my partner, called me a “lesbian”. Everyone had an opinion, and no one asked me how I felt about it. This mirrored my past way too uncomfortably. I had great respect for the lesbians I knew – but I did not fit in with this label. My patience wore thin, and I realized that I absolutely needed to understand what was going on with my gender. There had to be an answer to all these years of confusion and strife.

Then I started studying gender. Reading Kate Bornstein’s work, Judith Butler, and learning about gender performativity. I started to realize that society was playing a game, and they liked to place people into specific boxes, and I did not fit into any of the ones they made available. I was a gender outlaw, like Kate Bornstein. I moved to Kitchener Waterloo Ontario for school, and that is when I met someone that changed my life. I met Douglas Morton. A fierce, fluid identified trans woman that enticed and inspired me to understand the concept of fluidity more. I was fluid identified in all other ways, but what did it mean to be gender fluid? I felt my body limited me in so many ways and I did not want to be defined by it. I wanted more options, and the binary to never be referred to when talking about me. Douglas helped me understand this, and I am forever grateful to her for that.

Over the next several years, I focused on my career and working to help others make sense of their gender and sexuality. However, my own gender continued to remain unclear. I soon realized that the definition of transgender that I was given was inaccurate. Transgender is actually an umbrella term to refer to gender variance. And I am a gender variant person! Therefore, I am also technically transgender. I was made aware of how important it is to inform others about the transgender umbrella and educate them about the gender spectrum so they understand that not all of us want to alter our bodies medically. I am also a genderqueer that does not feel comfortable or close to masculinity or femininity. I wish I could be agender in my body, but still have functioning sex organs. I am not asexual, just do not want my body to limit me. I am a genderqueer that identifies completely outside the binary. This revelation changed my life, and then I was finally able to make more sense of myself. I could also use this information to educate others – which I now do, and have made a career out of doing. It is difficult, but also healing and necessary for me to do this work.

No genderqueer story would be complete without sharing the challenges and complexity of gender expression through clothing. I have never been a small person – and I have struggled my entire life to feel comfortable in my body. My clothing in particular is something that never seemed to fit me. When I came out as genderqueer, I felt the pressure of trying to keep up appearances as a woman drop from my life and it was so liberating! I still struggle to figure out how to present myself to the world, and this comes with a lot of gender dysphoria. But I am working through it one day at a time. I am still working on my wardrobe.

I recently had an amazing experience in the workplace. I applied for a job where I came out in my cover letter – not only as queer but also genderqueer. I was waiting for the question to be asked “what does that mean and why would you put it in your job application”, but they never did. In fact, we got to the end of the interview and it was not mentioned at all. They mentioned that my skills, qualifications and work (I am described as a diversity, gender and sexuality specialist) were a tremendous asset and they looked forward to learning from me. They asked me if I had anything else that I wanted to say or add, and I had to thank them for not only seeing my coming out as a natural part of my job application, but valuing a part of myself that took so long to understand and articulate to others.

During the first meeting with my colleagues and boss, I explained how I identify and asked them to use the pronouns “ze” or singular “they” (for those who do not know, they is historically a singular term – it was used during Shakespearean times. This changed over time and is now used when speaking about multiple other people. Reclaiming this has been very powerful for me.) Most of my colleagues responded as most people tend to – with confusion and anxiety. They did not want to offend me, and did not know how to use neutral pronouns with me. So I told them that they just need to practice and get used to it, because it is always awkward at first. The room went silent – an all too familiar experience for me around this issue. Then, one of my colleagues excitedly shouted out “ze….ok…can I call you ze-zizzle!?” She looked so proud and excited. I was completely shocked because I had never had anyone use my request for a gender neutral pronoun so playfully and respectfully before. So I said “sure”…with an astonished sound in my voice and look on my face. The entire team laughed and smiled. At work, I am now known as “ze zizzle”, and my colleague refers to me as this in emails, texts and in conversation. She excitedly greets me as “ze zizzle in the house”! This always makes me think about what an interesting name this would be if I was a rap artist! I finally told my colleague this week that her openness and playfulness has created a lot of safety for me. I feel heard and respected in a new way – and for this to happen in the workplace is something that I know most trans people do not get to experience. I feel so fortunate!

You may be wondering what all of this is related to sexuality and why I am choosing to share it. I share this with you so you can hear a first-hand experience about how gender and sexuality are not the same thing. That in order for me to fully accept and understand my sexuality, my gender needed to be resolved. I spent years dealing with the challenges of coming out as bisexual – and all the horrific societal assumptions that go along with that. Then I felt liberated as a pansexual/queer identified person – politically positing myself and claiming space. Finding the genderqueer identity has also been liberating and clarifying for me. I quickly learned that when you do not define yourself based on your biology (but everyone else does), it is exhausting and frustrating to always be outing yourself and explaining this to others. But it is also necessary to do so. The assumptions that I am a “mam” and “lesbian” have been deeply carved into my external flesh and on display for the world to see. So I need to actively inform others that I identify as a pansexual/queer and genderqueer (and more) person. I need others to know that it makes a BIG difference to me that you understand this! Understand that language DOES matter, and calling me a “lady” deeply cuts me every time it is used”. Biology does not equal destiny for me. My sexuality does not determine the gender of the person I date. And most importantly, I do not fit into the binaries that others want to impose on me.

