Considering the gender spectrum

Hello my friends. I hope this day finds you fabulous. I woke up in a good mood, ready to take on the world. I didn’t even let a little random dog vomit ruin it for me; I cleaned it up with only one dry heave. Add coffee and a random funny meme, and my day is off and going with a smile.

The weather today is too chilled to take my coffee on the veranda — the chill and the fact that we don’t have a veranda. So today I will try to educate an old queen by listening to a young one. I love that some of you still come to me for advice. I received the following this week:

Miss Cassie Nova,
I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoy your column in The Voice.  It is well written, insightful and very funny.  I can’t remember reading a bad one.  My favorite is the column on shots/Tire Fire! You should have a collection of short stories published. That is not flattery; it is true. I have thought about telling you this in person at the Rose Room, but I always lose my nerve. I’m not shy; it just sounds odd coming out of nowhere during a show when you are multitasking.

My question is this: Gender designations today — fluid, non-binary, pansexual, cisgender, they, them, etc. (Should ETC be considered as a gender designation as well??? )

I fully understand, and I agree that each person should have the right, the personal insight and the spine to declare themselves to be what they want to be and what they are. The eyes of the world are on us no matter what, and my little light does shine!  It is, however, becoming increasingly difficult to sift through ALL of them.  Do you have any clarifying wisdom?

Remember in the “days of yore” (the 1980s) when everyone was desperately trying to figure out the handkerchief “mystery” to advertise their preference, proclivities and inclinations? Then it became a Flag; everyone/every group has a flag. The rainbow flag wasn’t enough — inclusive, BUT not inclusive enough. I still haven’t gotten a clear picture for either of those as of yet.

Me? I am just gay — always have been and always will be. I remember when that was enough of a controversial designation, one that could free you as well as place a target on you. And I don’t feel particularly connected to these new formats. I am just an old queen. Maybe I am to just be a face in the crowd at the parade, marveling at the colors of the flags, the rainbow of people’s faces and the vivid memories of my youth.

My little light a’shining! Maudlin, I know.

So help me, Cassie Nova! Bring me up to date. Place me firmly in 2021!

— Befuddled Fossil Queen

Dearest BFQ,
I appreciate the compliments, and thank you for asking a question that I think a lot of people struggle with. I also think it is important to get it right, so I reached out to one of my younger, more intelligent friends to help me with my response. Her name is Kylee O’Hara Fatale, and I want to thank her for continually educating me and helping me understand my own community better.
I showed her your letter, and this is her response:

“Gender expressions and identities have always been here. To many of us, they may seem like something new the younger generation decided on, but really we are just more educated and know what to call how a person is expressing themselves.

“I wouldn’t think ‘ETC’ would be the nicest way to label someone. It’s almost passive, like when you see ‘Other’ as a selection.

‘People can express themselves in a certain way or a combination of ways. What’s more important is that we create the norm of respecting and accepting and not live in the past, thinking there are just ‘man’ and ‘woman.’ It’s also important that we are all continuing to educate ourselves.

“Here’s a little trick: When you meet someone, say your name and give your pronouns, then ask them theirs. I promise you no one will get offended, and many people might thank you. It’s better than just assuming someone is this or that.”

Kylee is well spoken, and she is correct in her response. Now, let me say it in “from one old queen to another” style: Don’t be a dick … simple. The “ETC” comment sounds dismissive and kinda dickish. Once you know someone’s pronouns, use them. It is such a simple act, but it is one that can seriously save a life.

Once you know better, do better. Let them “shine” in their way.

Being comfortable in one’s skin is a struggle for so many of us, but once you can put a name to it, once you know who you are and how you identify, you feel more seen. It makes it easier for you to connect with others, especially when you find out you are not alone.

I think back to my younger self, and I realize that I never felt fully male, but I never felt fully female either. I, like so many of us, fell somewhere in the middle. If I knew then what I know now, I would have understood myself better, and my pronouns might have been different.

I think we are hearing more and more about gender identities now because we have the language to describe them, and we are finding out more ways to express the way we feel on the inside. I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about sexuality and gender identities, but I think we all should be more willing to learn and to ask questions. The truth is, it can be confusing, and there are no blanket answers that apply to everyone.

The way I see it, there are more than 7 billion people on this planet, and thinking everyone will fall into the same few boxes is ridiculous. We need more boxes to check, but until then, be respectful and know it is okay not to understand everything. Their journey is different than yours, but it is just as important.

I hope this helped. Remember to always love more, bitch less and be fabulous! XOXO, Cassie Nova