These are both concepts centered around identity, and while both are very far off of "standard", I've managed to diverge from them in totally opposite ways. I guess it's because they have very opposite focus in society. Gender issues are at the front of modern sociopolitical discourse, and are drilled into us from a young age to be a Highly Important Thing, which is ironically the entire point that current sociopolitical discourse seems to, by and large, be working against. Gender norms are rigorously enforced by our culture, and deviation is not easily tolerated. Our culture doesn't really think about species identity, taking it for granted that there's no variation- but, by and large, personal variation on species identity is met with a low-key "that's weird", while gender identity variations are much more likely to meet Rather Strong Opinions.
So my personal Degree To Which I Care is perfectly inverted: species identity issues are at the forefront of my experience and tend to have a significant impact on my outlook and my daily life, while the entire impact of gender identity is usually "gee, I wish I could opt out", with a good does of apathy. As secure as I am in the belief that my identity as a dragon is strongly imprinted on my soul, I am equally secure in the belief that the concept of differentiated gender isn't native to my soul in any way.
Which is why it pulls my attention much more than it should when, for a day or two, I abruptly actually have a gender identity. My usual gender apathy tends to waver, and I haven't figured out rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes, I am spontaneously very aware of myself as female, or as male, or as both, as opposed to my usual "meh" or, in some cases, rather distinctly neither. It is not a mentally calm state to have a gender that clashes thoroughly with my physical sex and associated set of social expectations, to understate the case. That, in part, is why this topic- which I've spent several years ruminating on- hasn't gotten a full post until now; it feels wrong to ramble about my gender issues when I know so many people who have real gender issues that they have to deal with every day, and all I get is an intermittent sample of just how hard that sucks. It feels wrong to complain about my Stuff when everybody else's Stuff is so much worse; but it seems "I have a highly unstable but usually apathetic gender identity" is a sufficiently rare perspective that I figured maybe this is worth writing about anyway. So please know that I'm sincere in that I mean no disrespect to the transgendered folk among my audience.
What's interesting, to me, is the paradoxical sense I have that I "should" be intersexed. (It has yet to be medically verified that I'm not, incidentally, but I probably just have low testosterone.) I have this strong feeling that gender is this thing that shouldn't apply to me, that it's not a real part of my identity, and yet I still have a nagging opinion that the one that does is specifically wrong, and there's this specific option that's better.
It's sort of intuitively obvious why I might think I might be more comfortable intersexed, but this intuition is wrong- it's not my motive. Having a non-binary gender solves exactly none of the social problems; it does nothing to soothe my resentment of having gender applied to me, and instead would leave me an inherently politicized person, when I'd rather opt out of gender politics entirely. (They're just too much a part of our society to really get away from.) And it's not any closer to "nongendered" than either binary option; society doesn't let you not have a gender/gender role, so there's no real way out. (Which, in a way, makes it easier. tangyabominy brought this up in a locked post last week, actually; it's a lot easier to accept a suboptimal way of being when you aren't being directly confronted with a better option on a daily basis.)
No, my reason is a lot more irrational and self-contradictory than that, and I'm fairly sure I'm not really comfortable with having that preference. If I were to be physically intersexed, then at least I'd have an excuse for feeling and fervently wishing for the option to be nongendered. Which is weird, because my expressed social opinions, values, and politics are unanimous that no variation on gender needs an excuse. I find it interesting, odd, and a little disquieting that I feel like I need one anyway despite my explicit thoughts to the contrary.
Which, I guess, says a lot about gender politics. The link between physical sex and gender is an extremely strong one, even for those of us who want to avoid the second concept entirely. And I guess that's intuitive, given the definition of gender,and just deconstructing that makes the entire nature of gender politics more interesting. The only reason that gender should be connected to sex is that it is its original formulation. But with modern and well-founded thoughts on equality, there's an increasing attempt to, socially, separate the concepts. But when gender is truly separated from physical sex, what is the remaining value of the concept? I'd argue it never had any in the first place, but I'm seriously biased.
And, Attn. to those who wrote the Firefox spell-checker dictionary: "intersexed" and "intersexual" are words, and it's sort of offensive that they aren't in there.
And yeah, I just totally did that thing where you change a few tracks on your music player because what your shuffled library just pulled up would be totally contrary to the point you were trying to make.
I've migrated to DreamWidth. The original post is at http://kistaro.dreamwidth.org/459328.html. View comments at http://kistaro.dreamwidth.org/459328.html#comments ; go ahead and use OpenID to post your own.