Also.Also.Also: Where Genderqueerness Meets Feminism and Other Stories

feature image via Shutterstock

It’s November and here you are! You’re right here! I felt an earthquake last night! It was neat and weird and bigger than the tiny lil’ earthquake I felt in California 10 years ago. You don’t really expect an earthquake in Arizona, though, so more than anything it just made me want to run outside and put my knees in the dirt and say HELLO DOWN THERE and thank the ground for not usually doing that. How lucky to be gently put into perspective every now and then. Thanks, ground!

Queer as in F*ck You

+ Where Can Queer Muslims Go to Pray? by Jordan Alam.

+ On Being Queer in the Caribbean by Gabrielle Bellot.

+ I’m putting this here because even though it isn’t about a queer family, it might help or speak to you and your queer family in a way. I think we queers represent more blended families than we could ever imagine. If this speaks to you or you have your own feelings or stories to share, please talk about it! Who Will This Be To Me, by Betsy Graziana Fasbinder, from Blended: Writers on the Stepfamily Experience.

+ ‘Coming Out of Concrete Closets’: LGBTQ Criminalization as Reproductive Injustice by Verónica Bayetti Flores.

+ Crock-a-dyke Dundee: The Legend of Dawn O’Donnell. Well this is amazing.

A fascinating documentary about the woman who opened some of the first gay and lesbian bars in Sydney is now available to watch online.

Croc-a-dyke Dundee is the story of Dawn O’Donnell, an enterprising lesbian in the fledgling gay scene of Sydney. Dawn is someone who strived for something more.

Doll Parts

+ Just a great little interview with Catherine Hardwicke.

+ I am here for this in ways that I cannot even express: There’s Going to be an All-Female Reboot of Ocean’s Eleven Starring Sandra Bullock. “And Jennifer Lawrence may be involved…”

:violently sobbing: :throwing things at walls: :maniacal laughter:

+ What Thirty Years of Female Friendship Looks Like. Writeup by Emily Anne Epstein about a photography project by Karen Marshall.

+ You will probably like this: Laurie Penny brings you How to be a Genderqueer Feminist. Do not read the comments.

Saw This, Thought of You

+ Roxane Gay does not fuck around here: Where Are Black Children Safe?

+ Hugging 101 at Feministing brings you an important graphic from Planned Parenthood Ottawa with tips for respecting the boundaries of children this holiday season.

+ 21 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate in November. November 27 is for everyone who works at Autostraddle, amen.

+ What’s the Ethical Limit of a Boundary-Pushing Haunted House? Ask Scare Expert Margee Kerr.

+ Thousands Start Life Anew With Early Prison Releases.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


lnj has written 310 articles for us.


  1. I think many people won’t like Laurie Penny saying she identifies as a woman because reproductive rights is specifically & exclusively a problem for cis women… Plenty of genderqueer, nonbinary & male identified people also struggle to get access to abortion specifically and transphobia makes that struggle harder in many ways through the idea that women = only people who need abortions. Moreover, the pool of people whose reproductive freedom more generally & beyond abortion is trampled on regularly by the state is much larger and absolutely includes trans women – who, in most of the world, have to submit to sterilization if they want their gender to be legally recognized by the state.

    It’s one thing to talk about your gender identity and how you understand yourself in terms of gender, obviously she should be congratulated on having the bravery to come to terms with who she is and revealing it to the world in a highly public forum, but it’s quite another when you start defining what it means be a woman “politically” & specifically link that definition to (let’s be real about what it truly is) biological essentialism. I’ve seen an increasingly large number of cafab people say they identify as genderqueer or nonbinary women “for political reasons” in language v similar to Penny’s. I don’t want to discredit the v real & sincere feelings & experiences these people have about their identities, but it feels like they are using a lot of very essentialist & transmisogynist language which would be called out if it were coming from cis women but in their case is totally tolerated although it harms other trans people, especially trans women.

    • Ooh, thanks for your comment. Totally missed that in my excitement over this piece. It Is frustrating and dangerous that people still refer to “women’s reproductive freedom” and don’t quite make the connection even when they say so many other good things.

