Gender Reveal Party Update 2

Hello!

With about fifteen hours left, I’ve now completed the *research* component of my summer research project; I’ve read and annotated every source I expect to use, and will devote all of my remaining time to organizing my thoughts into three philosophical essays. As of the last update, I intended to write four essays; I have since condensed this to three, as it now seems reasonable to me to address queer hermeneutical injustice and what I’m calling “heterosexual condescension” within the same paper.

My research has gone in a few unexpected directions. I originally expected to rely almost completely on academic philosophical essays about gender and social justice, but some of the most valuable and interesting sources I looked at were created for general audiences–sometimes for YouTube. Many of the texts I read challenged my own intuitions about sexuality and gender in a way that changed how I connect with all manner of popular media, philosophy, and feminist writing.

My research over the past few months has also significantly affected my personal life. I began seriously questioning my gender about a year ago (in a smaller way, I’ve been questioning it my entire life). I knew when I began work on this project that my research might shape my feelings about my own gender, and help me to establish a more consistent gender identity. For months, I was anxious about my failure to adopt any particular identity, and while my gender identity is still far from established, reading these works has given me new ways to understand and embrace this period of questioning.

Many activities which I didn’t consider to be research for this project nevertheless changed the course of my writing. I’ve been experimenting with makeup on social media and in queer public spaces, and the personal insight I’ve gained from these limited experiences has been invaluable. I also owe a lot to many queer people I’ve had conversations with online; although I won’t formally refer to these discussions in my writing, conversations with gay, intersex, asexual, kinky, and otherwise queer internet acquaintances changed the course of my research several times. I think anyone who attempts to research queer identity without exploring online forums is missing a lot of opportunities.

Just a few days ago, I came out as trans to a large number of people on social media. I was able to explain my relationship with the term, and how its inclusive nature (including both binary and nonbinary trans people) has allowed me to embrace a useful political identity without claiming certainty about my own gender. I requested that people use they/them pronouns for me, although I will continue to allow he/him/his for the time being. Discussing my gender identity online has led to numerous productive conversations, for which I am grateful. Reading the works I’ve chosen for this project has absolutely prepared me for these conversations and enhanced my own experimentation with gender expression.

As you can imagine, this has also been an emotional process for me, and I’m excited to tie up the loose ends by packaging my rambling thoughts into an exportable, useful product. I believe that gender and gender-feelings are powerful, and it’s my great hope that my writing, present and future, will help some people to do their gender in a loving, creative way.

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