Everyone changes throughout their life. Some much more than others. But aside from occasionally being reminded of things (such as anniversaries, or old photos that bookmark a time, place, and event), how often do people actually track themselves, and furthermore — analyze what they’ve tracked.
If you’ll allow me some creative license, I consider myself an amateur/hobbyist data scientist, the data I work in is primarily me. I’ve changed a lot in my life, and my hyper awareness of this now has become kind of discomforting at times. The reason I say this is because at first, I might notice the odd change, infrequently. But over time, I realized more and more of the changes, and then being aware of the scope and breadth of them made me aware that every single day I’m changing, and then it switches from being a passive thing to more of an active thing.
And looking at your history to compare to your present to try and imagine what your future will look like — is a process I’m not sure I recommend doing too frequently (perhaps unless you have a very healthy attachment to reality).
Earlier this year I started a tracking sheet project dubbed “timelines”. The idea was to, as best as possible, map out various aspects of my life that I could remember, by year. I did this for a number of reasons, but the real impact came when I started thinking of new things to add that weren’t part of the original idea. Kind of a “hmm, how would this fit into the context of it?” thing.
This is the state of this tracking sheet as of mid June, 2017. As you can see, of the things I thought to track (and could remember), there’s a lot more stuff in the last 4–8 years.
From about 2013 to 2016 I started a lot of projects and took on a lot of work. I also experienced real depression for the first time which forced me to ultimately back off from a lot in 2017.
But the part of this that strikes me the most I guess, is at the bottom, when I mapped out my sexual and gender orientations. Now, a single little cell in an excel speadsheet is hopelessly insufficient for the purposes of clearly answering or explaining those two things so I had to simplify.
But I will say (and plan to write more about this later) that when my gender identity changed, so did my sexuality. I remained overwhelmingly attracted to women and feminine people, but I noticed a big change in my feelings and mindset, particularly in regards to people with penises.
I first started learning to question gender around 2010, and it was a long, slow process from there but years later I’m among the “lol wut even is gender” camp. There’s a reason it’s called “gender identity and expression”. Masculine and Feminine are just two choices among a presumably infinite amount. Many people never question the default they are assigned, but more and more people are coming to do so, including myself. I happen to like and connect to so called “Femme aesthetics”, but that’s just me.
I identify as non-binary and transfeminine for that reason. I identify as a feminine leaning person who strongly prefers feminine aesthetics, but here’s where we run into a problem because who decided what is feminine vs masculine and who gave them permission to decide that for everyone? (Social constructs are a heck of a thing, eh?).
I don’t feel like I was necessarily meant to be born with a vagina or uterus, but at the same time, I have often been annoyed by my penis and wished at very least that it was detachable (and yes, if it were simple I’d happily swap in a vagina some days). Some days I really wish I could leave home without my penis, other times I don’t care as much, but I wouldn’t exactly say I’m “enthusiastic” about having one. That said, it is what it is.
Part of me is curious and would like to get to experience what it’s like to have different genitals, but there’s no easy way to experience that, and I’m not currently intending to seek out a surgery to change that.
But as I was saying, before my own identity changed, I was at the very best “heteroflexible”. The way that I explained it was “I’m open to incidental sexual contact with men, but I’m not going out of my to seek it out”.
That’s still largely true, although much to my surprise (and again, I will elaborate more on this in another post) I have found myself experiencing greater attraction to/curiosity about men post identity change. I guess maybe since I am really trying to strip away the layers of limitation of human experience that have been placed upon me either by society or by myself, I’m feeling a greater desire to experience more.
So my gender identity has transitioned from cis male (never questioned or thought twice about) to cis male but not macho to cis male “soft masculine” to cis male femme leaning to non-binary femme leaning to non-binary transfeminine.
My sexual orientation has transitioned from 100% straight to let’s say 95% straight 5% “open” to (now identifying as a woman more than a man) let’s say… “hella gay for women, but appreciate the aesthetic attraction of many different people and open to intimate experiences with them under the right conditions”. Which I just simplify down to “homoflexible”.
As you can also see in the image above, I used to have long hair. I sported the metal head look for many years, and at the time, that was my aesthetic. In 100% honesty the main reason I cut my hair off was because most straight women (remember, back then that was who I was playing the field for) were turned off by long hair and I was tired of being single and feeling undesirable. So I tried to change into what most women seemed to want (clean cut) to improve my odds.
Spoiler alert: It got me more positive attention but was not a silver bullet. More importantly, it wasn’t my truest me. I “made it work” but felt like I lost part of myself.
You know how sometimes something just “feels right”? Well, to me, long hair feels that way. I’ve always liked it. I liked how it looked and felt, and in the 3 years that I kept mine short, I had multiple dreams where my hair was long again and I was so happy, only to wake up and be disappointed.
I eventually decided I wanted to grow it back, but then was in the difficult place of having to worry about employment prospects. Once that was no longer an issue, I started growing it back, and I’m currently halfway to my minimum goal of chin/shoulder length. The longer it gets, the happier I get.
Now let me be clear — hair and hair length isn’t inherently gendered, but to me personally longer hair is more feminine (biker dudes with long hair can protest all they like but they’d be hella more masculine with shaved heads or buzz cuts).
So my transition has been multi-faceted — physical, emotional, aesthetic, spiritual. And it has been for the best. This quote rings particularly true for me right now:
My hair isn’t where I want it to be yet, but I’ve still been practicing in other ways living more how I ultimately want to, and caring less what other people think. It was scary as hell in the beginning, and sometimes it still is, but the combination of slowly growing my own confidence, and realizing that I am a walking role model/inspiration for people I may never know, that fuels me to keep pushing myself.
And perhaps the even bigger thing to note — I’m still pursuing women and feminine identifying folks for dating, and despite knowing how this new me necessarily shrinks my prospect pool (available, non-asexual or aromantic identifying gender fluid, gender queer, and/or transgender friendly folx), I don’t care, because I have more confidence and conviction now than I ever have. I definitely don’t want to remain alone forever, and I know I won’t.
I came out to my mother in June (Pride month here in Toronto). She is the only family member that I have who I felt would take the news reasonably well (and thankfully I was pretty much dead on about how I expected her to react). Even though she is supportive, the uncertainty that I dumped into her own mind splashed back and destabilized me again as well.
It had taken me 3 months to get comfortable enough to feel confident in my new identity, and only took telling one family member to unsettle that again for about a month. I’m not angry at her, but it re-confirmed to me that this IS a process, a transition, a transformation, and I need to reach a certain point before I will feel “far enough across the line that no negative or disbelieving reactions can pull me back to the other side again”.
Right now in my mind, that line is roughly the end of this year, as that is when I expect my hair to be naturally down to my chin at least, meaning that I will look naturally femme to myself every time I look in the mirror. And I will feel more naturally OK with dressing how I really want, less dependent on how I feel.
I haven’t come out at work yet (as of this writing), but I feel like I may do so officially soon. I have dropped enough spoken or unspoken hints, and my boss has shown they are progressive enough that I think they have an idea of what’s going on. They just might not be sure if I’m genderqueer or full on trans.
In the meantime, I continue to live my best truest self that I feel up to doing each day, I continue to track and analyze how I think and feel, and I’m look excitedly forward to the near future and what it will bring to me.