Thoughts on gender alignments

30 octubre 2021

This is a contribution to the October 2021 edition of the Gender Exploration Carnival, whose topic is «Masculinity and Femininity» including gender alignments. Notice that I distinguish sex and gender as physical and psychosocial respectively, which I find the clearest cut, despite being both social constructs.

Alignment with one binary gender may be useful for some people in some facets, but not for other people or other facets. For instance, I use grammar with myself masc-aligned, but I find it violent to be aligned in gender identity. So, to begin with, the alignment must be considered facet to facet. But even focused on one facet, gender is so high-dimensional that reducing it to a one-dimensional Kinsey-like scale would lose a lot of information.

Losing the information of suprabinary genders, a Storms-like square would better show the identification with the masc-axis and the fem-axis. Alignment could be understood as two basins attracted by each binary pole, leaving the diagonal as non-aligned. This, apart of all the information it misses, opens the dangerous door to disregard the non-binary identity and round-off based on alignment.

This danger is not new, it has been implemented in Roman Law for intersex people, as codified in Justinian Code. Despite recognizing four sexual categories (men, women, eunuchs and hermaphrodites) which is more realistic than our current binarist law, it decrees that the so-called hermaphrodites (a miscellaneous box for intersex people not otherwise classified) should be legally treated as if they belonged to the closest sex in physical characteristics. This is alignment by law.

Justinian Code was realistic in recognizing that reality is not binary, but it’s sexist spirit resorts to a forced and external alignment to make unequal treatment. I don’t want a law that forces a binary alignment, be it imposed or chosen.

Breaking the glass ceiling of friendship

30 octubre 2021

This is a contribution to the October 2021 edition of the Carnival of Aros, whose topic is friendship.

Friendship may develop from different contexts, like acquaintanceship, common-interest association, or social attraction. Anyway, regardless of its origin, friendship is an unlimited format which may grow as close as desired by the involved friends, at least in principle.

However, in practice, there is a glass ceiling on friendship, be it external (imposed from society) or internal (self-imposed by the person), that limits it in different ways. One of these ways is prioritizing other relationships regarded higher in hierarchy, like romantic relationships. Another way is self-limiting the closeness of friendship for deeming it inappropriate between «just friends.» And the last kind that comes to my mind is «solving» the «just friends» issue by migrating to another format of relationship when the desired format was still a friendship. There are probably more ways in which friendship is limited against its nature, but I think they are enough.

I am an aromantic person and consider the format of friendship the most intimate format of relationship I desire, and I don’t see it limited because I can see through the glass ceiling. I have even broken it once with a queerplatonic relationship, which was labeled as friendship while it lasted. We acknowledged our respective squishes, but we called each other «my best friend.»

So, is a queerplatonic relationship a kind of friendship. In my opinion it can be without contradiction and it’s still a friendship unless the partners decide otherwise. The problem is that there are as many concepts of friendship as people, and incompatible in key points, but we should seize what is common for two potential friends and exploit this common terrain to develop their friendship as far as they agree.

Atracciones separadas, pero no necesariamente escindidas

29 octubre 2021

Esta es la segunda parte de mi contribución a la edición de octubre de 2021 del Carnival of Aces, esta vez en castellano.

Quizás en nuestra lengua no es tan conocida la controversia acerca del SAM (split attraction model) y creo que ello se debe a que «split» es una palabra bastante fuerte y por ello hay gente que se siente excluida por ella. En lugar de atracciones «escindidas», creo que desde el principio en castellano se empezó a hablar de atracciones «separadas», y pienso que eso es lo que debería hacerse en inglés para llegar a un punto de encuentro que no deje en el camino experiencias SAM, no-SAM e incluso demis.

Es un principio científico que son los modelos los que se deben adaptar a los datos empíricos, y no al contrario. Por esta razón, en la parte en inglés de esta contribución esbocé un marco teórico para dar cabida a lo que por ahora conozco. En tal marco, asumo que las diferentes atracciones deben concebirse como entidades separadas porque hay gente que las experimenta así, pero aparte admito vínculos entre algunas atracciones, que puedan ser unidireccionales o bidireccionales. La primera de tales opciones explicaría las experiencias demi, y la segunda la comunión de atracciones en algunas experiencias. He encontrado descrita esta comunión de atracciones como que el todo pesa más que la suma de las partes. Esto se podría explicar reconociendo el peso del vínculo entre ellas.

