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Gender Conversation

I had a lovely conversation with Moss while we were out on a date last night regarding gender, which as a fluid thing for me, can be a bit complicated to talk about, partially because it changes on each given day (roughly), our language lacks words to describe it some days, and some days I just don’t know.

He wanted to know more about my relationship with my gender and seemed to be in the place I often am – where do I start with the questions?

But the question that struck me was “why?”.  Probably because “why?” is always my favorite question and is, I’ve found in most cases, the hardest question to answer – possibly because it involves digging into motivations that aren’t always clear.  I love it because it digs in to what makes people tick, which has always been fascinating to me, both from a physiological and psychological perspective.

I digress.

I identify as non-binary trans because it fits right, like “queer” fits right.  I am bisexual and I am genderfluid – these identify facts about me.  Non-binary and queer, in a way, demonstrate my attitude about my identity: I don’t care what people think about them, I am who I am, and anyone who doesn’t like it, can just go hush themselves.  The trans part is difficult for me – I have just recently embraced that part of the non-binary thing – I don’t identify as the gender I was assigned at birth, that’s a basic definition of trans.  Sometime my gender does round or slide to one or the other – more often to female than male, by quite a long shot – but much more often it just hangs nebulously in the middle.  I also do occasionally experience bouts of gender dysphoria – more often when I am depressed and/or restricted in my presentation options.

But why?  I’ve never felt comfortable in boxes.  It took me a long time to learn to color within the lines.  I was a major tomboy growing up.  I was never the good hostess that my mother wanted me to be.  Grace has been a learned skill for me – it’s not an inherent thing, either physically or socially.  I spent most of my time growing up in the outdoors, wandering around, or in my room with a book.  Exploring comes naturally and easily to me, even if the unpredictability can occasionally set off my anxiety.  I am ok with being the weird kid who never quite fit in, but was close enough to normal that I was never shunned.

As an adult I learned to become comfortable with the more feminine aspects of my personality and style that I had rejected early on, for a number of reasons: 

  • Feminine clothing is not often designed for comfort or practicality (dresses with pockets are a major win for me – I wish I could afford more of them),
  • Foundation makes the patchy bits of my skin which are normally pretty unnoticeable super obvious (just don’t wear foundation, you can wear whatever makeup you like), 
  • Femininity is often read as weakness (I still struggle with this one), 
  • Long hair gets in my face and that drives me mad (so cut it)
  • Breasts get in the way – I did not like having them at all until midway through high school (having properly fitting bras and clothing that either accentuates or hides them based on my gender presentation feels is super helpful)
  • Femininity is often read as submissiveness (meeting strong, no-nonsense femmes has really helped with this)

So, here I am.  A genderfluid (non-binary) tomboy femme.  It fits comfortably enough to not be restrictive, but gives me a few labels that help me figure out my place in this world and in the queer community.

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Pride Challenge: Day 14

Your favorite LGBT song or artist. 

So, I’m going to be cliched here and say Mary Lambert.

When I was dating Minx, hearing her songs for the first time – that was revelatory.  Not that I didn’t think that there was something worth celebrating about being in a relationship with a woman, but that there was a relatively mainstream artist who was celebratory about her queer relationships, instead of sweeping them under the carpet.

Then I heard she was a local artist and that she went to school with Lola.  So, yeah, the connection to her music hasn’t withered at all.  “Same Love” still makes me tear up, each time I hear it.

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Pride Month: Day 11

Your favorite LGBT book (or one you’d like to read)

Yikes, I realize I haven’t read that many.  Do graphic novels count?  If so, definitely Fun Home.  Alison Bechdel, she of the Bechdel test, writes/draws her adventures growing up with an in the closet dad, eventual figuring out that she’s queer herself.  There’s a musical version coming to town this summer and I am So. Fricking. Excited!

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Pride Challenge: Day 8

What do you think the closet or being closeted means to you?

The closet was a safe place at one point in time, where I could be while I was still figuring out who I was and how that could fit in to my family as that person.  Fitting into society as a whole hasn’t really ever been a part of it – I’ve always been strange enough that I was never quite going to fit in to any social group or pass as a “normal” person for longer than about 6-8 hours at a time (and even that probably doesn’t hold up under much scrutiny).

I have tended to only come out of the closet when there was a compelling reason to do so, or I just couldn’t hold it to myself any longer.  However, coming out as a concept has become much more complicated for me over time – I prefer to be out, for sure, but the idea of the necesssity of making a big deal out of it has been starting to strike me as weird.  I mean, being bi, poly, non-binary – these are normal things and I should be able to talk about them in ordinary conversation without it being a big deal.  

They say coming out reduces the stigma around marginalized groups, but I think that it doesn’t have to be a big deal to do it.  Heck, think of a world where it isn’t a big deal for someone to off-handedly mention their same sex partner when talking about vacation plans (even when they’ve never talked about them before) or mention that they prefer they/them or xie/xir pronouns without someone picking on their grammar.  Imagine a world where this is a normal ordinary thing for people to do.  I like that world, so I do what I can to create that world, by trying to talk about my sexuality, gender identity, and relationship styles without implying that they should be anything but normal and ordinary.
Granted, as much as I like the idea of that world, I grew up in this one, where these things aren’t normal or ordinary.  So, sometimes having a foot in the closet is necessary to maintain economic security or safety.  And sometimes my ideals don’t match my situation and I am a hypocrite – I am slowly introducing my parents to the idea of non-cisgender gender identity, so I can talk about my situation comfortably eventually and know that they have the whole context in which to judge it.  I am sharing my experiences with my partners on Facebook and slowly widening what I am comfortable sharing about any of my relationships and the group of people I am comfortable sharing it with.  I am hoping that I can bypass coming out as an event to my extended family by just presenting my life as it is to my family on Facebook.

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Pride Challenge: Day 6

Did you face any problems regarding religion?

Nope.

The only thing I ever encountered in the way of problems regarding religion has been with family members who were less accepting of my queerness because of their religion.  One of those folks, my aunt, said once that she may disagree with my lifestyle but she still loves me because I’m her niece.

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Pride Month: Day 5

Thoughts regarding inner turmoil about your sexuality; Did you have any? Did it escalate to self-injury or suicidal thoughts? 

The only thing I can think of that fits the “inner turmoil thing” is fears about not being seen as queer enough to occupy queer spaces, especially when I’m in one of my Kinsey 2 stages (I swing between Kinsey 2 and 4).  I date mostly men (as a bi AFAB person, this is the statistical normal), but do date women, and when I’m out with one of my male partners and it’s just us, in most cases we will be read as straight.  Which squicks me a bit – it erases my queerness to be judged by the person I am with and nothing else.

My inner turmoil regarding my sexuality never has lead to self-injury or suicidal thoughts, and I know I am lucky in that regard.

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Pride Challenge: Day 4

The first person you came out to and that story?

Bisexual/queer: Probably someone in my very early freshman year.  I was eager to explore what that meant, so I don’t know who it was I told first.

Genderqueer/Gender fluid: I had been having thoughts about it for at least six months before I told anyone and I did it on my first date with Diplomat.  I’m not even sure he knows that.  I just gave the thought words then.  They had been brewing for awhile beforehand.