A Many Gendered Thing – Brief Article
A portrait of the gender rainbow, along with nine answers to the question “How do you define gender?
* THE LADY CHABLIS
singer and actor
I don’t define gender–don’t have to. If someone, is that interested, then the only way they’re gonna find out is when the lights go out … The truth is the light of the world!
* ROSALYNE BLUMENSTEIN
director, Gender Identity Project
Gender is defined by those that birth us. Our society decides how we play and what colors are appropriate. Our society punishes or venerates our beings depending upon how we. emulate the game of gender. The game is pink or blue. For some reason I challenged the hue in a young age and persevered. This has not been without conflict. However, I’ve had the opportunity in celebrate me and my core gender. As a straight woman of transsexual experience within a queer movement, I give strength to this voice. My attendance within the movement conveys hope. In my upcoming book, Headline: Woman Trapped in a Woman’s Body, or Ain’t No White-Boy Privilege Here: A Child’s Confusion, et Woman’s Conclusion, I discuss the movement of my gender; how it heals, mends, and transcends all the time.
* GUINEVERE TURNER
actor and screenwriter
At 10, I tried to act like a boy so I could go fishing and not have to do dishes. At 15, I wept over a broken nail and feathered my hair until it hurt. At 21, desperate to be taken seriously as a lesbian, I got a crew cut and tried to change my walk from a sashay to a saunter. At 24, I made a movie that proclaimed me “dyke” once and for all, and now I am a girly girl with the innards of a truck driver.
* LOREN CAMERON
photographer and writer
As a female, women usually screamed when I went into the ladies’ room. As a man, people are always asking me to carry heavy objects. AS a dyke, I was always a card-carrying member. AS a short male, people always ask me how it’s going down at the racetrack (I always explain that they must be confusing me with my uncle who rode at Santa Anita). AS a transsexual, everyone wants me to tell them what the difference is between the other two genders … poor dears. Try calling an endocrinologist–or a feminist. I don’t know.
* JENNY SHIMIZU
model and actor
Well, my hot femme German girly girlfriend and I just had breakfast this morning with sexologist Carol Queen and her gay husband, Dr. Robert; mistress Ilsa Strix and her FTM hubby, Master Take; AIDS activist and HIV-positive former Playboy centerfold Rebecca Armstrong … Therefore, I guess gender is not so specific in my lifestyle. In an ever-changing world of gender my future plans are, well, who knows what I’m going to end up being, But in the end I want to morph into something I’m comfortable with.
* MO FISCHER, A.K.A. MO B. DICK
actor and drag king
To define gender as exclusively male and female is to limit the infinite possibilities of being. Whenever anyone has attempted to fit a neat little label on me, my inner punk diva forges to the forefront in protest. Gender is fluid. It shimmers with ambiguity. It is confusing, not confining. It is dangerously delicious. It is a constantly evolving choice. It is mutable and malleable. Gender is a balancing act. Gender is drag. It is an inside job of attitudes and behaviors not limited by the costume of appearance. Gender encompasses a spectrum of options and a kaleidoscope of desires and delights.
* DIANE TORR
drag king ambassador to the world
In the past 11 years since I began teaching drag king workshops, I’ve helped to transform women into “men for a day” in workshops as far apart as Boston, Istanbul, Glasgow, Helsinki, Vienna, and elsewhere. The women who attend are also far apart in their age, ethnicity, cultural references, gender identity, sexual orientation, motivation, and taste in clothes, jobs, or careers, etc. As an artist I am perhaps more comfortable with the idea of fluid identity, and I can create an atmosphere in which gender is something to play with. In my daily life I am regularly called “Ma’am,” “Miss,” or “Sir,” depending on my haircut, clothes, activity. It does not concern me.
* RIKI ANNE WILCHINS
executive director, GenderPAC
I rather like Judith Butler’s notion that gender is nothing more than the repeated stylization of the human body which, over time–and because of its universality and strict regulation–congeals into something that appears as both “real” and inevitable
performance artist and writer
In some of my performance “characters,” I manipulate my body into some monstrous forms that give me nightmares. in my muy macho normal life, I’m a gnarly dude. My lover is a butch-realness Swiss-German, as is my straight workout partner, but neither of them seems to mind when the showgirl occasionally slips out. I live on a hill in [the Los Angeles district of] Silver Lake surrounded by diesel daggers, and they all know when Dr. Vaginal Davis comes to visit.
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