Is what it says on the tin — some thoughts about (my) gender. This is an amalgamation of my notes from Tumblr and my notes for this draft here. Tumblr was first (mostly; they might have started to overlap at some point), and so it comes first. It was originally going to be a post, so the style is different than the later wordpress ramblings which were going to be edited into a post when I found a conclusion but were mainly to help myself sort things out. At this point, after goodness knows how long of having these drafts (this post was last saved three months ago, and the Tumblr post is quite a bit older than that — after reading it I think it’s at least a year old, possibly 18 months or so old), I’ve given up on trying to make sense of my gender for now.
I’ve found it really difficult to find any narratives of people just not knowing what their gender is, intrinsically; most gender advice blogs direct you to a flow chart which basically asks you what your gender is and then gives it a name (eg ‘do you feel like partially a girl? you may be a demigirl!’) which are… not useful for this confused potato, and most stories are about accepting gender and gender expression rather than knowing what it is in the first place. So I thought I would add to that small collection of narratives which involve these identity-related confusions.
I’ve left all my ramblings entirely unedited, so they might not make sense, make full sentences, or be particularly interesting to most people, but I think it’s important to share my story of ‘what the fuck’ with the world, possibly for other people to say they feel the same and have a word for it or otherwise help me out, but mainly so that anyone else like me can look at this and go ‘okay, we might have different things going on, but we’re definitely as confused as each other and I’m not alone’.
So I like dressing ‘girly’ but I don’t want to be seen as a girl — I want some sort of way to make it clear that what I’m wearing isn’t girls clothes. Internalised misogyny (wouldn’t be surprising since I refused to wear ‘girly’ stuff my entire childhood because of it… and also maybe some weird gender stuff but let’s not bother trying to retrospectively assign gender to myself).
I don’t like the word ‘woman’? Like I don’t want to be referred to as such. I’m not a woman. Maybe it’s the sexual connotation — ‘you’ve become a woman’ blah de blah — or maybe it’s that… I dunno I’m okay with girl because it suggests kids which suggests less female-ness? Who knows.
I don’t mind using ‘she’ or counting myself as a woman for feminist things, and I don’t mind my boobs or menstruation (well, not for that reason at least), but I still don’t… feel like I’m a woman? Or a female, whichever. I sorta don’t mind girl but… And it’s hard to tell if that’s just me being completely oblivious or not because I’m so girly? Like I’m the epitome of what a girl is stereotyped to be, I’ve started liking more feminine clothing recently… but there’s still some sort of disconnect in my head between that being stuff I like and that being /me/? And whether that’s just me being silly or internalised misogyny or just because I actually don’t have a gender, I don’t know.
And I saw a post recently like ‘don’t be scared to be wrong’, which is great, but… I want to actually know, you know? I dunno I guess it would be more bother being agender — to add onto the aro/ace stuff I’ve already got — but at the same time I don’t think I’d actually really care… I dunno. I don’t know if I’d ever come out about it. I don’t know if it would be more bother than it’s worth, which makes me think, you know, how dare you cis faker girl, and at the same time I wonder if it does bother me that people see me as a girl. I mean, I never see other people as anything, really. I mean I don’t have trouble with their pronouns I don’t see everybody as genderless people I just… see them as people. It’s not ‘oh this is my friend that’s a guy’, it’s ‘this is my friend’ and I just forget that guys are supposed to be different than girls. They’re just my friends.
And hopefully I’ll get around to wording this nicely at some point.
Also, gendering other people — online, they’re… girls until proven otherwise? Possibly? Or it’s more like guys until proven otherwise, but even when I find out they’re guys… there’s very little difference in how I see them? I think it’s that I equate guys with ‘utter dicks’ unless proven otherwise, but people on Tumblr are generally not dicks (the ones I follow, anyways)? So it’s more a thing about how shitty all the guys at school were and seeing people as ‘safe’ and ‘not safe’ and equating those to genders? Maybe.
