personal

Gender shift.

For the first time in a long time, I woke up recently with cross-gender feelings. Since I was about 20, I have (or had) been considering gender reassignment to male. It’s been over 15 years since then. It was before I knew things were really more complicated than my being Female-to-Male transgender. (Over time, I’ve gotten to know more variations on gender identity than I knew of in early University.)

Normally these days, it’s more like I’ve been neither a man nor a woman, and happy that way. The option that has presented itself is to masculinize; and then still be, internally, neither a man nor a woman (though that is, honestly, not something I think I could do). I can put on “man” in my mindset, and though it throws other people off (the unprepared expect a “girl”, and my “man” mindset is pretty dark due to being constantly misgendered), it works, though it’s not good for my social adaptation. But it’s still also role-playing. I need to get beyond that.

I had been waiting to see what I would think of transition, while clear-headed (which I was definitely not, in my early 20’s). I don’t think I’m totally clear right now — the thoughts I’ve been having detract from that, largely in relation to not being taken seriously because I haven’t physically marked myself — but it’s notable that my gender identity did shift. That means that on some level, I’m still gender-fluid, and not stably non-binary (the latter of which, I had been hoping for: it makes things a lot easier to deal with).

I did do some writing before this entry on paper, so I got most of the extremely personal stuff out. I think I’m still processing things from relatively recent events, and somehow in my mind went back to the last time I was at a normal developmental place where it comes to intimate relationships. That was high school. (!) It was during that time and shortly thereafter that I felt I needed to be celibate to protect myself and others. It was just way too risky for me at that time to participate in growing in that manner.

This was in no way an issue for other students, though. Maybe I just saw the bigger picture.

It just feels safer to be gender-nonbinary and celibate than it is to obviously have an intimate relationship with someone of one’s own phenotype, or for a female to declare themselves a man (though I know I’m not a man, at this point, so this is moot). For that matter, though, it’s also tough to appear to be a man, and then be constantly challenged to, “live up to expectations,” when you know that you transitioned yourself into an even more vulnerable place than before you began.

Due to a number of factors, I’ve for a long time felt that I must be asexual. But what if that’s not the case? What If I’ve been practicing celibacy (voluntarily not indulging any sex drive) instead of being asexual (experiencing little to no sex drive)? If I need to know I’m recognized as myself and not my image, as a precursor to letting anyone get close to me — and I haven’t let anyone emotionally close enough to me to have the opportunity to get to know who I actually am (as versus what I look like) — that kind of precludes any opportunity for physical closeness.

Of course, with a lot of people, relations just stop at what I look like (assuming female = woman, woman = “girl”; implying all sorts of things about who I must be that I am not), regardless of whether I give them the opportunity to learn. It’s a reason (among many) I’ve broken up with people, before, though I’ve never had a romantic relationship that I was really, “into.”

The major thing I’m dealing with is the fact that I don’t know how to be any kind of woman in a romantic relationship. When I think of myself in a relationship, it’s in a masculine role, regardless of the sex or gender of the other person. (I would also add that I’m not attracted to any one sex or gender, so even though people often assume I’m lesbian, I don’t see this as the case — both because I don’t see myself as a woman, and because I’m not exclusively attracted to women. Most people don’t get that fine distinction, though.)

Some of the gender shift I experienced, is likely due to the fact that I’ve decided to stop waiting and hoping for a future incarnation where I have a fully-functioning male body. This life is all that’s guaranteed to me, that is, and I’m living for now, now; rather than for a hypothetical future. Earlier on, as a young adult, I was leaning back on the Buddhism and hoping that a next life would be more fortunate, but I’ve come to realize that, should Buddhism be true, it’s a relatively dark view of the world. For me, in my interpretation.

It’s compounded with knowledge that we’re in the middle of a mass extinction. I don’t really want to choose to believe that I’ll be reborn for eras as a cockroach on an overheating planet because we’ve interfered with the ecosystem so much that the only things that can survive are “less desirable” rebirths. (Although cockroaches do tend to look happy a lot of the time.)

