We’re making a change to the Infinite Body Piercing Website. In order to be more inclusive to all of our clients along the gender spectrum, we will no longer be dividing genital piercings into “male” and “female” piercings, but instead into penis and vulva piercings. From here on out, we will have gender-neutral genital piercings on the Infinite site!
So why the change?
This year, I will (again) be teaching the Male Genital Piercing class at the upcoming Association of Professional Piercers Conference and Exposition. I was first asked to teach the male genital piercing class with Elayne Angel in 2014. Elayne has spent the last three decades as an educator (and go-to expert on genital piercings), and it was a privilege to be invited to do the class with her. It was a surprise then, upon accepting, to find out that I was the lead on the class—meaning that I was charged with re-organizing the class information and teaching aids! It was a lot of work, but I was happy to help update the class for a newer generation of piercers. I was invited to teach the class with Elayne again in 2016. (Each year, they offer a comprehensive class on genital piercings, alternating each year between classes on male and female genital piercings.) This year I was asked to teach again at the 2018 conference, and was paired with former Infinite piercer (and new shop owner) Kellan Smith—and we once again set out to update the class.
In going through the presentation with my wife (and editor), she pointed out how gendered the language in the class materials were. “You consistently refer to these clients as men; you realize that not everyone with a penis is a man, don’t you?” she said. “Of course,” I replied. “Well, this language doesn’t reflect that,” she said—and she was right.
As a culture, in the last decade we have seen an incredible evolution on the issue of gender. Culturally, we have moved toward approaching gender as a spectrum instead of a rigid male/female dichotomy. With the increased visibility of people on all parts of the gender spectrum, we are more often agreeing that genitals do not determine gender: not everyone who has a vagina can be described as a woman, just as you cannot assume that everyone with a penis is a man.
Language is the first step. While the title of the upcoming APP class remains Male Genital Piercings, the class materials have been updated to include more nuanced language, wording that reflects a more inclusive approach to gender and gender identity. I'm proud of the changes to this year's class, and after tackling that we turned our attention to our materials for Infinite, notably the Infinite Website.
When we revamped the Website in late 2014, I spoke to Buck Angel, trans educator and activist (and then-husband of piercer Elayne Angel), and we talked about the structure of the genital piercings section of the site. I asked him if he saw a problem with dividing genital piercings by gender. He explained that while most people expect to be respected for their gender identity (even if it does not sync with their genitals), genital piercings are acceptably grouped this way because they are about biological sex, not gender.
But this arrangement didn’t always work. Before we replatformed the site at the beginning of this year we categorized our gallery images to auto-populate on the page for that piercing—and this arrangement classified the images by not only type but, in the case of genital piercings, by gender. While this worked for most clients, several gender-fluid clients found this didn’t “classify” them as they themselves identified. This issue of photo sorting was eliminated with that adoption of the new platform, but the pages were still sorted in the same fashion—at least they were, until we changed it this week.
In the interest of inclusiveness, we have renamed all our genital piercing pages. We will no longer have categories for “female genital piercing” and “male genital piercings,” but will instead have information on penis piercings and vulva piercings—since my wife is correct: not everyone with a vulva is a woman, and not everyone with a penis identifies themselves as a man. It’s a small change, but we’re excited to move toward more inclusive language, and this language will continue to evolve at the studio so we can serve all our clients, however they chose to identify on the gender spectrum.