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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Identity issues

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Author Topic: Identity issues
Glam
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Hey, I'm new here.

So...I'm 16 years old and female [in the sense that I have a vagina, breasts, clitoris, etc. not a penis or testicles and all that].

I've identified as a girl all my life with no questions. However, over the past year, I often feel like I don't want to be female anymore. I often want to be guy. Sometimes I love being a girl though. But most of the time I'd be happiest if I didn't have to choose just one gender!

Lately this ...I guess I could call it confusion? has been getting worse. I've had days where I can't even walk into the women's bathroom because it makes me feel so boxed in and uncomfortable. But I can't use the men's either.

When I'm on some sort of outing with all other females, lots of times they'll make comments, like "this is all chicks, no dicks!" and that makes me uncomfortable as well [even though I'm not technically a "dick"]. Is this unreasonable? I almost feel like it is.

God, I wish there were some widely-used gender-neutral pronouns. "She" doesn't always fit, and "he" doesn't either, so what do I do?

The problem is, I seem look femme-y no matter what I do. I have a really hard time passing as a male. I bind my chest, cut my hair and try to imitate less "feminine" stances and mannerisms, but I still have a moderately curvy body and "feminine" facial structure. I've been trying to do more with genderfuck lately [which I LOVE] but...it's hard to present myself as anything other than 100% female.

It's driving me insane. I feel like I don't fit anywhere because I can't even decide on one gender to be. I believe firmly that there's more to the gender system than just male/female, but it seems that hardly anyone else does and not many people understand when I try to explain.

I'm also a little scared about how this all works with my relationship with my boyfriend. He's a fabulous guy and we're in a very close and loving relationship where we can [and do!] talk about this sort of thing. Thing is, he identifies as straight/heterosexual [I'm pansexual] so I worry sometimes that I might take my "male-ness" too far and completely freak him out, since he has no interest in guys. He's reassured me that he's okay with me experimenting with my gender and that I'll still be the same person so he'll love me just the same. Still, I worry that I make him feel uncomfortable sometimes.

Has anyone else here run into roadblocks like these? Or am I just going crazy?

Thanks.

- Glam


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Milke
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Hey, this'd be better in Orientation and Identity, so I'll kindly ask another mod to move it, and see you there!

And would it be possible to avoid usin' cuss words here? I'm all for freedom of speech, but when certain words cause our site to be blocked by filtering software, and limit access for those who need it that just ain't cool.

------------------
Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP, MF, CWCD, DNFTF, WAOTA

Get your philosophy from a bumper sticker


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Glam
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*nods* Okay, got it.
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logic_grrl
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Okay, it looks like there's been a technical hitch transferring this over to O&I, so it's been re-opened here for the moment .

quote:
I often want to be guy. Sometimes I love being a girl though. But most of the time I'd be happiest if I didn't have to choose just one gender!

Have you ever come across the phrase "bi-gendered"? You're very far from being the only person to feel this way, and there are a bunch of people out there who feel happiest identifying as "both" (not to mention the people who identify as "neither").

And that's all within the larger category of "genderqueer" . If you start with a Google category like Genderqueer, you can get an idea of just how many other people there are who don't comfortably fit the binary gender system, and how much discussion there is about it. Or check out some books like Kate Bornstein's "My Gender Workbook" or Riki Anne Wilchins' "Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender".

quote:
"She" doesn't always fit, and "he" doesn't either, so what do I do?

Promote the use of "xe" and "hir" wherever possible, I guess. I know it's really frustrating that gender-neutral pronouns aren't more widely-used. But at least they're spreading rapidly.

quote:
I've been trying to do more with genderfuck lately [which I LOVE] but...it's hard to present myself as anything other than 100% female.

You might find some helpful tips on sites aimed at FTM guys, even if you don't identify as FTM. Many of them have tips on "passing" which you might find useful in adjusting your gender presentation till it fits how you feel.

quote:
Thing is, he identifies as straight/heterosexual [I'm pansexual] so I worry sometimes that I might take my "male-ness" too far and completely freak him out, since he has no interest in guys.