At the same time…what I can do with testosterone to alter my form, is basically not what I’m looking for. It’s just not. I would rather be muscular and still appear female, than look male and be losing my hair and have to deal with (more) acne and (more) facial hair maintenance and (more) body hair and arteriosclerosis and a pot belly, etc. And that’s without what I actually want, which is to be larger than I am and stronger. I basically want to be fully physically male, which isn’t going to happen.

It would be more worth my while to trim down where it comes to my fat, and bulk up where it comes to muscle. Especially as I have no desire for surgery. To tell the truth, I have no desire to inject myself with hormones every week or two for the rest of my life, either.

The issue is not wanting to be considered a, “girl,” on sight; and also for people important to me not to be blinded by my appearance and the things stereotypically associated with that appearance. When those things blind others to who I actually am, there’s a problem. The problem, however, I don’t see as sourced in me: I see it as sourced in society, which is (or was, when I was new to the scene) apparently the main thing differentiating me from a mainstream “transgender” person. It’s the major reason I have not requested a testosterone prescription. The problem is not mine. It’s a systemic problem embedded in the fabric of society, and I just happen to lie at one of the pain points.

On the upshot, I have been presenting a strong “aura” (for lack of a better term) recently, which I don’t see as gendered (though it’s still apparent that I’m female). It’s actually good this way. I don’t mind people seeing me as female, as long as they know that my sex doesn’t determine my gender. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for the majority of society, still; and particularly in formal communications, there is no universally accepted, accessible way to address someone without assuming their gender (or lack of gender). The best thing to do is ask, but do you ask everyone? For some people, it isn’t an easy question to answer, or may feel intrusive (I know). It’s easy, that is, to default to the assumed gender; but it amounts to coming out to the questioner, if the answer is anything different.

The thing I’ve got to be better at is being able to…you know, not intentionally hold back information that interferes with smooth functioning. Of course, there’s a scale here, where at one end I accept and reflect what is expected because it makes social interaction happen more easily; and at the other end, I basically assert who I am regardless of others’ feelings or opinions about it. I may be better off at that latter end, but it’s been a new thing to be accepted on sight. It’s something that I had come not to expect, until I got my first job and realized that people — on the whole — intend to be decent. It’s very different from either school or the Internet.

It is possible to present as masculine for me, still — even though solidly into my “adult” years, now, I’ll need to lose weight if I want to wear clothing made for men. (Aging has come with curves by default.) Right now I’m wearing what fits, and it’s working. It doesn’t say much about my gender, but I’m not sure I should even deal with trying to express my gender through store-bought clothing. I mean, finding something that fits and looks all right and covers my body, is good enough.

And now that I’ve written all that out, I feel better. It’s tiring to get blindsided by these things so often, though in all honesty, it’s been quite a while since I shifted so strongly. Possibly relevant is that in a dream preceding that morning, I saw myself as male…but I was a vampire at an Otherkin convention.

Yes, I know. ;)

No, I’m not a vampire.

;)

3 thoughts on “Gender shift.”

  1. I followed you back, because of the beadwork you have been doing (still are) and sometimes read your text-only blog posts, but not all of them, to be honest.
    I rarely write about that stuff online anymore, now that I’m past 30. But in my teenage years I thought about these things a lot. I’m a female. Born female, have all the appropriate parts, have breasts others envy me for (I actually think they could be smaller because they get in the way and also aren’t good for posture), have successfully birthed a child 12 years ago and will hopefully repeat that in 4 weeks.

    For the most part of my life, I did not see myself as a woman. Which isn’t exactly right to say, though. I’m not sure how to word it. I don’t have a problem with my biological gender, though in my dreams, I’m often a male with male genitals, and during my roleplaying times, I almost always played male characters. I have been attracted to women, now and then. I had close relationships with both men and women. It’s a complex matter.

