My Gender Queer Journey
Somewhere on my journey of finding myself I discovered my Gender Queer Identity. Gender Queer means a person like me, who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders. My Gender Queer identity is not to do with what happens in the bedroom, or wanting to change parts of my body, it is that I don’t identity with biblical and social gender distinctions.
I have always seen sexuality as being across a spectrum and for a long time saw myself as a very camp Queer. Gay man; for those easily offended by the word queer. But as someone that was bullied from the age of 8 till I left school at 16, for being initially seen as different, a bit chubby and then for being ‘Queer’, a ‘Faggot’ or a ‘Poof’. I feel it a political and positive act to reclaim the term Queer.
Recently, I was clearing my flat to allow space for a lodger to move in and feel at home. I came across a school report from 1983, the school teachers’ comments were: “He is an ultra-sensitive and needs gentle handling” (Me aged 5, Mrs R, Sinai Primary School). This statement was written in different ways on school reports for the rest of my school life. It made me wonder had a teacher sought the right support would life have turned out differently, would I have built better resilience and perhaps affirmed my gender and sexuality at a much younger age.
I have always self-identified as Queer, to make something that could be a very negative experience, into something positive. I have always had a feeling of not being comfortable in my own skin and have been treated by others as a bit strange, a bit like marmite, people tend to love or hate me. I’ve now come to understand that this is not about me, it has taken me many years, during these years my unconscious Gender Queer challenged them. Why now? As I can hear my Jewish family say: “Oy Vey!” This idea has been talked about between me and close friends over the last few years and in some way recent positive role models from the Trans* and Queer community coming out, have given me and others within the Trans* and Gender-Queer community members permission to speak out and start exploring what being Gender Queer means for them.
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 final consultation ended a short time ago. The consultation did not “consider the question of whether trans people exist, whether they have the right to legally change their gender, or whether it is right for a person of any age to identify with another gender, or with no gender. Trans and non-binary people are members of our society and should be treated with respect”. This has caused huge debate, anger, hate and much anxiety across all communities. Often the harshest comments have come from those that sit in a cis gender privilege place. In my therapy room I have seen, heard and had an embodied sense of the unrest this has caused for my Transgender, Gender-Queer and those that are not ready to say clients. The statistics reflect that the transgender and non-binary community deserve our respect.
You may ask what it is it like for both myself and my clients to sometimes be at sea with our gender and sexuality at the same time. Disclosure is a difficult one. I only disclose where it may be relevant to the therapeutic work to the client. I am not here to impose my journey on theirs. I am fortunate to see some clients within private practice and volunteer as a therapist in CliniQ, it is important in terms of my self-care to volunteer within a Transgender affirmative space and have my own external support networks. I stopped believing in our modern world that we can be a blank canvas to our clients. If you go to the Freud Museum, you will see that Freuds therapy room was not a blank canvas. Those that have experienced any phobia will be more vigilant at picking this up in our therapy rooms. Our clients want to be seen, heard and loved in their experience of the world, in the relationships with themselves and others.
In my relationship with my clients there are two of us steering the boat together hoping to get to the safe shores. For myself therapy is about what is going in the work now, with the destination in sight.
My Gender Queer Identity is on a journey and who knows where that journey will end.