T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 108365
posted 09-01-2013 02:57 AM
Hello. I've been reading a lot of forums lately since I started to question my gender. I'm not sure what got the ball rolling. It seems like it's been a long journey to this point.
When I was 16 I decided I was bisexual. Then decided I didn't want to exclude anyone from a possible relationship, so I decided I was pansexual. But I think that was more an intellectual decision, and I wasn't sure whether that could be a head (over heart) decision. After a lot of introspection, I came to the realisation that I had only ever truly had a crush on two women. So for the last 18 months I've been labeling myself a lesbian. I really do feel like I have a strong connection with this term and community. I understand that gender and sexuality are not dependent on each other at all but I really feel like this is important to know. Now onto my gender. When I was younger I was a tomboy, when playing with my male cousin, but I also loved my Cabbage Patch Dolls and teddy bears. In high school, I went from wearing make-up and push up bras, to wearing shorts instead of a skirt to school, and buying boys pants and shoes. I've been fascinated with women's fashion magazines, arts, craft and design, I cry in every movie and TV series. But I also burp, fart, swear, and sit with my legs open. This year, I have been dressing almost exclusively androgynous. I also stopped shaving because I was doing it for no other reason than social acceptance. So, I feel like at the moment my presentation, in terms of how I'm viewed, would be a very masculine female, but I'm thinking I'm a feminine male. I don't know how much of this is an intellectual decision rather than an feeling. And I don't know whether my gender can be an intellectual decision. I definitely don't feel dysphoria, but I have been thinking about binders and FTM top surgery, and I like the idea of that. I don't know how to separate my gender identity from the gender roles taught by society. I don't know whether I want to be a man because it seems easier. I don't know if I want to have the associated privileges, although, I'd be quite a feminine man if I were to transition, so I guess those privileges would be considerably diminished. I don't know whether I want to just get rid of my boobs and uterus because they are annoying and I don't want to biologically reproduce so they aren't important. Or whether I want to be a man and I've justified all these other reason so as to explain why I feel this way while being a woman. I am just really confused and not sure where to find answers. I don't like counselors and psychologists for these sorts of issues, because I feel like they are very expensive ways of sorting through what your thinking, when you are capable of sorting though those thoughts yourself. I wouldn't say I'm bigender because I don't swap between both male and female, and I don't feel agender either. I would at this point say I was genderqueer but I don't relate to that as much as trans*. I also consider myself grey-sexual. I have only ever had strong feelings for two people before, but that's kind of proportional to the amount of people I'm interested in pursuing a platonic relationship with. Although I'm 24 I've never fantasised about sex, never been interested in watching porn or masturbating, and even though I've been close to having it, I've never felt ready for sex. I am not sure whether this is because I might be subconsciously afraid of penetration because I might be trans*. I know there are a lot of issues in this one post but it would be great if anyone had any tales of discovery that vary from the most common ones. Because no matter how many times I read a blog or forum post, or watch a video, other stories of "How I knew..." don't seem to be like mine.
Jacob at Scarleteen
Member # 66249
posted 09-01-2013 05:07 AM
Hi ck! Welcome to Scarleteen!
I hear you with those "How I knew..." videos. They can help for some people, but at least round me I do get receive a lot of messages within the LGBT community that seem to tell a very specific story about self-discovery and coming out that doesn't tally with what I and many of my friends have experienced... there is a lot more variation. I try not to identify too much with anything except while labelling myself for bureaucratic things like signing forms and so on, where I tick the 'male' box. I also understand that I'm read as male, and I get granted privilege and a certain socialisation for that and so I try to take responsibility for that too. So in a sense I don't identify with being a man in a bodily-ownership or male-self-image kind of way. For me it's entirely situational... conventional gender-norms and male-stereotypes/macho-ideals really grate with me and I guess I'm in another one of those in-between places. For a while it felt really invasive, like I was being forced into a role I didn't want, but with no clear 'other identity' to escape into. Then I decided just to opt out, that I wasn't going to describe myself as having a singular identity at all and just deal with situations as they arise, and that has been working for me til now. I don't know if that helps? With your situation: it sounds like you're experiencing a lot of confusion while questioning which of your feelings are real or authentic and also how well these match up the idea of being trans*. Does that sound fair? I actually don't think that an identity is more real because it roots in feelings or subconscious forces than a conscious intellectual decision. Trans* or genderqueer are just words we use to explain our situation to others. If you choose to do so it's a result of a number of factors but there isn't a 'correct' way to be trans or queer or whatnot. Much of this is about who we're communicating to and what we want them to know about us. At the same time that doesn't mean that established norms for any of those identities, be they medical norms or social norms or community norms will match up to your experience exactly. They're a starting point, after that you can elaborate, if you want. If trans* feels good to you (and it sounds that way) then use it, I don't think it necessarily requires justification from you as to why or how. Similarly, 'questioning' or indeed not labelling at all can be good enough identities to sit with for plenty of people. Your gender is all of the things that you've described here, and perhaps there isn't one word to sum it up. I would say that much of what you said relates to trans-ness and queer-ness. For me, words I use to describe my gender are just one piece of the puzzle, rather than the whole picture. [ 09-01-2013, 05:14 AM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]
Member # 108365
posted 09-01-2013 10:08 AM
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. I appreciate it. I definitely feel like there is a whole lot of confusion surrounding what's a thought vs. what's a feeling. And what is more important regarding the issue of gender.
