Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sexuality/Identity Panel-In the Minority

 On campus today, I was part of a panel for the 'Human Sexuality' class. I took the class 3 years ago, and am friends with the professor and TA. It was a gender/sexual identity panel.

I was representing a 'heterosexual who identifies as female and is attracted to the opposite sex', or 'a straight girl'. There was supposed to be a straight man on the panel as well, but he never showed.

The other 3 people on the panel were a transgendered man, a transgendered woman, and a woman who dresses like a man "60% of the time", and called herself "gender fluid".

The term 'gender fluid' is: Genderqueer (GQ; alternatively non-binary) is a catch-all term for gender identities other than man and woman, thus outside of the gender binary and heteronormativity. Also can be 'moving between genders (genderfluid)' Source

For the first time in my life, I was in the minority.

As I expected, most of the questions from the class were directed at the 2 transgendered people on the panel. Questions like "How much does gender re-assignment surgery cost?" "How did you know you were transgendered?" "Will you ever have gender re-assignment surgery?" Questions I couldn't answer.

Some of the other questions asked were "How do you have relationships?"

My answer "Honestly, I tend to meet men on vacation. I haven't had a boyfriend in a few years." I then told the class that I had had some really, really good experiences with men (see: every Englishman I've ever met) and really bad experiences (I told the story about getting punched in the face when going down on a guy). I ended it with saying "After he told me I wasn't pretty and he never wanted to see me again, I went back to my room and wrote a list of things that were good about myself. So that's my suggestion. When something bad happens to you, write a list of things that you like about yourself. And eat ice cream."

 "Are you happy?"
My answer: "I'm pretty happy all the time. However, I do get lonely sometimes. I do wish I could hold hands with someone walking around campus."
"How much are your monthly expenses?"
"I work two part-time jobs, and my parents very generously pay for my school...so...$200 a month? I guess?"

"Do you want kids?"
"Yes. But I want a husband and health insurance first."

"Are your parents supportive?"
"My parents are very supportive in every way."

"How did you decide what to wear today?"
"Well, I'm wearing jeans 'cause I get cold really easily. I'm wearing tennis shoes because I'm incredibly clumsy, and I'm wearing this shirt, because as a female, I like showing cleavage."

"What birth control do you use?"
"I get a shot every 3 months called Dep-Provera, and I use condoms."

Obviously, every persons' answers on the panel were different. When it ended, the professor asked the class to write a note to one person on the panel. I thought "I'll probably only get one. Straight females are not that interesting. I wouldn't write a note to me. I'd much rather write a note to the trans man." I felt like Eeyore.

Imagine my surprise when I got handed a handful of pieces of paper. 16.

One note simply said "Anna, YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL." Others thanked me for my input on the panel. One boy wrote me the sweetest note and left his number. Others said that they were sure I would soon find "the perfect guy to hold hands with on campus", and that while guys were stupid, there are some good ones out there. Two said that they were going to follow my example of writing a list of good things about themselves. One confessed a huge secret, and said that me telling my story made her feel better.

Reading these positive, amazing notes made me cry. It was amazing.

It was such a lovely, positive experience. I'm so glad I got to do this.

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