Your Gender Is Not Recognized

Artwork by Ritu Poojari

In a faraway galaxy, distinctly resembling our Milky Way existed the planet Queerth, inhabited by humans not dissimilar from our own. Except Madame and Eve and Adam and Steve were the norm here, and gender-nonconformity a given. It was a world where trans POC activists wrote the Constitution and everyone adopted they, ze, xe and the myriads other gender-neutral pronouns. Where a non-binary genius discovered gravity and a two-spirit Native American became the first to set foot on their moon. Where Humanoid Sophia was a queer lesbian enjoying a three-way relationship with her Saudi lovers.

In this paradise for Queers, the miniscule minority were the much-despised cis-heterosexual lot, who stubbornly believed the world was ideally just for Adam and Eve and proselytized a binary gender system enforced by ‘he’ and ‘she’ pronouns and suffocating monogamy. Following a moral panic around their radical ideologies, the community was declared illegal worldwide. One such rebel Xi/Rahul (assigned: agender, pronouns: Ve/Ver; chosen: cis; pronouns: He/His) was a new recruit of the Cis-Hetero Association for Straight Equality aka CHASTE, a fringe group claiming to be ‘resolute in their fight against the oppressive trans and homo normative forces stripping thousands of basic freedom to live and love’. This is vis/his last recorded conversation before vis/his death, obtained by CHASTE following a yearlong battle with the authorities.

This is in Xi/Rahul’s memory.   

“So… when did you first realize you were different, Xi?”

“It’s Rahul. I do not use my birth name”

“Okay… Rahul… that’s quite a bizarre name, don’t you think?”

“I disagree. One of the founding members of CHASTE was this man named Rahul”

“Umm…. ah, you mean the one torched to death during the protest against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?”

 “Yes… He was my childhood idol. I lived on his lectures, specially his notes on patriarchy”

“You accessed the forbidden archives?”

 Awkward silence.

“Let’s begin again – so when did you realize you were different… errr Rah-owl?”

“You know, I never thought I’d turn out this way considering my lineage. I was an IVF kid raised in an agender family. But right from my first cry, I definitely knew I was a BOY”

“How do you know that?”

“Because… so my first day at school, all these kids ran up to me saying, ‘Hey, I’m Gnocchi, ae/aer’, ‘Hey I’m Apple’… and the little-me uttered, “I am Xi, and I am a boy, and there are only two genders – boy and girl”. I surprised myself for a second when I said that! Like ‘Whoa, no one taught me this!’, but it felt right, it felt me

“Kids say all sorts of fanciful stuff. Doesn’t mean they are real. How did the others react?”  

“The next thing you know, these tykes ganged up on me and yelled, ‘Your Gender is Not Recognized! Your Gender is Not Recognized!’”

“And how did that feel?”

“I felt Hurt. Erased. The teachers didn’t help one bit. I mean, how else would you feel if you are constantly fed lies in class like ‘Gender is a spectrum’ and ‘Biology isn’t destiny’?”

“Key studies in Gender and Sexuality confirm these hypotheses so unless there is valid data to disprove them, the verdict won’t change”     

“See this is exactly what you guys do! Bring in your age-old pseudo-theories to dismiss alternative facts! Not acknowledging that people like us have tried our best to fit in, but the world remains a strange and scary place for us men… and women”

“Explain that”

“I remember my first experience during playtime. This tutor brought a massive box of toys, and I was all pumped to play with a cool racecar or a GI Joe figure. And what do we get instead? Bubblegum Pink Maybach and muscular dolls wearing spacesuits!”

“And… why is that a problem?”

“I mean come on… we are talking boys and dolls?! Even if you do manufacture these dolls, at least make them realistic… give them an apron… or a cat suit!”


“The only GI Joe I found wore a goddamn evening gown! Ugh, the horror of it all!”

“Did you just assume their gender?”

“Yes, I did. I could not bear it. I wore this baseball uniform one day thinking I’d throw a pitch and they made me perform Swan Lake!”

“Oh, poor you… must be such a trouble to expand gender possibilities by queering things up”

“Look, I mean you folks can like invent your own thing… why ruin traditions?”

“This is the tradition”

“Says who?”

“Umm… the legal one… sorry couldn’t resist that”

“I grew up lonely and bitter. And then I fell in love”

“Go on”

“With a girl”

Tense silence.

“With a…”

“With a ‘she’-pronoun-using girl who just liked boys – there I said it!”

“That’s illegal

“That’s love. No one believed us and we were suffering in our assigned identities. The feeling grew twice as much after adolescence…”

“And then?”

“Our parents disapproved, termed our love a ‘dangerous liaison’. I told them I wanted to make babies with her missionary-style. They placed me in a kink therapy for a month!”

“That should’ve turned you ‘normal’ in ideal circumstances…”

“I was so devastated I dropped out of school”

“And what happened to your… cis-heterosexual lover?”