Personalmente, aunque percibo las atracciones como separadas y en la gran mayoría de las veces sin vínculo entre ellas, este nuevo marco conceptual me ayuda a comprender las pocas excepciones que he tenido. En conclusión, sigamos diciendo en castellano «atracciones separadas» y no desperdiciemos esa apertura que da nuestra terminología para reconocer vínculos entre las atracciones como ya he explicado antes.

Separate, but not necessarily split, attractions

29 octubre 2021

This is a contribution to the October 2021 edition of the Carnival of Aces, which revisits the topic of the kinds of attraction. This contribution will have a sequel in Spanish.

This is the second time the topic is touched in the carnival, and in between I have learnt that my loved and illuminating SAM (split attraction model) is not shared by everybody in the community because it doesn’t fit their experiences. People’s experiences are the empirical data, and models must try to fit them, rather than the converse. So I questioned my personal model to fit the experiences of people who have witnessed how SAM doesn’t work for them.

Such a new model should acknowledge both kinds of experiences. As it must include people who fit attractions split, it must start by recognizing the different kinds of attraction as separate entities. These attractions are not necessarily split, but may be linked, and some links may be one-way or two-way. This way we can explain at once non-split attractions (with two-way links) as well as demis (with one-way links). Indeed, the word split may sound too hard and exclude people, while separate may be more inclusive.

Even the link itself might be an experience that produces joy to people with linked attractions, which fits some experiences I’ve heard and read. If the whole weighs more than the sum of its parts may be because of the weight of the links. And personally, while feeling all my attractions separate and mostly split, this model illuminates the few exceptions when I feel a little link between two of them.

In conclusion, I propose a synthesis framework for explaining SAM, non-SAM and demi experiences at once. We can’t call it split, but I would like to call it separate, as we do in Spanish, language in which I will publish a sequel.

Aro terms I no longer try to translate

3 octubre 2021

This is a contribution to the September 2021 edition of Carnival of Aros, whose topic is Language.

My native language is Spanish and I prefer to have a parallel lexicon of technical terms in Spanish and English. This was mostly possible with asexuality, but not with aromanticism. Although the terms arrobo and arrobamiento were proposed for translating «squish» into Spanish, I think they suffered the same fortune as «zucchini» for QPP. I use «squish» and «QPP» even in Spanish, maybe because they are concepts out of the norm or any parallel with it, and maybe because my QPP was foreign and we had to communicate our squishes in English.

For me, the concept of «squish» was so relevant and useful when I discovered it, that I thought that what mattered was the concept rather than the word. The relevant point was that my squish and I knew what a squish was and it helped to communicate accurately. Then I discovered the term QPR and the feeling was the same. It helped me to describe the kind of relationship I had with that squish accurately. What I don’t understand yet is the alterous attraction. People have tried to explain to me, but I still don’t know if it’s something I experience or not, and to whom. Maybe another term to follow the same story?

The story of questioning my gender

1 octubre 2021

This is a late contribution to Septermber 2021 edition of Gender Exploration Carnival, whose aim topic was free among the previous editions. I chose Questioning since I haven’t contributed to that early edition.

I started questioning my gender when I entered the asexual community. I find it a very positive atmosphere toward non-binary genders, but I didn’t identified as agender right from the beginning. I hadn’t properly split the physical and the psychosocial features, so I made like an average and drew the conclusion that being physically satisfied with being male and psychosocially dissatisfied with any gender role made me a demiguy. Then, I found in AVEN’s masterlist of gender terms the word cis-genderless, and I identified immediately with it. Then, the splitting tools I had acquired from my self-exploration as asexual allowed me to separate the agender part from the physical sex, which is separate from my conception of gender as psychosocial (according to the meanings in Spanish) and I deem even irrelevant for it.

As agender belongs to the non-binary spectrum, I contacted with the non-binary groups and they confirmed my definitions: physical sex is irrelevant, you can be agender and it is non-binary. And even if I were a demiguy, as I initially thought, I would be non-binary yet.

Me rather than us

1 octubre 2021

This a late contribution to the September 2021 edition of Carnival of Aces, whose topic is «The ‘we’ of ‘me’.»

After thinking about the prompts of this month, I have realized that I am more an «I» person than a «we» one, mostly by precaution. I may refer by «we» to the asexual community, the aromantic community, the non-binary community, the Spanish people, the people of may age, of my studies, etc., but I try to be cautious and only state in plural the sentences that I’m sure apply to the collective, rather than a part thereof that coincides with me. Or I can even mix first and second person in the plural, which is more evident in Spanish, showing the diversity in the group at the same time as the subgroup I belong to. For instance, «algunos asexuales somos arrománticos y otros no lo son» [«some asexual (we) are aromantic and others (they) are not.»], since in Spanish the pronoun is implicit in the verb form.

