One of the best ways to learn about the prejudice within yourself is by meeting and introducing new people into your life.
A couple months back, I became acquainted with a genderqueer woman that I hoped to add to my small circle of friends. She is educated, youthful, driven and attractive. All of the qualities that describe some of the people I love most. During our first conversation we talked about school, the future, and our life's goals. She told me about her focus in life, and about her family, and how she approached them with her sexuality. If you ask any hetero-normative person about their sexuality, they never have to include a 'coming out story' because they aren't forced to declare a sexuality. That's neither here nor there, so I'll continue.
As we continued to get to know one another, I only assumed one facet about her sexuality, that she was a lesbian. I also only ascribed one gender pronoun when speaking to her, and that was 'she'. It turns out that I could not have been more wrong. My use of the female pronoun while speaking to this person was a form of prejudice that I placed on her unknowingly. My friend preferred to be referred to in only male pronouns: "he" or "him", and nothing more.
Gender queer: A person who redefines or plays with gender, or who refuses gender altogether. A label for people who bend/break the rules of gender and blur the boundaries.
The inner rebel in me could not simply allow him to force me to change my way of speaking, as I am so used to saying "girl this, and woman that". The comfort I have in speaking to other women this way made him uncomfortable, and helped me realize my gender prejudice.
As a homosexual black female, I am the last one to assign labels or judge anyone for who they want to be, yet, I was not comfortable with just allowing him to be a he. It was as if I wanted him to be as comfortable with all that makes a woman a woman, even though he did not identify with that same feminist agenda. My hard head and cold heart lead our premature relationship to failure, and we no longer speak on a regular basis.
As I write this, that quote is resounding in my head, but for all the wrong reasons. I see being a woman as powerful, enriching, and occasionally, the most fun one can have. Also, my friend was not 'trying' to be anything! People make assumptions, stereotype, and label women as so much less than we are capable of. As a woman I strive to break down those stereotypes, defeat those assumptions, and ascribe NEW labels to the female gender. I had never considered what it could be like for someone that may not feel totally female inside. Before meeting my ex-friend, I would have never thought I was prejudice against trans-men, trans-women, or genderqueer individuals. Yet, here I am apologetic and a bit disappointed in myself.
He recently contacted me, and all the shame of my prejudice came into my mind. Simply put, I was wrong. He may never know the reason we lost touch or maybe I'll grow a back bone and share this entry. Either way I'm glad to have met him because I learned so much about the world around me, and most importantly the limitations within myself.