For most of us, we feel like the gender we were assigned at birth and we present as the gender we were assigned at birth. That is, when looking at us, most people can identify us as male or female. We are at one end or the other of the gender spectrum.
For one who is transgender, they feel like and identify as the gender opposite the one they were assigned at birth.
But gender is not binary. Not everyone is either male or female.
Those who identify as genderqueer fall somewhere within the ends of the gender spectrum. For some they feel neither male or female. Others feel like they “float” between the ends. One day they feel more female, one day they feel more male and sometimes neither or even a third gender. Some present in an androgynous way while others present more male or more female.
According to Wikipedia, “Genderqueer people may identify as one or more of the following:
- having an overlap of, or indefinite lines between, gender identity;
- having two or more genders (being bigender, trigender, or pangender);
- having no gender (being agender, nongendered, genderless, genderfree, or neutrois);
- moving between genders or having a fluctuating gender identity (genderfluid); or
- being third-gender or other-gendered, a category which includes those who do not place a name to their gender.”
When a child tells their parent they are genderqueer, it’s often very confusing for the parent. They don’t know what to think. Is my child just confused? How can one not identify with a gender? Do you really mean you are transgender?
For those of us who are binary, we know inside what gender we are. It’s hard to understand something we’ve never experienced. What’s important is to believe our child and trust that they know what they feel and who they are. We don’t have to understand it, we just have to accept it. That may take some time and that’s okay. It can be a lot to adjust to. Just like a parent of a transgender child, we may have to adjust to a new name, new pronouns, a new look. We probably need some time to grieve the child we imagined we had before we can fully embrace the child we do have and have always had. It’s just part of the process.
Give yourself the time you need, learn more, get support. While you’re doing all that, be sure your child knows you love them no matter what. That’s what any child wants to know, isn’t it?