We people have this annoying tendency to try and fit our behavior, beliefs and states of being into boxes so we’re easy to understand. Gender is one of them. As the only part of the gender-sex-orientation triad that is generally in our control, we choose to be regarded as more or less male or female (with varying degrees of consciousness of the fact). In the middle of the spectrum of gender lies an ever-growing list of non-binary positions; gender fluid, gender bending, pangender, gender neutral, and agender to name just some. The question, “What is your gender identity?” is now something to think about.
But let’s consider the people who are off the spectrum entirely; who, through lack of consideration, don’t take any position. The gender-apathetic. You haven’t heard of them because they don’t care enough to make their presence known. They are neither loud, proud, or out. When asked to define their gender identity they’d probably shrug and default to their sex with a question mark inflection before quickly changing the subject.
The gender apathetic cannot be said to be gender neutral, agender, or genderless. Where agender is like bald as a hair color, gender apathy is more like the floating teapot in space; maybe it’s there, but they’re not thinking about it. Not only is gender totally uninformative to who they are, but the question of how their gender influences any part of their hobbies, choices, interactions, is not even raised in their minds. The gender apathetic don’t go to any lengths to show their genderlessness, but might do something gender-bending for other personal reasons.
Says one cis male who “guesses” would describe himself as gender apathetic, “I don’t really think about it. Maybe that’s a function of me wearing nail polish. It makes me happy, so I do it. If I had the option of growing long, luxurious hair, I’d want to explore that.”
People who are gender apathetic are unphased by gendered comments (insofar as they are supposed to apply to them) because they don’t particularly identify to what they refer. Nor do they feel discriminated against (even when they are) for being their gender. They feel no pull to join any gender pride groups and do things considered against gender norms without thinking about it. The idea of coming out as “agender” seems absurd.
Not to say that identifying one way or another isn’t valid, social construct or not. Says cis female: “My family was really open to gender fluidity and sexuality, so naturally I experimented, and particularly questioned what was and wasn’t male or female. Now that I’m more settled, I don’t need to try on an identity. I’m female. I do wish I had more experience that made me more classically female, like bra shopping or how to wear makeup.”
Whether gender apathy is yet another identity, an impossibility, whether it’s a way to avoid participating in a fight for human rights where a world with gender discrimination is real, or what we should all be striving for, I don’t really care. I was asked to write this.