My Gender in the Face of Colonialism: A Quest

The author in one of her looks in the Middle East The author in one of her looks in the Middle East
One thing that I notice since relocating to the West is the social pressure (maybe even a requirement?) to define who, how, and why you are the person you are. Sometimes you can't have a simple conversation without taking three minutes to disclose all of your identities and current life practices. Needless to say that is a trend in most queer/trans spaces. The hyper-performance of identification satisfies the individual desire to feel defined and established, along with comfortably placing yourself within the structures we live under. And this definitely applies to gender discourses as well.
 
When I tell people I am gender non binary trans* femme, I first feel overwhelmed because that is a lot of words, and then confused because I don't understand how a group of words that I not so long ago discovered in a language that isn't my own can dictate so much in my life. I was initially thrilled to have a phrase to describe who I am after years of not being able to define myself. These days however, I have been feeling a disconnect with the terminology available to describe my gender to the ways in which I live my life, per my gender. Frankly, I do not even think about my gender that much, it is more of an evolving spiral of production and reproduction as opposed to a set-in-stone definition-- And that is very exciting. 
 
But-- I realize how both my physical and mental colonization contributes to my situation: The context in which I was brought up (Middle East) is diametrically opposed to the one I am living in now (New York City). The same goes for the language and culture I currently consume. (I talk about these issues more on my personal tumblr: hysthetics.com).  I have let the Western and White queer and trans discourses of gender somehow sneak their way into my life. I now realize that me seeking validation in identifying within this system not only perpetuates colonialism and cultural imperialism, it also halts me from carrying my gender to it's full potential. Sadly however, when I tell people that I don't really identify as anything, it ignites confusion and anxieties on their end and I can see from their reactions that they would much rather have a definite, documentable answer from me. (Keep in mind that my personal identification, or the lack thereof, has nothing to do with how I am treated and read in the world but that is a discussion for another article.)
 
And that is the basic practice of colonialism-- Seeing something new, and something that does not belong to you and demanding access and documentation per your values and practices.
 
Maybe I have taken in the Western individualistic self-branding idea and reverted it at exponential levels, or I simply do not get the discourse, but my answer to this uncomfortable state of being is to say that my gender is my gender and it can't be compared, situated, or categorized with anyone else's. When I identify the way I identify currently is simply an enactment of the politics of the self- because frankly I don't see any other alternative that makes sense to me right now.
 
Xxxo,
Kibele
Kibele

Kibele is a transnational trans-techno trans femme djin. Her tumblr is hysthetics.com and her soundcloud is soundcloud.com/kibele-sellene.

Website: www.hysthetics.com

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6 comments

  • dylan

    Thank you for writing this. I am working on an article on non-identification or simplified gender identification as a viable option, and part of that is a critique of Western ideals of atomistic individuality. I appreciate your perspective a great deal.

    dylan Comment Link
  • dylan

    Thank you for writing this. I am working on an article on non-identification or simplified gender identification as a viable option, and part of that is a critique of Western ideals of atomistic individuality. I appreciate your perspective a great deal.

    dylan Comment Link
  • Kibele

    Thank you boo! Shoot me an email hysthetics@gmail.com - I'd love to find out more about the article you are working on. Xo

    Kibele Comment Link
  • M

    I approve of your condemnation of unnecessary labels. All these words define who you are today, so do you have to wake up every morning and get out your dictionary of terms to define yourself? No, of course not, as you say, it is fluid and that is what makes it exciting.

    M Comment Link
  • Kibele

    Yeah but I was talking about myself-- The identity labels work for a lot of people. It just doesn't work for me.

    Kibele Comment Link
  • Milena

    what about the term gender itself as a western transplant in our psyches, especially as people coming from transnational realities? i get the importance of it in exposing a reality of self as untied to the biological, but it has been feeling quite constrained to me lately, especially in its mis-interpretation (although a very real one) in some of the spaces i know.

    Milena Comment Link

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