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The Other Box

29 Nov Posted by in • Genderqueer | Comments Off on The Other Box
The Other Box

I was talking to my 13 year old the other day about gender.  She was questioning pronoun etiquette.  She wanted to know if it was OK to ask someone that was obviously crossing gender lines what they preferred to be called.  I told her that most people would rather be asked than called something that made their skin crawl.

The conversation then became focused on gender labels, male and female.  While I don’t openly discuss my gender fluidity with her, I guess I haven’t hid it either.  We were discussing a gender in between male and female, or one that included both.  She piped in with “like you”.  I was taken back a bit at her observation, but responded with, “yes, like me”.  At that moment, from a parent’s standpoint, I wondered if that was an embarrassment for her; if I was giving her one more obstacle to get over.  One more thing she needed to ‘explain’ to her friends.

We spent some time discussing what that ‘other’ box should say.  She cited many example sentences that would make ‘other’ sound ridiculous or not as fair as male or female.  “Other went to the store”.  She tried abbreviating it to ‘oth’.  And even in her joking manner, it was obvious even she knew that clearly there was no way to make the ‘other’ feel as comfortable as the male or female.

We talked for a bit about how different things would be if there truly was an additional gender, and how so many more people would fall into that category if given the opportunity.  That people living with the hell of feeling they need to fit into one or the other box, sometimes don’t ever find their true selves, no matter what they change on their bodies.

It wasn’t a new conversation for me, but it was a eye opening conversation.  I was proud that without direct conversation I had raised a kid to recognize people suffering with gender issues, and those that have found comfort in changing what they were born with.  I was grateful that through no words, my kid knew that these were sensitive issues that she wanted to know about so as not to offend someone.

And most of all, I was happy that she knew me.

Echo Brooks (pseudonym) is a 40+ genderqueer writer. Read her/his/other blog at

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