Pride Issue: Genderqueers Face the Real World

Will Generation LGBTQIA redefine the workplace?

A growing number of social scientists agree with them. Rather than dismissing them as silly and self-indulgent, they see them as intelligent, strong-minded individuals fully aware of the consequences of living outside of conventional gender boundaries. "The most significant power these students posses is knowledge of their identities and their rights," says California therapist Lisa Maurel. "When you have this knowledge and you have had a taste of being your true self, you don't easily surrender it."

University career development counselors like NYU's Diana Gruverman are trying to work with, not against, their students' identity choices. "We've brought in speakers, we've done career fellowship workshops, résumé-writing workshops, mock interviews for those populations just so they see us as an ally," Gruverman says. "We tailor resources to fit their unique goals and any challenges that they perceive as it relates to career development."

At least a few companies appear to be making strides to keep up with the changing definition parameters of "gender." The language in their non-discrimination policies tends to suggest a tacit inclusion of gender nonconformists. Jillian Weiss, a Ramapo College law professor who specializes in transgender workplace policy, points to the phrase "gender identity or expression" to cover not only sexual orientation, but "the way that they may express their gender" and even "people who have an androgynous presentation or are gender fluid or genderqueer."

Facing an uphill battle at many corporations, it's probably inevitable that at least a few of these genderqueers will end up choosing sides. "I think a lot of people just go back into the closet as far as their gender identity," McDonald sighs.

For now, however, many of them refuse to give in to what they see as the ultimate battle in the fight for freedom of gender expression. "I feel like the world has been a very oppressive place," Williamson says. "I experience that oppression most through gender." ❤

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