by: Marissa Rea
My name is Marissa Rea. Iʼm 21 years old. I was born and raised in San Diego, California in a white-washed suburb called Scripps Ranch near the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
And I recently came out as genderqueer.
As you can imagine, it would be very unlikely for you to ﬁnd any kind of gender-deviance in Scripps – or really anything other than sun-bleached blondes and people living out their very heterosexual, middle-class lifestyles. Living in such a heteronormative neighborhood, even as an out lesbian came along with pressure to uphold a standard of feminine presentation and demeanor. It wasnʼt until I graduated high school and moved to San Francisco that I really started to explore my gender identity and question the rigid deﬁnitions of gender and sexuality that I had been taught to live up to.
In college, I took a Transgender Communities and Identities course, one in which I was forced to shed my previous notions of gender and explore my own gender identity. Hearing the genderqueer for the ﬁrst time was a liberation for me — to know that there is a community of people that reject binary constructions of gender all together or that see their gender identity on a continuum between the constructions of “man” and “woman.”
Historically, issues around sexuality have been the focus of conversation in queer movements. However, in recent years, gender identity is being increasingly brought to the table when discussing issues faced by queer communities. Often, this has been the “T” that has been left out of “LGBT” for discriminatory reasons – such as prioritizing equality and rights campaigns around lesbian and gay communities, while ignoring causes dealing with gender or transgender issues.
I have realized that I have never really related to the binary constructions of “man” and “woman;” I am more comfortable rejecting these constructions all together – to explore my own genderqueer identity. This recent epiphany led me to examine how my identity is mine to construct and shape in a way that I am comfortable with and that makes me happy.
For a long while I was hesitant to completely relinquish my womanhood because I still had a lot of attachment to that concept of myself. I am a feminist dedicated to the ﬁght for women’s rights, and I love the connection and love experienced between women.
However, I ﬁnally realized that I can still maintain the aspects of being a woman I love, while rejecting the gender binary at the same time. I can still have those experiences and not apply the words “feminine” and “masculine” to gender. And I can wear my hair short. I appreciate aspects of “womanhood” and “manhood” that that are positive and that I see in myself and reject those aspects that I ﬁnd negative. I can be ﬂamboyant. I can cross my legs. I can just be. I can be Marissa. And by being genderqueer, I can finally discover who that person really is.
Marissa Rea is a fourth year at San Francisco State University, studying Psychology, Women and Gender Studies and Human Sexuality. Rea is passionate about about radical queer activism and proud of the queer family she has built for herself in SF.