Gender is an ocean

Gender. What does that word mean to you? Is it just about biology, reproductive function? Is it your idea of yourself, how you perceive your being? Is it a social construct, handed down to us at birth from an authority on high? If so can we hand it back?

Gender to me is a process, a verb, an action – or rather, multiple actions, some large and many small, each and every day.

Gender is an invocation and an evocation. Calling in and bringing forth. It is less about knowing myself as it is about creating myself.

It goes without saying, I hope, that each of us is the expert on our own gender and each of us can only speak for ourselves in this regard. Anyone who tells you that they know your gender better than you do is lying.

Gender is not a binary. It is far more interesting than that. I don’t even think that the analogy of gender as a spectrum is quite enough either – it still posits an idealised “male” and “female” and places them at opposite poles with the rest of us awkwardly squidged somewhere in between.

Gender is an ocean. It is vast, mysterious, and mostly unknown. It flows and changes, waves rising and falling, moment to moment, and is never the same, yet is eternally present. It has its shallows and its deeps, it has its tides, its ebbs and flows. It has its weather, its calms and storms, its sunshine and rain. It has its terrors, and it has its wonders.

Gender can be linked to our bodies, but it is so much more than that. It sits at the core of who we are in the world.

Who am I?

I am the smell of moss on an April morning. I am the song of wind through willow leaves. I am the silver light of ancient stars and the blood red beauty of sunrise. I am the taste of snowmelt. I am the call of the crow and owl.

I am of earth and air, fire and water and spirit, and all these mixed confusedly.

Λεγιὼν ὄνομά μοι, ὅτι πολλοί ἐσμεν.

I loathe the simplified and insulting boxes we are forced into with each gendered pronoun, each sideways glance, each government form. The scripts we are given were written long ago, by men (and it is almost always men) who claim power in the name of a god or a nation, and they no longer serve if ever they did.

I want to improvise.

I would walk in freedom, I would wear midnight. I would sing the song of all my selves, cacophonous and wild.

Beyond form, beyond bodies and clothes and rules and roles, when all is gently removed, thanked, and put aside, what remains?

Our almost-instinct almost true: what will survive of us is love.


      1. I’m glad if it did, because I love the image of gender as an ocean (but I also still love my imagery of a landscape, with the Mountains of the Fierce Femmes and the village of Sant Boi).

        Liked by 1 person

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