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Mabel's Guide to Gender

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The introduction to the video plays out as usual with the pan down the side of the bedazzled pig with MABEL’S GUIDE TO… written in passable cursive with blue glitter glue, followed by various clips of her previous videos until it finally landed on a title card reading GENDER!!!

The girl had a really weird imagination, but you supposed that was what made her so popular. Sometimes in her videos, Mabel talked about her Grunkles, one of whom travelled through dimensions for thirty years to defeat some kind of nacho demon, while the other was legally dead and also a conman of the highest calibre. Also, her brother was some kind of film and special effects nerd who was obsessed with conspiracies and the paranormal, so that explained the weird creatures that showed up in the videos every so often.

Mabel was seated in front of the camera, sparkling with yellow and purple glitter, and shifting a little on her bed. You know that this video was shot in Gravity Falls, because it’s summer and when you binge watched all of her videos last year you learnt that she goes to some boring Oregon town every year at that time.

“I’ve been thinking about gender a lot recently!” the girl on the screen said, her enthusiastic voice buzzing through your phone’s tinny speakers. She tugged on her long hair, dyed in all of the colours of the rainbow and also, apparently, with some ultraviolet streaks. “Dipper got to start on T a few months ago, and I’ll put the link there-“ She wiggled a pointed finger next to her, and for five seconds or so a link appeared with a thumbnail depicting a boy that looked almost identical to Mabel mid-sentence, gazing behind the camera with a grin on his face. “-so if you haven’t seen it, just go take a moment to watch it. And, well, it got me thinking.”

Mabel picked up a tangle toy from offscreen and began to play with it as she continued with her video. You watch her motions on the screen, though the audio lags sometimes because of your poor wifi.

“Okay, so we all know that I’m selfish and stuff and that I think about myself a lot, right? Because Dipper talked about how much he felt like a boy, and that his boyness-gender-thingy had a feeling. And I didn’t understand, because I don’t feel like a girl, and the gender-feely thing isn’t a trans thing because I asked Pacifica and Candy and Lazy Susan and everyone I know who’s a cis girl if they felt that feeling, and most of them said that they do, or they don’t think about it much. And then when Grunkle Stan called me his favourite niece the next day, I thought that I was just being oversensitive. Because I wasn’t like Dipper, because I wasn’t a boy, but being called girly things just felt, I don’t know, wrong.

“I thought about my gender for a while and I called myself a boy in my head, but that felt wrong because it felt like Dipper, and Dipper feels like a boy and I don’t and I didn’t want to make that, like, somehow less valid. I mean, I know now that gender is weird and one person’s experience of it can be completely different from another’s even if they identify the same way, but I have a narrative here! And when I called myself a girl I felt weird but in a different kind of weird than being called a boy?

“So, as I always do when I have a weird problem that can’t be punched in the face, I went to Grunkle Ford. Not that Grunkle Ford is worse at punching than Grunkle Stan or that Grunkle Stan is worse at things that aren’t punching, but Grunkle Ford travelled the multiverse. He knows things, guys. Knooows thiiiiiings.”

Okay, so that thing she does where she wiggles all of her fingers completely independently of each other with no pattern? It’s creepy.

“So, yeah, I went to Grunkle Ford and I was like ‘heeey, when you were going through dimensions did you see any other genders than boys and girls?’ and he was like ‘yeah, and I’ll tell you about it, but you kind of need to duck and protect your ears for a minute beforehand’ so I got my ear defenders out, and I forgot to take them off while he talked to me and he had to repeat everything but apparently not being a boy or a girl isn’t just a multidimensional-exclusive thing!”

Mabel stopped to take a deep breath as you blink at the screen. You… Are really glad that she puts subtitles on her videos, because you caught about one in every five words.

“So, I’m not a girl!” Mabel said, and her statement was received by edited-in fireworks and cheers. “I guess I’m nonbinary? And I’m moving from she and her and stuff to zie and zir pronouns. It’s kind of weird, though, because I’m really bad with change, but she and her kind of feels like being punched in the stomach repeatedly because Grenda’s trying to save you from the glitter that you ate even though you it was fine, and seriously, it doesn’t hurt you! It just feels like sand when it goes down your throat! Anyway, my metaphor got kind of ehh-ishy-nope. Ignore that metaphor, folks!

“Wait, is that why I was crying during puberty? Was it the boobs, past me’s brain? Was it the boobs?”

Zie shook zir fist at the sky before collapsing into giggles, which were sped up and remixed for a good ten seconds. You tap your food to the beat until the video cuts back to Mabel talking, now with glitter over significantly more of zir face.

“So, yeah, being autistic makes the pronouns feel weird at the start, but I guess it’s more like breaking in a new pair of shoes? Like, she and her and being called a girl, that used to fit, but now it doesn’t, and it’s like throwing out old shoes that are all bad and stuff and getting new ones. And the new ones feel weird, but they fit, and eventually they’ll fit me better. Or something, I guess.

“I mean, this all might change at some point. Like, I might wake up tomorrow and be a girl again and all of this would have been pointless. Or my gender might go all fluid and ping-pong-ball-ish and pronouns will get even bwekkier. But, for now, I like being called nonbinary, and being called nonbinary feels good and, yeah, I guess that’s really all there is to say on the matter.

“But everyone in my family’s being really supportive, and Waddles can’t misgender me but he can chew up my enby pride swe- Waddles no!”

Mabel launched zirself from her bed, leaving you to look at the background of zir attic wall. There’s a lot of photographs and drawing and posters, including a signed one for some boyband called Sev’ral Timez. They look really similar to each other, but that’s white boys, you guess.

A second later, Mabel resurfaced holding a very large boar and a soggy turtleneck with yellow, white, purple, and black horizontal stripes. Zie pulled the sweater on over zir green t-shirt and zir eyes crinkled as the neck covered zir face from the nose down. You can’t help but return zir pre-recorded smile.

“Anyway, that’s it for this video,” zie smiled, popping out of zir turtleneck. “Say goodbye, Waddles!”

Waddles oinked and licked zir face.

“Bye, guys! I’ll see you next week, when I’ll be uploading Mabel’s Guide to Exploring an Abandoned Spaceship with your Grunkle Ford! Until then, have fun, and stay sparkly!”

Zie blew a kiss at the screen and the video ends.

You smile at your phone. Even if zir imagination is wild, Mabel is one of the most genuine vloggers that you watch, and your chest fills with pride for zir.

 

-

 

“Mabel, dear, I really don’t understand why you want me to wear this sweater instead of the one I’m wearing,” says Ford, gesturing to his turtleneck. It was navy blue and purple, with a map of the sky of Gravity Falls in summertime. “It’s my favourite, and I wanted to show it off to your internet people.”

Mabel grins, pressing the black sweater into his hands. On the front, there is a stereotypical alien face coloured in with green, white, grey, and black stripes.

Ford blinks. “Are these the aromantic colours?”

“Yes!” grins Mabel, revealing the other one that zie had been holding in zir arms, rolled up into a little sweater burrito. Zie shakes it out and shows zir own alien’s face.

Immediately, Ford breaks into a broad grin. “You came out to your internet fans?”

“Yes!” zie replies, zir smile growing broader. “And now we can wear these and match!”

Ford swoops down and gathers his nibling into a hug. “Oh, Mabel, I am so proud of you.”

He hears Mabel giggle into his shoulder as zie says, zir voice slightly muffled, “I’m proud of me, too.”