      I’m AFAB and genderqueer and your comment has given me some food for thought in my continuing understanding of who I am versus how I’m perceived – because I know that being socialized and perceived as a cis-woman has been a significant part of my experience (certainly in a privilege sense but in other ways as well) but I also repudiate bio-essentialism and feel that my parts are not connected to my gender. Still figuring it out…

    • I suspect you’re right that a lot of people will take umbrage with Penny’s article, but she does not say that reproductive rights are “specifically and exclusively a problem for cis women.” As she is not a cis woman, it seems unlikely she intended to imply that. I had to go back and re-read the article because I didn’t remember her focusing in so closely on reproductive rights, but you’re absolutely right that she does specifically list it as the reason she politically identifies as a woman the first time. And it may be lazy for her to conflate “reproductive rights” with “woman,” but I might argue that it’s only as lazy as the general political climate of this country.

      Also, the second time she mentions her political identity, she say something much broader: “I am a woman, politically, because that’s how people see me and that’s how the state treats me.” This is what really resonated with me. I continue to identify as “woman” and “feminist” in part because I daily experience oppression based on the expectations/limitations of “woman” imposed on me. I won’t put words into the author’s mouth, but to me, that’s not an exclusive club for afab people.

      Also, can’t tell if I’m just reading wrong, but you’re comment seemed to imply that Penny identifies as GQ for political reasons. That is not what I read in the article at all. I read that it’s her “woman” identity she retains for primarily political reasons. Were you talking about someone else when you said that?

      Finally, I felt confused by the implication that this author is somehow less qualified than another person to define what it means to identify as a woman politically. Who is better qualified? I’m asking selfishly. I’m afraid I’m not qualified either.

      • Somebody asked her on twitter about the stuff she said about reproductive rights being women’s issues and she responded that “the attack on reproductive rights is grounded in misogyny/gynophobia”. She also talks, in a kind veiled way, about how reproductive rights affect ~female bodied people~ in her essay. Somewhere not too far from the places where she talks about how much she used to identify with Germaine Greer’s texts. She 100% meant that reproductive rights is something that affects only & primarily women with vaginas because misogyny and oppression against women with vaginas (“”gynophobia””) go hand in hand with misogyny so people who are not ~~female bodied~~ are less affected by misogyny. I think you have to be pretty naive or disingenuous not to see that…

        No, I don’t think (C)AFAB women, even when they’re genderqueer, should be the ones defining what it means to be a woman, politically or otherwise, for the rest of us – being assigned female at birth doesn’t give you the monopoly on womanhood & doesn’t make your experiences of womanhood more real or authentic than those of people who weren’t.

        • I admit I’m just not as familiar with Penny’s writing as you are, and I’ll rely on your account of what she said in Twitter. I went back and looked for the part of the essay you mentioned, but I still didn’t find it. If it’s “veiled” I might just be too dense to pick it out for myself, which I completely allow. I identify with this piece, so I know I read into it what I wanted to see, which perhaps is more inclusive than it actually is.

          Regarding defining what it means to identify as a woman for political reasons, I suspect we’re having a semantic misunderstanding. I think I agree with your premise that no one should be allowed to define an identity for someone else. But I hope that also means we agree that we’re all allowed to define our identities for ourselves (to the extent that we are all impacted by our own definitions and no one else’s). I can’t tell if that makes sense, but I think what I’m trying to say boils down to a version of the golden rule: “I’ll define my identity and you define your identity and we’ll each respect each other.”

          Maybe I am too forgiving of this author and this article, having read nothing else she’s written. I still liked it. But I also like looking at things I like under a closer lens, so thank you.

    • In saying that trans women are required to be sterilized in order for the state to recognize their gender — implying that this is something generally forced upon trans women — I think it might be helpful to remember that although it’s wrong to make sterilization a legal requirement for gender recognition, the vast majority of trans women actually do want to have the medical treatments that usually result in sterilization if taken long-term (even without surgery), and many do also want to undergo the applicable surgical procedures.

      • However, banking sperm is still a thing that trans women should be allowed to do–some countries did not allow trans women to do this (to be honest I’m not sure if there are countries that still don’t allow this).

