Gender (in this case the socially constructed concept of what it means to be a male or female) is something that I have grappled with my entire life. For a long time, I connected my gender to my sexuality. I was not out, so I had to act masculine so people would not think that I was queer.
I use to marvel at how easily the other boys could be so masculine with so little effort. I was constantly checking myself to make sure I wasn’t too “girly” or effeminate. To be honest, it was fucking exhausting and created a level of low grade anxiety and depression that I dealt with daily.
“Coming out” not only liberated me sexually, but also liberated my perceptions of gender. Not caring about peoples perceptions of my sexuality, afforded me the freedom of being able to have a wide ranging gender, sometimes being masculine, sometimes being feminine, but always being authentic.
It wasn’t until studying anthropology that I was able to articulate that gender is a socially constructed concept that differs depending on the culture. Feminism and Judith Butler helped me to recognize that gender is performative in that our gender changes often depending on the situation and produces an impact on our environment in regards to how people and culture interact with us.
Armed with these epiphanies, I have been able to play with gender in such a way that I can use it to create change, initiate conversation and foster therapeutic relationships. My queerness has been a blessing in many ways. However, one of the most profound and liberating gifts it has bestowed upon me is an advanced understanding of the complexity of gender. Without such an understanding, I’d be trapped in a gender prison with high expectations that I would never be able to meet.
Although I said I wasn’t going to knit another hat for a while, I lied. I just finished another Noro hat and pair of matching fingerless gloves.