Really, he's the only one who can know what is and isn't going to be okay with him. But it sounds like he's saying right now that he wants to be with you no matter how you identify. It might get more difficult if you felt that you were 100% male, but it sounds like that's not what you're saying.

Yes, sometimes relationships can break up if one person's gender identity shifts in a way which is totally incompatible with the other person's orientation. But equally, orientations can often prove more flexible than people expect. Plenty of people identify as heterosexuals without being perfect Kinsey 0s.

And it sounds like you're already doing all you can do, by ensuring that you communicate as much as possible.

[This message has been edited by logic_grrl (edited 07-21-2003).]


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Glam
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Thank you so much, that seems like awesome advice. I can see I've got plenty of research to do.

*skitters off to look things up!*

-Glam


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Ecofem
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Randomness: A friend of mine's mother is Hungarian and mixes up "he" and "she" all the time, because, it turns out, the Hungarian language doesn't have gender-specific pronouns, just basically the English equivalent of "it."

Yeah, I totally understand about not really being able to totally pass for "male" (well, my long hair doesn't really help anyway...) But if you haven't seen the tuxedo-clad Marlene Dietrich (who is believed to have been bisexual just fyi) in the 1930 film Morocco, I really recommend it. She appears both feminine and masculine and is alluring to both men and women in the scene's audience. (Velvet Goldmine is a pretty cool movie, too, but judging by your moniker of "Glam," I figure you've already seen it and there's already a whole other thread on GLBT movies...)

------------------
"Tear up the cloak of indifference that you have wrapped around your hearts! Make up your minds before it is too late!" ~Sophie Scholl


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logic_grrl
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Yep to tuxedos - a tux, or a man's suit with a tie, will still definitely get read as strongly "male"/"masculine" clothing, whereas ordinary trousers or jeans on a female-bodied person are now completely accepted as "women's clothes".

So if you want to introduce a clearly "male" element into your gender presentation, that's one possibility.


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DrQuack5
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My dad speaks Hungarian (I think that's his native tongue, but I'm not entirely sure) and he always calls me he, or my brother she, or he even takes it a step further and calls me by my brothers name.

Anyway. I totally can relate to you, Glam. I'm biologically a female, but it doesn't always fit me. I, too, cut all my hair short and dress in larger clothing and have tried binding (but it doesn't do much because my breasts are slightly too big). I have men's dress shirts and ties right next to a skirt and more girly top (that my mom won't let me give away or anything). So yeah. I can relate.

Also, about pronouns, have you heard about "zir," "zie," and "e" in place of "him/her", "he/she," and "he/she" respectively. I've never heard it used in speech, but the idea seems pretty cool to me.


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perceived thought
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hey guys, I was reading some of the posts for this subject and I'm not understanding the gender-neutral pronouns.

quote (logic_grrl):
-------------
Promote the use of "xe" and "hir" wherever possible, I guess.
-----------------

huh?

Yeah...I stopped in the identity issues section of the scarleteen forums and I'm just trying to learn stuff for the heck of it.

Well, if anyone could explain to me all about gender-neutral pronouns, that'd be cool.

-perceived thought

p.s. what's pansexual?

[This message has been edited by perceived thought (edited 07-22-2003).]


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logic_grrl
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Psst - we have this wonderful board search function .

Check out these threads for explanations of "pansexual" and gender-neutral pronouns:

http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/Forum16/HTML/000004.html
http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/Forum25/HTML/000122.html


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logic_grrl
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Just to add to this - as well as people who identify as "bi-gendered" (both male and female), there are also people who identify as masculine ("butch") females or feminine males.

So the range of possible identities is as wide as the range of people .


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sachie
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i'm curious... is bi-gendered the same as genderfluid? they sound pretty similar to me.

------------------
libido ergo sum.


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shine
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I believe that in Finnish there are also no seperate male and female pronouns. I suppose that the pronoun used would be an equivalent of "it" in English, but could just as well be "zie" or "ze" or any other such pronoun that we've adopted for use in description of persons whose identity doesn't fit within the "gender binary" as it's often called.

