Avoiding trolls without dismissing gender diversity

This was originally posted on monsterpit.blog.

Content warning: discussions surrounding exorsexism, cissexism and so on

Before starting, I'd like to note I use the term gender identity instead of gender a lot. This is not about considering gender something that is "not as serious" as other facets, but instead about covering terms such as apogender (being outside of the concept of gender) and polygender (having many genders) without calling them "genders", as they are not individual genders like juxera (a gender adjacent to woman, but separate) and ilyagender (a gender that has a tangible presence, without it being neutral, man, woman, agender, nor related to any of those or to any combination between those).

That said, I don't consider gender expressions, elements, alignments or modalities parts of someone's gender identity unless when people do consider those tied to their gender identities. So, for instance, I would consider that a gender non-conforming feminine trans man's gender identity is only man, unless this person considers being feminine, gender non-conforming and/or trans integral to how this person experiences gender or gender identity.

The multitudes of gender identity

Gender identity is not only expansive, but also subjective. Gender can't be defined as a set of current or desired gender roles, body parts, interests, personalities and so on. Even the narrative of (not) having gendered feelings defining one's gender identity, while more common and inclusive of more experiences than other models, doesn't cover everyone.

For instance, I can say that I feel and can visualize my gender as a ball of light that is also masculine and feminine. My gender dysphoria and euphoria also reinforces this when I feel my presentation should have both feminine and masculine elements, and when I feel like I shouldn't have a fixed body at all, for instance. Even so, the "gender feelings" narrative alone works out perfectly for me.

For others, though, I can see why that can be confusing. Some people are definitely only guided by dysphoria or euphoria with regards to pronouns, titles and body parts when defining their gender identities. Some people can't understand how having a gendered feeling is different than wanting to dress a certain way or wanting their gender to reflect their personality or tastes.

And, honestly, as long as these people aren't invalidating experiences like mine, that's fine. If someone says they are a nonbinary man for liking both he/him and they/them pronouns for himself and having gender dysphoria in a way he wants to wear clothes from the "male sections" and have a body that would be seen as neutral by a cissexist society, it doesn't really matter to me that this person can't understand their gender in ways that aren't recognized and encouraged under a cissexist and gender conformist logic.

I don't really like the whole "you don't need to understand it, you just need to respect it" thing because I feel like it often leads to people not even trying to understand how other people define their gender identities or why defending how other people define their gender identities is important. I don't want people to be like "call yourself whatever microlabels you want lol", I want them to understand how gender identity can be unique, intimate, casual, simple, complicated and/or wonderful, and these are all things that get lost when labels and pronouns are the only things that get (superficially) accepted.

But yeah, I guess that if it's too complex to ask people to try to understand other people have different ways to tell what their gender identities are and none of them are fake, at least people should respect other's labels, titles, and pronouns. .-.

When life influences gender identity

Gender identities are generally influenced by life experiences: as in, most people wouldn't have genders such as woman or man or anything derived from those and from femininity/masculinity if these genders didn't exist. People who are just nonbinary without a more specific gender identity also wouldn't exist without a gender binary being imposed as the two only normal/real/good genders.

This is also why labels such as transgender and nonbinary (or even worse, "third gender") shouldn't be imposed on people who live in non-eurocentric societies; when a society already defines more than two genders and/or has specific identities for those who don't have a gender identity that matches the gender they were assigned at birth or childhood, they may not see a point in adopting labels that define gender identity and modality by cissexist and exorsexist eurocentric norms.

Anyways, when people refer to gender identities based on life experiences, they are usually not talking about any gender identity ever, but about things such as neurotype, orientation, assigned gender, kintype and so on. As in, identities that rely on things outside of gender identity to inform the gender identity, or something like that.

For instance, neutroix (not to be confused with neutrois) is a gender that's completely neutral because of intersexuality (being intersex). Autigender is a gender that can only be understood within the concept of being autistic. Wolandgender is a gender that has changed because of chronic pain or disability. Nullagender refers to a non-white person who is genderless because they had the white gender binary forced on them.

Now, these identities already receive a lot of pushback. Some think they are offensive because they don't get that these labels don't mean, say, "perisex person identifying as intersex through their gender identity"; they just see them on gender lists and think they are approppriative because they are too angry to try to understand the people behind those labels. Others think they don't make sense because gender should be something by itself, and if both trans women and cis women are women, gatekeeping other gender identities because of race/neurotype/etc. is bad. And then there are the people who claim those identities only exist because people are trolling, confused and/or have unhealthy coping mechanisms.

However, there are still people that accept (or "accept") those identities because they are coined and used by marginalized people. Even if they don't believe nonbinary identities are real or oppressed (yikes), they don't want to seem like they are a perisex person dunking on intersex experiences, a neurotypical person dunking on neurodivergent experiences and so on.

This means gender identities based on identities that aren't or aren't seen as oppressed are easier targets, both for mocking and for trolling.

