Gender… boredom?

I sort of alluded to this a few weeks ago, but I wanted to talk more directly about it as well: for a long time, I just haven’t had anything interesting to say about gender stuff (last week’s post doesn’t count, because I dug it out of my massive archive of draft posts). This is actually a major reason why this blog almost died, before I gave myself permission to just write about what I wanted again, and to worry less about having a clear point to the writing (at least until I’ve re-established the writing habit. Then I might get pickier again).

It’s funny, because at the outset, this was never intended to be solely a gender blog, but as I gained readers I found myself not wanting to disappoint by going way off track.

But yeah, gender. I don’t think about it nearly as much as I used to, really. A lot of this comes down to the fact that I’m done with doing the heavy emotional and intellectual processing related to my own shifting gender identity (at least for now. Life is long, and who knows where I’ll go from here?) I am comfortable in and of myself, I have a strongly internalized sense of self that hasn’t experienced any kind of flux for quite some time.

I’m also in a really comfy place in terms of being surrounded by people who support me. I’ve even been out at work for quite some time now, and while my coworkers don’t get it right all of the time, they do always seem to catch themselves when they flub (without making a big deal out of it).

Basically, my gender isn’t creating much friction in my life, and so it’s not on my mind that much anymore, I guess.

And that’s all I have to say about that right now.

Algorithms of dysphoria

I am one of those fortunate trans people who don’t experience a lot of dysphoria around their gender. Really, for years now I’ve been in a place where I go long periods without thinking about my gender at all (which makes a certain kind of sense since I’m pretty much agender, to be honest. Why would I spend time thinking about something that doesn’t exist?*)

The dysphoria I do experience is mostly (maybe entirely?) social rather than physical/bodily – which is to say, I can and do experience discomfort related to my gender when I am misgendered (explicitly or implicitly), but my body itself isn’t a source of dysphoria for me. This makes me very lucky, because it means I can, and do, escape from sources of dysphoria on a regular basis. It’s a lot harder to run away from your own body.

But still, when you get right down to it, social and physical dysphoria aren’t as easily separable as all that. And this is an important point, because there are people who like to gatekeep non-dysphoric trans people, or solely socially dysphoric people from being considered Really Trans (TM). There’s a related misconception that direct physical dysphoria (that is, discomfort with one’s own body) is the only reason someone would pursue medical transition (hormones, surgery, etc.) – the true hallmark of being Really Trans.

Reality is, of course, far more complicated than that.

In fact, if I experience dysphoria because the shape of body causes people to misgender me, even though the *best* solution would be to teach people not to do that, the more expedient solution is still be medical intervention to my body (who wants to wait through the several generations it’s likely to take for the general population to get comfortable with trans people in general, let alone non-binary genders?) But in many cases, even if there are doctors near you that work with trans people in the first place, depending on the model of care they follow, simply being non-binary, being someone who experiences primarily social forms of dysphoria, could make you ineligible for their help.

So people who don’t experience the “right” kind of dysphoria can be stuck in a feedback loop of gatekeeping, they’re not Really Trans because we don’t seek medical intervention, but we often times *can’t* seek medical intervention, on the grounds of not being Really Trans

Ouch.

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*this is mostly facetious. Being gendered all the time when you’re agender can be pretty uncomfortable.

Babies, children, and age?

[The wording of this got real awkward, so I’ve decided to establish a pseudonym for my baby, for your reading ease! They shall henceforth be referred to as Goblin.]

I’m having a problem I didn’t anticipate: Goblin is very tall for their age. Like, off-the-charts tall at the 12-month check-in.

Admittedly, we were expecting tall! I’m 5’11”, my partner is well over 6′ – we were pretty much inevitably going to make a tall baby! But somehow I hadn’t anticipated the consequences of this tallness.

The thing is, because of their height, Goblin is regularly mistaken for much older then their actual age. By one year, people were guessing they were 2 already! More recently, toddlers and other young children have been trying to talk to/play with Goblin, and are surprised by the lack of interactivity (14-months-olds don’t really play with other people, after all, and Goblin isn’t really talking at all yet). There’s always this belated realization of “Oh! That’s a *baby*!”

Granted, the fact that people sometimes momentarily mistake Goblin for more of a pre-schooler than a baby (given that they’ve been toddling around for several months, I guess they are technically a toddler, but I digress) is mostly just interesting, and not at all detrimental at this point. (Plus, the average person is just straight-up *terrible* at guessing children’s ages anyway – it’s not easy!)

However, as Gablin ages, I fully expect that they will be regularly perceived as (and therefore treated as) older than they actually are at any given time. This… is probably not awesome. It will easily translate into expectations/pressure to be more mature (in various ways) than is reasonable or fair.

It’s obviously hard to predict what the extent of the implications of this will be (I was also a tall kid, but I didn’t actually sprout up until I was 9 or 10, so the overall experience will definitely have been different), but it’s something I’m going to be keeping in the back of my mind…

Quick update/Consider yourself WARNED :P

I keep wanting to get back to blogging more regularly, but then keep… not doing that. It’s not because I don’t have things on my mind that I want to write about, it’s just that… my thoughts are pretty much always about my baby. And I don’t really want this to turn into a parenting blog.

