[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.]
Disrupting Gender: A Cisgender Experience | everyone is straight until they’re not. Finding authentic gender expression and sense of self as a cisgender person.
I was fortunate enough to witness several of my friends’ transitions from female to male, and the way they blossomed into happier, more confident, truer versions of themselves is truly inspirational. I feel almost blasphemous for saying this, but I am a little jealous. I remember walking home one night and looking at the stars (I do that a lot when I am contemplating something big), and I thought, What if I am trans? How do I know I am a woman and it’s not just something I do out of habit because that’s what I’ve always been told I am? It was just a passing thought which I immediately dismissed and didn’t speak of out loud until that conversation just before a drag party. But really, how can I achieve that transition into a happier, truer version of myself without the actual act of transitioning my gender?
Let me tell you how.
Gender Talk | Myscape. Being cisgender while also defying gender binarism.
For a long time now I have been struggling to articulate why I feel so certain of being “female” or a “she” despite my genderqueer habits/presentations and my desire to be androgynous and defy gender binarism.
I feel like I am female because 1) I have the expected body, 2) all the people I want to be are female (who I identify with), 3) I do present/perform in some “feminine” ways, and 4) even when I present/perform in “unfeminine” ways that is acceptable. So even though I wish I truly considered myself genderqueer/nonbinary (in the depths of my mind and heart), I feel comfortable being a “female.”
For me, it began with questions, not answers:
Am I a woman? Do I feel like a woman? How does one ‘feel like’ a woman? Do I feel like a man? Have I ever felt like a man? Have I ever felt like a woman? Do I feel in-between? Do I feel like something else entirely? How do I feel when I am completely alone? Do I have a gender then? Do I have a gender at all? What is gender? Is it my body? Is it my social role? Is it my clothes, my hair, my voice? Does gender even exist? Do I want to have a gender? If I could be any gender, what gender would I be? How do I like to express my gender? Do I express it through appearance, through mannerisms, through roles, through my body?
I find my gender is more complex than I ever imagined. My gender is play, performance, lived experience, utter seriousness. My gender is straight-leg jeans and crew-neck t-shirts with a flannel thrown over the top. My gender is short hair and no makeup except when I feel like it. My gender is gentlemanly, shy, loving, opinionated; my gender is baking zucchini bread and chopping wood; my gender would rather wear a suit but is a sucker for a vintage dress; my gender wears nail polish for the hell of it, prefers dressing butch but mostly identifies as femme…
Bravery | It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way. When people call us “brave” simply for existing.
“You’re so brave!”
This is a refrain that many trans people hear with some frequency. I don’t know how to respond when people tell me this.
I am brave the way someone might run through a field of thorny rose bushes to escape a forest fire. I’m just trying to live my life.
Identical (A Slam Poem) | Genderweird. When you’re trans and your identical twin is not.
…the lines blur and we’re still identical, sitting in
identical classrooms until suddenly we’re not—our bodies
are separate but our minds cannot be untwined. We
swapped fifth grade struggles like our friends swapped
Pokémon cards. We thought we were ready for puberty,
that magical time in a girl’s life when I start to understand
maybe I’m not a girl—that maybe I’m in the “wrong room”
The morning of college graduation I changed
from Stephanie Michelle to Brannen Skyler and I watched
your vision blur when you asked me, “Why?” Identical to
how others ask “Why?” when I still sometimes talk about
myself in the first person plural…