    What I definitely have a problem with, is the roles society expects me to fill. At some point, I decided to shit on them. Then I went and became a professional truck driver. It sounds easy written in one sentence. I had to walk over corpses to get there. I had to disregard my whole personality and construct a new one. But I found that I was happy with it. More than I was with my old one. I worked in a male-dominated field. Yes I had to constantly walk around with my (theoretical) balls out, and I had to be very dominant and harsh to be respected by my usually male fellow drivers. I managed that, though. My biological gender was a big issue at first, but with skill and self-confidence that issue almost disappeared. People were usually confused meeting me for the first time. They saw my undeniably female figure approaching them and were hit in the face with a typically male self-confidence and dominant behaviors. They didn’t know where to put me in their sorting system. The more intelligent ones saw me as a professional and disregarded their gender confusion. The less intelligent ones… well. Those had very different approaches, starting with insult and ending with blatant attempts to get into my pants (probably to check what was in there).

    Even now, being in a committed relationship (with another truck driver, of course), fulfilling a basically female role (not driving truck anymore, staying home, being pregnant, stitching tiny glass beads together, being responsible for cleaning and cooking and whatever else), I don’t FEEL female, at least not in the way society expects me to. I feel… myself. I feel like a human being. I don’t CARE about roles. I still cuss like a truck driver when I’m not being careful. I sit with my legs open on public transport. I wear typically male clothing. (which currently doesn’t fit me, sadly.) I speak my mind. I’m very direct. I don’t give a damn that people are confused. It’s their own problem. I’m comfortable in my body and I’m comfortable with my own identity, which is not based on gender, but rather on personality, mindset and skills.

    I have known many transgender people in my teenage years, and they all were confused, about themselves, mostly. With no disrespect to anyone, I think gender is a social construct. It’s up to everyone to just disregard it and be themselves. Be a person. Not man or woman or boy or girl. Be a human. Stop caring about what other people may or may not think in their own heads. Stop listening to them. They’re just confused too. Or plain stupid. They can’t help it.

    I don’t care if I buy my pants in the male section or the female section, if I like them and they fit, I buy them. Yes, people stare. Yes, people stared at me every day when I did my work as a long distance truck driver. Let them stare. Let them have something in their boring lives to talk about. Don’t let it become a thorn in your side.

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    1. Hi Deira,

      Thank you for that comment, and I hope all goes well with your baby and family! I find it interesting that sometimes I make posts like this and that I get many fewer views, but more direct engagement from people who care.

      Generally, I would talk something like this out IRL, instead of online (there’s a bit of a local gender-variant community, distinct from but related to the local transgender scene). I also used to talk about this a lot online, but it’s one of those hot-button issues that at least used to be a flame magnet (in the early 2000’s – 2010’s). I’m not sure about now, but I’ve decided not to continue to edit this part of my experience out.

      Yeah, my 20’s were an interesting time. :) I’m considerably more chill now…I think it has to do with aging, not putting myself out there as much, and knowing that I just don’t have to respond to everything thrown at me. But there’s also the fact that life comes in and this is one facet of my experience…not the only one, by far.

      Basically, with me, the entire thing about the draw of testosterone is to stop compensating for being female so I can get on with my life. When I overcompensate, I can be a jerk, and I really don’t like being that person (though it is around the only time I get recognized as not-a-woman, which ironically encourages the habit).

      Of course, there are all the biological drawbacks (key among them a genetic tendency to heart disease), and I fear being seen as a man will highlight all the ways I’m not one. When that’s not part of expectations, no one cares; but when it is, I’m concerned it will put me into a position where I’m in danger of harm. The reason that concerns me is that I was in a vulnerable position for essentially six years as a teenager (when everyone around me was convinced I was either a lesbian or trans* man)…and there are still adults who act like teenagers.

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      1. Well, I’m pretty sure we live on different sides of the world, but if you need someone to chat to in private, no matter what it’s about, I’m here! Easiest way to contact me directly is on Discord these days (…), but I’m also on FB and Instagram (@…). My Instagram is mostly about beadwork, since I kind of hope to sell it some day.

        disclaimer: edited by Haruaki on 8-17-2019 to protect commenter privacy.

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