Adventures in binding

For a long time, binding was something that didn’t overly interest me. I’d tried it a few times, once borrowing someone else’s just to try one. It resulted in a flat chest – and a lot of pain! To me, the payoff just wasn’t enough to tolerate that at all and I’m still in awe of all the people who have to bind that tightly to be read the way they need to be.

Lately though, I’ve been experimenting with slightly looser binding than that. Again, it’s something I’d tried before, but didn’t dare go ahead with at the time.

Now though, I feel a little more comfortable with doing so. Before anyone gets worried, I have a proper binder, I’m not doing anything stupid like using ACE bandages*. I’ve discovered that a top with inbuilt support underneath it gives good results without being quite so unbearable, which is nice.

So far, I’ve played around a little with different looks, such as boots, binder and a dress. That was a fun look, though at my height there’s a slight aspect of ‘boy in a dress’. Not quite what I was aiming for.

The best though was chino’s and a women’s top. All I need for that now is a good pair of shoes, something that might not be all too easy with how narrow my feet are. The mix of femme and masculinity was just very awesome and felt very right. I’ve always sort of struggled with looking good in a female way, it just never really suited me at all.

Unfortunately, now I have realised this, I will probably have a lot more desire to spend money on clothing, without having the money to do so. Such is the woes of being partly femme I suppose, one just can not resist wanting to look ones best.

Future ideas:

-boots, men’s shirt, tights, shorts.

– heels, chinos, dressy top/men’s shirt, blazer (more tailored with a men’s shirt)

– possibly boots, men’s shirt, and skirt at times.

 

 

* Please don’t bind with bandages, they will constrict as you wear them. This can lead to serious injuries.

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A few thoughts

This diagram basically sums up studying for me, especially over the last term. It’s never good when trying to finish some coursework just feeds into an already dangerously low mood. If you stop, there’s all the guilt of giving up, but the more you try to work, the worse you feel for not being able to write anything of any worth.

My course has the handy situation of requesting a piece of coursework practically every single week- and this is only first year! Next year that’s only going to get a lot worse. It’s hard not to burn up with jealousy at the philosophy student with an essay every so often sometimes.

The only stage I can see the break the cycle, personally, is between missing work and stressing out. No one ever likes that I do this, but after a certain point, I just prioritise my health, and I refuse to feel guilty for making this decision.

Thankfully, after doing that last term, things have been arranged that my exams are in August. This means I have a lot of self teaching to do, but I’m finding actually I hugely prefer being able to work on what I want, when I want, just me, some paper, a textbook, a laptop for journal articles and some music.

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I told a couple more people about identifying outside of the gender binary recently. Both conversations were pretty awesome.

The first was with a guy whose attitude is if that’s how you identify, that’s cool. If you prefer a gender neutral name, then that’s what I’ll do. So much love ❤

The second was with a person who identifies basically the same way I do: a mix of both. That was pretty unexpected, but it was damn good to talk to someone who totally gets it. That there’s such a difference between ‘butch female’ or ‘femme-y trans-guy’ or ‘effeminate male’ or whatever and feeling androgynous, even if you can’t explain why that is.

—————-

I am really not sure how I am meant to fix my own sleeping pattern. It’d be very much appreciated if any doctor had any idea what the hell to do, or allow me to see a specialist in sleep so we can work out why I wake up the later it gets and feel tired in the morning.

All I know is that going to bed earlier does not mean sleeping earlier and staying up all night  and day results in 40 hours awake and a massive sleep where I wake up late afternoon/early evening.

Just a quick post

I had other posts lined up for either today or tomorrow.. but then I heard about something which seemed somewhat more important to draw attention to.

In Germany, a young girl of 11 is being threatened with institutionalisation, and enforced foster care afterwards because that girl is a transgirl. Her parents are divorced and although she has her mothers support, she does not have her fathers.

Please sign the petition to at least attempt to prevent the damage this will cause to this child:

http://www.change.org/petitions/mayor-of-berlin-stop-the-institutionalization-of-a-11-year-old-transexual

A ramble.

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.

Gendered Insults

It’s a theme I notice a lot: trans* people being happy to be insulted, so long as it’s in the correct gender.

Maybe this is controversial, but I dislike that.

I understand why, or at least, I think I do. It can be an easy way of diffusing a comment; ‘yeah, you think you insulted me, but jokes on you, because you gendered me right.’ Or simply the sheer giddiness of being gendered correctly outweighs any potential hurt.