Or at least, I’m not ready to admit that it might just have to become that for a while. This baby really is the centre of my entire universe; my perspective on pretty much everything is now through the lens of parenthood (and I wouldn’t have it any other way), so here we are.

It does seem like the only way I’ll be able to fire up the old writing habit will be to start letting myself write about baby/parenting stuff. So, be prepared I guess? I’m still going to talking about gender stuff and feminist ideas/perspectives and all that, it’ll just have a different flavour I guess. Maybe i’ll even branch out once I’m back in the game! Stay tuned for more next week :)

Babies and (parental) gender

I knew going into this whole parenting thing that I was going to get called “mommy” a lot, by default. And I do.

I don’t have the energy to proactively tell people I only have minor or passing relationships with about my gender and how I do and don’t identify. This is true in all areas of my life – though I’m out at work among my co-workers, (and I recently added my pronouns to my professional email signature!) I don’t correct random library patrons who misgender me, not even if they’re people I see somewhat regularly. They just don’t need that information about me, to be honest? And I apply this attitude everywhere.

So, in the hospital when my baby was born, I was called “mommy”. At baby groups, I get called “mommy”. In my baby’s swimming lessons, I’m one of the “mommies” (while silently wishing that the class I was in was more visibly mixed-gender, like the on immediately before ours, so that that “mommy” stuff wouldn’t be thrown around quite so freely).

What I really wasn’t expecting, though, was how often people who do know me, and know that I am genderqueer, and are actually very good with my pronouns (and sometimes even explicitly knew that I didn’t plan to go by mommy!)… still reflexively called me “mommy”, when talking to my baby.

There is something deeply ingrained in our psyches about babies, that they must be in want of a mommy, I guess? It was actually equal parts fascinating and perturbing for me, how naturally people’s brains went there. Brains are weird that way!

But yeah, me and my baby, we’re on a first name basis. I’ve always planned to let them figure out a title for me if and when they want to, but more recently I’ve also been speculating that the baby-talk version of “Kasey” could very easily be “Seesee”, which might just be a perfect fit on its own. I think I may even try to encourage it :)

Babies and gender: where I’m at now

Before my baby existed in any way at all, I had decided how I was going to handle the whole birth-assigned-sex/gender thing. You can read the whole post about it, but my basic approach was that I would go ahead and use whatever pronouns most commonly align with the baby’s birth-assigned sex, while also avoiding gendering the baby in other ways.

This is, in fact, the way I’ve been approaching my baby’s gender (though I will be using ‘they’ pronouns for the baby on this blog, at least for now. I can’t quite articulate my reasons for this right now). It’s definitely a path-of-least-resistance approach, but it seems fine for us. Honestly, though, now that I have a nearly-one-year-old (OMG!), I am mostly just amazed at how ridiculously, transparently deluded most people’s perceptions of baby gender are.

Seriously, though. Other than the fact that they’re statistically likely to identify with the gender commonly associated with their birth-assigned sex, I really don’t think my baby has a gender yet, nor could I really guess at what their gender will be. Heck, at this age babies apparently don’t recognize themselves in a mirror, their sense of self is just that nearly-non-existent.

People really, really love to insist that baby’s genders are just so apparent from birth though! Oh, sure, little Susie was just born knowing how to shop, you say*? And Bobby, wouldn’t you know it, he’s been just *obsessed* with breasts since the day he was born (LOLOLOLOL!!!)? Obviously our culture’s current particular understanding of the gender binary is completely natural and not at all learned.

Meanwhile, depending on what my baby is wearing, they’ve been declared everything from “what a perfect boy” to “such a pretty little girl”. I promise you they were exactly the same baby each time.

I really just don’t perceive my baby as a gendered being at this point (which was sort of my goal – I don’t want the way I treat them to be coloured by their probable gender, and the best way to avoid sub-consciously doing that is prevent my sub-conscious from seeing them in a gendered way in the first place.) Though I also realize that saying I don’t perceive them that way doesn’t make it true.

But, I’m pretty sure I’ve actually pulled it off! The reason: after my parents’ most recent visit, my father sent me a message saying that he loves my baby, except he called the baby my “daughter”. And I was momentarily confused and didn’t know what he was talking about? Because I don’t have one of those? I just have a baby. (Who will soon be a toddler, and a child…) Like, I think that I had literally never thought that word in connection to my baby.

So that’s something!

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*There’s a lot to unpack here, but in all seriousness, in one of the baby groups I sometimes go to, one of the facilitators(!) waxed poetic about how she’s sure girls are born with the shopping gene or something. Like, properly went on about it. It was something.

Update: Kasey still makes things!

While I was neglecting Valprehension for over a year, I was still making other things (and not just my baby :P)

My lil Etsy shop has turned out to be successful beyond my wildest imaginings (which is to say, it is a moderately successful hobby business, overall). As I write this, I’m closing in on 400 sales – not too shabby for two years in business!

I only ship to North America (and I’ve reached, but since I sell digital products as well, I’ve had sales in the UK, Norway, Austria, Germany, Thailand, and Australia too! I sell a lot of custom pieces, but here are my best-selling original designs so far:

Hop on over and check out Stitchy Aesthetic