Last time I posted, I spoke about how gender’s been on my mind. I also said I’d try to get that into something approaching a coherent piece of writing. I rather feel I should make good on my word and do so, but it’s not easy.
There’s the worry about who might read this and how they might respond. Or even just what they might think, the judgements they might make, regardless of whether or not they make an overt response. I know that part of this is me worrying more than I need to, but I don’t think it’s entirely irrational, unfortunately.
I think partly it’s inherently ridiculous. I mean, I both thoroughly do not believe in any form of sex, gender or sexuality binary – and yet, when it comes to gender especially, I’d very much like to feel like I fit inside of that supposedly not so existent binary. I don’t think that’s any more possible than the world suddenly realising maybe it’s not worth having a floor for men’s clothing and a floor for women’s because what about the way that the women’s floor needs so much variation that sometimes the measurements are not that different from the men’s and the need for the floor for people who don’t feel like either floor is quite right except sometimes they like to feel kinda femme-y, but not as often as they like to feel masculine and all the other variations you would begin to require. (A department store that worked on the basis of simply selling clothing, without gendering any of it would be amazing). It’s possibly even less possible than that.
The pressure to be cis feels immense. I don’t think my parents would even begin to understand, and quite honestly, what with being queer and having bipolar and scoliosis I’ve been enough of the ‘odd child’ as it is.
There’s also the way I quite like being seen as an adult. Except, let’s be honest at 4″11, if I don’t get a chance to enter into proper conversation with you, that’s because of my boobs. Which means you’re not seeing me as an ‘adult’, you’re seeing me as a ‘woman’. Which isn’t great.
Ok, so yeah, T would probably serve as a workaround for that one. Facial hair, deeper voice, eventually that might swing it. But.. maybe that’d just be the same problem in a different guise? Alright, there’s less sexism involved in being seen as an adult man, which’d be nice and there’s no denying that, but uh no, that’s not the right reason to do that (or the right way to achieve not experiencing sexism).
So, it’s all too easy to feel like I should just stop being stupid and think ‘look, boobs, vagina = woman, duh’. I can’t think that though. It’s wrong, and not only is it wrong, it’s an extremely hurtful viewpoint to all the binary women out there who don’t have those body parts. And if transmen don’t have to see themselves that way even if they do have them, why should I?
In some ways, it’d also be a lot simpler if I could align myself with that identity. Note: I am not using simpler to mean in any way easier. That would be bullshit. Just simpler in that the identity of ‘man’ is at least recognised. That there’s surgery and hormones available to make your body more inhabitable, if that’s what you need or want. That you’ve at least grown up knowing the word for you, even if it took you years to realise you could claim it.
All I know is that when a group is split down the lines of ‘the boys’ and the ‘the girls’, it doesn’t feel ok. That I’d much prefer to be seen as a person than a girl, or woman. I’ve been known to say a fair few times that my body is much more of a woman than I am, and that that is incredibly frustrating and feels incredibly limiting.
I suppose ideally I’d love to have a tall, lithe body that’s pliable in terms of the ways it can be presented to the world. There just isn’t a way to achieve that if you’re not lucky enough to be born like it, even if you’re willing to have your legs broken repeatedly and stretched. I’m not, just to make that clear. I’d also be much, much happier knowing there’s no way I could ever get pregnant. I could possibly be a parent, but there’s no way I ever want to be ‘mum’.
The thing is, right now I have no idea of what the right word for feeling like this is. I don’t think it’s agender, that doesn’t ‘click’ or ‘feel right’. There are words like genderqueer, which sort of works. I’ve known others though who feel similarly who can’t stand that word, and I can definitely see their reasoning. There’s also the fact that it’s more equivalent to stating that you’re binary. For example, you’d say, my gender is binary, I am a man/woman, not I am binary. In comparison, it would be: it’s my gender is queer and then.. I am a.. um. yeah. um. actually I don’t know.
So, I’m left trying to convey to a binary world that I am something that I don’t even know what it’s called I just know what it sure as hell isn’t. With a body that has two options, woman or child. With clothing choices that have two options, woman or boy.
All of this leaves me feeling that in many ways, gender for me is something that is forcibly private and personal. Something that only those that are a) very close and b) have half a chance of understanding can know about. It’s like when straight people say they’re fine with homosexuality, so long as it isn’t in their faces all the time – because that’s only ok for normal love, obviously. Most binary people’s gender, especially those who are cis, is constantly on display, with everything they wear, do, say. In every time they kiss their partner and the way that’s seen, both by their partner and the world at large. It just comes naturally, and so it should.
For me, it’s the complete opposite. My gender is erased even in the smallest moments. That’s right down to nearly every time I have to participate in a study to gain credits for my course. Every single one asks for gender, 99% only offer male or female. It’s a moment where I am being asked to literally define myself, and then denied the space in which to do so.
It’s why I love the term ‘trans*’. The asterisk works as a wildcard, signifying all the non-binary ways to be non-cis. It’s still not quite perfect, but it’s existence means a lot.