I’ve been mulling over a post since a few nights ago when a friend was telling me she has a hard time figuring out whether she wants to put anything in the orientation field for her myspace profile. Her reasoning: It’s sort of hard to decide how to answer that question if you identify as genderqueer. After all, you could be a bio man who only ever dates bio women. But if you have a fluid understanding of your own gender, are you straight? And, to reverse the question, what if you’re a bio woman who tends to date genderqueer dudes? Are you straight?
Then I got an email from the organizer of a panel I’ll be a part of next Sunday. (Background: it’s a panel for 13 year olds on sexuality. I did it last year and wished they thought I was cooler, but hey, that’s what being unpopular in middle school will do to you for the rest of your life.) This year, we panel members (one lesbian, one gay man, one straight female ally, and one trans woman) received a few questions in advance, and one really stood out to me:
“When do most transsexuals realize that they aren’t heterosexual?”
I have to admit, I chuckled a little. I mean, I like that thirteen year olds even have “transsexual” in their vocabulary. But my immediate response was, well, being transsexual (or transgendered) doesn’t mean you can’t be heterosexual. Gender identity and sexual orientation aren’t the same thing.
But thinking back to my little myspace conversation, clearly they’re related, and for genderqueers even more so.
Of course, in utopia, identity categories like these wouldn’t matter, and it’s not a huge deal to leave that question blank when making the rounds of your favorite social networking sites. But in the real world, of course, labels and identities do matter, even if for only relatively trivial reasons. Like, you’re hott (like said friend) and don’t want random dudes hitting on you all the time. Or you’re writing a personal ad and want to be clear how you identify. Or you’d just like to find more people who identify (or don’t identify, as the case may be) the way you do, for support or friendship or a roll in the hay.