I am, and always have been, unclear on what “gender” is. I only believe that it exists because everyone around me tells me that it does. I have been told there is sex, which is somatic, and gender, which is spiritual/psychological. I identify as “transgender” because the term is put forth as a large umbrella, covering a lot of territory, but technically I am not transgender because I am not changing my gender — only my somatic expression — and “my gender” is not across anything because it is meta.
For many, many years now, I have identified as metagender. That has not changed and is not changing. I am metagender. But what does that mean?
I don’t see gender, I can’t feel gender, I have no concept of myself as possessing gender but I don’t feel agender, because that would require sensing gender in other people which I also do not. I don’t see other people having something I do not have. I don’t see myself having something other people do not have. My Genderbread Person has an invisible brain. Those little slider arrows? They aren’t on zero. They aren’t on point. They don’t exist.
I accept that gender exists and I respect other people’s genders, but my personal experience of the notion of gender is akin to that of the child in the story about the emperor’s new clothes. Everyone else sees the beautiful genders and all I can see is air.
For years, people have asked me what metagender means. I try to explain and they get angry. Or frustrated and confused. Or mocking. So I stopped talking about it and stopped writing about it. But I never stopped being it, so here I am, trying to explain. I think my identity as metagender is related to the notion of gendervague. I think my Autistic neurology led me to metagender. And here I am, still struggling to explain it.
So I did what I always do: I Googled it to see if anyone else were talking about it. I found a lot of confusion (usually resolved by dropping “metagender” and embracing “genderless” instead …. which, as I hope you’ve gleaned from my words above, is not at all an accurate synonym). And I found a fair bit of very mean-spirited mocking. And I found a couple of other people who seem to be on the same page as I am with respect to the meaning of metagender…although they have layers of spirituality blended in. That’s okay, though. The only other people I was able to find identifying as epicene (another essay for another day) were doing the same thing: meaning what I mean when I call myself epicene but also adding a layer of spirituality onto things.
I am not the arbiter of definitions. If you have carried a strong definition for metagender and I haven’t found you yet, come forth and share your truth! At the moment, I have three of us and while there are points of difference, there is much similarity and, among us, we are holding the definition for metagender. It is carved in human consciousness, not in stone, so speak up if this essay misrepresents you.
It looks like (other than me) the longest to identify as metagender is P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, who says:
Metagender is not “androgynous” or some combinatory gender (though those are wonderful!). Metagender is not “neuter” or “neutral,” nor is it “non-gendered/agendered” or a negation of gender either (though those options are also totally cool!). Metagender is a gender identity that can encompass a great deal of variation and a wide variety of expression and performance, but it is a fixed and definite gender, and not synonymous with or any sort of alternative or replacement for “gender-fluid” (but gender-fluid people are also awesome!). Just because metagender is different from these other identities does not mean it is “better,” and it certainly doesn’t mean that those other gender-diverse identities are “worse.”
PSVL and I diverge on many points but the quoted paragraph above indicates to me that e and I relate on the core elements of a metagender identity.
Citing PSVL’s work, Jaina Bee adds:
To me, metagender opens up uninhibited freedom to be myself; a one-size-fits-me label that is no particular gender but neither is it agender. It is a slippery gender that evades every attempt to define it, a trickster gender. (Every person in this conformist culture who does not identify with their assigned gender is forced in some way to become a trickster, even if they would not be otherwise. Metagender is trickster to the core.)
I resonate strongly with Bee’s trickster imagery so maybe there is more of a layer of spirituality to my own metagender expression than I had previously assumed.
And…while there may be more strong references out there to metagender, at least as I have conceived it through the years and as PSVL and Bee seem to conceive it, I didn’t find any in my cursory exploration. I apologize if I missed discovering your writing on the topic. Do share in the comments if you’ve written about metagender. Thanks!