bodies

Notes on a Non-binary Pregnancy, part 1: the dysphoria that never came to be

Wow, where did the time go? I’ve planned to write so many posts over the last, jeez, year-and-a-half since I told y’all I was pregnant, and I have in fact, written a few things since then, but there’s a lot of stuff I haven’t taken the time to sit down and write about. So, here I am trying to knock off the rust.

My baby is ten months old now! And parenting is, omg, honestly so much more wonderful than I even thought (and it’s something I’ve looked forward to enough that I made it the single highest priority in my life, so that’s really something!)

But yeah, I meant to take you with me on my pregnancy journey, and then I… just didn’t, so you’ll have to accept some retrospective writing instead.

One of the things I was mildly worried about as my pregnancy progressed was that my changing body would be a dysphoria trigger for me (in particular, I was not looking forward to my chest getting bigger). Somehow, although those changes all came to pass in good time, there was no accompanying dysphoria.

I think part of this is just that, although it was an altogether straight-forward pregnancy, the whole process was still such a wild, intense trip in so many ways (more on this in a later post…) that I had a hard time feeling much other than amazement and fascination about my body.

Honestly, I absolutely loved my pregnant body. I felt strong (except for when I didn’t… but that’s also another post) and despite my assumptions, not at all feminine. I can’t even explain why not. I just… didn’t.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more at home in my non-binary body. And that’s definitely not an entirely pregnancy-related statement. I’ve also just been… happy, in a pretty sustained way, for a good few years now. I’ve come into my own in my 30s, somehow, and I am at peace with who I am in this world in a way I don’t think I ever expected to achieve.

This is also probably part of what has kept me away from writing – for a long time this blog’s primary purpose was untangling and chronicling my own gender identity. Before that, I was processing part abuse, and getting a handle on a newly sprouted feminist ideals and beliefs. These days, I’m not doing as much difficult reflection on myself or the world I live in, so I’m going to need to learn to write from this new place of greater peace and contentment. Because I also am really and truly happy to be back!

Are you taking any steps to physically transition? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 10

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Are you taking any steps to physically transition?

The short answer here is just “no”, though that’s not the whole story.

I have vaguely intended to work on building more muscle for a while now, but I haven’t really done much about it. Because I don’t care that much, and also because habit formation is not my strong suit. I started flossing regularly this year, and that is enough new things thank you very much!

In terms of medically assisted transition, I am not terribly motivated right now. I have considered both testosterone treatments and chest surgery on and off for a few years, but for now even if I was 100% certain these were things I want, they aren’t priorities or things I would want to do right now, for various reasons. It seems likely that unless anything drastically changes in how I feel about my body, what ever desire I have for these things will be outweighed by the sheer amount of work that would likely be involved in getting them. The cost/benefit just doesn’t work out for me.


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

What are your favorite physical features of yourself? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 7

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: What are your favorite physical features of yourself?

I like that I am tall, in an inarticulable way. I don’t know why I like it, but I do.

I have pretty great hair – it is thick and capable of taking a major beating without breaking significantly. And it feels great now that I have enough length back to properly run my fingers through it. But I also sometimes wish it was finer, that it didn’t just take over my entire head (I have a small head, and a really disproportionate amount of hair coming out of it to be honest.) Er, but yeah, let’s stick more to the positive!

I like my hands. My hands and my eyes have had poetry written about them, actually. Ten years later, that is still weird and awesome and humbling to me.

This post was easier to write in my head than it is now that I’m putting the words down in a way other people will see. I think I’m writing it as if I was like at my body from the outside, and seeing it from someone else’s perspective, but that doesn’t actually capture the things I like about my body very well. Let me try again:

I do like that I’m tall. It’s weirdly a part of my identity at this point?

I really enjoy touching my own hair. I think it feels great.

I like whole general midriff section, and I kind of always have. I have an adorable belly button.

I like my nose.

I like my tattoos. I like that they make it easier for me to see my body as my own, among other things. And I want more.

…And I think that’s about it. This has been a weirdly uncomfortable exercise :P


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Gender, sex, and my body

I am beginning to realize that in some ways, I am genderfluid, moving among agender, genderqueer/genderfuck, and boyish identities. And part of what causes this sense of myself to shift around is the way I shift between contexts in my life, and in particular, how different contexts cause me to consider my body in different ways, depending on who is perceiving it.

It turns out that the ways in which I am comfortable talking about my body, and the ways in which I want it to be perceived, vary wildly based on context. Here, I’m just going to focus on three broad contexts to give a sense of what I mean.

My body in a medical context

As I’ve said before, in a medical context, I am generally comfortable identifying my body as “female”. My body has all of the physical characteristics communicated by the word female in that context; it is a short-hand that communicates a lot of information to doctors about what parts my body has, and so I use it as such, and I am mostly ok with it for myself.

