Queer-Normativity

I identify as “queer” pretty much exclusively because I consider “asexual lesbian trans woman” to be too much of a mouthful. It is, for me, a purely descriptive identity, and one which gets hollered at me from time to time by repulsive pricks in pick-up trucks.

Given that I identify, and am identified, as queer, I have had cause to interact with the Queer Community. And while I have made a great individual friends in this community*, I cannot honestly say that I have ever truly felt at home in the community itself. Because, as I soon found out, there are certain normative standards specific to the queer community into which I do not really fit. As I read on someone’s tumblr a few months ago: “When a bigot hears the word ‘queer,’ a trans woman is probably the first thing that they thinks of; when a queer theorist hears the word ‘queer,’ a trans woman is probably the last thing that they think of.”

Generally speaking, the Ideal Queer (at least in the communities with which I have interacted) should be thin, white, and either a gay cis man, a butch cis lesbian, or a trans person who was designated female at birth. Ideally, they should also be vocal about their (very rich) sex lives, to the point where community organizations can double as dating services for thin, white queers. Finally, they should also have a familiarity with academic Queer Theory equivalent to that of second or third year major.

Now, obviously, I run afoul of a lot of the guidelines**, but I would like to talk about that last one, because I’ve noticed that a lot of undergraduate students have an obnoxious habit of assuming that anyone who hasn’t read the same books as them must be an idiot. Now, of course, we physicists are really, really bad for that***, but at least we don’t run around insulting electrons for not being ‘electronic’ enough as dictated by our theories. And it’s one thing when you condescend to someone like me for not being able to discuss Michel Foucault’s theories, but there are people who are so marginalized by their own queerness that they have no chance of ever studying academic queer theory. Condescending to them for not knowing enough about other people’s theories of their own existence is just plain dickish.

________________________________________

*Mostly people with similar concerns to my own.

**And I’ve spoken to a great many people, especially trans women and people of colour, who feel the same way.

***An attitude best exemplified by a rather condescending quote from Ernest Rutherford: “All science is either physics or stamp collecting.”

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About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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7 Responses to Queer-Normativity

  1. Honestly, my biggest rub with the “queer community” where I am is that they believe asexual doesn’t exist and that you’re just scared to be who you really are. Or if it does exist, it can’t possibly be part of “queer”. I think it is because so much of the “queer” identity is based on sexual acts that the very idea of someone identifying as part of the queer community who isn’t sexual is too confusing and different…

  2. n8chz says:

    I used to envy your trifecta of hip; west coast, college town, Canada. Or difecta as long as Stephen Fucking Harper is in office. But more and more I appreciate how things roll here in antediluvian Detroit, where the catch-all term isn’t queer, but gay. Even the lesbians here call themselves gay. I’ve come across a few gay-identified asexuals also. Josie and I are as gay a couple as you will find. I pick a doctor, lawyer, mechanic at random from the ads in the gay newspaper. It’s good to be gay.

    • Lindsay says:

      Huh! I live in Kansas — nowhere more backwards, right? — and as far as I can see the catchall term here is queer. At KU, the gay-straight alliance was called Queers & Allies when I was there. (They might’ve changed it, that was almost ten years ago.)

  3. Mark kent says:

    hello,happy new year .i get your blog.i have aspergers. I AM NOT A TRANS,OR GAY. just like too understand,very well done to you being a trans woman.i am married have 2,boys 1,girl. i take part in a lot lot research from lot universities.if you would like a chat any time e.mail mkentdad12@outlok.com .if you would like to ask me any thing please do. we live in England .i all so have M.E.if you have heard of this.i would say i am older than you are.i am impressed with your blog,you have aspergers.. I HAVE ASPERGERS,, very big start.

    look forward to hearing from you

    mark________________________________ > Date: Mon, 30 Dec 2013 23:37:26 +0000 > To: mkentdad12@outlook.com >

  4. Lindsay says:

    I use “queer” because it is so vague, and for me that’s a good thing. Because the first person I had serious, I-want-to-spend-my-life-with-this-person feelings for was another girl (we were teenagers, so “girl” is the right word), I figured I must be a lesbian and identified myself as such to everyone I met for several years. It was a bit awkward when I fell in love again, this time with a man, and had to be all like, “Whoops, I guess I’m bi! Surprise!”

    Since then I’ve figured that my sexuality is probably going to keep surprising me, so I should use as broad a term as possible to describe it. “Queer” fits that bill quite nicely. I can move all around the Kinsey scale, as long as I stay above zero (which, if you’re considering a person’s whole lifetime, is guaranteed), and remain within its boundaries.

    (I might be reading more into it than is there, but to my mind “bisexual” connotes an exact 50/50 split between same- and other-sex attraction. This is probably just me being weird, though.)

    I have seen it argued, on lesbian radfem blogs (I like a lot about radical feminism, just not the anti-trans stuff), that lesbian and bisexual women shouldn’t use “queer” because it’s a slur, and that bi women in particular have dubious grounds for reclaiming anti-gay slurs. So I might switch over to using “bi” exclusively.

    ALSO, I never got to have much contact with any queer community, even though what little experience I did have in college bears out what you say.

    (It was a guy who lived on the same floor as one of my friends, a very outspoken gay guy who, on finding out I considered myself a lesbian, said “YOU look more like a LIBRARIAN than a LESBIAN!” My friend thought this guy was a jerk, but this comment made me laugh. Sadly, “bisexual” doesn’t rhyme with anything.)

  5. Lindsay says:

    Also, “All science is either physics or stamp collecting” is HILARIOUS! They should tell you that whenever they teach you about the Rutherford experiment — it adds so much to have funny stories about the people whose discoveries, equations etc. you are learning!

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