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Continued: Gender-identity conversation comes out of the closet

  • Article by: KIM PALMER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 21, 2013 - 7:13 AM

Anderson, who grew up female, has been genderfluid “all my life,” she said. As a child, she was considered a tomboy because she liked “boy things: climbing trees, trucks, rebuilding bicycles and getting dirty. The girl stuff wasn’t appealing.” Later, as a young athlete, she successfully petitioned her school to allow her to play on the boys’ softball team. Then at 20, she fell in love and married her college sweetheart, a man to whom she was wed for 10 years, and had a son.

Now in a relationship with a woman, Anderson identifies as “genderqueer. Saying that wraps my sexual identity and gender identity into one word,” Anderson said. “The box of ‘woman’ doesn’t fit me. I don’t look at things the way most of my female-identified friends look at things.”

Melting pot

Like Foxx, Anderson isn’t interested in surgical gender transition. “It doesn’t feel important enough or appealing enough to go through that crap. Transexualism is so medicalized. We haven’t been looking at gender without the medicalization. It’s so new, there’s not a lot of development around it.”

Walker, who grew up male, said he relates more to women and prefers to dress as a woman in some situations. “It’s a social interface I like better,” Walker said. As Kimberly, Walker feels more approachable and less intimidating. “If I’m in my bald head in a bar, I scare people. When I’m Kimberly, I feel more like a mom.”

But Walker prefers to be Tim for certain activities, including dancing, wind-surfing, hard manual labor — and dating, at least initial dates with women. Married to a woman for 11 years, Walker now divides life about 50/50 between being Tim and Kimberly.

“For a lot of people, it’s confusing, but I enjoy being both,” Walker said. “What I am has to be lived publicly, or people won’t know there are people like me and will always have a bias.”

Not all people who experience gender incongruence feel distress over it, and much of the distress that many do feel comes from living in a society that doesn’t accept them, according to transgender health experts.

“We live in a culture that’s pretty gender-binary,” said Katie Spencer, a psychologist and coordinator of the transgender health services program at the University of Minnesota Medical School. “There is a lot of pressure on people to pick a box. Lots of practical things — like restrooms and pronouns — push people to pick one.”

Pronouns get complicated when “he” and “she” aren’t options. Some genderfluid people prefer “they.” Others advocate new neutral pronouns, such as “ze.”

“Just call me Toni,” said Foxx. “People get so caught up on how they’re supposed to respond.”

Some anticipate that gender identity will eventually loosen, similar to the way gender roles have evolved.

“Today, a woman can be a chemist or an airline mechanic or a homemaker, and Dad can stay home, raise the baby and put a mean press on Mom’s suit,” said Anderson. “Gender will become less and less of an issue. Like race. We’re becoming a giant melting pot. I’m guessing gender will become the same thing.”

 

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784







 

  • related content

  • Toni Foxx prefers not to be referred to as “he” or “she.” Foxx is “genderfluid,” a relatively new term to describe people who identify as both, or neither, male or female. Foxx, who recently moved from Minneapolis to California, is a freelance fashion designer who is developing a line of genderfluid clothing.

  • Tim/Kimberly Walker of St. Paul is a dual-gender person who lives and works under both identifies.

  • Tim/Kimberly Walker of St. Paul is a dual-gender person who lives and works under both identities.

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