One of my fraternity brothers reserved the Collins Cinema this past weekend and we prepped ourselves for a movie marathon, starting with Mean Girls. Unfortunately, the plans went from marathon to just watching Mean Girls because more than half of us started to complain about food. Hunger ravaged my brotherhood, so we decided to ravage the local Steak n Shake. We piled into a few cars, sang with the radio, and soon enough arrived at our greasy destination. Our group of ten gathered inside next to the “please wait to be seated” sign and continued in our giggled conversations as we patiently waited. The mood of one of my brothers made a quick turn for the worse when he noticed a table of guys talking about us. More specifically, they were taking photos of him and debating whether he was a man or a woman. This whole situation was incredibly uncomfortable because they were talking about him as if he was an object, just a material they wanted to decipher. He wasn’t a person to them, and I didn’t want to know how this larger group would treat us had we confronted them.

This situation wasn’t completely new to me. I had experienced homophobia growing up; at one point a group of guys bashed in every window on my car because I was just a fag in their eyes, but I thought we had grown out of that when people went to college. The newness of the situation wasn’t from homophobia, but their reaction was for his androgynous gender. I had never had to deal with people unless they knew I was gay. My brother just stood out where I didn’t.

I started to connect this to other friends and their reaction to androgyny. Even the most open minded gay friends will turn to me, giggling, and ask if I think someone is a man or a woman. Looking back on these seemingly-harmless comments made by my close friends in comparison to the group of guys deciphering my brother, the same type of comments that reduce a person to their gender presentation coming from two very different groups really concerns me. Anxieties related to gender variation are very real and far more common than most would like to think, which tells me that only a small group of people have noticed the consequences these anxieties produce.

The pathologization of gender variance has yet to draw mainstream concern. Unlike past movements related to people of color or the gay and lesbian communities, the transmovement has yet to garner enough attention to concern a majority of problems with gender policing. Even a great deal of gay, lesbian, and bi individuals don’t notice this issue unless they face gender androgyny on a daily basis. This is surprising because you would think queer individuals would be more in tune with this, but somehow this slips under the radar.


-Lucas Zigler