Gender Talk

In Gender Talk, several people spoke about gender non-conformity and shared details about their identities or personal experiences. One student talked about the struggle of being both gay and hispanic. He said that being gay and non-gender-conforming in a machista culture is very difficult because of the very strict gender roles and expectations imposed by this culture. Since only a certain definition of masculinity is considered as acceptable, all men are supposed and expected to conform to specific gender norms. The performer said that he feels like he is stretched between the two identities (latino and gay) because they are conflicting and incompatible. Another performer talked about being bigender and not really fitting into any gender category. The performer said that she/he lets people refer to her/him as a girl because it’s simpler and others probably wouldn’t understand that her/his gender identity is continuously shifting. While there are days where she/he identifies as a female and “likes her breast”, other days she/he just feels like a man. That’s why she/he said that having “detachable penis” would be the perfect solution.

The last performer talked about his mother’s reaction to his sexuality and gender identity. He identifies as a gay man, but his mother keeps asking him if he actually “wants to be a woman” because he has taken part in drag performances and dressed up as a woman for Halloween and other occasions. What I found interesting is that his mother told him that it would be easier for her if he wanted to be a woman, because that would be something that she would have less trouble understanding. What she finds confusing then is the fact that the way he performs his gender doesn’t conform to the “normal” idea of masculinity and somehow challenges the gender divide. It made me think of what another performer had said about boys not being allowed to play with dolls and dress up like princesses. Not conforming to specific gender norms means having your whole gender identity questioned.

I went to the event with a friend that is not really familiar with the issues concerning gender identity, and at the end of the night she told me that she thought it was a really interesting experience and that she was now aware of her cis privilege (she didn’t use the word privilege of course, but that was pretty much the feeling behind what she told me). I wondered then if having more events like this could be an effective way to educate on these matters, because having people share their own personal experiences can have a very great impact. However, one of the performers said that sometimes he gets really tired of having to educate others, and I completely understand that needing to explain and justify your whole identity and existence must be really frustrating (to say the least). What should be done, then, to spread more awareness on these matters?

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