In case you’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about all of the different genders, and wondering if any of your or your friends’ many genders might be cultural appropriation, there’s a piece making the rounds on Social Justice Internet that’s here to help.
In a piece titled “What Does Multigender Mean? 10 Questions You May Be Afraid to Ask — Answered,” Jenny Crofton explains that there’s “an infinite diversity of genders in the world” and “at least as many genders as there have been humans who lived.”
“I say ‘at least’ because as it turns out, people can embody more than one gender in their lifetime,” Crofton writes. “We can even embody more than one gender at once.”
“We can experience them as full and independent, or as partial and mixed,” Crofton continues.
A few examples of possible gender identities offered in Crofton’s article include “amorgender,” which is “gender that changes in response to a romantic partners,” “mirrorgender,” which is “gender that changes to reflect those around you,” “chaosgender,” which is “gender that is highly unpredictable,” and “gendervex,” which is “having multiple genders, each of which is unidentifiable.” Genders can also be negative instead of positive — something Crofton calls “antigender.” For example, some people might identify as “antigirl,” and that’s not to be confused with identifying as “male.”
Now, lest you think that all of this sounds too simple and restrictive, Crofton also clarifies that your gender absolutely does not have to be something that’s included on this or any list, because even though “dominant culture wants us each to conform to a single gender,” you are totally allowed to have as many genders as you want, to change your gender or genders as often as you want, and to identify as a certain gender or genders like only a little bit instead of completely. Basically, anything goes — except, of course, for cultural appropriation.
Yes, that’s right. According to Crofton, certain gender identities can be appropriation, such as “the Two-Spirit genders of some North American Indigenous groups” and “autigender and fascigender, which are exclusive to people with autism.”
“Because it’s impossible to access these genders without being part of a specific cultural context, it’s inappropriate for outsiders to claim any Two-Spirit gender,” Crofton writes, adding that if even one of your genders is “culturally appropriated,” then your whole “overarching identity also becomes problematic” — a situation that can be an issue for “pangender people.”
“Pangender people, in a literal sense, identify as all genders,” Crofton writes. “The problem is that ‘all genders’ includes culturally specific genders that must not be appropriated.”
I, for one, cannot believe there hasn’t been more talk about how ‘pangender’ is, by definition, culturally insensitive.
Ahhhhhhh, yes. A huge problem indeed! I, for one, cannot believe there hasn’t been more talk about how “pangender” is, by definition, culturally insensitive, and that identifying as all genders inherently means that you’re saying that you identify with at least one gender outside of your own cultural experience. The solution, according to Crofton, is for pangender people to make sure that they describe themselves as being “all available genders” instead of as “all genders.”
Toward the end of Crofton’s article, Crofton makes sure to remind everyone that multigender people are, indeed, “oppressed” because “being multigender is fundamentally contrary to our society’s hierarchical and exclusivist gender binary.”
“We suffer stigmatization, microaggressions, and various forms of body terrorism,” Crofton writes.
Crofton’s piece most recently appeared on my favorite website, Everyday Feminism, but was originally published on The Body is Not An Apology, an online magazine and “international movement committed to cultivating global Radical Self Love and Body Empowerment.”