A whole lot of gender confusion

Questions and discussions about gender, gender roles and identity.
raindrop
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A whole lot of gender confusion

Unread postby raindrop » Thu Aug 27, 2020 8:36 am

So I've been running into this issue at a rate of once every three years or so and it takes up a good few months of my life every time it hits. I'm AFAB and in 2015 found that identifying as non-binary felt like the best term for how I felt about myself after a lot of soul searching as per my recurring crisis.

However!! I feel like I'm right back to sqaure one lately. :cry:

I know that gender can be this ever evolving thing but it always seems to be something that I can't get quite right. Being non binary felt good for a while because I could relate to what a lot of other NB people were saying about their own experiences with gender, but lately I've been questioning even that. Maybe I haven't had enough people to talk to about it? Either way, it's beyond frustrating to get down in the dumps again because I'm worried I might never feel comfortable.

Here's the short and sweet; I wish I had a penis, but don't want to be viewed or present as male. I tend to flip flop between presenting as feminine or at the very least further towards androgyny.

I've been trying to explore identities within the non-binary term that might give me a sense of belonging, but at the same time I'm wondering if I'm actually just trans and too afraid to admit that to myself because of the environment I'm surrounded by. I know being non-binary in itself is considered being transgender, but I just wonder where the overlap between the two is.

I know the answer could be as simple as "you feel like (blank) so you're (blank)" but if there's anyone with similar experiences or resources specific to how I'm feeling I'd love to read! :D

Amanda F.
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Re: A whole lot of gender confusion

Unread postby Amanda F. » Thu Aug 27, 2020 9:27 am

Hi raindrop, and welcome to the boards.

What you're describing isn't uncommon. Gender really can be confusing, and we can have different experiences with our genders throughout our lives.

Mo wrote this wonderful piece which speaks right to what you're saying. I'd start here! Gender Confusion: Being Unsure Doesn't Have to Be a Bummer

Non-binary can be a good label in part because it is so broad. Can you say a bit more about why you've been questioning this label lately? Does it feel like it's not specific enough?

raindrop
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Re: A whole lot of gender confusion

Unread postby raindrop » Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:36 pm

Oh gosh thank you Amanda for your reply, that article was super helpful and honestly felt like I was looking into a mirror. I really appreciate that, although thinking about 'shopping' as the article puts it... I'm not too sure where to start there either.

Nonbinary definitely doesn't feel specific enough anymore even though it is fitting. I don't have strong feelings towards either gender when it comes to my self-perception, though I definitely am more comfortable sticking with she/her in public spaces because it's just 'easier'. With close friends or online I try to employ 'they/them' but I have noticed that the pronoun doesn't quite feel like 'me' either. He/him is sorta off the table because I have experimented with that in the past and it left me feeling alienated with myself.

To be quite honest, I don't know what else is out there for me to try. I know pronouns are one thing, but identity wise I'm a little lost on what's out there. Nonbinary was great because it was broad, but I think my own experiences make me feel like I don't match up with even that broad description.

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Re: A whole lot of gender confusion

Unread postby Sam W » Fri Aug 28, 2020 6:54 am

Hi raindrop,

I'm glad the article was helpful! I do want to say that, from an outsiders perspective, what you're describing does fit under the non-binary umbrella; non-binary as a category definitely has room for folks whose gender identity is currently a big 'ol' "?" Too, have you explored identities like agender or neutrois? Some of what you're describing matches with how folks in those groups describe their gender identities.

That being said, it sounds like the ambiguity and uncertainty around this is stressful for you, so it's definitely worth exploring some ways of soothing that ambiguity. One tool I really like is this workbook (there's an online copy but you can also buy a physical one): https://timetothrivetherapy.com/wp-cont ... rkbook.pdf. It gives you lots of ways to go gender shopping in the way Mo describes in that article. Does that look like something you could try?

Since you've also mentioned worries that the environment you're in is influencing your ability to explore your gender with clarity, can you give me a sense of what that environment is like?

raindrop
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Re: A whole lot of gender confusion

Unread postby raindrop » Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:03 am

Thank you Sam W for the wonderful book suggestion, I've actually ordered a physical copy that I'm hoping to work from. Having something to quickly reference will be a huge help as well!

I have been aware of agender and decided a while ago that it wasn't for me, though neutrois is a new one I'll have to look into as well. I suppose the issue there is that while I don't feel like I conform to either gender, there is something there that has me disagreeing with the notion of a lack of gender alltogether. It's very confusing, definitely tedious? But it bothers me all the same.

My environment at the moment is uhh pretty... restrictive? With Covid my area is in a lockdown that prevents me from going anywhere other than for essentials and I am cut off from friends in that respect. It also means I'm stuck at home and while I feel like I got it pretty easy with a parent that is accepting of me being gay, I know for a fact that exploring my gender has always been met with... not disapproval, but a lack of understanding and ridicule. It's frustrating because they support transgender people, heck I've dated some, but when it comes to their child suddenly it's a lot of "you're not trying to be a boy, are you?" and "why are you wearing that?". It's a lot of pressure because there's nothing else to fall back on. My siblings in the same house share a similar line of thinking so it can come from all angles.

Even if it's not dangerous in the traditional sense, it destroys my self esteem pretty easily. So I guess when I say it's hard to explore my identity... there's not really anyone I can do that with. All of my friends are locked down as well and while talking over the phone is great it's hard to feel that assurance. I suppose why I've been looking into online forums like this! So far I feel much better thanks to you all. :D

Sam W
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Re: A whole lot of gender confusion

Unread postby Sam W » Sat Aug 29, 2020 8:32 am

I'm so glad the book looks helpful, I hope working through it proves fruitful for you!

Oof, that does sound like a rough environment to be in, even if it's not out and out dangerous. Sadly, there is definitely a type of person who is okay with trans or other gender nonconforming people but gets very weird about it when said trans person is a family member. When they make those kind of comments, how do you usually respond?

In case it's helpful, this article includes lots of ideas for gender expression (or exploration) gear, including things to try if you need to be a bit stealthy about it: Trans Summer School: Gender Expression Gear.

With looking for the label that captures how you're feeling in terms of your gender, if neutrois doesn't feel like a fit either, what if you came up with your own term for the time being? Even if you only ever use it for and to yourself, sometimes having a word that you can point to as "right now, this is how I define my gender" can be helpful in removing some of that confusion and frustration.

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Re: A whole lot of gender confusion

Unread postby care_witch » Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:22 am

Raindrop,

Sam and Amanda have already shared some great resources here. I just wanted to respond and let you know that you're not alone with wrestling with this. I've been out as some combo of trans/genderqueer/non-binary for over 15 years. I've changed my presentation, the words I use and the choices I've made about hormones multiple times over those years.

I totally hear you when you say that you get down in the dumps worrying that you might never feel comfortable. It's helpful for me to remember that we don't live in a world that was designed for people who aren't cisgender to feel comfortable. That uncomfortable feeling doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong - it just means we're surviving in a world that usually doesn't make space for our truth.

It's awesome that you are able to state so clearly your desire to both have a penis and not be viewed as male. Sometimes it can be helpful to just notice what we DO know about our desires. What comes up for you when you lean into what you do know?

Being stuck inside with people who can't fully see you in all your gender fabulousness is rough. I'm so glad that you reached out here. I've found that sometimes dressing in a gender affirming way when meeting with friends on video chat can help me feel more seen. Is that something you can try?


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