Some people may consider bi-gendered and genderfluid to mean the same thing. Bi-gendered generally means that a person who identifies as such feels that they are both male and female, a mix of both, to varying degrees. Genderfluid is a bit harder to put a label on, but the way I've heard people use it is for a person who's gender isn't a constant - that is to say, a person who identifies differently from time to time - sometimes as female, sometimes male, sometimes neither (a third gender, or androgyne). A lot of terms for persons with a gender that is not binary overlap - but they don't necessarily have the same definition in all contexts.

Other terms I know of include genderbender, genderblender, androgyne, third-gendered, and gender outlaw (which I believe is a term born from Kate Bornstein's books "My Gender Workbook" and her other "Gender Outlaw." Both of which are excellent, by the way.)

My own gender identity also doesn't fit neatly within male and female checkboxes. Even though I generally present myself as female (which is my biological sex) I suppose the best term for me, personally, would be genderqueer. But only when I'm feeling obligated to label myself anything.


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sachie
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thanks, shine. i think that helped me out a little (okay, maybe a lot) in knowing what label to take on for my gender identity. which would be genderfluid. it sounds a lot like me, because although i do like wearing makeup and having curves sometimes, i also would like to be more boyish, and a lot of the time i feel androgynous. i've taken online tests and they all say i'm an androgyne, heh. sorry, i'll stop talking about myself now.

------------------
libido ergo sum.


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logic_grrl
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One useful distinction to bear in mind is that between "gender identity" and "gender expression".

"Gender identity" is whether you feel yourself to be male, female, both, or neither.

"Gender expression" is whether you feel yourself to be masculine, feminine, etc. etc.

Sometimes people tend to conflate them, but they're separate things - it's perfectly possible to identify as female and masculine, or male and feminine, for example.

I mention this because, for example, "wanting to be more boyish" (which I'm guessing is an issue of gender expression) is not necessarily the same as "identifying as a man" (gender identity) - although it may be for some people.

It can cause similar collisions with society's binary gender system, but it's worth being aware that it's not necessarily the same deal as, for example, being a FTM transexual.

[This message has been edited by logic_grrl (edited 07-27-2003).]


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shine
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But we're generally talking about gender identity here, aren't we? Because Glam's indentity doesn't fit into either female or male. And while she (or would you prefer ze?) wants to act more boysish it seems to me that it's as a way to present her/zirself in a way that corresponds with her/zir gender identity.

Some definitions seem like they're fairly subjective - gender expression and gender identity seem to overlap somewhat. It could be said that a person who identifies as female and presents herself as very masculine would identify as a masculine female. So while they're not the same thing, they're very much related and connected.
But perhaps that's complicating it more than it needs to be. : )

[This message has been edited by shine (edited 07-27-2003).]


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logic_grrl
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quote:
Because Glam's indentity doesn't fit into either female or male.

Yep - but that seems somewhat different from what sachie was saying (although I may be misreading sachie, in which case ze should please correct me).

So my point would be that for some people, presenting themselves in a "masculine" or "male" or "manly" or "boyish" way is about identifying as male (or as both male or female, or as neither). But equally, that sort of presentation can go with identifying as a masculine female.

And for some people, being male isn't about being masculine - I know more than one FTM guy who identifies as a femme boy, for example.

quote:
But perhaps that's complicating it more than it needs to be. : )

No, I think it is complicated, and you're right, it is all connected and related in a variety of ways . Once you get outside the binary gender system (person with penis=male=masculine, person with vagina {clitoris not too important}=female=feminine, and no-one else really exists ...), there's an infinite range of possibilities.

So I think it never hurts to emphasize just how diverse those possibilities are .

[This message has been edited by logic_grrl (edited 07-27-2003).]


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shine
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Excellent. I think we essentially agree with each other anyway - I was just talking more about Glam and you about sachie.

quote:
And for some people, being male isn't about being masculine - I know more than one FTM guy who identifies as a femme boy, for example.

