☐male ☐female ☐other ☑none
Happy Pride! I’m agender.
What does that mean?
Well, we talk about gender as being a spectrum, and a lot of the time, people hear “spectrum” and think of the spectrum of visible light, which looks something like this:
Many people think of “male” and “female” as being two extreme poles, and assume that anyone nonbinary is somewhere in the center.
This gives a sort of inaccurate idea of view of gender, though. The idea that “male” and “female” are “opposites” at the ends of a long line does a lot of disservice to both binary male and female people (cis or trans) and leads us into the kind of thinking that gives rise to things like rigid gender roles that put so much pressure on male and female people.
The two “binary” genders we are most familiar with are a lot more similar in a lot of ways than either of them are to some other genders, and a lot more complementary than opposing. So, illustrating them as polar extremes is silly!
But that doesn’t mean we have to throw out the spectrum analogy! If you learned color theory or have used many graphics programs, you are probably familiar with a spectrum that looks more like this:
This is a much more useful illustration for how people relate to gender. There are places where colors overlap and places where they do not. A person’s identity might be one gender or a combination of more than one. For people who identify as more than one gender, they might experience them all at once, or one at a time, or somewhere in between.
Just like two colors that are different combinations of the same two primary colors, two people who identify the same way, might engage with their respective identities differently– and one person’s relationship to their own gender identity might change from day to day. You can visualize quite quickly when looking at a wheel that it’s easy to travel from one point on the wheel to another, and traveling from 1 to 10 doesn’t always mean passing through 4 or 6 to get there– everyone can have a different journey and identify in many different ways over the course of their life (or, for some people, even in the course of a short amount of time) and there are many ways to get to the same place.
Well, that’s cool, Tea, you say, but you’re only talking about people with gender identities, and you said you don’t have one. How do you fit into this model?
Well, I still have an external experience of gender, because of the ways that I interact with gender expression and presentation, and because I still have an assigned gender, and all of the external experiences of being perceived as having a gender, but it’s entirely external and has no internal identity component– that is, no little voice or guide or compass telling me what my gender identity is. The way I relate to gender has zero overlap with internal gender identity, which is something I only know exists because enough people with an internal gender identity have told me they definitely have one, and I trust my friends’ accounts of their internal experiences, just as they trust mine.
So, to put it another way: