genderfluid

The ‘Shit Cis People Say’ Alphabet: P is for “Phase”

Welcome to another episode of the Shit Cis People Say Alphabet! Today:

P is for “phase”

I wrote about this before, when someone close to me expressed a concern that my non-binary-ness was a phase.

For some reason, cis people are very concerned about the stability of other people’s gender identities, and seem to have decided en masse that unless they are sure that your gender and pronouns are never going to change again, then your preferences aren’t real and don’t have to be – or possibly even shouldn’t be? – respected.

You’ll see this particularly with children; cis people spend a lot of time hand-wringing about whether simply recognizing and respecting your child’s stated identity may – somehow – harm them if they later decide to identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.

I am here to say: it literally does not matter whether a person’s currently stated gender turns out to be a temporary ‘phase.’ It really doesn’t. It’s none of your business in the first place, for one thing. If a person changes their mind about their gender, or if their gender changes later, then that’s what happens and it’ll be fine. Why do you even care?

More importantly, even if this is a phase, what makes you think that you somehow have the magical ability to know what that person’s gender is or will be after the phase is complete? Defaulting to pronouns based on birth-assigned gender simply because you think someone’s non-assigned gender might be a phase is nonsensical, to be honest. It always makes the most sense to go with the best information you have available, and the best information available always is, and always will be, the information you get from the first-person perspective of the person whose gender you’re worrying about.

So, honestly, just stop worrying about whether someone’s gender is a phase! If it turns out to be one, they’ll let you know, and you can handle it then!

 


Check out the rest of the “Shit Cis People Say” alphabet!

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 19

Hi all, it’s been a while, but I’m going to see if I can’t start pounding out those regular posts once again! The Shit Cis People Say Alphabet will be returning to its regular Friday slot, and I’m going to ease myself into posting other stuff with today’s new eidtion of Gender Perspectives!

download[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.]

 

 

On being trans and out past and present selves | Life Writ Large
Germaine de Larch discusses their relatoinship to their previously inhabited gender/identity

…as my friend I’d want you to integrate my previous self and my ‘new’ self. They’re the same person. Read more…

Fluid Mom | Holding Patterns and High Tea
Caroline Frechette brings us a reflection of genderfluidity and motherhood, in web comic form.

I’ve always struggled with my gender. I dressed like a boy from an early age, and I enjoy it when people all me sir. Read more…

Hyper-vigilance in the Gender Machine: What It’s Like to Be a Trans Woman Who Doesn’t Pass 100% | transphilosopher
Rachel digs into the joys and pains of being a trans woman who is only sometimes seena as a woman by others.

Life as a non-passing trans woman for me means constant vigilance within the gender machine. Professional pronoun detector should be written on my business card. Constant awareness of all things gender defines my worldview. Read more…

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 15

download[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.]

My Gender is Like a Rose (The Importance of Context from a Linguistic Perspective) | A³
The author of A³ explains their agender identity through the lens of language’s fundamental arbitrariness:

…why is it “wrong” when I say “I am agender”? Why do people snap judgement at me for using a word we have assigned meaning to when I feel it most accurately describes my experience? Why do people say I am “confused” and spew shameful language at me in an attempt to poke holes in my statement? Am I not like the poet and just trying to put into words, arbitrary words, my abstract feelings and experiences and shape them into a recognizable metaphor? How else am I supposed to describe the detached feelings I have with the gender binary?

The Flow of Gender Fluidity | Queer Asterisk
T talks about the process of discovering and coming out with thier genderfluid identity:

I took 12 months to let people in my life know that I’m not actually a woman and waited to see what the impact of this revelation would be. Here are some of the reactions I have heard from various peoples:

“Makes sense.”

“Are you sure?”

“I don’t know what you mean, but I know I love you.”

“This seems like it’s just another one of your phases.”

“Are you sure this isn’t just related to your body image issues?”

“That identity isn’t real to me.”

“Your pronouns are grammatically incorrect.”

“You just look too much like a woman to be trans.”

I don’t really expect non-fluid people to remotely understand that concept… it’s hard to understand from inside the flow! All I know is that my identity flows; it is a dance. It’s a dance with myself, with my environment, within relationships, and within spirit. I flow like a stream or a current of air and even I’m not sure where I will end up.

Why I’m Nonbinary But Don’t Use ‘They/Them’ | Wear Your Voice
Ashleigh Shackelford dissects her personal experience of the intersections of blackness and non-binary identity, and her decision to use she/her pronouns:

Throughout my life, I was experiencing so much of this journey called Black Girl/Womanhood while also experiencing a denial of gender conformity. This complicated internal struggle led me to a very difficult realization as I grew up and found more resources, language and tools for navigating my gender identity: I felt disconnected from the notion of seeing myself as a Black woman, yet I also felt uncomfortable saying that I didn’t identify or experience Black womanhood. So much of the trauma and violence I moved through, and resilience and power I embodied is that of Black womanhood and Black femininity. In acknowledging that, I chose to use she/her pronouns because those pronouns were not afforded to me and they are a derivative and gift of the time I spent in crafting my Black femme-ness in a world that denied me to do so. They represent the work and fight I put into my Black girlhood/womanhood within my alignment of gender expansiveness.