I know that there isn't a 'correct' way to be trans*, if that is how I want to identify. But I have so much respect for the trans* community and the LGBTQ community as a whole, I don't want to tarnish that community by identifying as trans* if that's not what I am. Although while writing that, I realised that if that's what I identify as then I can't be doing the trans* community any harm, because well the trans* label covers so many variations. And people I come out to who have no knowledge or very limited knowledge of trans* will be exposed to one more facet of this wonderful world of humans. So I guess it can't hurt, right? I suppose I'm just struggling with it coming into summer here in Australia that I'll be exposing more of my hairy self and that might raise questions. I don't want to put it down to only feminism, although that is a part of it (and don't get me wrong I'm not just looking for a way to justify my hairy underarms) because it does go a lot deeper than that. I want to say I sometimes feel like a man, but I don't know what that exactly feels like, all I know for sure is that sometimes I just want to participate in life the way a man would or would be allowed to. But that's still in terms of socially accepted gender-norms. Nothing actually stops a woman from being allowed to do anything a man does socially other than social acceptance. So that makes me doubt my trans-ness. I guess it would be nice if these lines between man and woman didn't exist and I could just go about life. So, I feel you on the grating gender-norms. I read an article recently (although I'm not sure where) that said that the male/female binary came about because essentially men are more disposable in terms of reproduction, so it was imperative to have a distinction of gender and associated roles for human survival. I think that kind of helped me put the state of our society into context, because you really don't think much about humans from 40,000 years ago and what their lives were like. Unless you're a cultural anthropologist I guess. And obviously current societies evolved from ancient civilisations so it makes sense for there to be a divide even if a lot of people fall between the two poles. So I've also just now started thinking if gender and sexuality aren't linked how is it that people who decide to have SRS feel that they weren't born with the right genitalia? Because me being somewhat close to asexual, I don't know what I want in the bedroom, but this seems to be a huge thing for a lot of trans* people. That they are in the wrong body and need a penis or vagina to be themselves, whereas I think I'd be quite happy to have no genitalia at all. "For me, words I use to describe my gender are just one piece of the puzzle, rather than the whole picture." This was great. I really feel like this resonates with me.
Jacob at Scarleteen
Member # 66249
posted 09-01-2013 10:45 AM
I'm glad that helped!
I think there is a certain social cultural outlet, not without problems, presented by transition, identifying as trans* and also the possibility of changing pronouns or even legal gender. I have friends for whom that was an outlet that fitted, much better than their assigned role in society... it didn't fit perfectly but it felt like a better starting point for social interactions. I think that's a really great way to think of this. This is about what fits you best, and what is a possibility and what fits. Rather than what you fundamentally are or are not. Because really everyone is different, everyone expresses their gender differently... we aren't consistent... So describing ourselves is approximation for a purpose. What do we want people to know about us? What helps us understand ourselves? What gets in the way and panders to other people's bias who shouldn't judge us anyway? To be totally cliché: "Ask not whether you justify and fulfil an identity, ask what an identity does to help you!"
Member # 108365
posted 09-02-2013 02:23 AM
Thank you so much for all your wise words. I think that this is an excellent service.
I spoke to my mum today about how she'd feel if I changed my name because my given name is very feminine and I've never related to it. I told her I was contemplating the name she would have given me if I was a boy, which is a unisex name. She wasn't dismissive of the idea. Although, she did ask "You don't think you're a boy do you?" In a tone that implied she would not be as accepting of that which is the kind of reaction I expected (she's 65 so she doesn't have as much exposure to these sorts of things). I didn't outright deny it but went on to explain everything I've been thinking about. She eventually told me that she wasn't attached to the name she gave me when I was born either, and told me that as long as I was happy and it got me through live easily she was not phased by what I did. I think if I was ever to contemplate hormones or surgery, that would be a much tougher conversation but I'm not even close to seriously considering that yet. I feel so much better knowing that my mum is comfortable with my eventual name change (I'd like to graduate from University before I change it socially, although I might change it legally first) because I don't really have any support at uni, nor do I think I'll keep in touch with many people from there so I don't want to subject myself to all the questions and rumors and gossip for not much benefit. But I'd really like to change my name by the time I'm starting my professional life.
Member # 90293
posted 09-02-2013 08:30 AM
I'm so glad to hear that you're feeling positive after the conversation with your Mum. I imagine it was a little disheartening to hear her dismiss or be potentially critical of the idea of you being a boy, but it sounds like you have some healthy perspective on that. Best of luck with the name change, whenever doing that feels right for you.