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I'm struck by the similarities with other axis of oppression which also degender people in various ways — disability and fatness come to mind as two I have experienced as well, but I have also read Black authors write about the degendering experience of being racialized, especially for Black women, who tend to be masculinized. (As opposed to Black men who tend to be stereotyped as the epitome of hyper toxic masculinity.) This strict application of binary gender is so integral to all these intersection systems of colonial capitalism.

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Thanks for sharing this - great point! I want to recommend some writing from Black authors on gender in a future post.

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Jan 8Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

I believe that younger people may not realize that sexual attraction expands as you age. By this I mean that i may not have found a 70 year old woman attractive when I was 25, but I assure you that now that I am in my 70’s I do. Also, I am blessed to wake up to the love of my life every morning. When I do, sometimes my thoughts are of love, sometimes of friendship and sometimes purely sexual or a combination of all of that. I think that is much more common at my age than a younger person might think.

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That's a great point about attraction expanding as one ages, Gary. Thanks for sharing your experience! It's so wonderful that you wake up to the love of your life every morning.

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Jan 7Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

I’ve been thinking more about this too, Rey. Good post. I think some people stopped or never started searching for their own authentic identity or true self. They feel threatened. Their false self creates a false world. It compels them demand everyone else conform to it. Like “Keep Christ in Christmas.”

I don’t think anyone has called me young man since I turned 18. Son can be pejorative or comradely depending on tone and context. Boy is almost always pejorative unless used more as general exclamation.

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Thanks for sharing! I agree, some people do feel threatened when they see other people acting outside the "rules" of our society, even when it's not harming them directly. Maybe if people hear more stories of searching for authentic identity they will grow more comfortable with the idea.

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Jan 8Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

Good example with the keep Christ in Christmas nonsense. Also, “boy” indeed feels like a pejorative, and is especially ugly given its history as a racial invective.

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Jan 7Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

Thank you. By "old," you weren't talking about 60 or so were you? More like 40?😉

I'm 60 and non-binary - it really feels like I've unharnessed myself from a some powerful forces while opening up the door to, what is at times a dizzying array of, choices, choices that very few people seem to give conscious thought.

Would they if they knew they could?

Is this what makes some people SO uncomfortable while at the same time bringing real joy to others?

Damnit. You are refusing to limit your choices to "THE prescribed lists." Stick to the list! "THE LIST" MATTERS! Don't ask why "the list" matters. Stupid question. Everyone knows there wouldn't be "a list" if it wasn't important! Now stop asking STUPID (uncomfortable) questions and do something useful with your time like studying "the God damned LIST."

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Thanks for sharing, Shayne! Always nice to meet another non-binary person. It's amazing how many people don't realize what is possible or what they could do to make themselves and others happier.

And I don't have an age cutoff for "old," I guess however you want to think of it is good! I do have some readers in their 60's and 70's.

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Jan 7Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

Just having a little fun with notion of being "older" and how that perspective can shift. I've heard this a lot but 60 isn't what I expected. Looking back at 30 and 40, from here it looks so young. So much to come and so much time.

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That's good to hear, actually! Something to look forward to, in a way.

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Jan 7Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

Hey Shayne, I'm an older nonbinary person as well. I always knew I had gender stuff going on but it's really the last generation of trans folks who I feel like opened up the realistic option for me of having a nonbinary identity, although I've always had a nonbinary perspective and looked "nonbinary" to other people. I think if folks stop following the list, people are afraid the whole thing will fall down (the whole thing needs to fall down though, but that's a different conversation). The comments I get on my youtube videos from trolls are really all about "this is the downfall of civilization" and "this [being nonbinary] isn't real." I feel like they maybe need to pick one! Thanks for sharing here and Rey thanks for this post.

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Thanks so much for sharing, Kelli. I appreciate you.

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A very heartfelt thank you to all the "youngsters" who have created a path back to myself.

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Right? I made a tiktok not too long ago about the intergenerational queer/trans "war" which is mostly just minor disagreements. But I asked my fellow gen xer's if we're called gen z queers/transfolks entitled, is that really it? Or do they just not hate themselves as much as we did in our 20s?

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Jan 7Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

A large part of our experience has been what we witnessed. There are at least a dozen movies from my 20's that are hard to believe were ever made. I avoided all of them (see Disclosure - trigger warning - on Netflix). Better just to not go too far down that road. It all makes sense looking back. I try not to be too hard on myself.