The versatility of condigenders

Condigender is a gender identity for people whose genders change based on specific circumstances. So, for instance, someone who is a girl when alone, but genderless when around other people can say they are condigenderless or a condigirl. Or, of course, they may only say they are condigender, or that they are genderfluid (their gender changes) or genderflux (the intensity of their gender changes).

Condigender is usually not considered an identity dependent on life experience, presumably because even though the definition includes going through something external to experience a different gender identity, condigender can be based on any experience and not on a specific kind of identity.

There are many gender identities that could be considered under the condigender umbrella. For instance, an erotogender person experiences a different gender when they are in a sexual situation, and a spotlightfluid person's gender changes when they are performing.

I've also seen genderfluid, genderflux and demifluid (that's when a part of the gender identity doesn't change and the other does) people talking about how their gender is influenced by feelings, situations, hormones, people around them and so on, even if those people don't use the word condigender. I'm sure this is also applicable to other people who experience changes in gender identity, quantity and/or intensity.

Even so, people don't need to justify changes in their gender identity. Many of the "criticisms" applied to gender identities based on experiences "outside of gender" certainly apply here. Genderfluid people who can't identify patterns of gender changes certainly exist.

Not needing to have a reason for changes in gender identity even though people can also have reasons for changes in gender identity means anything can be a reason for someone's gender fluidity.

This means trolls will coin terms such as "a gender that changes depending on the color of the clothing one wears", "a gender that changes when consuming X substance" or things like that, and, well, why are these "fake genders" when others are not?

Actually, yeah, sometimes it's impossible to say if a term was coined by a troll or by someone who really experiences something like that. Trolls usually tell on themselves by being over the top (as in, "you need to add my gender to your gender list or you are oppressing me", "hundreds of people I know identify with this term even though this is the first time someone is talking about this gender online", "my gender is [something that has to do with really specific sexual desires or practices and ends with -sexual]" and so on), and it's possible to send an anonymous request for a term that seems plausible enough.

Combine this with the fact that many of the nonbinary communities that care about gender terminology are on Tumblr, where it's easy to anonimize blogs/asks and to want to do so to avoid harassment and, yeah, obviously it's very easy to troll people by coining "weird gender identities only guillible people believe in".

However, it's not uncommon to see people reclaiming terminology made by trolls, because, well, it's there and if it applies to real people, where's the harm? I agree with this sentiment; if a gender identity that's like "a gender that changes when listening to this specific band while looking at this specific color" actually fits someone's life experience, it shouldn't matter that a troll coined it.

This does make certain people angry, though, since they are fighting so their gender identities are respected and seen as serious by wider society; they don't want to belong to the same category as someone who adopts a label coined as a joke.

The thing is, adopting a "joke" as a valid gender identity doesn't make one's gender identity untrue. Maybe this person seriously has that gender experience, or maybe they don't really have that gender experience but it's close enough and they thought it would be cool or funny to use that label to spite trolls. As I said before, people can define their gender identities in different ways for different reasons; having a gender identity that is not completely serious is also something that happen within gender experiences, and that doesn't invalidate people who want HRT and surgery and/or people who really have a very specific gender experience they want other people to take seriously.

Instead, we should be thinking that dismissing people who use joke and/or troll genders is dismissing a valid gender experience. People can have gender dysphoria, gender euphoria, strong pronoun preferences and so on even if they use a "jokey" word to describe their gender identity, just like people who have "serious" gender identities may not experience gender dysphoria, euphoria, or strong pronoun, title or gender presentation preferences.

So it's not a stretch to consider that people who don't take gender seriously and don't have any stereotypical trans experiences also exist and there isn't anything wrong with them. Misleading people on purpose regarding what it means to be trans or nonbinary or universalizing a gender experience is a problem that goes beyond personal identification, and that doesn't happen only because of specific subsets of people within those groups.

The versatility of xenogenders

Xenogenders are kind of like genders or genderless/polygender identities that don't rely solely or at all on descriptors based on being a woman or a man, and that rely at least partially in concepts that aren't considered related to gender identities.

(Being xenogender, just like being nonbinary or transgender, is a label that is based on the eurocentric gender binary, and even if non-eurocentric cultures have similar concepts, the xenogender label shouldn't be forced upon them.)

So, for instance, melle is a label for a male gender that isn't masculine at all, and that is at least partially feminine. Melle is not a xenogender, since it only relies on being a man (which is part of the gender binary) and on being feminine (which is a concept derived from being a woman, even though it isn't the same thing as being partially a woman).

Cassgender and apagender are both labels that describe gender apathy, or not caring about gender. These are, again, not xenogender labels for most people, since these are concepts that can exist within comparison to binary genders. Same thing goes for gender neutral, neutrois, agender and so on; being neutral between genders or being genderless can exist within comparisons to binary genders.

Now, let's take a look at nyctogender: a gender consisting of darkness or related to it. This isn't a condigender that depends on the amount of light around the person. It's a label people can use when the most accurate description they can think for that gender is darkness or darkness-related. Darkness isn't a binary gender or a concept related to binary genders, so nyctogender is a xenogender.