I wear this new knowledge and understanding as a badge to combat all the misunderstandings. I bravely explore and explain the complexities of living outside the binary, and how it DOES matter to me how you understand and refer to me. However, I am not looking for your approval, but your understanding and respect. There is a purpose and intention behind the labels I choose, and I have worked hard to understand and claim them. The evolution of self can be an intense and deep journey, and it is important that we understand and value every person’s sense of self. We are all different and unique for a reason. Speak up, stand proud and know that you are amazing JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!

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To find out how you can submit to the QofG blog, visit us at www.queerofgender.com!

#PuttingFemmesFirst: Our New Segment on QofG!

Queer of Gender is excited to announce that it has unleashed a NEW segment on the website called #PuttingFemmesFirst!

Every first of the month, we will be interviewing a femme-identified Person of Colour / Aboriginal person of any gender identification to speak to talk about their feminine as well as their experiences of misogyny & femmephobia.  

This segment is to put femininity and femme-identified persons at the forefront & to challenge harmful sentiments & notions of femmephobia within society.

If you or anyone you know would like to be profiled for this segment, please contact us at queerofgender@gmaildotcom or hit us up on Twitter: @QueerofGender

Don’t forget to check us out Every Thursday for a new profile submission! Our submission guidelines are here!

- Your Curator

QofG Submission: Noire


Introduce yourself! Who are you? What should we call you?




My name is Kareema Black, Noire the writer, erstwhile Fraternize. One special lady calls me “K” but you can call me Noire, that’ll work!
I am a writer and an advocate for love!

How do you identify in terms of gender, sexuality, gender expression, etc?

I stand firmly astray societal classifications, labels and marginalization of how I should identify myself. I am a Black woman and I date women. I am not in opposition to men, I’m just not into them the way!

What are your personal pronouns?



She and her proudly!


Tell us a little about yourself. What makes you special? What do you do, write, think, speak about or love? What marginalized communities do you identify with?


I am a writer; the vast majority of my work is about LOVE! I am an advocate of peace; a hypocritical soldier (“Fighting for world peace is like screwing for virginity” - George Carlin).  I am a FEMinist who stands in radical opposition to patriarchy. I am a film student, documentarian, Black enthusiast, non-religious, non-traditional, philogynist Jesus freak who knows Jesus loves queer folk!!! POW!!! 


How does being a part of the marginalized population[s] you identify with affect the way you see gender?



Being a Black philogynist woman in America, I refuse to judge anyone for how they chose to identify themselves, binary, non-binary, I view people as individuals. Therefore, if I come across anyone who identifies themselves as a woman who uses she/her as their pronouns, then dammit, I will address them that way!

What words of affirmation do you have for those who are Queer of Gender, specifically those who will find similarities in your experiences to their life?

Love is love, be who you are, if you’re a woman who’s been dating women for the past 10 years and call yourself a “stud”, “aggressive girl” or whichever way you define your gender, and you happen to wake up one day and stumble across a man who you’ve come to connect with on higher levels, don’t be afraid nor confused. Remember flesh is carnal and temporal, spirits connect long before we were here and long after we’re gone! Bless!

We want to promote you! Where can we find you in the world/ on the interwebs? 


Tumblr: djnoire21
My tumblr is my sanctuary

Twitter: @Fraternize
My twitter is my encyclopedia, filled with feminist, Black enthusiasts and hundreds of words I have yet to discover!!!

Instagram: Noire21
My Instagram is my comedy hour; also my confidence booster.

Facebook is certainly “the thirst capital of the internet” (-TheWeirdWon) so I stay away!!

Thank you so much!
~*~

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To find out how you can submit to the QofG blog, visit us at www.queerofgender.com!

QofG Submission: Ryan G. Hinds

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Introduce yourself! Who are you? What should we call you?

I’m Ryan G. Hinds! I sing, dance, and act in theatres/cabarets/festivals, and I write a column for Xtra (Canada’s largest LGBTQ publication).
I have yet to be find a perfect title for what I do in the world, but “Performance Artist” seems to fit the best.

How do you identify in terms of gender, sexuality, gender expression, etc?

I am a man. I’m also queer, and I identify with queer as opposed to gay because the majority of the people I’m attracted to are men, but are sometimes transmen, transwomen, cis women, or people that don’t place themselves along the gender binary. It’s rare that masculinity turns me on….I have a healthy appreciation of androgyny, femininity, and effeminacy. Queer is a specific sexuality to me, it doesn’t necessarily mean “politicized gay”. It’s a word for people that gay/bi doesn’t effectively describe.

What are your personal pronouns?

He! Him! His!