I’m a Trans Guy, Not a Guy: Maintaining Queerness While #datingwhiletrans | Life Writ Large
Germaine de Larch provides a perspective in which transness is an inseperable and essential part of gender identity (though, as the post states, it must be stressed that this is not the experience of all trans people):

…while them calling me ‘boyfriend’ is heart-fillingly-soaringly affirming and seeing of who I am, it is important to me that I am seen as trans, and not a man.

I am not and will never be a man. I am, and always will be, trans. And this is an important distinction.

This being seen-ness as trans and queer is essential. Because anything less would be not seeing me for who I am. It would be an erasure of me.

Gender identity vs. gender presentation: my gender is adorable, y’all

My gender identity and my preferred presentation don’t really “match”. Which I guess is more a way of saying that my gender presentation doesn’t read true to my gender, which is a complicated thing, since the way I am read is tied up in gender norms I have no interest in complying with in the first place.

My gender, as I have best been able to understand and articulate it, is fluid and moves among agender, androgynous, genderfuck, and slightly masculine leanings. There have been times when I have tentatively identified with transmasculinity, and I do have continuing interest in some day pursuing masculinizing medical interventions, but when I get right down to it, transmasculine is not a good descriptor for me.

My presentation, meanwhile…

When I first came out as genderqueer, I had a strong urge to lean hard into a masculine-androgynous presentation with my clothes and hair. This was a very important part of my gender journey, no question; at the time, I was trying out new things and seeing how they felt (oddly liberating in many ways, and I found it fascinating to watch people’s perceptions of my gender shift the harder I leaned into masculinity).

But in the long run, I find masculine-androgynous presentation bores me. I missed a lot of my old clothes (which thankfully I did not entirely purge). I got bored of my hair being to short to do anything with (though to be honest even when I had long hair all the time, I only ever *did* anything with it once in a blue moon), and for the last while I’ve been growing out the top part while keeping the sides and back shaved down. The top part just reached the point where it’s long enough to pull into a bit of a ponytail, and this delights me because it comes with so many adorable possibilities.

Which brings me to the point of what I think I’d been missing. What isn’t represented in my understanding of my gender in and of itself is a desire to be adorable. I am sometimes a spiky person, and I have a lot of walls that I put up around myself with a lot people – though far fewer than I used to – but I don’t really want that to be the sense I put off, and mostly it isn’t. I’m actually pretty approachable. And cute!

Masculine clothes hide my badass adorableness in a way that can be useful, for sure – it makes me seem more grown up and professional sometimes when I need that – but also in a way that makes me feel boring.

I’ve been working on rebuilding the adorable part of my wardrobe, and it makes me really happy to be reclaiming the parts of my previous aesthetic that always rang true. It’is really hard for me to navigate the waters of keeping a certain level of ambiguity in my presentation (to ward off dysphoria), while also getting back into what are ultimately some more “girly” clothes stuff. But I feel like I am getting somewhere with it, finally.

Hooray for small victories.

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 13

download[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.]

Left out | Queering the World
Invisible Clothing | Queering the World
The author of Queering the World shares some vulnerable thoughts on how it felt for them to delay gender transition, and some of the ways they try to keep a handle on dysphoria while living as a gender they are not.

My initial enthusiasm for transition was tempered by the reality of my situation, and the realization that I was not (am still not) willing to give up everything I have to transition. That hurt – a lot. I spent several months picturing myself standing on a pier, watching all my trans brothers and sisters get on a boat, headed for the great shore of transition, embarking on the journey to realize their true selves.

It still hurts that I never saw myself get on the boat with them.

When Your Transition Starts to Stop | Jensgender
Jens discusses navigating the strange feelings that come with realizing that “transition” may be a stage that is largely behind him.

…this gender thing, a “journey” as so many people have called it (it’s basically a trope tbh), feels like it’s slowing down a lot. Things aren’t as exciting. The honeymoon phase of stepping into manhood is totally over.

It’s just such an interesting place to be.

Be Yourself! But not Like That! | yetanotherlefty
Liam talks about the strange tension of potentially-well-meaning people using progressive attitudes toward gender to invalidate trans people’s identities and experiences.

I would be rich if I had a quid for every time someone tried to convince me that I should be able to live as a cis woman instead of as a trans man.
People told me (as if I somehow didn’t know) that women can dress in men’s clothes, that women can do and be anything men can, that it’s okay to be a lesbian, that it’s okay to be butch, that women can be androgynous and still be women… And I don’t disagree with any of these things! They just aren’t reasons why I should be someone I’m not.

My old self vs my new self and why I’ll never “go back” | Queer Reflections
Logan Soeder talks about his relationship to his past – pre-transition – self, and the person he is now.

I am so comfortable in my own skin now that I can’t imagine going “back” to the way I thought. Of course I can still dress the way I used to but it’ll be MY desire to. I am not sorry to those who are disappointed by this.

