Everyone gets hungry.
Imagine with me for a moment: you just woke up, it’s a beautiful morning, and you are hungry. After rolling out of bed, you shuffle to the kitchen, perhaps put some coffee on, and start to make some breakfast. You have a craving for some whole wheat toast with creamy peanut butter (don’t worry, I don’t judge), so you make some, eat it, and go about your whole-wheat-toast-with-creamy-peanut-butter day. You go to sleep that night and wake up the next morning. It’s every bit as beautiful as the last, but this morning, you feel more like having an English muffin with strawberry jam. So you have that for breakfast and proceed to have an amazing English-muffin-with-strawberry-jam day. One more night passes, another beautiful morning has arrived, but you’re really not feeling like breakfast this morning. Maybe it’s a brunch kind of day, or maybe you’ll skip it all together. Maybe you’re under a lot of stress and it’s just not on your mind. Or maybe – scandal of scandals – you’ll have breakfast for dinner tonight!
Welcome to gender fluidity! Just replace being hungry with identifying with a particular gender, and all those delicious food references above with the gender terms of your choice: feminine, masculine, third-gendered, agendered, neutrois, and so on. One morning, you might feel rather masculine. Your brain experiences the rest of your being this way on a very basic level, and you go about your day. The next day, very little could have changed from the previous day, but now your sense of your gender, your relationship to your body, is shifted more feminine. Some days, your experience just doesn’t really connect with the gender binary, or gender in general, at all!
Confused? Let me ask you this: did it bother you to imagine eating something different for breakfast? How one subjectively experiences gender and has a personal, private sense of that identity is, in my experience, on par with hunger and satiety. We are, after all, social creatures. Both are deeply rooted in the human experience, can radically color your entire personal perspective, and drive your motivations and actions depending on whether or not you’re left satisfied or wanting. When I feel more closely aligned with a feminine identity, or when I’m having a run of time when I just don’t place on the binary at all, I can be left feeling “hungry” when I step into a culture that rewards and grants privilege to people who appear to be cisgendered. My personal experience interacting with society at large ends up feeling disingenuous and/or rejective, and just like with being unable to find anything to eat, it can get a little scary when that goes on for too long.
Granted, it’s not a perfect analogy. Being unsatisfied with having oatmeal every day your entire life because oatmeal is “normal” is not likely to lead to severe depression and suicide. Your family will probably not disown you, and strangers will probably not harass you because their religion states your hankering for creamy peanut butter is a sin. Your job isn’t at stake over having bacon with your pancakes, and no one is sending you death or rape threats, bullying, beating, raping, or killing you over using real maple syrup. Using food as an analogy runs the risk of making light of some pretty serious issues in our culture, but I use it for a very important reason: the concept of hunger is something that is accessible to everyone, and this is a message that everyone needs to both hear and understand.
After all, everyone gets hungry.