I just can’t believe that makes it ok.

A misogynistic slur doesn’t become ok just because it was directed towards a trans-woman. It’s not ok to be insulted because you’re trans*. It’s not ok to ignore the societal implications of an insult just because of a warm fuzzy feeling.

I think it’s a very sad thing when someone can  be happy to be insulted like that. Everyone should be validated in their gender, so that no one has to feel like this.

20 and a bit questions

I found this list of questions on tumblr, and felt like answering them, so I did. There were originally 30, I’ve skipped the ones that didn’t apply.

1) When did you realize the term trans* referred to you

(Sixth form) College. I was part of a very gendered group of friends, where the males made 90%+ of the decisions and offensive jokes about everyone – except white middle class males. It made it very obvious that I do appreciate being lumped in a binary category.

2) Have you ever been outed

I  was asked ‘are you bi?’, which left me with either the option of lying and making it difficult for later, or being obvious. It would have been fine, had it not been for the outpouring of bi-phobia that followed.

4) How did your family take it when you came out/ if you are not out why aren’t you

I’m out as pan, because that had to be explained when I told them I’m dating a girl. They don’t know about my being trans* because I didn’t want to overload them all at once. The response was surprisingly positive.

5) Are you active in the trans community or LGBT community

Yes. Aside from blogging here, I’m also a part of my universities LGBT+ society. I also went to NUS national student pride this February, and intend to at least attend Mardi Gras later this year in Cardiff.

6) Who was the first person you told about being trans*

My ex, who was also trans*

7) Who do you look up to?

Right now, my girlfriend, for her continuing strength in coming out and living as a trans-woman.

8) How do you deal with being read mis-genderd in the beginning of transitioning by people?

By being very, very used to it, unfortunately. As a genderfluid person, ‘she’ doesn’t entirely bother me, it’s more that I’m neutral about it.

9) What is something positive about being trans*

Feeling more free to play with gender expression, through being more aware of them. Even if it means that ad breaks are infuriating.

10) What are some of your fears in regards to being trans*

Needing to start T.. and being unable to due to medication I have to take.

Transphobia.

11) How do you manage dysphoria

By causing all my jeans to have inappropriate holes because they’re not meant for someone using male body language.

12) Bathrooms

Female only, so far.

13) What are some of your passing tips or things you do to pass

Heh.. I wish.

14) How have you embraced your trans identity

With great difficulty, really. Being non-binary has been really hard for me to understand, and the only thing harder is feeling like no one else ever will.

15) What’s your binding choice and why

Currently non-binding. Partly money, partly I don’t wish to risk harm for very little effect.

16) How do you feel about the trans laws where you live

Upset that laws so lacking have to be some of the best in the world.

17) Do you want to be a parent why or why not

I do not want to be a mum. Ever. Not even to an adopted child.

Frustratingly, my girlfriend does- and I could handle being a non-mum parent.

18) Your views on the cis-gender community

Full of many a wonderful person. Just needs to work on it’s transphobia a little.

19) Do you feel being trans* holds you back from your career choice

No more than other issues I have might.

20) What stereotypes are put on trans* people

That we deceive cis-people. That we’ll never look normal.

21) Who is your favorite LGBT actor/musician/director/artist etc and why

Currently Sophie Ward for her comment about the Daily Mail and marriages at student pride.

22) Doctor visits

Best avoided, if possible.

So, being trans*, having a spinal deformity, and bipolar was a great set of ‘life choices’..

23) Do you feel comfortable answering questions about being trans* if say your teacher/friend/stranger asked you

About transgenderism in gender, yes. About myself, not so much.

24) What goals do you have

Becoming a clinical psychologist. Becoming a better person. Becoming better at writing. Becoming better at sleeping.

Student Pride

I think right now there’s simply only one thing I could possibly blog about:

NUS Student Pride, Brighton, 2012!

This was our first pride event, which is somewhat late for me, and amazingly soon for her. Both of us had a fantastic time, as did everyone else from LGBT+ Cardiff.

The very, very best part was the fact that not once did she revert into what we’ve named ‘boy mode’. The not so wonderful part was the way she looked better in my clothing than I do, but then that’s hardly the most terrible of complaints.

A close second was the moment a guy working behind a stall went ‘girls, would you mind..?’ to me and her, without a moment’s hesitation. Apparently, she would have done almost anything he asked after that one.