Tools for exploring asexuality and gender

1 septiembre 2021

This is a late contribution to the August 2021 edition of Carnival of Aces, whose aim was to give a second chance to a past topic at the voice of the contributor. I chose Gender norms and asexuality.

I discovered asexuality terminology in June 2008, but I didn’t question my sexuality until October 2008. Fortunately, I knew of asexuality before, so it was an option to consider. I immediately identified as aromantic, but for identifying as asexual I had to figure out what sexual attraction was. By March 2009, I had already identified as asexual and attended my first meetup. I learned a few models and tools, especially splitting what we have been taught to be monolithic, and I incorporated them into my mental tools and my relation with sexual diversity would never be the same.

I had a long-distance queerplatonic relationship that lasted about two years and a half. There, my partner encouraged me to question many things, including gender, but I was still not prepared to apply my acquired tools to explore my gender. Some years later, I would identify as demiguy because I still haven’t split sex and gender and I was doing like an average of what I felt with respect to to my body and to my gender.

The key that sparked definitively my realization was an odd term listed in AVEN list of gender terms, cis-genderless. I immediately identified with the term and it made me definitively split sex and gender in my identity. I could definitively identify as agender without any burden of what I felt about my body.

I came out inside the asexual community and expressed my interest to contact the non-binary collective, but the curtain of the pandemic fell and I had to wait. Regardless the delay, I was put in contact with the non-binary community and they were very welcoming. So, now I am present in the asexual, aromantic and non-binary communities.

Summarizing, if I hadn’t had the terms for asexuality in 2008, I would probably not have realized my actual orientation. And if I hadn’t acquired the tools for exploring asexuality, I would probably not have realized my actual gender identity. It took years, but I did it thoroughfully and I don’t regret having explored my orientation and my gender.

The faces of the binarizing oppression

3 julio 2021

On these dates, Pride is celebrated and everybody follows even with empty policies or even directly with abridged bills presented as successful new laws. These bills might satisfy the cismonosexual part of the society, but they throw under the bus some collectives that they systematically invisibilize and for which I have found a common denominator: the binarizing oppression.

As far as I’ve been able to distinguish, the binarizing oppression may manifest itself either on the implied person themself or on the imposed expectations of attraction. On the first side, one can find the oppression by sexual features and also by gender identity. On the other side, we find the mandatoriness of attraction and its restriction to a single gender. I shall survey these 4 aspects in the following paragraphs.

Despite certain orange buses travel around Spain speaking of «the biology» and even there are congresswomen ready to lecture prescribing how nature is in order to align with their ideology, nature is stubborn and not dichotomic. Intersexuality does exist and it shows many more kinds of manifestations than the 2 classic sexes. It does not only exist, but it has even been recognized form the Antiquity, under the now-obsolete label of «hermaphrodite» or others showing a clear admission of sexual features outside the classic dichotomy.

Intersex people are systematically subject to surgeries and hormonations against their will and under the lie to their parents, precisely the same treatments that are denied to trans people under informed consent. I think this is the harshest face of this oppression but, I don’t belong to this minority as far as I know, I would prefer that they speak for themselves. I only want to remark the incongruence of the Spanish government’s binarizing bill forcing to register the sex of a newborn when it’s already a baby, but denying changing such a register to teenagers that know for sure, breaking the doctrine of the highest courts of law.

Distinguishing accurately sex and gender, the binarizing oppession is not satisfied with mutilating the bodies out of its cabons, but it also assigns a gender to either sex in its dichotomy and fiercely attacks, beginning with invisibilization, any identity or gender expression that falls out of the two dichotomically assigned. They admit as second-class people the binary trans people, since they chose one of their two predefined genders, but non-binary are several ranks below since we break the scheme.

Regardless the insistence of the government, there will be no real self-determination of gender without non-binary options. And what they call self-determination in their bill reminds more the obstructions to abortion than any other matter. Fighting here is where I would want to see those who call themselves feminists as a cover of their transphobia.

The other side of the coin of binarizing oppression affects the population segments a person may be attracted by. As a beginning, for the binarizing oppression, you must like either meat or fish. The attraction is thus mandatory and directed to a specific gender. This attraction must be indissolubly sexual and romantic, condemning to invisibility asexuals and aromantics, who are not even mentioned in the bill, opening the door to conversion pseudo-therapies.

