Afternoon InqueeryGender

AI: Identity versus Perception

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the interaction between a person’s identity and the way other people perceive them.

I identify as a quiet person, but not everyone who knows me sees me the same way.  Ultimately, the reality is more complicated than either quiet or not quiet.  I am more or less quiet depending on the situation, my mood and the people I am with.

This is not a perfect example, but it does illustrate two points that are directly relevant to the questions I am interested in exploring.  First, one’s identity and the manner in which other people perceive a person can be radically different.  Second, neither identity label nor perception is likely to accurately reflect the true complexities of a person’s character.

Most of my pondering on the subject of identity and perception has been in relation to the subject of gender identity.  While I identify as gender-questioning or gender-neutral on this blog, I am not out publicly in my day to day life because it doesn’t matter enough to me.  I get misgendered constantly because of it, but the pronouns and even my name are just placeholders to me, just the best way people know how to address and refer to me.  I believe that the people who matter, the people who get to know me, think more about my personality and passions than which gender I may or may not be, regardless of which pronouns they use to reference me.  And the perceptions of the people who don’t know me that well just don’t matter all that much.

I know that my experiences and perspective on my own gender identity may not match most people’s experiences of theirs, but I still think the questions arising from my musings are worth exploring:

Why do you choose to be more or less public with different aspects of your identity?

How do you deal with other people not perceiving you the way you identify yourself?

At what point does the fact that another person’s perception does not align with your identity matter or become a problem?

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The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear every Sunday at 3pm ET.

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Ser is asexual, on the aromantic spectrum, gender-questioning, and atheist. They recently graduated from the University of Montana with a BA in Environmental Studies with a focus on nature writing. They love to read, write, play ultimate frisbee, cook, hike, row and cross country ski.


  1. April 12, 2015 at 3:47 pm —

    I don’t have much choice in the matter… just by my existence I am “public”… as an MTF transsexual woman who is 6′ tall, has broad shoulders and slim hips and a relatively deep voice for a woman, most people see me as exactly what I am physically… though how they interpret that varies all over the place.

    The only time misgendering bothers me at all is when an individual goes out of their way to do so purposefully and even then it only bothers me a little because by doing that they reveal they are not the type of person I would want to associate with anyway. In cases of inadvertent misgendering a gentle correction is usually sufficient.

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