Further highlights involved: Brighton and Hove’s gay mens’ choir, Sophie Ward saying ‘I can’t wait for it to be a marriage that the Daily Mail can’t put quotes around’, an interview with the cast of My Transsexual Summer, and a late night walk along the promenade (a much preferable idea than clubbing).

Lily currently has all our photos (and videos), I’ll share a selection of those when she sends me them later on.

SRS soldier

Just a quick post for tonight, because I’m actually quite tired (slight rarity these days, thanks to insomnia).

I think this video, whilst not perfect, is definitely worth a watch if you wish to begin to understand trans issues. If you’re a little more knowledgeable, you’ll probably spot the inaccuracies in the phrasing used by the narrator. For example, trans people don’t transition from one gender to another, they were always just one gender. In my opinion however, all of those flaws are compensated for by Janet’s expression of her experiences.

Blogs I follow, part I

I got into blogging from reading other blogs. I stumbled across a couple, found them interesting, kept checking back, and ended up reading them as much as I might read books. Eventually, I decided that blogging seemed like the perfect way to do something creative, and write something I wanted to write without taking too much time away from my studies (even if right now, I’m writing this instead of going over lecture notes).

So, I thought I’d highlight a few of the blogs that really got me hooked. This first blog I’m going to link to isn’t the first blog I started reading, but as that blog hardly needs the publicity, I think I shall include that one later.

For now then, I’m going to focus on supermattachine.

If you’ve read any of the rest of this blog, it’s probably rather obvious why the subject matter of this blog is important to me. It’s distinguished from the many other blogs on the matter for me by the depth of the  analysis provided by its author, Stephen Ira. Gender is a topic that is most complicated, and yet somehow he manages to get to the heart of an issue and make it perfectly understandable.

In particular, I think this piece illustrates that: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2012/02/its-2012-do-you-know-where-your-transgender-children-are/

For me, the idea of policing young children’s bodies in this way is truly awful. I simply can not imagine how a grown adult can be so afraid of a child self-defining their existence- I very much hope it’s not because it makes them too painfully aware of their own constraints. That would be sad (or rather, sadder than the situation is already).

February 14th.

I was planning on blogging about another area of my life that has had a huge impact on me. Then I realised the date and remembered it’s implications for me, and well, that topic will just have to wait.

February 14th, 2012. Valentines day.

Five years since I first came out to anyone as queer.

I was 16 years old, with my first boyfriend. I made an innocuous little comment about how an actress really did not look as attractive as she was plainly meant to be looking, to my mind at least. He responded with ‘and you’d know?’

‘Yes.. I’m bi’.

‘Huh, ok. Why not’ was all he said to that.

I’d be lying if that wasn’t more than slightly disappointing, after being bold enough to tell someone for the first time. He was just far too straight to understand how that at all and to be quite frank, these days I simply don’t care about what he thinks about it.

All that matters now is what that lead to. It meant that when a gay friend put me on the spot and said ‘are you bi?’ I was confident enough to say ‘yeah, actually’. Not only that, but also to deal with the reactions of my friends, who decided that was a great time to discuss and debate bisexuality, many of them claiming it was a trend and attention seeking – with me sat right there. That’s probably the single most unpleasant response I have ever had, but it was a long way short of enough to change my decision to be out.

Since then it’s been a lot more positive. The main thing though has been that I was really only out to people my own age. I was very apprehensive about my parents reaction. Thankfully, everyone I ever told understood that, and I never felt at risk of being outed to them.

For a long time, things continued in this manner. Being queer was just another part of life, and not much else.

Recently, however, that changed dramatically.

I fell for a girl. Doesn’t sound overly surprising at all. Except that during the course of our relationship, she realised she was trans, came out to her parents, and began on the long, hard process of transitioning.

The very first thing I feel I must mention is just how incredibly proud of her I feel. She’s shown such courageousness and resourcefulness in coming to terms with this. It’s truly incredible.

It’s only fair to allow her to explain her experience in her own words, so I’m going to link to her blog: http://freakytransgirl.tumblr.com/

All of this rather pushed the not being out to my parents issue to a head. I decided therefore to take, for me, that rather monumental step, and telling them about me and Lily. I decided the best way was through email, so they could take their time about responding, allowing emotions to cool beforehand. I’m currently waiting on their response, which is thoroughly nerve-wracking.

February is quite an important month to me, I think you can see. The very best part is that it coincides with National LGBT History Month – and my first time of going to pride in two weeks time!

What other month could you possibly conceive having life changing/enriching moments in?