Gender / Lived Experience/Memoir / Personal Is Political

Heterosexism and Gender-Binarism: Calling an Event Pansexual Doesn’t Make it Inclusive

Someone on a distant microcosm of the internet, where no one can look in without signing up first (so no one can know what is being discussed there and, as a result, can’t know to look for it), asked why queers, trans people, and genderqueers feel unwelcome at pansexual (kink) events even when they are actively included with outreach efforts. In other words, why do we wait to emerge until there is a queer-only party (on average, about 2-3 times a year, from what I’ve been able to observe)? My experience is my only answer. But once I started writing, I quickly realized I couldn’t stop easily. Since it has recently been brought to my attention that, without being on that website, you might not know that the conversation was even happening, let alone where to look for it, that list of reasons follows:

I personally stopped feeling welcome at (allegedly) pan parties when it became apparent to me that I go there because someone I know is taking me there, and I do things for them because that’s why we’re there; and then when it becomes time for my needs to be addressed, I do a lot of standing around, and go home to sleep alone in my bed.

I personally stopped feeling welcome at (allegedly) pan parties when, because I shaved my head, no one wanted a massage from me any more.

I personally stopped feeling welcome when I looked around and would see women playing with women as if there was a male audience, even when there weren’t men present.

I stopped feeling welcome when the letter that identifies your biological sex on your ID became more important than how you embody and speak about your gender.

I stopped feeling welcome when I stopped being heard any time I said “I really don’t like being called baby, because that’s very infantilizing, and I’m a survivor of a lot of terrible things that this brings up for me” — and kept being called baby anyways.

I stopped feeling welcome when I started getting interrupted when I answered someone honestly, who had just asked me how I am doing, so that they could say things like “Just think about your clit” or “X-number-of trans people just showed up to Y-event earlier today” or “All of a sudden, and very quietly, a lot of people from Z-organization are starting to come to my parties because their needs aren’t being served any more at Z-organization”

I stopped feeling welcome when someone I have had a personal problem with (unrelated to kink) would make a point of approaching me when I didn’t have any of my friends within arms’ reach and when my back was against a wall, to try and appeal to me to put our differences behind us.

I stopped feeling welcome when cisgendered straight people started appropriating the hanky code for themselves.

And I started to feel outright violated when people would come up and touch me without asking first, yelling over the person I was actually talking to, because whatever superficial thing they had to say was more important.

Should I continue? Does that seem like a sufficient starting point? Is it even a fair starting point?

My problems are around normalizing of aggression, entitlement, appropriation, non-consensual gendering (something I really didn’t get until after I came out), alienation, and marginalization.

Then there was the time I was told (even though I was presenting masculine) that I either have to take off my top or go home and find one that’s congruent with the dress code (even though the rest of me was).

Because I didn’t want to bare my tits to the entire club, and didn’t want to play a round of “Mother May I?” all night long just to be there, I took my money, and went home without my friend (who was allowed in with just a corset and a pair of plain black stretch pants). I posted a photo of the offending shirt, and was trolled, flamed, badgered, harassed, and subjected to rape-speak for an entire week by the entire staff of that event at the time.

All I wanted was to be left alone to present my own perspective on my own microcosm of the internet.

Or the time I said “this particular piece of music and this particular blow-off gesture was really insensitive”, and was subjected to having my cognitive capacity called into question on the basis of my mental health status. Three weeks later, I had to call the cops because I was being harassed despite not answering anything (or perhaps, more likely, BECAUSE I wasn’t answering anything), receiving hatemail and other condescending responses from that person’s “friends”, and being threatened with involuntary commitment in an asylum.

And again, all I wanted was to be left alone.

What makes me feel violated and uncomfortable with being present at all, is having people approach me with questions about someone else’s gender, because they figure that the person whose gender needs questioning just doesn’t fulfill a sufficiently sexist stereotype of a binary cis-gendered person, and they decided this is something I have an answer to, as someone who is out and observedly non-binary.

Unfortunately, the list goes on, now that I’ve posted this here and read over it again:

All the people who show up at these allegedly pansexual, but actually-heterosexist-and-gender-binarist parties are white. In the off-chance someone who isn’t white shows up at one of these parties, people say so many racially/culturally insensitive (sometimes even outright racist or culturally imperialist) things throughout the night that they never show again.

The gossip is un-fucking-believable. It’s unbearable. And I’m not talking about disclosing things that happened to the person speaking, to share how it made them feel (especially if it’s relevant to why they suddenly feel uncomfortable or elated). I’m talking about bringing up experiences with people who aren’t present, and which didn’t directly involve or concern the person speaking. Or bringing up experiences with people who aren’t present, and discouraging the person they are talking to from making their own choice about that person. Gossip.

Finally, I can’t help but think of all the people in the scene who have sent me hatemail; who have personally shown up uninvited and unannounced to my home, knowing I’m the one who lives there, and certain of how I felt about them, and making a deliberate point of being a condescending, entitled asshole as long as they are present (solidifying my existing sentiments that they are a bully); people who have yelled at me over the phone, either over something that doesn’t concern them, or something that they won’t take accountability for, so they’ll just yell at me until I cry (because then I’ll definitely not share this experience, right?); people who have phoned me up and threatened me; and people who have taken it upon themselves to harass and belittle me online, but act like we’re just the best of friends when we are facing each other in public.

I just can’t help but remark that, thinking back, all of the people in that last paragraph are white and cisgendered; and all but one of them are straight (the only person who isn’t straight, is bisexual, but appears straight in public by pairing up with straight women for the night — if he isn’t yet aware of how other people read this in public, he damn well deserves an explanation in the strongest terms possible at this point).

And of all the people in the entire list except that one straight-appearing bisexual man, only one other person isn’t straight (she is also bisexual). Every single person whose behaviour is described here, is white and cisgendered. I’m not arguing that people of colour aren’t equally capable of doing these things, or that trans people have never made me feel excluded or uncomfortable — but if my experiences with all those white cisgendered people are just a coincidence, that would be awfully remarkable.

One thought on “Heterosexism and Gender-Binarism: Calling an Event Pansexual Doesn’t Make it Inclusive

  1. Pingback: Deception Unveiled « HaifischGeweint

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