For all the conflict right now, it feels like there is a direction and progress, though it is way too slow.

Getting back to age and gender. One of the more unexpected aspects of being visibly non-binary is that I went from being invisible as a 55 yo person presenting as male to being very visible. "Is that a 60 yo non-binary, trans feminine person?" The attention is something I'm still getting used to. I'm learning to enjoy the good because it tends to be really good ("this person is a kindred spirit and their presence brings us joy"). I'm a bit amused by the "I don't really know what to do with them" attention. I try to respond to that with warmth. The remainder doesn't come from anyone with an opinion I value.

It's getting easier to just go out and maybe be surprised when I notice someone noticing.

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I couldn't agree more about the last generation. I have words for something that I haven't been able to describe before. Being able to describe something has really helped me to manifest it. Being able to describe something also signals that your experience is shared. It might not be shared by a majority but it feels so much less isolating. You have something (i don't always know what) that I'm honoring and moving towards.

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Jan 10Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

As a woman in my 70s, I continue to be annoyed by strangers who call me Young Lady. Last week it happened twice, within an hour, at the second-hand store.

Rey, I think you just nailed the 'Why?' that's been perplexing me: Perhaps these well-intentioned people are trying to reassure me, "I will still pretend I see you as an attractive young woman...."

Blekhckhk!! I do not want strangers' opinions of what they imagined me to look like half a century ago. My vintage body is not their business, nor is their imagination my business. When they call me Young Lady, I either remain stunned silent... or I try to speak up gently if I feel I won't insult the person who just insulted me.

Thanks, Rey, for the insight. I enjoy learning from you and your commenters.

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Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I learned a lot from you. You are so right that your body is none of their business. And I'm glad the "Why" helped clarify.

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Jan 8Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

This post resonated a lot with me...I'm a non-binary person who looks femme, and I always get included in the "lady" group...reading LC's comment about getting called "young lady " a lot now made me think about just how much the age + gender thing is weaponized. When people put us in the box of youngness, and being what they perceive as being a woman, I feel like it's an attempt to minimize our power.

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That's a great point, Kelsey, thanks for sharing! LC's comments taught me a lot and I'm glad they resonated with you. Yes, I think enforcing gender is a way to minimize power.

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Jan 8Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

Really enjoyed this post, and particularly the back and forth with LC. You both made great points.

I’m a cis het woman and feminist and I’ve always hated being called a “lady,” going all the way back to my rough and tumble childhood days when my much older uncle used to tell me my behaviors were “not lady-like.” I sensed then that he was attempting to put me in a gender box, the very same one both men and women have tried to put me in since. It’s why I appreciate my non-binary friends and family so much; they never try to box me in.

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Thanks for sharing, Amy! Yes, the gender binary certainly attempts to limit everyone's behavior... I believe it's to everyone's benefit to be able to live our best lives with the behavior that feels right and doesn't hurt anyone else.

That's a great example with "not lady-like" as an attempt to put you in a gender box.

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Jan 7Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

Rey, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your commentary. They are extremely informative and thought provoking. I appreciate you untying or at least loosening the knot of gender and sexuality.

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Thanks very much, Stephen. I am glad this resonates with you.

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Jan 9Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

Great article, Rey! I love how good you are at asking questions and initiating dialog that prompts so many of us to think more deeply, in a very nuanced way, about both gender as a cultural phenomenon, and our own relationship to, and experience of, gender. That conversation we had about age and gender really brought up some stuff for me that I hadn't thought about before. I think it's also very encouraging to see how many readers who are cis-het find something to identify with in these conversations you start. It's fun to see how we all have relatable experiences to share, even when our genders (or lack thereof), and the way we express them, are so different. My hope is that all of us will become increasingly comfortable with everyone expressing their gender (or lack thereof) in whatever way they choose. With your guidance, the conversation has a sense of gentle curiosity that I find very welcoming and accessible. Thank you for that.

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LC, may I quote your kind feedback here on my About page?

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Jan 16Liked by Rey Katz (they/them)

Certainly!

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Thank you so much, LC, for sharing your wisdom and understanding with me and our community! I've received a lot of lovely comments expressing gratitude for your words and want to make sure to pass that along.

You name a few things here that I do really appreciate also - I've learned so much about age and gender through writing these posts, and yes, cis-het readers definitely see something to relate to here. Gentle curiosity is a good and calm way to investigate identity, I think.

Thanks very much!

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