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.

;)

jewelry, personal, psychology

Recap, and envisioning my future self.

Okay, so…that bit of time when I was up until after midnight this last Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, and had to wake early Wednesday? I’m still feeling the aftereffects. (Of course, it is only Thursday. The days seem to be going slower for me, recently.)

I fell asleep by accident at 8 PM last night (Wednesday), then woke up at 3:30 AM (today, Thursday) from the local fox screaming in the backyard. (It’s probably a girl; we read that vixens scream to attract mates.) At that time, I realized I had missed my 9 PM medication…by 6.5 hours…and got up to take it. I also had to eat a little bit to avoid becoming sick from the meds — plantain chips. (It must have worked, as I didn’t get nauseous, and I wasn’t nauseous when I woke up.)

Then I brushed my teeth and got back in bed, to wake up at 9 AM for the live meeting of my current course. That was relatively difficult to get through; I went back to bed at 9:50 after it ended, skipping produce shopping for today.

So…I think that will have to wait until tomorrow, to avoid being on the road during rush hour. We did go out, though I basically had to eat two meals to stay up. The only way I am staying up right now is that I drank a caffeinated soda. I’m also eating some chocolate, which is likely not a coincidence.

I still haven’t written about last weekend, though…I wonder if I wrote anything by hand? I know I did, some. Any names mentioned here would have to be altered or omitted for confidentiality reasons…but basically, my dad’s cousin had a family gathering, and I got to meet family whom I had met maybe once before. There’s a lot of history that precedes me here; some that precedes my father; it’s not proper for the blog, but whose family history is…?

In any case, it was nice to meet people, though I kind of wish I had been more up to the task of being social. Because I’m a shy person by nature, I did do a little tatting at brunch to withdraw a bit. I am amazed at how many people know what tatting is! It’s sweet when they find you and recognize what you’re doing. <3

I’m also starting to really love tatting, or at least the fact that it’s extremely portable, and calming. I find that I can listen and be aware of my environment at the same time as I’m paying attention to what my hands are doing. Having my attention nominally on my handwork, though…it means that I’m not expected to talk.

I guess it’s kind of like the smartphone in the hands of the kid sitting next to me; it gives the impression that one is occupied, though I find that tatting doesn’t take up as much cognitive attention (as versus fine motor attention) as the phone does. I gave him some visual cues to signal that I could talk, but he was absorbed in his phone. I assumed that he didn’t want to talk as much or moreso than myself, so I left him alone.

So…after that, we headed off to Monterey. I still have most of a bag of candies from there (okay, about 60% now)…it’s kind of hard to visit Monterey and not come home with salt water taffy. The time we spent down there, we were with one of my aunts. It was nice to talk with her one-on-one, though I wish I had said more than I did. I just happen to be a listening kind of person, I guess.

Also, we visited the aquarium, which was interesting and cute. There were two high points for me: one were the birds (including the aviary [where I saw someone unsuccessfully try to entice a Snowy Plover into his hand: the plover just looked at him, about eight inches out of reach] and the Pigeon Guillemots in a separate exhibit); the other was the diving beetle exhibit!

Okay, so the two Pigeon Guillemots whom we saw in an exhibit were playing with the people looking at them by acting cute (trying to swim up to us, even though the glass obviously blocked them). I’m thinking they had learned that if they interacted with people (even people behind glass), they could get us to do things. :) They went away when I looked up to try and figure out what they were. I think they thought I was signaling disinterest (they couldn’t see the sign I was looking at), though I was really just a little embarrassed by how cute they were (and that I couldn’t give them any fish).

The diving beetles, though…that was just amazing. It was crazy seeing all the little beetles swimming around underwater! They have two paddle-like legs, and a bubble of air under their shells, and they just…swim. It’s amazing. I’ve never seen diving beetles before! (They were at the end of the Viva Baja exhibit.)

So…the places we stayed were also really nice, although I think there was some covert racial bias we encountered outside of the hotels. It’s hard to tell if it was that, or just a couple of instances of poor service.

So I don’t forget myself, I should mention that I visited a gallery/boutique on Cannery Row where I was able to purchase a black ceramic ring with a metallic polish. It reminds me very much of a hematite ring I had (and loved) in high school, and kept until it finally got a stress fracture. I found out later that hematite isn’t the greatest material for rings, as rings have to be hard-wearing, and hematite is vulnerable to stress fractures from rapid temperature changes, and also to fractures from shock (say, by putting one’s hand down on a table).