Okay more thoughts from like… ages after the above (25/08/15)
Started feeling like I might have an actual gender? Maybe? Still not sure but I’m relatively sure that there was some sort of shift there. Problem is to what? I don’t even know, like advice blogs are based on the idea, really, that you already know what you are. They’re not so much advice as validation. Which is annoying when you don’t have a clue.
A couple times when people have used ey/em/eirs I got butterflies? Like possible euphoria? But then a few times I’ve also just been like ‘cool’. So I’m not sure if it’s actual gender euphoria or just ‘yay someone thinking about me like that’ or like it feels illicit or something? I mean when someone used they I got the same feeling once, is it just nice having friends do the thing? But then again when other people used they I was just like meh? So really it’s just all a bit less clear-cut than I’d hope.
Did the ‘choose jewellery’ thing but without the jewellery, thought that maybe I feel neutral today? Maybe? Have to see if that changes. I don’t know if it’s actually ‘neutral’ or just ‘not bothered bc it’s female’.
I’m kind of more sure that I’m some sort of nonbinary now? Like before I thought I was a confused cis girl but I feel more like I’m some sort of nonbinary but fuck knows what.
I was reading about someone who wanted breast reduction so I was thinking about top surgery and on the one hand I love having what is basically a cushion on my chest but at the same time I think I’d really like to be able to wear dresses with no boobs like at all? But then all dresses are made for boobs so it would just look wrong anyways but I just keep thinking about how awesome Tyler Ford looks and just I think a flat chest would be nice and also make me a bit more obviously not a girl/woman. But then also surgery and not having cushions on my chest. I don’t want to bind though because it ruins your boobs (and also because it would probably be too painful around my period) so maybe I do want boobs? Who knows.
It’s hard to tell if I don’t feel weird when I’m around people who know I identify as agender because I forget and think they think I’m a girl (/realise that they probably do gender me anyways bc I still gender people even while trying really hard not to bc society) or if it’s just not weird because I’ve always assumed that people saw me as me rather than as a girl? I dunno.
Also — where does not wanting to be sexually attractive fit into this and when will I realise that there probably are people who find me sexually attractive (and when I do, will I have a breakdown?).
Also I didn’t feel nervous when someone introduced me using they? How does that fit in there because that’s the kind of thing you’d expect me to be kind of anxious about. Was being happy about it fighting against the awkward anxiousness without me noticing?
Furthermore (bc three alsos in a row is too many) — I feel like I want to be seen as genderless and the fact that I can’t, no matter how I dress, really grates? So is that a gender-y thing? It feels like a gender-y thing but whether it means I’m agender or something else is beyond me. It leads to the question of what on earth to do about it though because what clothes do you wear if they’re all gonna gender you in an uncomfortable way? What do I do with that? How do I find things I want to wear if I don’t want to wear anything (lol).
Okay I just read through the stuff from ages ago and a) I think I’m a lot more scared of masculinity/cishet white guys now which is grand and b) I’m much more down with the idea of being out? I don’t know when that happened? Like is it because I’ve been living in my little nb-accepting bubble of internet? Or is it that I’m actually more sure of being nonbinary as I mentioned above? I don’t know but I think it suggests that maybe I am nonbinary because why would I be down for saying I was if I wasn’t? Ughghg why must this stuff be so confusing.
Coming out as effort, as… having to be more aware? Having to notice misgendering so that I can make sure people don’t do it again? Perhaps that’s it.
Re: misgendering — never having had a problem with these things before starting to think about gender. Feels less legitimate to dislike ‘she’ and ‘woman’ when I’ve gone my whole life without noticing, still don’t notice all the time (although it feels like it’s getting more often). Not sure what’s the problem with it — my brain going ‘but that’s not right’ or…? Not sure how to word but it feels like there are two different ways of feeling, possibly more.
Still being unsure of gender, not just because of that but — sexism? ‘special snowflake’?