Saturnian is a gender that is linked to both softer celestial feminine and masculine energy. The amount of energy within the gender can change. Femininity and masculinity are concepts related to binary genders, but celestial energy is not. This means saturnian is a xenogender.

Hatch's Law was a concept coined in a Discord server a few years ago. It means that for everything in existence, there can/will be a gender identity related to that concept. And it is basically true; people's gender identities can have to do with anything. People may feel their gender in a synestesic or synestesic-like way like I do, or they may feel like they want or have to explain their gender experiences in "flowery" ways.

So, for instance, a stargender person may not feel like they literally have the same gender a star has, but they may feel like their gender is otherwordly and hard to pin down enough to like the metaphor (just like its coiner did). Another caelgender person (caelgender is an umbrella term for space-related genders) may feel like their gender is literally a star, the void of space, or something else like that.

Just as it happens with condigenders, xenogenders are also coined by trolls who want to make fun of the "everything can be a gender" thing (even though they often don't even know how xenogender experiences work and usually think [noun]gender just means the person thinks they are essentially kinning that noun, which sure may be a prerequisite for using some kingender labels, but aren't what all xenogenders based on nouns are about). And, again, people may reclaim terms coined by trolls to describe their own gender identities, in ways that might be serious and that might not be so serious.

Honestly, I think I did see a progression happening; around 2015, people were more strict against trolls, with the main label blogs being skeptical of anon asks such as "I have a gender based on this brand". When more people on the anti-transmedicalist side of things started seeing being inclusive as a threat to the community, though, the people without exclusionist stances started accepting and spreading more questionable terms, "because why not, gatekeepers hate us anyways".

Having Beyond MOGAI Pride Flags (a blog that publishes any kind of label and pride flag because "everything may seem problematic to some people") around as the main hub for label coining certainly made it so newer gender identity coiners didn't shy away from coining identities based on many kinds of food, aesthetics, games, brands and so on. I don't really agree with publishing anything and everything, and I do wish people didn't coin extremely specific labels "for fun" if they don't know anyone who could use them since it hurts my job as someone who translates and spreads a lot of these terms, but, with regards to labels that aren't inherently problematic, whatever makes these coiners happy, I guess.

How to dismiss trolls if everything is valid

Honestly, any kind of thing that would gatekeep away trolls from having their terms accepted (such as only archiving gender identities from blogs that at least don't seem to be 100% anonymous and just for coining labels) would also affect genuine people who do want some degree of anonimity/privacy/etc. Besides, terms that may have been made by trolls are not necessarily impossible experiences, as I have already pointed out.

What should be dismissed are labels and behaviors that invalidate people and cause problems, such as:

  • Terms that say anyone who is/does/experiences something has this specific gender identity;
  • Saying everyone that uses this otherwise unrelated gender identity needs to use these specific pronouns/titles;
  • Coining gender labels that have the same name and/or flags as other identities on purpose to erase the original meaning of the (non problematic) terms or flags;
  • People coining gender labels and making flags that weren't requested and are representative of groups of people the person isn't a part of (ex.: being white and making a label or a flag for an identity that is only experienced by Black people);
  • Being essentialist with regards to what a gender identity can be in a way that invalidates other experiences, regardless if the person is following transmedicalist logic or trying to justify the labels they use by trying to pretend there is no overlap or wiggle room between gender identities;
  • Acting as if any gender identity needs a flag and/or symbol, as if it needs to be archived in a specific place to be valid, and so on;
  • Coining new terms that don't fill in lexical gaps or aren't being made to make someone feel more comfortable with having a certain identity, they just want to constantly make new terminology for established concepts to confuse people and alienate others from the community on purpose (yeah, this is a thing).

Gender identities can also be separated from their original reductionist or trollish contexts. For instance, if someone coins a gender identity that's like "a happy and fun gender for bunnies who are only interested in bunnies and use bun/buns pronouns" and someone who is rabbitkin is like "hey, I think I have a gender that is happy and fun and related to being a rabbit", they can use that as an inspiration for a less restrictive and "lol those kingender people are just zoophiles, also look how ridiculous xenogenders and neopronouns are" kind of gender identity. Giving it another name is also a common practice and may be a good idea.

Also, I'd like to point out most nonbinary people who have lesser known/accepted identities aren't fully out to a certain degree, as far as I know. Being nonbinary is heavily stigmatized, invalidated and ridiculed, and even within that it's even harder to get people to accept, say, being autigender or caelgender.

If anyone is worried about a memegender person not being serious enough about being trans in comparison to an agender or cassgender person, trust me, it's very likely that person doesn't say they are memegender outside of certain spaces. And this is bad! This is an example of how cissexism affects the lives of many nonbinary (and otherwise non-cis) people.

We should be striving for a future where anyone can be themselves, and be taken as seriously as they want to be.