A while ago (when I first started this post), Genderqueer Chicago’s topic was taking up space — “When does it feel necessary to take up space and when does it feel dangerous?” It feels, like so many GqC topics, apropos. How much space I take up, and how that makes me feel, relates to gender for me. Sometimes it feels necessary; sometimes it feels dangerous — and sometimes, it feels both at the same time.
If I’m wearing a tie, I often feel like taking up as little space as possible. I feel like everyone is noticing me, judging me, questioning me. Unless, of course, I’m with a group of trans/genderqueer friends. Then I take up space. Why would I care if strangers are judging me when I have my friends who aren’t?
I generally enjoy taking up space with I’m with a group of trans and genderqueer friends — I feel free and open to be myself, and I get a definite “out and proud” sort of feeling. It’s almost like a high – just being out and about with a group of friends like me. Safety in numbers, perhaps, or an inflated sense of security and carelessness. We’re calling attention to ourselves as it is; there’s no point in trying to hide. And I don’t want to hide — I like who I am. I like who we are.
Sometimes, though, I get nervous because I know that gender non-conforming people face violence and harassment. And then I want to take up less space: I get uneasy, and I find myself wary of every person who approaches. I worry for my friends, and I worry for myself, especially when we aren’t easily read as one gender or another (not that that’s necessarily something for which to strive).
I’m typically not the type of person who takes up a lot of space. Well, at least not in public — at home and when I’m comfortable, I’ll sprawl out and take up far more room than you’d think a five-foot-tall person could. But in public, I’ll often find myself curling up in as small a space as I can. How much space I take up can definitely signify how comfortable I am.