Feeling like I’m encroaching to go to trans spaces as afab person ‘passing’ as a woman; hating the idea of being ‘woman’ but hating ‘man’ even more. Presentation as just ‘what the fuck’ — wearing just whatever I have, not agreeing with androgyny as masculine but not sure how to create my own androgyny. Feeling femme but also not; liminal space between all sorts of different looks. Trans narratives as ‘knowing’, as ‘playing with the boys’ and (whilst having had a tomboy phase) knowing that I’m always gonna be the epitome of ‘girl’.
And back to sexism. Not being ‘girl’ or not wanting to be ‘girl’? Does it matter? Should it matter? Would one path or another lead me to happiness quicker?
Not knowing the words to convey this haze to people of importance in my life, even when their words grate on my bones, especially when a name change is too difficult to adapt to.
Feeling closest to people when they challenge their own gender preconceptions of me just as I’m thinking about it — ‘girl… but oh maybe not’. That would be my gender motto if it didn’t have that millisecond of misgendering inherent in it.
Wondering if my gender is fluid or if my understanding of it is fluid, whether socialisation affects it, whether the amount of dresses I’m wearing lately affects it — whether I feel different on different days because I am qualitatively different, or just because I’m confused. Wearing a t-shirt (men’s?? maybe? should check label) and loving how it makes me look — how it makes me look, not just how it looks on me. Technicalities being the epitome of my feelings.
Still wondering about that switch between being fluid and understanding self as fluid — some seeming change between unidentified, girl and nothing, but is this just the way I’m seeing things — is girl when I’m in a good mood and less bothered by misgendering? Is girl when I’m not looking too carefully at things? Is nothing when I don’t care or don’t look too carefully — is there a nothing or is it just girl? Is unidentified when I’m in a bad mood, when gender really hurts me, the day when I notice the difference?
That’s the crux of the matter — conscious awareness. Does my awareness fall on things because they have changed, or is my awareness random and my interpretation of this awareness and its causes what changes? Does it matter? Does it matter whether I intrinsically am, or whether I simply see things differently? Is this really a binary — can I have a mixture of both, with the way I see things changed by who I am, and who I am changed by the way I see things?
Are there ways to separate gender identity from expression in a way that leaves me free to explore identity away from expression? Do I even express gender? I don’t through clothes, that’s certain. Behaviour and mannerisms are seen as female but is that who I am or just the way others see me — is the behaviour expression or simply what other people see as expression? What about few exceptions to my rule of no expression — is that because I haven’t had chance to find an expression, or are they really exceptions? Am I getting gender expression mixed up with just liking clothes — does there have to be a gender inherent in it?
Assuming I’m not being gendered and then being gendered… hurts, so much. Like you don’t notice how important it is to feel like something other than a ‘girl’ until someone lumps you in there trying to ask about your experiences as a woman or talking about their experiences with women vs men and just… I don’t see that dichotomy. People are just people who are safe to be around or unsafe to be around, and everyone has different levels of comfort with their own safety and you try to gauge that and respect it, but it isn’t inherently linked to gender.
I don’t know just looking back at all my notes — there are some things that are so different but some things (like assuming gender-neutrality and hurting when I found out it isn’t the case) are the same as a year ago and it’s all so weird. It’s like I’m looking at the same things but in a different light — instead of focusing on my interactions with people (which I would still happily class as gender-neutral), now I focus much more on my own feelings around gender (which I feel, more and more often, aren’t agender or gender-neutral, but are also still… really confusing. Within that, I keep up this see-saw wondering of whether my observations are because my gender is different or because I’m seeing different behaviours through the lens of different genders. And just… I do not know where to go from here except what I’ve been doing for a while now — throwing my hands up as to specifics, IDing as nonbinary and trying to get people to respect that.
I realised late last night (ie the night I scheduled this post) that actually, I say I feel like a girl but… if I was a girl even part of the time you’d think that I wouldn’t be so set against identifying as a woman for political reasons, people putting me into the ‘sisterhood’ group in their brains etc. I’ve cautiously been IDing with girl, genderless and unidentified nonbinary in a genderfluid/flux way for a month or so, but… I’m not so sure that that works. But anyway, back to giving up and just trying to get people to respect that I’m nb in some way, even if I’m not sure what way that is.