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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » figuring out one's own gender

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Author Topic: figuring out one's own gender
fluorite
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Hi,

I am not really sure where to start with this. I guess I don't know what I would say my gender is. I'm not sure how to figure it out. I'm not sure if I need to. I don't want to 'undermine' 'real' trans people by coming out as something and then changing my mind. Can somebody ask me some questions to help me start sorting through this?

thanks in advance!

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Molias
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Hi flourite,

One suggestion I'll make right off the bat is to see if you can get a copy of Kate Bornstein's My Gender Workbook, which I found immensely helpful. There's a new, revised edition out which I haven't seen, but I can only imagine it's just as good as (and maybe even better than) the original. There are a lot of thought exercises, prompts for writing, etc. that you may find really helpful!

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fluorite
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Thanks. I have seen it. Unfortunately it was around $30 and I just don't have that kind of money right now. But I'll keep that in mind for the future!
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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You and I very briefly talked about his once, and at that time, you described your gender identity as something that felt fairly fluid to you. Still feeling that way?

If so, I want to make sure you know that there is nothing more "real" about gender identities or experiences of gender that feel fixed, or more fixed, than those which feel fluid, or more fluid. Just like the same is true for experiences of sexual orientation or other kinds of personal identity.

Feeling or being fluid with gender also does not threaten the validity of those with identities which are more fixed: you are not undoing those kinds of identities because yours does not feel fixed. Make sense?

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fluorite
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Hi Heather,

yes I think I said I wasn't sure. I guess part of this is because I'm trying to figure out if I'm ready to be in a relationship and whether or not I'm ready to have sex with anybody (I don't mean everybody, just, any specific person) and I don't know how much of my reluctance is because of my relationship history and how much is because I'm not sure what I would want to happen in sexual situations and how all these things go together. In addition I'm not sure how, or what I need to, explain to potential partners about my gender.

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fluorite
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and also whether I want to be in a relationship and how I figure out what I want, since I think want and readiness are two different things.
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Molias
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I have a few thoughts here:

I do want to emphasize what Heather said about fluid gender identities being just as valid as more fixed ones. I really don't think any one person's ideas about their gender - even if those ideas change over time - will invalidate or harm other people. To me it's like the idea that same-sex marriages will somehow "destroy" the idea of marriage in general!
Yes, there are some trans folks who might say that. And I think those trans folks are jerks and should stop policing other people's identities!

And there are certainly trans folks who find that their gender identity can be a little slippery, as well. I've known trans people who go from feeling more genderfluid to more binarily-identified, and those who've changed in the other direction. It doesn't make them less authentic or less "really" trans.

Maybe now's a good time to give yourself some space for reflection and experimentation. You might find it helpful to keep some sort of gender-feelings journal that you keep private, where you can dig into this stuff without worrying about other people seeing it. I can't tell you how to figure out your gender, but maybe thinking about how you gender different behaviors and presentations, what it means to you to identify as a certain gender, imagining an ideal Most Awesome Self and wondering what gender, if any, that person would be... all of those could be a good start.

And, if you get involved with someone and you're still a little unsure, I think it's ok to say that to a partner. Often it's easier on both sides if you can give concrete examples of ways they can respect your identity, whether that's a name to use for you, or calling parts of your body by language you like, or any other way that they can support you. It's all right not to know those things too! I think any partner you choose to be sexual with should be someone you can have pretty clear communication with, and who's willing to listen if you start talking about your thoughts on gender and how they might impact your sexuality.

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