Friday, June 09, 2017

My Gender

OK, so this is going to be kind of rambling and confusing, but I just wound up chatting with an agender person recently, and it's gotten me to thinking.

I described myself to them as 'mostly cisgender', and I think that's probably the most accurate. And maybe this is why I feel so drawn to trans and especially non-binary experiences, despite not technically being part of that group.

OK, so first, I've realized I probably am a little bit genderfluid. There are times when I feel like a woman, in a positive sense, and times when I just feel like I'm not not a woman. There are even a few times where I feel vague hints of other genders. This happens when I'm identifying with a character.

Identifying with a character happens sometimes when I'm inspired for one of my own stories, or got really into someone else's story, and I end up taking on features of that character. I get their personality traits, mannerisms, sometimes I feel like my body looks more like theirs than it really does. Sometimes this includes gender, if they're not female. Obviously, most of the non-female characters I've identified with are male, but there's been a few nonbinary ones too.

Some random examples of characters I've identified with and traits I drew from them:

  • crochety old woman from a book I can't remember the title of, who was cranky and quarrelsome and miserable her whole life and then died just as she was fetching someone a glass of water - I ended up snapping at my parents over supper right after reading that book, because I felt crochety
  • Mitchell from Being Human - I got his mannerisms, a faint sense of being male, and I kept expecting to see myself wearing fingerless gloves when my hands were bare
  • Szthrar'kek, my illithid psion from D&D - I felt predatory, detached in an amused kind of way, genderless, powerful, and affectionate in a casual ownership kind of way
  • Vulcan woman lost on earth in a mental fanfic I never wrote down - I felt like I had pointy ears, and like people were really strange and didn't make sense to me
  • Lydia, a pregnant autistic woman from a story I'm writing - I felt like my sensory issues were more acute, like I wanted to pass as NT, and like I was pregnant (which felt really weird and wrong when I was actually menstruating)
  • brain-eating emotion-eater villain guy from the backstory to one of my stories - I felt arrogant, predatory, witty, and like I had everything under control, and a little bit male
These are not the only ones by a long shot. Aside from channelling random characters...

She/her pronouns feel the most right. They/them doesn't bother me, but feels imprecise. He/him feels wrong. I haven't been called by any other pronouns, and I've only gotten they/them and he/him online.

Mrs, Miss and Ms all feel wrong, and Mr even worse. I would most like to have no title or Dr, although I haven't technically earned my Dr yet. Mx might also work, but it feels a bit weird because it's new to me, and part of me feels like people will assume I'm non-binary, which I don't think I am.

I tend to call myself 'person' more often than 'girl' or 'woman' (as seen in my about section), because I feel like my gender is not a very big part of who I am, but calling me a girl or woman doesn't feel wrong. Calling me by any other gender would definitely feel wrong.

The times when I've felt most alienated by femaleness is when people have paired it with being straight, NT, and/or feminine.

Recently, I had to pick out some formal wear for a funeral, and the formal women's clothes all looked completely wrong - not just like they'd set off sensory issues and look too 'neurotypical', but also like they were implying I want to be sexually attractive. (They all had some kind of feature to draw attention to the wearer's chest.) I ended up getting a couple shirts aimed at men that feel particularly masculine to me, probably the most masculine thing I've worn, with button-up collars. They felt a bit odd, but in a good way. It didn't feel like I was male, in any sense. Mostly, it felt like I was queer, in a KD Laing sort of way.

A few years ago, we had our car break down and my Dad and I wound up hanging out with some elderly people at some kind of club. The old ladies encouraged me to sit with them, while my Dad sat with the men. I sat there only a few moments, listening to their conversations about things I had no interest in, before fleeing to my father's side, feeling really alienated by their femininity and their assumption that I was like them and our shared gender should somehow overcome the bond between me and my father.

I don't like my body, but not in any real gendery way. My genital area is a big problem for me, but it's mostly sexual abuse issues, cleanliness obsessions and my particular weird nonfunctional experience of sexual arousal that create negative feelings around that area. I certainly would be a lot less happy if I had a penis and balls there instead of what I do have.

My breasts sometimes cause me pain, but I'd like them fine if they'd just stop hurting. I really, really like the idea that I have a womb, even though it causes me pain and discomfort every month, because I love the idea of being fertile and getting pregnant, and I love the idea of breastfeeding. Probably the thing that make me feel the most connected to womanhood is my capacity to do the female mammalian reproduction thing. (I do wish I didn't need a man, or anyone, to help - if I could do parthenogenesis, I would.)

So, this random mess of gendery stuff mostly adds up to cis, but not the conventional idea of cis, and not 100% cis. I'd say I'm, indeed, 'mostly cisgender'.


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