I do wish that we had other terms for this – I don’t like that the male/female binary aligns linguistically with the masculine/feminine one. I hate any implication that my body is feminine, so much so that I don’t like selecting a box on forms which only specify ‘m’ or ‘f’, because it is less clear that I am only stipulating ‘femaleness’ in the medical sense.

The point for me here, really, is that my gender is not currently even remotely relevant to me in a medical context, so I just don’t sweat it too much.

My body in a public/social context

When I am in public, it is most comfortable for me to desexualize my body as much as possible. I feel this is strongly related to my demisexuality – because I just don’t ‘get’ primary/physical sexual attraction, it is confusing and troubling for me to deal with other people directing that sort of sexual attention toward me. I don’t know what it means, really, and particularly as a non-binary person, knowing that if someone who doesn’t know me is sexualizing me, they are probably sexualizing me *as a woman*, is deeply unsettling and inherently invalidating to me.

I don’t even want to be androgynous, as that suggests a mixture of binary genders – in a public context I strongly prefer to be read as agender, generally.

This is complicated, though. Because as I just said, I don’t equate my agender self with androgyny. I would honestly really love to be able to wear whatever the fuck I want without it making people think it means I have a fucking gender.

Really I want a body that can wear all kinds of clothes ambiguously. (I mean, really I want to live in a world where other people aren’t constantly making sexual judgments of each other, but y’know…) Mine, right now, doesn’t. I want to be able to feel more comfortable fucking around with my gender expression. In some ways, I want a body that is less clearly medically “female” probably (though really I just want people not to objectify my body). I don’t quite know yet how or if I’m going to go about that.

My body in a sexual context

[Content note: some explicit sexual language, but no references to specific sexual acts.]

A bunch of things here. In many ways I totally and unproblematically love my body in a sexual context. I love its capacity for for so many different kinds of pleasure, and when I am just just giving myself sexual pleasure, that is all there is to it. Gender doesn’t have anything to do with it.

But it’s not just me. I form sexual connections with other people sometimes, and that means contending with their understandings and perceptions of my body, and the way that is communicated in their interactions with me and my body.

And this is where the idea that my body can comfortably be described as ‘female’ goes out the window. What’s true medically, and I guess in some sort of rationally ‘real’ sense (whatever that means), is absolutely not the right way to approach my body sexually.

My sexual body is very explicitly and particularly a trans queer body and needs to be approached as such. Although there is a bunch of basic wisdom about cis women’s erogenous zones that can be transferred over onto my body, without being able to move past the basic physical facts of my body parts, it would be very easy for a sexual partner to seriously invalidate my own sense of myself as a sexual person, and the ways in which I relate to and perceive my body sexually. It’s… a hard thing for me to navigate effectively, but I’m doing ok.

In part, because I am actually a bit at a loss to describe my experience of gender in sex. More than anything, the way I identify as a sexual person is just “queer,” so I guess genderqueer is pretty ok, but really I want to go even further, I want to be queer *as fuck* y’all, which makes me feel really good about “genderfuck” which packs the kind of rhetorical punch I really want to express here. But then, sometimes I even slip into something that feels more solidly boyish. And also I think even just in writing this that a sense of myself as agender has maybe been sneaking in here for me, at other times. And then other times it’s really just extremely fluid and refuses to settle down into anything.

Fundamentally, the thing I think I need my sexual partners to understand is that despite all appearances, and even while I’m happy to own being a queer agender/genderfuck/boy (such as I am, when I am) with a vulva, my body is not just ‘female’, ever. And I crave engagement with all of me, engagement that understands that sometimes what looks like a vulva, isn’t. Sometimes it’s a cock. Sometimes it’s something else entirely.

I’m not going to explain here exactly what that means, or how that engagement manifests. I’m sure there’s literally a million different ways it can be done. My spouse-person and I are still finding new ways to mash up against each other, so.

And the other thing is, my genitals don’t necessarily matter all that much. When things are going really well for me, my pleasure isn’t located anywhere, it’s everything and everywhere; it’s my whole body, all the parts seen and unseen.

Sexually, my body is best understood outside of the male/female bullshit construct. My body is queer as fuck, and capable of so much more than the either the male or female sexual scripts allow for (which is not to say that this makes me special or whatever; lots of people of all genders benefit from ignoring these scripts and the “normal” ways on understanding, interpreting, and engaging with bodies of different types), and I want it treated as such.

My body and me

Fundamentally my relationship with my body is made problematic by the ways in which other people try to force their own perceptions/understandings/meanings onto it. My body is awesome, and other people so often want to limit its reach and its powers of signification. And my attempts to moderate this tension are what make my non-binary/genderfluid/genderqueer identity what it is, defined to a great extent by what I am not, and defined, ultimately, by the foundational importance of queerness to my politics, and to my aesthetics.