“Did you know gender when you were born?”
This question, posed by queer theorist Kathryn Bond Stockton, Dean of the School for Cultural and Social Transformation at the University of Utah (and our guest speaker on Sunday, February 12th), brings us to the heart of our series.
Think about it…
How do you know your gender?
Is it something you feel, think, experience… or do you just know on a level that’s hard to explain?
Do you know it because others treat you a certain way, sort you into a certain box, or assign you a certain word
Maybe you are confused by gender. (I know I am.)
What words have been used to describe your gender now and in the past?
Boy, girl, man, woman, tomboy, butch, pansy, feminine, masculine, queer, trans, nonbinary.
Do these words feel affirming, like a warm cozy blanket wrapping itself around your skin, or do they scratch and itch, ill-shaped, like a restrictive burlap sac?
Gender is something we do, but it’s also done to us.
Confused? That’s okay.
Gender is complicated for all of us! Even those of us who play it straight.
Gender is strange and also sacred.
In this series, we are inviting you to become Gender Fluent:
- Curious about gender – yours and other people’s – without judgment or assumption
- Conversant learning new vocabulary and ways of thinking and talking about gender. No longer letting fear of missteps stop important conversations.
- Courageous to speak up and fight back against ideas, laws, and policies that tightly define gender or dehumanize trans and nonbinary people. Courageous to affirm your gender, whatever it is, and to embrace others.
As Unitarian Universalists, we proclaim that all genders are sacred and all people are worthy of love and belonging. But living that commitment requires us to learn, unlearn, and deepen our practice of true radical inclusiveness.
This series is for you if:
- You feel like everything is changing when it comes to gender, and you are not quite sure what’s going on.
- You feel comfortable in your gender.
- You are questioning your gender.
- You don’t feel comfortable in your assigned gender.
- You want to be a better ally to transgender and nonbinary people.
- You don’t really understand what the word gender even means.
This series comes at a time when gender has become a battleground.
Right-wing politicians and religious conservatives have mounted a campaign of censorship and propaganda around gender. They are taking aim at school curriculums that mention the existence of LGBTQ people. They are passing law after law attempting to ban trans kids from accessing health care and bathrooms. They are actively banning books from libraries simply because they mention sex. They are even branding drag performances as a form of child abuse.
Their goals are simple: control.
Controlling the definitions of gender.
Controlling other people’s bodies who don’t conform to a narrow understanding of ‘acceptable.’
Controlling access to the public square to anyone who deviates from their norms.
But we don’t think gender is a battleground. We think of it more like a playground.
Playful exploration and games of make-believe allow us to try new ways of being. Gender is a place of freedom, self-definition, and, ultimately, community.
We can’t wait to see you for week one of GenderFluent this Sunday, February 5! We gather at 8:30 AM (in person) and 10:30 AM (in person and online).
P.S. We know this series might stretch for some in our community more than others, if that describes you, I want you to know that we aren’t going to leave you behind. We are all in this exploration together. You can ask anonymous questions at foothillsuu.org/genderquestions. We’ll answer your gender questions every Sunday and on The Foothills Deeper Pod.