Dinner at the Prez's & Binary Gender Stuff

Last night the rest of the student government executive cabinet and I had dinner at the college president's home with him and his wife. Well, president mansion, rather. And on the carpool ride there, I was told, "Dexter! Remove your tie! The president requested that we keep this informal!"

I kept the tie.

It matched my outfit.

But, I removed it later.

It got hot.

Anyway, while we were being given a tour of their home, the president made the comment, "Why is there only one woman in the e-cab?" I've been in the executive cabinet of the student government for three years now, and every year has been pretty "gender balanced" until now. I wanted to blurt out that having two homosexual cisgender guys, one cisgender female, and one transgender person out of 6 individuals in the e-cab isn't too bad. But, I held back, and we resumed our tour.

The rest of the evening was interesting in the gendered domain. While sitting at the table of "all guys", for instance, the topics of the evening consisted of:
  1. favorite BBQ chicken wing joints
  2. a story of a failed all-you-can-eat-hot-wing-chicken competition that resulted in a trip to the hospital
  3. sports
Then, on the trip home, the one lone e-cab cisgender woman of the group spoke to us "guys" about what girls like in guys (e.g. when they know how to do their own laundry!), and yada yada.

The novelty of this sort of gendered interaction just isn't getting old for me. Keep in mind, I spent the first gazillion years of my life being visibly stigmatized and aesthetically androgynous. I was never clearly stereotyped as "male" or "female".

When it comes to a lot of things, including gender, people do automatic, mental heuristics (e.g. mental shortcuts) all.of.the.time. For the most part, it's assumed that there is only one way to experience gender - cisgender - and only two sexes and two genders - male, female, man, woman. And if someone is deemed "dude", then a slew of automatic inferences are made about this person and how to interact with them.

I had taken it for granted at the time, but it's not the same when one is visibly gender non-conforming. People have to stop and actually think about gender and the corresponding stereotypes; and then try to figure out how to socially and behaviorally navigate such unfamiliar terrain (or don't and uncomfortably avoid it altogether).

But now? I'm "one of the guys", so I must be interested in chicken wings, sports, and have no ability to do my own laundry.

There are a lot of absurd gender stereotypes, and of course this is all different depending on the context and culture. But, generally speaking, aesthetic adherence to a binary gender stereotype has such a huge impact. On social relations. On assumptions. On stereotypes. On how my language and words and behaviors are interpreted, even.

I could rant about this for a while, but it would be a lot of thinking out loud in a pretty incoherent way. And it's not an inherently negative thing, just... different. And interesting. I haven't really figured out how I feel, exactly, or what's even going on. I'm just, mostly bumbling along in this interesting gender haze.

I blame being a senior and my classes and sleep deprivation. I'm adjusting. And I need some gum. I forgot to brush my teeth this morning.


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