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(Photo credit: Daniel Drak)


Tell us a little about yourself. What makes you special? What do you do, write, think, speak about or love? What marginalized communities do you identify with?

There are some things that always surprise people: I practice sobriety always, I’m a cat person, my favorite movie is Dumbo. I’m mulatto, which in my case means I’m half Dominican and half Irish.  People always seem to think I mean The Dominican or Dominique, but Dominica is a small island in the Caribbean. My Irish family hails from Belfast; I was born in Canada and raised culturally Irish by my single Mom.  Mixed folks tend to be on the defensive a lot, and in addition to not “looking” Irish, there’s residual issues about Northern Ireland versus the rest of Ireland, so I’ve had to be very secure in my various Irish, Dominican, and Canadian identities.  I’m not any less Irish just because my skin is dark, I’m not any less Dominican just because my skin is light, and I’m not any less Canadian because my roots on both sides lie overseas.  Being mixed and queer is a pretty cool thing, and it shaped how I see the world: the possibilities are endless. I approach both my activism and my art from a place of positivity! 

More than anything else, I love my art. The art of performance is precious to me; I work hard at honouring it. It’s like a religion or spirituality concept to me, because it’s very ritualistic.  Creating, rehearsing and preparing for a performance are like rites where I conjure up the magic of laughter or drama that feeds my spirit.  Performers are storytellers, and I love taking an audience on a journey with me, so it becomes a very communal experience with whoever’s watching. I don’t ever consciously remember making a decision to perform as  a kid….the desire was always there and it was a single focus for me growing up and into adulthood; there wasn’t ever really another option.  Whether I’m working with celebrities or in a tiny basement venue with 10 seats, I always take it very seriously and think about what I’m doing or saying. Often my work comes as surprise to people, as they don’t expect a black person to be good at opera AND rocknroll, or a big person to be able to dance ballet or Martha Graham. I don’t like thinking in delineations of singer OR actor OR dancer, because I want to do everything that one can conceivably do on a stage.  It’s about the power of imagination, and that power is limitless. 

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(Photo credit: Janelle Monae/Fashion Cares)


Through my work I try and demonstrate that space if ours to claim if we want it.  If you’re big don’t let yourself be fat-shamed into thinking you can’t be graceful or co-ordinated because I AM big and can do a double cartwheel in heels.  If what you really want to do is sing something that’s more classical than R&B/soul, don’t let other people’s expectations of what you “should” be like from stopping you from what you really want to do, because I went and sang legit opera at comedy show once and killed it.  I want to keep knocking down walls so other people don’t have to, so even though I’m focused on myself, I think often about the bigger picture: who am I helping and how? Do I have something important or meaningful that I can share? Why should people spend time or money coming to see me or reading what I have to write?

What does your gender and/or gender expression mean to you? Does your gender identity and/or expression play an important part in your life? If so, why?

In terms of gender, I am male and quite happy with the version of “male” I present to the world; I love proving that men look great in heels, or that eye-liner & lip glitter blends well with an unshaven face.  While I certainly get that my presentation disrupts a lot of people’s assumptions about what male is, I honestly don’t think about it a lot and just do what makes me happy.  It can be annoying when people classify me as a drag queen or assign an incorrect identity to me because I’m living my life on my own terms. If I don’t fit in someone else’s neatly arranged mental box….that’s their problem, not mine.

How does being a part of the marginalized population[s] you identify with affect the way you see gender?

It’s made me deeply appreciate the various expressions of gender out there.  When you experience discrimination, you can quickly recognize others who might be resisting marginalization in different ways, and I’m proud to have a wide group of friends, lovers, and colleagues who aren’t like me; we’re all stronger because we’re together.  I’m not blind to their identities, but rather I embrace the wide spectrum of humanity that’s out there.  I have friends who are FTM trans guys who are drag queens at night, but first and foremost they’re my friends and that’s what I see, no justification or explanation needed.

What words of affirmation do you have for those who are Queer of Gender, specifically those who will find similarities in your experiences to their life?

Don’t let anyone define you as a “minority”. Do work hard at something you love, and respect and treasure it.  Don’t lose sight of context in all situations, the world isn’t black and white. Do be beautiful inside. Don’t forget that the word root of activism is act, so take action. Do embrace joy and pain in equal measure, because life will give you both.  

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(Photo credit: Jay Stewart)


We want to promote you! Where can we find you in the world/ on the interwebs?

I’m Toronto, Canada based but have performed all over the US and Brazil. I love travelling for shows and am always open to possibilities, so holler at your university or local pride festival if you want me to come talk or sing.   I perform a lot in Toronto at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and Flying Beaver Pubaret, and in Montreal at La Sala Rossa  and Cabaret Cleopatra.

Website: Ryanghinds.ca
Twitter:  @Ryanghinds 
Facebook:  http:/www.facebook.com/ryanghinds
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(YouTube Video: Ryan G. Hinds - It’s a Man’s World at Glad Day Bookshop)

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To find out how you can submit to the QofG blog, visit us at www.queerofgender.com!