It is Holi-DRAG time! The whole Queen City is buzzing. Jingle bells, Santa suits and lip-synching familiar songs of the season abound at your local drag hotspots. This month I wanted to give back in the spirit of the holiday by interviewing someone very special — “The Genderbread Person.”
No, it’s not a real person and it’s not a pastry. It is a cartoon graphic, a learning tool about gender. Quite adorable looking, actually, and if it’s dessert time, you may be hungry for more. For purposes of this interview, “The Genderbread Person” uses the pronouns “they, them, their.”
Over my years of teaching about LGBTQ issues, I find that most people think they understand gender. What they know, however, is often limited to their own perspective and, frankly, leaves much ignorance about gender non-conforming and trans people. At this point you may be thinking: “I thought this was a drag column. What does this have to do with drag queens?” Bah, Humbug to you!
“The Genderbread Person” has everything to do with drag queens actually. I truly believe most LGB people, and most importantly, drag queens want to be allies to gender nonconforming and transgender people. Some drag queens live their lives as a transsexual and/or trans, gender nonconforming people. All the more reason that drag queens should know more about my “Genderbread” friend.
One thing that is often assumed among LGBT people is that we all have an understanding of the complexity of gender and the differences between identity, expression, attraction and sex. Then for some, we either become lost or give up when we hear terms like “cisgender,” “binary,” “queer,” “intersex,” “agender” — insert identity here.
Let me introduce you to “The Genderbread Person” with their big, friendly smile and a festive, golden brown complexion. Yes, I know it’s a cartoon, but (spoiler alert) so is Santa Claus. The Genderbread Person explains that “Gender is one of those things everyone thinks they understand, but don’t.” Gender identity, gender expression, biological sex and sexual orientation are independent factors that make up a person. The Genderbread Person looks me directly in the eye (winks) and begins sharing about how we look at oneself and gender, as follows:
Biological Sex: Often the first place (and for those who don’t understand gender, the only place) we focus is with biological sex which the Genderbread Person points squarely below the belt referencing female, male, intersex and/or asex physical traits that we are born with or have affirmation surgery to define.
Gender Identity: The second part is who we believe we are as our holistic self in our brain. “Of course Genderbread Person has a brain,” they laugh, and so do all of us. Gender identity is impacted in the brain by your chemistry of the body and hormone levels. Individuals could be along a continuum of gender. You can conform to binary of man or woman — or you can identify as a gender nonconforming, nongendered person. As cisgender (non-transgender people), Genderbread Person shares how we may never contemplate feeling differently in our brain about our gender identity than what is identified with our biological sex.
Sexual Attraction: Who we love and are attracted to is what the heart tells us. Genderbread shows us that people fall in love with people and identify again across a continuum — asexual, bisexual, homosexual, heterosexual, to name some of the identities of how people often identify their sexual attractions.
Gender Expression: So all of us have drag whether you are a drag queen or not. How we present our gender is basically our expression of masculine, feminine, androgynous, butch — or what I call our drag. The Genderbread Person explains that expression is our “whole self” and how we demonstrate our gender. Typically, we do this through how we act, dress, mannerisms and interact with others, whether that be intentional or not. It can change daily and for drag queens with every show. Gender expression is interpreted based on traditional, often limited, societal gender norms.
“The Genderbread Person” takes a deep sigh. Even for a cartoon graphic, that can be a lot to take in. For some, this may be new information, new language and terminology, or a new way to conceptualize the complexity of gender and understand the differences between gender identity, gender expression, biological sex and sexual orientation. Regardless, Genderbread Person reminds us that we all have something to learn. The best gift we can give this Holiday is to be an ally — especially to our trans family members. We have to be willing to ask questions, read something new, keep an open mind and heart — and believe that even a cartoon can teach us something.
Of course, Genderbread Person is not without critics or controversy. No cartoon, including Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, can tell you the entire story or explain the complexity of human beings. There have been several versions of the Genderbread Person online. The most recent is the 2.0 version. Plus, there is growing debate on where Genderbread Person originated — Tumblr, Twitter, who knows, the North Pole?
Eggnog and genderbread cookies for everyone — I mean gingerbread! : :
— Buff Faye calls the Queen City her home and performs to fuck the binary (and raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hot spots. Plus, don’t forget her monthly Sunday drag brunch and regular Friday night party bus. Learn more at AllBuff.com. Follow on Twitter @BuffFaye.
Don’t forget the 5 Year Anniversary at The Bar 316 on Saturday, Dec. 20 — Congratulations! Plus check out the Holiday Show at Scorpio on Christmas Eve with the legend Boom Boom LaTour and guests Luscious and Jessica Starr. Happy Ho, Ho, Ho!