Genderqueerness, gender fluidity, bisexuality, and pansexuality, quite different identities that they are, are all sometimes are confronted with the assumption that the above are “just phases” on the way to another identity, generally cisgender status and heterosexuality. Perhaps because these identities appear to exist in the in-between or on the outside. However they’re interpreted, I’m sure many of us have had experiences of doubt as to the validity of our identities, not only an initial or continuing lack of understanding but the assumption that we will at some point “grow out of it” or cease being this way. Assumptions that we’re confused or are still questioning ourselves and will at some point figure it all out.
What I say to that is…why should it matter so much if I do drop one identity description for another one that fits me better later on? That doesn’t mean I “never really was” . Additionally, what if these identities remain valid and important to me for life – does that make mine somehow more valid than someone who acquires them later or drops them? Isn’t that what is most important and powerful about self-description? I certainly think that people should take identity descriptions very seriously, especially in the way of activism and personal fulfillment, while I also acknowledge that not everyone is going to have the same gender and sexual identity forever. The stigma that comes both with the assumption that genderqueer-related identities, bisexuality, and pansexuality are invariably stepping stones to another identity, and also the assumption that if there is change or questioning along the lines of any identities, it is somehow more spurious, are assumptions that only cause harm.
Why are these identity groups somehow more likely to be seen as confused about themselves than cisgender or monosexual identities? Members of these groups often take some time to question and find out what they want and what they want to be sexually as well. Again, what about people who have such identities for life? Are they somehow more ‘really’ than those who transition from one identity to another? I don’t think so.
What’s so bad about someone taking some time to figure themselves out anyway, if that’s the case? What about gay men and lesbians who thought they were straight or were encouraged to be straight until they realized it wasn’t for them? What’s so bad about identifying one way and then another way later on? Identifying the same way for the rest of your life? Couldn’t any identity be a step to another later on, a personal exploration? Or not. Neither a fixed nor fluid identity are inherently bad things. It’s the assumptions that certain identities are more changeable than others, and that if changeability exists that it is suspect, that I take issue with.
I personally doubt that, as my life goes on, I will identify much differently than I have since I was a teenager. I have always been attracted to men and as soon as I was old enough to conceive of it and develop a more concrete sexual identity, I have had a very strong gay male identification (while not identifying as a man). I already knew I didn’t identify as a woman when I was younger, and “man” doesn’t fit me either, so genderqueer and androgyne are the most accurate descriptors for me in the way of gender. I feel very comfortable with identifying as an androsexual / gay-male identified gq androgyne. The relief the understanding of these identities brings and knowing that other people out there exist who I share similarities with equals immeasurable comfort. All the same, I can just hear the reactions of people in the future, should I decide other words are more appropriate, or perhaps if I make a transition-related move like wanting hormones and surgery. “Aha! They were really an all along.” I know that is so, so, so not true. I know I am very much what I am right now and I am prepared for that to either stay very much the same, or even to potentially change, down the road in my life.