Probably the most complicated questions about how to behave in my life revolve around other people’s children. I generally have compatible ethics with my friends, so I can manage teaching moments and reprimands without too much tension there. But my job, which also involves other people’s children, is much trickier.

Coming out is an area of my life that requires repeated and sustained courage. But when is it appropriate? Do I tell a six year old I’ve just met who wants to know if I’m a boy or a girl that I’m genderqueer? And then what? I can imagine all too easily- instead of talking about what we’re supposed to be focusing on, we end up talking about me and my gender. The kid talks to other kids, and soon I’m spending chunks of my time at work talking about me instead of the kids. Some of them go home and tell their parents. Maybe it’s fine. Maybe a parent complains- if not about my gender, then, fairly, about wasted time. After all, they didn’t enroll their kids in gender school. Maybe I have to talk to my boss.

So instead, maybe I deflect. I redirect to our actual topic. I ask whether they’re a boy or girl. I let them come to their own conclusion. After all, while they might not add my high voice, my buzz cut, and my men’s clothes together and get “genderqueer”, they can identify easily enough that I don’t quite fit in. If they had the vocabulary for it, they might say “gender nonconforming”. Isn’t that enough? If the goal, as one bumper sticker says, is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable, isn’t just my existence enough?

Is that cowardice? I am afraid of finding out that my boss is not supportive, or of losing a job I like. Or is it courage? I can be who I am from one day to the next without yelling. Courage isn’t always loud, sometimes it is quietly, stubbornly, working away at something.

Where do you struggle to navigate your courageous actions? Share in the comments!


About Melissa ra Karit

I'm a queer, poly, genderqueer Witch. I'm a sex-positive feminist, an activist, and a writer. I believe that when we attend to our individual good, we approach the world with good in our hearts and change the world for the better. Opinions expressed here are solely my personal opinions, and do not represent the views of any organization with which I am affiliated.
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One Response to Navigation

  1. lunaribbeck says:

    As I wrote in this post, I often struggle. I struggle not only because of the people involved, but also because of my own feelings. I don’t want to look or feel sexy or female all the time, and I struggle against my idea how this or that situation would be. Sometimes I have it in my mind, but when the time comes, I don’t feel like I thought I would, so I struggle against my own imagination aswell. I am also teacher, so I am in a pretty same situation as you describe. I often think then: ok, it’s not the time, it should not be. But one day I will be better positioned, in a different mood, clearer about myself, so I don’t hesitate. The day will come. And the best moments come, when things happen without having been forseen or planned. Today I will go out en femme and meet a friend, and I decided not to hide my stuff when I leave the house. I want to go straight, not ducked.

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