        • Not only that, I think that for those who transition after puberty, advising trans women of that possibility should be part of the standard counseling process. Nobody ever mentioned it to me, and although I probably wouldn’t have done so — given that I already have a child, and assumed anyway (as quite a few trans women do) that the chances of ever being in relationship were zero — it would certainly have been something to think about. And it never crossed my mind.

        • Finland, for one, does not allow trans people to freeze their gametes. I would imagine that this is the case with many other countries that require sterilization in gender identity recognition.

    • I don’t like Laurie Penny because she supported the sexualisation of children in her 2010 article in The Guardian where she tried to argue that anyone who was against selling padded bras, pole-dancing kits, and playboy bunny pencil cases to 7-year-olds was a fake feminist and part of the “puritan agenda”(The article is still online, look it up).

      Her views may have changed in the past 5 years but she has a history of really bad articles that are hard to look past.

  2. Ahhhhh yes thank you for that piece by Laurie Penny!! That resonated with me so hard!

    She writes in that piece about worrying that she is betraying the young women who look up to her as a “strong woman.” If one of my “strong woman” idols had come out as GQ when I was a kid, it would have given me language I didn’t have and I might have come out/been more comfortable in who I was a lot earlier. Love it!

  3. Laurie Penny’s piece rocked my day. I’ve always loved everything by her that I’ve ever read, but this one had a couple of graphs in it that resonated to my core.

    I’m just sorry, Laneia, that you read enough of the comments to know to warn us against them.

    Truth: Autostraddle is the only site where I know it’s 100% safe to read comments when trans issues are involved.

    • 100%? Hardly. Transphobic comments here are always quickly criticized and contradicted, but they certainly happen.

      • They happen, so “100%” was hyperbolic. But, speaking solely for myself, there’s only been one comment thread I can recall — on a very old post — that I had to disengage from reading. Otherwise, I’ve always felt safe here. (But, again, that’s just speaking for me. Others’ mileage may vary.)

        • I agree that this place is safer in that respect than any other feminist-oriented website I know of, or any other LGBT website that isn’t specifically for trans people.

    • Best comment session in the whole English speaking Internet right here
      I love you Autostraddle

  4. Wow that croc a dyke dundee piece! I want to download the whole thing! The trailer is so dramatic! I’m super excited for this when I have some free time. Thanks for sharing Laneia.

  5. I just wanna dedicate my day to that kitten in the feature image, just soaking up life in a field of blooming dandelions. You’re a cute fluffy winner, little kitten.

  6. Uhh, massive CW: Eating Disorders on Penny’s piece. I love it, but I read it a few days ago and the whole middle section is super not fun.

  7. My tiny humans and I thank you for the Hugging 101 guide. I asked and you delivered, even though I’m not sure if you did it on purpose or not.

  8. The piece on blended families is making me cry. Thank you for including this. Thank you a lot. I have big feelings about families and especially mothers, from my childhood with a chronically depressed and emotionally abusive mom, to my stepmom and my dad’s girlfriend before her, to my own tiny daughter’s two-mom polyamorous family that’s still changing and expanding in various ways.

  9. I have a lot of feelings about being nonbinary/genderqueer and where I fit into feminism, so I was excited to read the Laurie Penny article. There were definitely pieces that resonated with me (such as being afraid you’re betraying something by coming out), but like some of the commenters above, I was uncomfortable with some of her implications regarding reproductive rights and identifying politically as a woman. Even if those problems didn’t exist, I don’t like the idea of having to align myself with a binary gender in order to be politically legible. *sigh* If anybody has further reading suggestions on this topic, I’d appreciate it!

  10. Thanks so much for the shout-out about my story, Who Will This Be to Me? that appeared in Mutha Magazine. It was one of the stories in the anthology, Blended: Writers on the Step-family Experience and I was doubly honored when Mutha chose my story.

    Though my piece isn’t specifically about LGBT issues–though several in Blended are–I know that the LGBT community faces more than its share of blended family options. My feeling is that families really do come together by a variety of means, through birth, adoption, friendship, modern medical intervention, marriage. My family was formed by inheritance, when I married a man whose first wife had died and I adopted his son as my own. However we come together, the issue of “family” is one we all face. I hope your followers find some resonance in my story. Thanks!

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