Gender Boundaries

When we allow women/queer organizers to leave activist spaces and protect people whose violence provoked their departure, we are saying we value these de facto state agents who disrupt the work more than we value people whose labor builds and sustains movements.
Why Misogynists Make Great Informants

“What is your gender?”

0 to 100 in a second. I stared at her, shocked at the question. I didn’t know how to respond. I never really know how to respond to such questions. I just don’t know the answer.

“What is your gender?”

I recovered enough to blurt out, “It’s on my state ID.” I bit back the “Why does that matter?” retort on the tip of my tongue. I didn’t understand what relevance my gender had to donating blood. If I chose to leave the gender box unchecked, what calamity would it do to her and the American Red Cross?

“Excuse me?” She looked closely at my id and disregarded what I had said. She wanted to hear it from me. That slow pounding headache was steadily making a comeback.

I looked down at my appearance. I was at the law school in what my lovely Dean of Students calls my “student attire” (as opposed to a suit or anything revolutionary): Plaid shirt, blue jeans, special running shoes for my feet. It wasn’t stereotypically feminine like the “F” on my state identification card but then again, what does feminine mean?

Some transgender activists tell us that gender is not socially constructed; gender roles are socially constructed. To say that gender is socially constructed is to deny and dismiss the realities that transgender persons face in their everyday negotiations with society and themselves. Claiming that gender is controlled by society isn’t subversive. It is actually cis-normative.

I agree. There has to be a gender that I feel innately. I search myself.


That didn’t feel right. But “male” would not have felt right either. I was just angry at her, angry about the question, angry that I had to put myself in a box. Does anger have a gender?

She shook her head, which aggravated me further, and then took my wrist to get a reading of my pulse.

“Your heart-rate is way too high. 104 beats a minute. Do you work-out?”

I frowned. “Yes.” I have never had this problem.

She waiting a few minutes and tried again. It was 104 again.

“We can’t take blood from you today. We need your heart-rate below 100. But we do have a coupon for a Subway sandwich just for stopping by.”

“What? I don’t want to eat Subway. I want to give blood.”

“We can’t take blood from you. Your heart rate is too high. You should work out more. Come back next time.”

I opened my mouth to protest. Then I thought better of it. I looked at her, searchingly. She avoided my gaze. I came to an understanding. I walked out.

If someone doesn’t want me to donate blood, it isn’t my loss. But society does lose as a whole when queer and transgender people of color choose to walk out of spaces we have built, spaces that could benefit from our presence and spaces that need us desperately but don’t know how to sustain us.

Alienation never happens in a vacuum.


My lovers from VDARE — a white supremacist site — sent us this present:

Prerna Lal, [Email him] is a self described Queer Fiji-Indian (South Asian) law student, writer, tech-geek, and riot maker.” He’s mentioned in Allan Wall’s column today, as a professionally indignant immigration blogger. His latest effusion on the subject of illegal immigration is this: link to article.

I will embrace “professionally indignant.” I wonder if referring to me as “him” is supposed to be a pejorative. Last week I was an “in-your-face lesbian.” I suppose I could be a lesbian-identifying man, though I don’t identify as a lesbian or a man. It’s certainly interesting that people refer to me as “him” in various different settings. I spend more time correcting my “sex” on forms than anything else. Even friends have to ask what gender pronoun they should use for me.

Anyhow, the only email I received was from someone called Oscar:

Seeing as how the piece asked me to “Email him” I decided to hit the link. I don’t know if that little blurb is going to result in much hate mail but, among that, I wanted there to be at least one e-mail of support. I also like how, in the very first line and sentence of VDare’s little article, Mr. Fulford just gets a basic piece of information wrong– “him” indeed (assuming it wasn’t intended as a slur). I’ve read some your pieces and some of your tumbler page and I think they (and by extension, you) are phenomenal. Keep at it! I suppose all I wanted to do was show some support. Thumbs up!

Thank you for the love.