Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of group is this?
We are a discussion group that meets regularly to have conversations about gender. We are not equipped to be a support group, much less group therapy. Support groups are generally geared towards providing an emotionally supportive environment to share one’s experiences and process the feelings that go with them. At Genderqueer Chicago we try to be there for each other, but we’re much better at the “problem-solving/troubleshooting” type of support than the “sympathetically giving encouraging looks while someone works through emotions” kind of thing. If you could also use a support group or group therapy, Rad Remedy is great for finding resources, or you could also ask for personal recommendations during a meeting.
Am I expected to talk?
No one’s ever required to talk, though at the beginning and end we try to catch everyone’s name and pronouns. You could just nervously shake your head at that point and we’d get the idea that you’re not inclined to public speaking.
You know, those words we use to refer to someone in the third person? Rather than assume, we check in with each other about what’s the right set for each person. Some people prefer no one uses any pronouns for them, some people don’t feel strongly attached to any set in particular. It’s an opportunity to clarify, not a required alignment for one set over another.
How many people should I expect?
There are usually between 17- 27 people at each meeting, over 1000 on the Facebook group, and about 60 who attend with regularity as their schedules permit.
How old is everyone?
The majority of people attending are between 22-25, the second largest group is from 27-34, and then a mix of everyone else from 18-70. It shifts depending on the time of year. We’re not strictly an 18+ group, we don’t check IDs, but some people much younger might not find some of the discussions to be relatable or relevant.
What is genderqueer?
People who identify as genderqueer do not feel as though they fit within traditional notions of man and woman. There are as many ways to be genderqueer as there are genderqueer-identified people. Many of us feel in-between or outside of the man/woman binary. Some of us use words like gender-fabulous or gender-free. One of the most common themes in our discussion is that we tend to dislike when people make assumptions about us, so suffice it to say we take many forms, inhabit many bodies, and claim many identities.
Do I have to identify as genderqueer to attend?
Nope. The majority of us do identify as genderqueer and/or nonbinary, and the space is definitely centered around that, but we’ve got a variety of others. There’s a handful of binary trans people and a few cis people. We get quite a few folks who are still working things out, and even more who are done working things out and just identify by throwing their hands up and shrugging. It’s hard to get an exact count because we don’t quiz people on how they identify.
I’m a natural – I mean, I’m just a… uh, well, I’m not a transgender, but I am an ally, and I just think it’s so interesting to hear how other people experience life! I mean, we’re all human, am I right? I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, white, black, green or purple, I just care if you’re a good person! I just think it’s fascinating how unique everyone is, and I want to learn more about how to help, may I attend?
…no. Genderqueer Chicago isn’t a tourist destination for curious spectators to prove how open-minded they are. It’s really dehumanizing and makes us feel like zoo animals. Reporters and researchers are flat out forbidden from attending in their professional capacity.
Am I ____ enough?
At GQC, we hold that no one is more or less welcome or valid for taking steps (legal/ social/ medical) for their gender (or lack thereof) to be recognized. We tend to congratulate people who share that they’ve recently taken some gender affirming steps because we recognize that it makes them happy, but we also congratulate anyone who got to pet a cute dog on the way to the meeting. You do you.
What should I wear?
Whatever, just cover what’s legally required so we don’t get in trouble or have to bleach the chairs after. There are gender neutral bathrooms down the hall if you’re coming from somewhere else and want to change.