Speculative fiction writer, translator, and editor
disorienting us
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disorienting us

race, gender, dieselpunk, and diaspora

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stop ma’aming me

I know you’re being polite, but:

  • stop ma’aming me
  • stop calling me a lady
  • or a gal
  • or a girl
  • stop assuming that I’m a woman
  • stop referencing me with she/her pronouns

How I experience gender is separate from how I present myself physically. Gender is invisible, and, the more comfortable I am in understanding my experiences with gender, the more discomfort I feel when any of the above and other assumed gendering happens. Each instance is a microaggression, an invalidation of my experiences. I don’t experience bodily dysphoria in a gender-related sense, but all these invalidations add up to a social dysphoria that manifests itself as frustration and anger.

You don’t need to gender me. You don’t need to ma’am me. You don’t need to call your reading of me to the forefront of your interactions with me.

I want to live in a world where people don’t assume gender, and I’ve been encouraging myself to take steps toward creating that world for at least myself. With people I know, I’ve begun to experience a form of seeing where gender fades away and becomes less visible. Not in a colorblind racism sort of let’s-ignore-it-and-hope-it-goes-away sense, but in some form of dual awareness, where I’m conscious of my friends’ genders, but also find them irrelevant to most of my interactions with them. For the most part, I know how my friends identify when it comes to gender, but I don’t presume that I know the details, either.

I’m beginning to get some of that double-vision with strangers, too. I do have the instinctual reflex to categorize, but I want to shift my foundations to start using gender-neutral references to strangers regardless of how I assume them to be gendered. I’ve seen people that I’ve been attracted to recently, but I no longer feel comfortable presuming that they’re women.

In the grand scheme of things, I want femininity and the feminine to be divided from womanhood, and masculinity and the masculine to be divided from manhood. When femininity and masculinity stand alone, nonbinary people who don’t present androgynously might be able to be read as nonbinary instead of assumed to be in a binary category. When femininity and masculinity stand alone, trans people who do fit into the binary might be less stigmatized, more understood, more accepted.

Femininity does not disqualify someone from manhood. Womanhood does not require adhering to (cis) femininity. Gender is vast.

I’ve been sitting on a lot of thoughts that I’ve been meaning to unpack. I’ve been treating this blog as a place where I should post more finished, polished thoughts, but that’s only led to nonproductivity in this space. I’m working out my experiences, working out my thoughts, figuring out how I understand things, how to understand and interpret things. No more polishing, because I’m unpolished to begin with.

So. Expect more thoughts to come.

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This is an archive of an inactive blog. My thoughts and opinions may have changed since the publication of these posts.

disorienting us is the thinky-thoughts blog of one S. Qiouyi Lu, who is, among other things, second-generation Han Chinese-American, genderescent, and nonbinary. Ae/aer/aers, they/them/theirs, and pronounless references are all acceptable.




Header photos: Public domain portraits of Anna May Wong

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