Friday, 27 February 2015

Oh My God, There's A Word For It

Some people like labels, and some people don’t. I’ve found that the majority of people who don’t are people who’ve never worried about what theirs might be.

It’s true; we do have many labels used to describe gender and sexuality. But that’s not a bad thing. It means that people can keep searching until they find a word that fits them. And if you’ve never struggled with your own labels, you can’t understand the relief that provides.

You probably know the basics – gay, straight, bisexual, transgender. They’re easy. But you might not know pansexual, polysexual, the whole spectrum under the term asexual, and the even bigger spectrum under the term genderqueer. And that’s not even starting on romantic orientations.

So allow me to explain.

Pansexual means attraction regardless of gender identity. You have the physical capability to be attracted to anyone (but not everyone).

The difference between pansexual and bisexual is a common question, and everyone has a different answer. But really, all you need to know is that if someone identifies as either pansexual or bisexual, then that is what they are and you need to respect that.

Polysexual is similar. It means attraction to multiple genders (so someone who previously called themselves a lesbian may change to polysexual to include anyone with a vagina, regardless of gender identity).

If a person is asexual, it means they don’t experience sexual attraction at all. There’s a whole host of terms under the asexual umbrella, including demisexual (sexual attraction only when a strong romantic bond has been formed) and grey-asexual (sexual attraction only in specific cases, perhaps only towards one person). Asexual people can still be in fulfilling romantic relationships.

Then, of course, there’s romantic attraction, which is entirely different. Romantic attraction refers to people you are interested in dating. A person can be panromantic (romantic attraction to all genders regardless of gender identity), biromantic (romantic attraction to all genders, but not regardless of gender identity), polyromantic (romantic attraction to multiple genders), homoromantic (romantic attraction to the same gender), heteroromantic (romantic attraction to the opposite gender), or aromantic (no romantic attraction at all). Romantic attraction doesn’t necessarily line up with sexual attraction – it is possible for a bisexual person to be heteroromantic, for example.

Now we’ve covered sexuality, we have to start on gender. Cisgender is the term for people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. Transgender is the opposite. Genderqueer covers a whole host of terms, listed below.

An agender person doesn’t identify as any gender at all. A bigender person identifies as two genders, sometimes at the same time and sometimes switching between. A genderfluid person identifies as all genders, often changing throughout the day. This can lead to dysphoria (discomfort with physical appearance, mindset, or how you are perceived socially). Dysphoria is common amongst transgender and genderfluid people, but if a person doesn’t experience it, their identity is no less valid.

The important thing to remember is that transgender people are the gender they identify as, and they always have been. A transwoman doesn’t want to be a woman. She isn’t changing from a man to a woman, and she wasn’t born a boy or in a boy’s body. She just happened to be assigned male at birth.

The important thing to remember as a cisgender, heterosexual person, is to always be respectful of someone’s identity and personal pronouns, and never ask any questions about their gender or sexuality that you wouldn’t expect to be asked about your own.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Straight Boy Problem

I'm a bisexual girl, and as my brain frequently points out to me, I am so, so very bisexual. I'll be lusting after Scarlett Johansson, and five minutes later drooling over Samuel Larsen. But (and this has caused me some worry over the last few months), attractive as they are, I actually have no interest in dating men.

Or, at least, I have little interest in dating only very few. For lack of a better word, I'm going to call this the straight boy problem.

Being privileged makes people annoying to other, less privileged people. White people, able-bodied people, rich people, cisgender people. Straight people. Irritating as hell if you're not one of them.

Particularly straight men. Particularly straight boys. They are so wrapped up in their own privilege they can't see two metres in front of them, and attractive though they might be, this makes them profoundly annoying. And it only takes five minutes of hanging out with someone profoundly annoying before they're about as attractive as three week old unrefrigerated pizza.

I like men. They're cute. They have the jaws that do the thing and the hair that does the thing and the hip bones that do the thing. But god, I can barely spend five minutes with them anymore.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

I'm not a child!

When I was in my mid teens, every time I read a character protesting that they're 'not a child!' I'd scoff and think 'only a child says that'. I promised myself that I'd never say that, and by that, prove my own adulthood.

God I was naive.

I was a child. And I still am. If given the choice between the fun and the sensible decision, I will always make the fun one. I can't save money to save my life. I still eat three magnums a day, just because I can. I don't wash my clothes until I'm literally having to dig through the laundry basket to find the cleanest pair of underwear. I don't wash the dishes until we've run out of forks. My room has been cleaned once in the almost two years I've lived here and it wasn't even me who did it. My desk is piled with more rubbish than a skip outside a building site. I claim to want to write as a career, but I actually write fuck-all because watching How I Met Your Mother is easier.

I probably moved out of home way too early. I keep telling myself that if I moved into my very own place I'd keep it tidy because it would be my space, and mine alone, but that's probably bullshit. I didn't just get pushed into the deep end without taking swimming lessons. I jumped, willingly and happily, and had the audacity to be shocked when I couldn't touch the bottom. Sometimes I want to swim to the shallow end, or even just climb out of the pool entirely, and only my bone-deep pigheadedness is stopping me.

I'm not sure how to end this. Do I make some sort of sarcastically witty quip and leave you dejected, or do I dig into my store of optimism, which feels like it's running lower every day, and tell you that of course I'll get better - I'll publish a book, or get a better job, or learn how to save money, or finally be able to live completely on my own without any assistance from my parents, or move to Melbourne or London or New York and become a superstar?

I don't know if any of that will happen. I have no idea what the next five or ten or fifty years will bring. But I'll be damned if I let them be boring.

Next time I'm feeling discouraged, next time I'm clicking from my Google docs tab over to Netflix, and next time I sigh in self-loathing and go to the freezer for that third magnum, I need to get out this post, dust it off, and remind myself that I promised the internet, and more importantly myself, that I wasn't going to be boring any more. And then I need to close down Netflix, ignore the call of that magnum, and write the damn novel. Because the only way I'm going to have the life I want is if I get off my arse and fight for it.