The Personal is Political
Mr. E. checking in, dropping some news right before our big (wedding) day!
I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for quite some time now. A blog post about sex, gender, queerness and how it all fits with personal finance. I’ve given a lot of thought to the trend across various media to attempt raising issues about privilege. And this is where a lot of people will go “But Mr. E, aren’t you a straight white dude from privileged-as-F-Scandinavia?”
…well, both yes and no. I will be the first person to say that yes, I am privileged. I come from a white background and have a loving supportive family. I have a secure home. I have an education. I have an amazing fiancé, who happens to be a woman. But my first relationship was with a man. And I still like men. I just like women, too — and one woman in particular. But I digress. My bisexuality is not the topic of this post. What I wanted to write here is that while I wear all these hats of privilege, I was also assigned female at birth and lived the first 19 years of my life as a woman. And then continued to live the consecutive 3 years trying to “pass” as a man, in order to receive the help I needed from the Norwegian health institute for gender-related dysphoria (note: this is not their official title). The reason I’m mentioning this is not that I want to write a long soppy story about my past. But to address what this means to me in the present, and how it links to personal finance and FI.
Ever since K brought me on this financial journey last year, I’ve been eagerly consuming podcasts and blogs about Financial Independence. And the next sentence I’m going to write is certainly not going to surprise anyone, because it has been said so many times. Yes, I’m talking about the representation of straight white men in the FI-community, in the shape of bloggers and podcasters. I have nothing against straight white men or their content in general (hey, in a lot of people’s eyes, I’m considered a straight white man, so who am I to judge?). And a lot of my favourite podcasts/blogs are produced by these straight white men, such as ChooseFI and The Mad Fientist, whose podcasts I’m sure I’ve mentioned before.
Over the past year, I’ve also started listening to a lot of the female voices in this strange corner of the internet. It’s no secret that one of K’s favourite bloggers is Liz from Frugalwoods.com. And I’ve grown dependent on my weekly feed from The Fairer Cents podcast, and recently (after K sent me in their direction), the FIRE Drill Podcast. And their content is amazing to listen to. Just like every other blogger and podcaster, they bring their own unique voices to the FI-community and add content that really opens up the space to new conversations.
But the more time I spend here, the more I notice the lack of queer voices. It is quite selfish of me, but I miss seeing, hearing from, and reading about people like me talk about FI. How the question of money relates to queer people. And how queer people feel about money. There are definitely some great and visible queer role models in the FI community, such as Debt Free Guys. And this episode of The Fairer Cents podcast is all about money, success, and how they relate to sexual identity.
Still, I have yet to find a blog post or a podcast episode about personal finance written by someone who identifies on the gender queer spectrum (and if you have seen any, please point me in their direction!). My first thought is that it might be related to the costs of physical gender transition, which I’ve heard are quite high in many countries. But then I think about all the people I’ve heard who talk about the amount of debt they were in before they heard about the path to FI. And that makes me think that the reason has to be something else. What that something else could be, is impossible to say.
In a podcast episode by Freakonomics, titled Are Gay Men Really Rich?, they discuss the social stereotype of gay men always being portrayed as rich on different media platforms. In the podcast, they came to the conclusion that it would be near impossible to find an accurate answer to this question. Why? Because accurate/
good data on queer identified persons are really difficult to get by. It’s not hard to imagine why this data would be hard to come by. With all the social stigma around queer identities, many LGBTQ+ people don’t wish to share their data. This makes it difficult to know what an average income among queer people is at, as well as how discrimination feeds into the job market in terms of employment and alienation.
What this makes me think is that this same aversion to disclosing data to others, perhaps out of fear of discovery, is the reason we see so few gender queer identified people in the FI-community. After all, personal finance isn’t exactly a non-taboo topic, either. But that makes it all the more important to talk about it. So let’s get personal. Because that’s how we let others know that it’s possible.