It doesn’t take a lot to crack hematite. It reminds me of another stone, fluorite, though fluorite is orders of magnitude more fragile than hematite (I’ve chipped it just by trying to bend a wire I’ve strung it onto). Opal is another one of those stones that is extremely easy to damage…it has acquired a reputation for bad luck because it’s so difficult to set.

Anyhow, the ring itself is really nice. The ceramic itself is a very hard, strong, and durable ceramic called a, “gem ceramic,” made from zircon. The last time I wore it to work, I found a shiny black chip trapped under the ring, and realized upon examining the ring for damage that the chip had to have come off of the paint from the shelving cart I had been handling.

I was just really amazed at the fact that my purchase decision was so easy — in lieu of getting a graduation ring, I got this. It has, however, also made me want to expand my earlobe piercings again. I stopped and let my piercings shrink down because I wasn’t sure I would want to go to large-gauge jewelry. However, at this point…this ring really matches the aesthetic I was going for. I’ve also worn plenty of my own jewelry, and I think it’s really okay that I wear jewelry which is different from the jewelry that I make. It’s a style decision.

Right now, I’m thinking that I’m okay with going up to 10 gauge, and with purchasing earrings at that size (as versus making them). Of course, at the moment, I’m closer to 20 gauge — standard earwire girth. It will take months to safely expand my piercings again, but I’m up to it. When I originally got pierced, it was at 14 gauge, I was young, and I told myself that I wouldn’t go up in gauge until I was very sure I wanted to.

Hey, it’s been about 15 years, and I’m pretty sure I’m good with it, now! Also, if I’m going to be a Librarian or Information Professional, I pretty much don’t have to worry about bias instigated by my jewelry. A lot of younger people wear this style, though it started (here, at least) with Generation X. I’m from the generation that followed.

So recently…I’ve been able to get more of a handle on dealing with my own style. For instance…I’ve decided to keep my hair long, and to wear it with its natural curl. I’ve found that if I clip my hair back, it puts less strain on my scalp than it does when I wear my hair pulled back. We have also been visiting some beauty supply stores, and I’ve found a type of shampoo and conditioner (by “Shea Moisture”) that is gentle enough to use frequently. It does seem to be a very good thing for me to use sulfate-free shampoo.

I do need to trim my ends, but I also found a styling aid that makes it much easier to comb. I’m considering — once I get my sleep stuff under control — taking a shower in the morning and washing my hair every day or two, so that I can wear it long and curly, without having slept on it first. I also finally have a decent hair dryer which I can use to target my roots, so I don’t get too cold, and so that I can avoid mildew growth. Hair care is the major reason for me to cut my hair short: I have a type of hair that is very high-maintenance (thick, wavy, and curly), and in the past, I didn’t want to be burdened with it. However, now I know that having it long is a choice, not a requirement.

I also now have enough makeup to practice, as well; though I need to wash my powder brush. There’s that, and the fact that I have to keep my body hair trimmed, if I want to wear sleeveless shirts and dresses. Then there’s the exercise which I want to get back to so that I can tighten my body up again and regain some leanness and hypertrophy (and energy). I really don’t have anything against being larger; it’s just the belly and the health drawbacks (and the specter of the weight gain from my medications not ceasing) that are causing me to work on myself.

I almost can’t believe how much identifying (and finding a community) as gender-nonbinary has freed up so much of my energy, and ceased so much of my angst about conforming or not conforming to standards as either a man or a woman. It’s enabled me to just release it, instead of being trapped in a two-gender dialogue between compulsory femininity and rebellion against compulsory femininity.

I used to hear trans* men say similar things (a great sense of freed-up energy and sense of well-being) about their lives after transition to male, though (which made me want to transition, before I realized I wasn’t them; thus, their solution wouldn’t work for me), so I want to emphasize that the happiness, liberation, and sense of calm comes with finding your authentic self, whoever you are, and finding your own way to engage with the world, over all the noise that tells you that you shouldn’t be you. It has nothing to do with the specific identity of the point you find to be happy at.

