My Gender Is Not Binary, and Neither Are My Politics

A paradox of progressive posturing

Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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Last Tuesday I went to cast my ballot, as I have in nearly every general and midterm election since I first became eligible to vote in 1988. However, I had never been more unenthusiastic and resentful about voting as I was in this election season. It wasn’t because I thought my vote would make no difference. Having seen my fellow Californians take away the rights and dignity of same-sex couples with Proposition 8 ten years ago, I felt that at least voting on local and state ballot measures was important.

But when it came to the candidates, I refused to obey the orders of my fellow progressives to ignore my values and back Democrats. I have not been a member of the Democratic Party since the mid-90s, and since that time I have heard in every single election that “this is not the time” to support progressive third party or independent candidates because the stakes are too high. Since 2016 in particular I have been told that refusing to vote for Democrats — or not voting at all — is an act of privilege and oppressive toward women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.

Here’s the thing. Unlike some far leftists, I do understand and respect the choice of progressives to vote for Democrats, even if I disagree with that choice. What I don’t understand or respect is the vote shaming and the presumption that our current two-party system is sacrosanct. The insistence that there are really only two political parties is particularly puzzling when coming from trans people like myself, who understand that life is simply not that binary.

Most trans folks and our educated allies acknowledge — correctly — that there are more than two genders. Some trans people do see being trans as strictly a medical condition, and deny non-binary identities just as strongly as conservatives do. But overall our community has evolved to be inclusive of many gender identities beyond woman and man, female and male.

We acknowledge and embrace this gender diversity despite loud insistence from much of U.S. society that there are exactly two sexes, which correspond to exactly two genders, and that any deviation from this goes against the natural order of things. We can point to evidence of gender and sexual diversity in pre-colonized societies, intersex humans, and other species, but offering this information does little to sway those who are convinced that non-binary people like…

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Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Queer agender trans male. Black vegan atheist, pacifist. Pronouns: they/them/their. funcrunch.org, patreon.com/funcrunch