[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]
The author of “this is a gender blog” writes their narrative of coming to a gender variant/androgyne identity:
There isn’t a real narrative in how I came into terms of my gender identity. More than anything else, it was something that grew on its own separate accord – an asset of myself I’m still growing to accept. This was all a result of my influences, social and cultural. Interests weren’t so much of a contributing factor, even though I likened to both typically masculine and feminine parts of Western culture, be it toys, TV shows, comics, what have you.
Even though my gender has a firm definition, I’m technically still exploring myself.
Eliot does some thinking about what sorts of things cause a person to be read as one gender or another. (Of course, it’s never the things that cissexist assholes insist are definitive of gender.)
As someone who lived for a long time as a girl and now dresses quite masculinely, I am most frequently read in public as a butch girl/a lesbian. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a lesbian. Just that I’m not one (and also, not all lesbians wear plaid button-downs and loose jeans.) And this is despite the fact that I can be wearing entirely “men’s” clothing–from underwear and socks out to shirt, pants, sweater, and jacket. When I wear a chest binder, I have a flatter chest than lots of cisgendered men do. When I wear a packer (a prosthetic phallus), I’ve got a bigger dick than most cis men do, and because of the way men’s pants fit on people with exaggerated hips, it’s also more prominent than a lot of cis guys’ packages. But I still get read as a woman. Similarly, my trans sisters can wear all kinds of makeup, pink dresses and hose and high-heeled shoes, and still get treated as a “man”.
Now my biggest issue with the current set of gender neutral titles is that society doesn’t understand and recognise alternative family structures. At the time we were having this discussion, neither of us had the language for describing ourselves in terms of genderqueer or non binary, which resulted in us framing our family in the most socially obvious framework. Lesbian parents. We chose to use mommy (me) and mama (spouse) as these words have a societally weighted meaning. The relationship of mommy or mama to child is obvious and doesn’t require explanation. Using those terms becomes shorthand for “we are a family, these are our kids” without having to educate people on our family structure.
In hindsight I am disappointed that I bought into the heteronormative structuring of family. I feel awkward that I put so much weighting on the opinion of society to give validity to our little family unit. Why do we have to be a mommy and a mama to ensure credibility in our roles as parents?
In real life, I plan my outfits before going out, and when I put them on, I have memories about my previous experiences. A certain dress will be the one I wore when my friend said I love you. My bunny rabbit flats are often complimented for being cute—and cute is what I aim for, so I keep on wearing them. When a random dude on the street harasses me with some transphobic bullshit, wearing cute shoes, a cute dress, having freshly shaven legs, and knowing my makeup is at least half-decent all give me a fairly good armor score, so I can be bothered a lot less.
In Splatoon, the more you wear any given accessory, the more abilities you unlock. I’ve seen similar mechanics in other games, but never something that seems to so directly work as an analogue for the way I experience clothing as powerful items that gain in power with more use and care. Sure, you can use a snail shell as a shortcut, but can’t you say the same about sewing on a patch or adding rivets, bedazzling, or so on? Nobody in the Splatoon universe tells you how cute you look, but nothing needs be said.
I never had outlets for my gender identity or expression growing up, and most of the avenues I did find were highly monitored or criticised, either by my family or my peers at school. Instead I buried myself in books and gaming, with Harry Potter and Pokémon becoming my main forms of self-expression and validation.
Ralts represented in the Pokémon world everything that I unconsciously felt about my own body and gender: that it was completely ambiguous and devoid of gendered presumptions.