Thanks for mentioning that. A close friend of mine is a femme FTM and he gets a lot of grief from people who say things like "If you're going to act feminine why didn't you just stay a girl in the first place?" And that's definitely a time when the differences between identity and expression should be emphasized.

quote:
Once you get outside the binary gender system (person with penis=male=masculine, person with vagina {clitoris not too important}=female=feminine, and no-one else really exists ...), there's an infinite range of possibilities.

Which is yet another reason why Scarleteen is so great, for not forgetting about these differences and possibilities. My earliest sex ed experiences completely ignored the presence of persons outside the gender binary or those not with the heterosexual norm and their sexual identities and activities. This was later remedied due to liberal montessori education, my own voracious reading and lust for information, and really cool parenting, but had such things been brought up to me in a similar way earlier it would have saved me from a lot of strife in trying to figure out what exactly the real world like. But Scarleteen is great like that, it's honest, real life information, and emphasis on diversity. Just what we really need.


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sachie
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i seem to have caused some confusion. ._. sorry guys. um. what i meant to say was that i EXPRESS myself as different things, mainly female, although i'd like to look more androgynous/boyish. i don't know what i identify as. is it possible to identify with the label "female" as well as "androgyne" at different times? it seems to change with my mood. does that clear it up a little more?

------------------
libido ergo sum.

[This message has been edited by sachie (edited 07-27-2003).]


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Heather
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Many women I know in that range, sachie, often identify as butch.

But I know I often feel like what you're expressing, and I tend to identify as a strong femme; that usually works for me.

But it's oh-so up to you. And I think a person can be a "switch" when it comes to gender just like they can when it comes to sexual play. The gender police won't come and getcha.


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RumpusParable
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for what it's worth, i'm a female who is both a non-gender & a bigender. sexuality is bi but leaning more towards males.

to explain, 90++% of the time i have no gender. there just isn't a check in that box inside me. a void, of sorts.

but a tiny % of the time (every few months or longer) i will for a short period (normally a few minutes or an hour tops, but occasionally a few hours) i will be either a boy or girl.

voice, mannerisms, views, everything change for that period of time enough to be noticed by others.

i don't really think about it much. it's just me. w/the exception of these types of discussions online, i believe the last time i've mentioned it to anyone was a discussion regarding it with my husband about 2yrs ago.. 3? longer than that since i've mentioned it to anyone other than him. it's just not something that comes up in conversation with the people i know *shrugs*


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sachie
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i posted something a minute after you and now that i look, it sounds really stupid. anyway. that's cool, rumpus. i never thought of a person having NO gender before, really... what pronoun do you prefer?

(thanks for the advice, miz scarlet)

[This message has been edited by sachie (edited 07-28-2003).]


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RumpusParable
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just "she" & "her"... they just refer to my packaging.
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Milke
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quote:
Originally posted by RumpusParable:
just "she" & "her"... they just refer to my packaging.

That's about how I work too, only, I'm not bi-gendered, transgendered, monogendered, any of that. I think I'm just apathetically gendered. There's a lot more to me than could I could ever start to describe with any gender labels, and so I don't bother trying. I'm human, and thus, reasonably complex. I think that's the way we all are.

------------------
Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP, MF, CWCD, DNFTF, WAOTA

Get your philosophy from a bumper sticker


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sangre_red
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quote:
Originally posted by Milke:
. I think I'm just apathetically gendered. There's a lot more to me than could I could ever start to describe with any gender labels, and so I don't bother trying. I'm human, and thus, reasonably complex. I think that's the way we all are.

apathetically gendered- thats a really great term!

generally i find that societal labels on just about everything (gender, sexuality, ability, ethnicity etc) tend to be problematic. i recognize a natural human tendency & even need on some level tocompartmentalize & identify; but i also believe that if we could only embrace 'grey' areas more readily the world would be a better place to live in.

but perhaps this is just naivite on my part.

------------------
- go ahead. try to define me. i dare you -


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