Life can change in some fascinating ways sometimes.
I started this entire project - the whole idea of Starship Gender - in early 2019. By late 2021, I was struggling with continuing to use the "Starship Gender" name, because the whole concept of gender was increasingly feeling like a massive lie I wanted to escape from.
And now, almost two years after that, I've reached an interesting verdict. I like the name, and I'm keeping it.
But the idea of gender itself can go rot in a hole.
The more I've explored the history of "gender" as a notion, and the more I've learned about how intricately connected gender is to systemic oppressions of all kinds, the more I'm convinced that the entire thing just needs to go away.
At this point in my life, the best way I can summarize "gender" is that it is a whimsical and impossible to define raft of bullshit, an ephemeral set of rules, constantly changing and evolving. It serves precisely one purpose: to limit what we can (and cannot) do, as people. It is designed to shrink, by violence, that which should be larger: our potential as living beings.
In short, gender is a weapon of exhaustion.
Way back in 2019, I was struggling with figuring out how to understand myself. Gender had been used against me, for over three decades, in an attempt to repress something I've actually always known about who I am. And this was so frightengly successful that for most of those years, I had no conscious recollection of that knowledge.
It lay dormant, buried deep inside myself for safekeeping. Every now and then, it would peer out - just for a moment - to check if the coast was clear. If it was safe to re-emerge. Over and over, time and again, it wasn't safe. I forgot again, and pushed aside the vague feeling of uneasy confusion and resumed what I thought of as my "life."
Towards the end of 2018, I had a very brief series of appointments with a therapist who specializes in certain forms of trauma. I wasn't ready to dig into much of my real story, so she only had certain facets of my past to work with. But regardless, she sent me on my way with a piece of advice I'll never forget.
I don't know what her actual words were, anymore, but I clearly got the message: "the most important thing you can do is learn to trust whatever it is you're so desperately trying to tell yourself."
And so I did. I reached inside, willing to meet... whoever it was in there... and committed to figuring out what it was, in fact, that I was trying to tell myself.
So much of that story - especially the first couple of years - has been told here on this very blog, in prior entries. How I came to recognize the crucial role of "gender" in my own self-understanding. How I worked to upend my entire existence to set my actual self free, and the repercussions and fallout of choosing her at the expense of the whims of kyriarchy and its agents all around me.
How I found peace, and solidity, and power in the authenticity I had embraced... and how that began, slowly but surely, to spill into every facet of my life and existence, well beyond things like clothing, hair, the shape of my body, or the sound of my voice.
And then it was late in 2021, and I wasn't really sure I wanted the entire "gender" thing at all.
Back then I still felt ok with the idea of being a "lesbian" but that one has gone by the wayside, too. I've taken to just describing myself as "queer" because... well, the nature of my defiance has evolved somewhat.
When this all began in earnest, five years ago now, all I was rebelling against was what society had personally told me to be. But over time, I began to realize that I cannot - will not - stop there. It isn't enough to just relocate myself into a different pocket of comfort within an overall oppressive and unjust system.
I've known, my entire life, that who I am is abnormal. And the first step for me, back in 2019, was to reckon with - and embrace - my own abnormality. To be trans is, literally by definition, to defy convention, but to an extreme. The vast majority of people deviate from "perfect" gender norms in various tiny ways, but that's not considered a problem. Trans people are a problem, but not because we aren't perfectly compliant with the system - it's because of how blatantly we demonstrate that the rules we've all been handed are bullshit.
We're not rare because people whose very existence tests the concept of "gender" are uncommon. We're rare because openly defying the status quo is uncommon, in every venue of life.
And there being more of us, openly and defiantly proving just how absurdly arbitrary and unjust the system really is, definitely constitutes a problem. To be trans is to embody one of the most dangerous ideas of our time.
But I'm not satisfied, anymore, with simply making peace with being abnormal. To concede to abnormality is to validate the existence of normalcy, albeit as an outsider. Normalcy offers no refuge, no escape, no salvation; merely a chance to stop paying attention to the horrors inflicted on the world around us, in the name of maintaining normalcy. I will not ignore the evils of normative society in exchange for respite from a portion of its hate.
I am committed, now, to being anti-normal.
As I wrote back in that entry from 2021, I don't think gender has any answers, for any of us. I think it's an illusion; but it carries an enticing promise of certainty, and in a world where life is fraught with instability, fear, uncertainty, and precarity, I can't blame anyone (and certainly don't blame myself) for being drawn to even an illusion of stability.
Ultimately, though, I think it's something we need to move beyond.
If we just... existed, as people, completely without constraints and limitations about who we can be, or what we can do, or who we can do it all with... what would that be like? What would exist, in a world that had no gender? What would cease to exist?
And of the things that would necessarily have to go away... would we really miss any of it?
It's a hard thing to imagine. Oppression works very hard to murder our imaginations, for a reason. Imagination is childish, and silly, and not befitting adults! Grown-up, serious people don't do silly things. If a bunch of people with the resources and skills of adults suddenly started having the imaginations of young children, kyriarchy would be in serious shit. We can't have that.
What could be more silly than to just be completely, utterly free? To be unfettered in all facets of our existence and choices?
I like to say that, underneath all the complicated messy stuff, the real purpose of oppression is to deny joy. At the end of the day, oppressors don't want the oppressed to feel good about ourselves, to derive meaning from our own existences, to enjoy the opportunity we have to experience life in general.
I am no longer willing to acknowledge "gender" as a valid container for humanity, or our potential as living creatures. I do not respect the concept itself, because it is inherently a vehicle for controlling and removing joy - from somebody, somewhere, even if we're not quite sure who.
So this is my confession, to a crime that is forbidden by no law, but defies every attempt at oppression and control that has ever plagued this planet.
I hereby admit to Grand Theft Starship. I am stealing the Starship Gender.
And I invite you along for the joyride.