“Can’t you just call her lover? She was sent to London”

“And that’s it… like, with this chapter in your life?”

“Yes, I miss her”

“Could you umm… share em’s details after our session?”

“I… I do not wish to out her”

“I suppose you are aware of the possible repercussions of withholding information?”

“I believed our conversation was strictly confidential…?”

“Oh, umm yes… Of course. You can rest assured your statements will remain within the confines of these four walls… just like you

“I’m sorry?”

“Nothing, nothing. So Xi… Ra-ghoul, you felt this was more than just a teenage phase?”

“Most certainly. After she left me, I had a rough patch where I just wanted to turn into this hulked-up Zaddy with chicks around me polishing my knob. No strings attached; nothing more”

“Although the way you speak of it seems dehumanizing towards your partners, I would say the wish is pretty darn sex-positive – our world says YES to polyamory!”

“I mean CHASTE was the only spot where you’d get pure cis-heterosexual women who wouldn’t turn you off saying, ‘I’m a pansexual bi-romantic’ or ‘You mind if I try my strap-on on you?’”

“So you joined CHASTE to get it on with people?”

“No… of course not… I…I… joined for human rights… equality…”


“Besides the activism, CHASTE could potentially help me find a woman of my dreams. Where I would be the breadwinner, protect my lady from the big bad world. And she would be back home happily cleaning around, laying out the dinner table…”

“Yeah, yeah…”

“Serving me endless ladles of rasam-idlis…”


“It drove me nuts to live in a world where people change gender on a whim, where no fixed gender roles are assigned. I mean, when one says same ‘sex’ relationships, doesn’t it imply that person’s gender is fixed?”

“Gender Studies 101. Chapter 1: Understanding Sex and Gender. Page 1. Quote ‘Remember folx, sex and gender are different. If you think they’re the same, you’re a numb-nut’”

“What a load of shite!”

“I am scanning through your school grades and… wow, not a year without flunking this course”

“These books had nothing written about people like me. So when I dropped out of school and had ample hours at home, I dug up any material I could gather on cis-heterosexuality”

“And did your efforts yield any results?”

“It was challenging at first since our community has only been misrepresented and vilified by your trans and homo normative lens. The cis-heterosexuality community received some backing in the West, but you folks took no time in weeding us out of society, saying we brought all sorts of diseases”

“Except you do…”

“That’s beside the point. You ensured our lives remained miserable and allocated no resources for our well-being. Then you said we were a public nuisance and banned us with your despotic Propaganda laws”

“You folx were way out there, to be honest”

“It has gotten worse since, with reports of state brutality, forced disappearances. With cases like Rahul’s, you have blood on your hands!”

“Rahul was a one-off incident, and we’ve compensated their family just about enough. It seems they were more than happy to hear what we had done with Rahul”

“People think we’re some animals. My own family has disowned me. I have no social circle. The few who believe me or feel the same way are too scared to come out in public”

“But you know where they are hiding…?”

“Ye… I mean, no…. NO, I DON’T. CHASTE temporarily disbanded after the last legislation”

“The one about boiling you folx to death?”

“What! No… I meant, arresting us for holding public gatherings”

“Oh… oh yeah, right… boiling is still being tabled

“Wait, what?”

“Nothing, nothing. Go on”

“My sources confirm you’re using mind-control and memory-erasure on my people”

“That’s reaching a bit, don’t you think?”

“I could share some links”

“No, thank you”

Uncomfortable silence.

“Do you have anything more to share?”

“I hope I can get out soon”


“Out of solitary confinement”

“I am not programmed to tell you that”

“Please, Sophia. You have heard them talk. You know something”

Momentary silence.

“Well… they are going to administer some tests. Kink therapy etc etc. Put you on some meds to gauge the reaction. If none of them does the work, you’ll be out a free… cis-hetero man… in three years”


“Okay, our time’s up. We meet same time next week… I am getting a call, excuse me… ‘Yes, done with patient Xi. Pronouns: Ve/Ver’.


“I’m sorry. On database, Your Gender is Not Recognized”

Complete Silence.

Sophia (Model No 77) exited the nationwide detention center, walking past rows and rows of captured members of terror groups like CHASTE, HOME, among others.

Per was proud of perself – 16 members rounded within a week of joining Project SOPHIA (Systematic Obliteration Process of Hetero-Cisgender Identities and Associations). Per was intensely working in ensuring the success of the programme. Per only hated having to lie as part of per job requirement, about Xi or the other inmates becoming free persons someday. That was never going to happen.

The proposed law on boiling had just been passed.

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Career-wise, I am passionate about media and education. My inspirations include Meryl Streep, Joan Rivers, Nicki Minaj, and the movie Singin’ in the Rain. I walk the tightrope of being serious, kind-hearted & optimistic while at the same time I can be wreckless about laughter, be critical of things around and cry ‘f*** the world’ aloud from rooftops.

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