30-DayWeek Genderqueer Challenge, part 1

I’ve seen the 30-Day Genderqueer Challenge popping up in a couple of places lately, so I figured I’d give it a go! I’m not going to do it in 30 days though, because I feel like that would be super spammy relative to my normal posting schedule (and cuz I want to try to put some extra thought in to some of the posts). So I’m just going to add a regular Friday post to my normal posting habits until I’m done – 30 weeks will take me to around the end of the year I think!

Today’s question is: Do you use any other words to define or explain your gender

Oh my goodness, so many though! I often find that I prefer to use non-binary rather than genderqueer lately. It feels less radically political, and sometimes it’s all I have the energy for.

As those who’ve been reading regularly know, though, I also identify as genderfluid, and that fluidity contains agender and transmasc/boyish identities in addition to genderqueerness.

I’ve also been trying to figure out what my personal aesthetic is around gender presentation lately, and I’ve started describing the note I try to hit as “transmasculine dirty tomboy femme or something” (the or something is an integral part of it obviously), though for work purposes I mostly go for dapper tomboy, which is relatively boring, but also helpful in warding off dysphoria.

Though sometimes I also get tired by the weight of trying to describe and justify myself and I wish that I could just be seen as me and be done with it. The social aspects of gender kinda suck, y’know.


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

Genderqueer and demisexual: two sides of the same coin for me

This is my submission to this month’s Carnival of Aces (which I am hosting!) I have been wanting to write this post for years now, so I’m glad I’ve given myself the kick in the pants I needed to actually do it!

For a long time now, it’s been intuitively clear to me that my experience of gender, and particularly my feelings about the gender binary, and my place in it (i.e. the fact that I don’t have one really), is deeply linked to my experience of sexual attraction, and the fact that I am demisexual. In particular, I guess it is linked to the fact that I am demisexual and queer – I suppose much of what I am going to say will not totally apply to exclusively homo- or hetero- oriented demisexuals.

So: the way I experience sexual attraction is not primarily based on any physical attributes of the people I am attracted to (although I have interesting thoughts about how, once I develop a sexual attraction to someone, it does psychologically attach itself to their physical beings – this goes on the unending list of things I will maybe write about one day). Attraction is, for me, based on emotional connectivity and intimacy (plus some amount of randomness/magic).

I’ve also written before about how it can be confusing, and even upsetting, to me to be on the receiving end of advances from other people based on their experience of primary sexual attraction for me. I don’t know what to do with it, it is extremely intimidating and just plain weird to me. I just don’t get it.

And I know that I started leaning into a more masculine-androgynous presentation, the freedom that I felt in that came in large part from the way it freed me from the traditional hetero-male gaze and the uncomfortable attentions that come with that. Because ultimately, masculine-androgynous isn’t truly (or at least for sure isn’t *always*) a good expression of my actual experience of my gender.

As I’ve more recently realized, I am genderfluid, and not just that, my fluidity and the gender I inhabit at any given time is highly context-dependent. Most of the time, and in many contexts, I am functionally asexual, because in many contexts, I am surrounded by people for whom I don’t and will never experience sexual attraction (i.e. contexts not conducive to the development of emotional intimacy, such as most working relationships, and all random day-to-day one-off interpersonal encounters). And most of the time, I am agender. I am not expressing gender, I am not experiencing myself as having a gender, binary or otherwise. I just am, and it’s fine.

In other contexts, I am more likely to feel actively genderqueer. There isn’t any really hard-and-fast rule for when I will feel one way or the other, but my gut nevertheless feels like this is connected to my experience of my sexuality. I wish I knew how to explain the difference between feeling agender and feeling genderqueer, but I don’t know if I can. I know that when I am genderqueer, I have a gender (though not one that fits into the binary), and when I am agender, I don’t. But I also know that the feeling of having a gender isn’t even universal to people who identify as having one, so that’s probably not helpful.

A lot of this may come down to my connection with my physical self, (a.k.a. my body). I have never been strongly connected to my actual body. I am one of those people who never knows where their limbs are, and I often forget to take care of my body because I am so caught up in my head. The less emotionally safe I feel, the less connected I tend to be to my body, in part because of past traumas, and the fact that dissociation is one of my major coping mechanisms/what happens when I get triggered around those traumas, but also I get the sense that my disconnection from my body pre-dates any such trauma, and is just this weirdly ingrained part of who I am.

…And this is where I always lose the plot. I have a very visceral sense that there is a direct connection between my confusions around sexual attraction growing up and my sense of alienation from/parallel confusion with gender norms – they feel like the same thing to me, to be honest. But getting to precisely *how* they are same is a loop I can’t quite close with words.

I just can’t play the sex game the way allosexual people do. And I can’t play the gender game the way cisgender people do, even the non-conforming ones, somehow. And that inability is an expression of the same part of my inner self, which I can feel and which makes total sense to me, but that I don’t know how to describe.

It’s in how I perceive the world. It’s in how different parts of the world perceive me. It’s in how I react to these perceptions. And it’s in every other interaction I have.

I am genderqueer. And I am demisexual. And both of those statements are just ways of saying “I am me”.