For me, getting to this point has had to do with finding what makes me happy, and negotiating out a way to do that, with the world — regardless of others’ opinions of whether or not what I’m doing is, “correct,” (against what standard?) or whether I’m being, “trans enough” — because, cis and trans are relative and culturally contextual terms. In my case, I know I’m going to stand out (firstly, because of my race), no matter what I do, and regardless of whether I want to. My thought is that I might as well aim to become a person I am proud to be: my authentic self; and then let things play out as they will. No regrets.

personal, self care

Hygiene, exercise, pride

I have meant to write in for the past couple of days, though in practicality, most of yesterday — after an emergency meeting and clothes and produce shopping — was lost to sleep. I still haven’t really begun this next section of my coursework, on Library of Congress Classification (LCC; a form of classification used mainly in Academic [College and University] Libraries)…but on the upshot, I’ve been taking care of myself better, now that the classes don’t hold my future on the line. That really is the silver lining to this.

Well…”silver lining.” These classes are optional. I shouldn’t stress myself out too much over them…especially since right now I’m seeing work in a Public Library as more within reach (as versus Academic). Or maybe I’m just saying that because learning LCC is HARD. The class I’m in puts it much more within reach than I would be on my own, but it still requires neuron growth. Neuron growth can be intimidating and uncomfortable, especially at the beginning of the process.

Instead of staying home to work on this, I went to the gym. I’m really glad I did. I see now why my prescribing doctor has wanted me to exercise: not only is it going to help me distinguish between “awake time” and “sleep time” (I was much more awake afterward than I would have been if I had stayed home to study), but I need to be getting activity in order to stop and reverse the weight gain caused by one of my medications. As well, the recent injury I’ve sustained is likely to be related to my current weight as versus the strength of my ligaments and tendons.

Today, then, I started with cardio and moved on to lunges and squats (a bit gentle, as I’m still healing), then to abs, and then I started spot-training my delts (shoulders), which was the only machine work I did today (I can lift 20 lbs. overhead; my deltoids are among the weakest muscles on me). I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve realized that it’s really OK for me to want to be buff again. It’s something I was discouraged from, a while back, and I’ve gotten to the point of realizing that the person who was discouraging me really had his own things going on that had nothing to do with me. There’s more to the story, of course, but not so much for public consumption.

Later that day, I went with someone to a makeup store, and got a foundation — which helps me feel better about my skin. Right before dinner, I took a shower and washed my hair (from the gym), and did a deep scrub on my face, followed up with an awesome moisturizer. That…is going a lot better, as well. I’ve realized how attractive it is to work out and be clean at the same time, and to maintain my self-care even when I don’t have to. It isn’t about other people, after all; it’s about me, and it’s becoming about how much I value myself.

That also means that I don’t have to be conventionally, “beautiful.” I can do what I want to, when and in the way that I want to.

So…I’m introducing myself to (or being introduced to) the concept of taking pride in my personal hygiene. I think it’s probably because I’ve recovered enough, and have enough spare time, to do more than the minimum to get by. I kind of wonder what it’s like to live with me while I really — for example — need a shower; and I don’t want to make my family have to tolerate that anymore. I want to be a person who is not a chore to be around, even with the people closest to me.

That much is said; more could be said about getting ready to face the day (basic hygiene — brushing teeth, washing face, showering, using deodorant) even when I’m not planning to go out of the house — or brushing and flossing, even when I know I don’t have to. People with my condition (separate of being gender-nonbinary) tend to have problems with self-care, and I am intending at this moment to break that stereotype. Of course, I haven’t yet started the routine…but I think it will be OK.

I want to use makeup again. And I’ve realized, that’s also OK.

Since school has ended…I’ve had the time and energy to put into things like being more social, and caring for my dwelling and my personal care. I did go to a meeting recently…expressly to be social, because outside of online and work and family, I don’t have much of a social life. That meeting is easier than most to deal with, because we basically all understand each other.

I actually had a kind of profound realization that I’m attracted to people who exhibit an unusual combination of gendered traits…and that there are people who very naturally exhibit (and aspire to) those mixtures. It’s possible that I haven’t had an intimate relationship (that I was involved in) for a very long time, because I am attracted to certain people, who both understand me, and whom…well, whom I can appreciate.

It’s different, that is, to be with someone who has no experience having a gender they are not seen to embody, as versus someone who can actually let me be me, and who can understand that what I look like doesn’t determine who I am; that even if others find my voice associated with women, that doesn’t mean I have to agree. Who understands that I don’t have to see myself as a man or a woman (or “boy” or “girl”) in order to exist, and to be worthy of respect and love. Actual love, not just being an object of fascination or possession or abuse.

Have I gone into this on this blog, before? I don’t think I have…