Gender Talk

In Gender Talk, various performers spoke and performed their thoughts about their non- cis gender identity. One performer talked about his inner conflict as a latino male and as a homosexual. He felt that “he was not in the middle of a Venn diagram of latino and gay, but stretched between the two identities”. This was because people of his culture (including his own family) shunned all signs of ‘female’ weakness in men, and expected the performer to act, dress, and even eat in a certain way. Another performer talked about her conflict of not fitting in any gender categories. Sometimes, the performer enjoyed being a young woman (ex. Liking her breasts), but sometimes she felt out of place and wanted to be male. She mentioned this feeling as wanting a “detachable penis”. She exemplified the idea of gender fluidity, because she could not identify strictly as trans, lesbian, or any other established category.

The last performer said that although he identified as gay, he enjoyed having a lot of sex with both men and women. I always thought gender identity (whether gay, straight, trans, etc) was something that stayed constant and ruled your activities was identified. Before hearing the performer speak, I could not have imagined a homosexual man liking to have sex with both men and women, because to me gay males were always sexually attracted to other males. However, his story corroborates the idea that gender identities are multiple, and cannot be categorical. I remember Tristan Taormino herself identifying as queer, although she liked both men and women (which usually defines bisexuality).

What all performers said in common was the difficulty to identify as non- cis. One performer recounted anxiety and panic in being ushered into a female changing room, when he identified as male. Even in a LGBTQ friendly campus like Penn, the performers felt that it was difficult for people to accept them. What kind of practical solutions are there so everyone can accept the fluidity of gender identity?

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