But, in the same way that attraction is mandatory for the binarizing oppression, it must be also directed to a single gender, binary, of course. This splits heterosexuality as first-class and homosexuality as second-class, but both monosexual and free of binarizing oppression. This monosexism, apart of invisibilizing asexuals and aromantics, attacks all the pluri identities, regardless their prefix (bi,pan, etc.) and the suffix applicable to the kind of attraction involved.

Therefore, intersex, non-binaries, aces, aros and pluris are in a third or fourth rank situation due to this binarizing oppression. If anybody has a comment, particularly on any ultraminority I had omitted, let me know. I am open to suggestions, since this step is only the first.

Las caras de la opresión binarizante

3 julio 2021

En estas fechas se celebra el Orgullo y todo el mundo se apunta aun con políticas vacuas o directamente leyes recortadas que presentan como éxitos. Puede que esas leyes satisfagan a la parte cismonosexual de la sociedad, pero dejan en la cuneta una serie de colectivos que invisibilizan sistemáticamente y para los que he encontrado un denominador común: la opresión binarizante.

Según he llegado a distinguir, la opresión binarizante puede manifestarse sobre la propia persona implicada o sobre las expectativas de atracción que se le imponen. Dentro de la primera cara, encontramos opresión por las características sexuales y también por la identidad de género. En la segunda cara encontramos la obligatoriedad de la atracción y su restricción a un solo género. Desgranaré estos 4 aspectos en los párrafos siguientes.

A pesar de que recorran España autobuses naranjas hablando de «la biología» e incluso haya diputadas dispuestas a sentar cátedra prescribiendo cómo es la naturaleza para ajustarse a su ideología, la naturaleza es tozuda y no es dicotómica. La intersexualidad existe y tiene muchos más tipos de manifestación que los 2 sexos clásicos. No solo existe, sino que ha sido reconocida ya desde la Antigüedad, bajo la terminología ya obsoleta de «hermafrodita» u otras que manifestaban un indudable reconocimiento de características sexuales fuera de la dicotomía clásica.

Las personas intersex son sistemáticamente sometidas a operaciones y hormonaciones contra su voluntad y bajo el engaño de sus progenitores, precisamente las mismas que son negadas a personas trans bajo consentimiento informado. Me parece la cara más cruda de esta opresión pero, como no tengo constancia de pertenecer a ella, preferiría que hablaran ellos por sí mismos. Solo quiero añadir la incongruencia de que la ley binarizante del gobierno obliga a inscribir el sexo del recién nacido cuando todavía es un bebé pero niega cambiarlo a los adolescentes que lo tienen claro, inclumplendo las sentencias judiciales.

Distinguiendo adecuadamente entre sexo y género, la opresión binarizante no se conforma con mutilar los cuerpos que se salgan de sus cánones, sino que también asisgna un género a cada sexo de su dicotomía y ataca fieramente, empezando por la invisibilización, a cualquier identidad o expresión de género que se salga de las dos que han asignado dicotómicamente. Admiten como gente de segunda a las personas trans binarias, pues escogen uno de sus géneros predefinidos, pero las personas no binarias nos encontramos varios escalafones por debajo porque rompemos el esquema.

Por mucho que se empeñe este gobierno, no habrá autodeterminación sin opciones no binarias. Y lo que llaman autodeterminación en este proyecto de ley recuerda más a las obstrucciones al aborto que a otra cosa. Aquí querría ver yo a las que se dicen feministas como tapadera de su transfobia.

La otra cara de la moneda de la opresión binarizante repercute en los segmentos poblacionales por los que una persona se puede sentir atraída. Para empezar, para la opresión binarizante, o eres de carne o eres de pescado. La atracción es obligatoria y dirigida a un género concreto. Esta atracción debe ser indisolublemente sexual y romántica, condenando a la invisibilidad a las personas asexuales y a las arrománticas, que ni siquiera somos nombradas en la legislación, dejando la puerta abierta a pseudoterapias de conversión.

Pero, del mismo modo que la atracción es obligatoria para la opresión binarizante, también tiene que estar dirigida a un solo género. Esto distingue una categoría de primera clase, la heterosexualidad, y otra de segunda, la homosexualidad, pero ambas monosexuales y libres de opresión binarizante. Este monosexismo, aparte de invisibilizar a asexuales y a arrománticos, ataca a todas las identidades pluri, tengan el prefijo que tengan (bi,pan, etc.) o el sufijo que aplique al tipo de atracción.

Así pues, intersex, no binaries, aces, arros y pluris estamos en una situación de tercera o cuarta a causa de esta opresión binarizante. Si alguien tiene algún comentario, en particular de alguna ultraminoría que haya omitido, hágamelo saber. Estoy abierto a sugerencias, porque este paso es solo el primero.