I had been asked to read a text about gender at a queer openmic. I wanted to talk about what it was like to be somewhere in between genders, and found an interesting blogpost about it. Upon research, I didn’t feel I wanted to be linked to that person. So I decided to write my own. The structure borrows heavily from the original, and for that I apologise.
Traduction en français ici.
Am I transgender? The question has slowly emerged from my body and from my mind.
From early on I knew I was attracted by male persons and female persons. So I came out as bisexual, as out as an autistic child could. I came out inwards. Being obsessed with even scales, it felt logical, bi-sexual, fifty-fifty, and I was attracted to both, and I interacted as much with both, and that meant, zero on each side.
One day a boy jumped me and we had sex and it felt good, and he didn’t want people to think he was attracted to boys so we never did it again, which meant eights years went by before someone else jumped me and it was a girl this time and it felt good, and she was ok with people thinking she was attracted to boys, so we stayed together and I learned love, and sex, and human relationships.
Then another girl jumped me and I started again.
I looked more like a boy, so straight girls and gay boys came onto me and that was fine, except statistically something felt wrong. Let’s say about one in ten is not straight, that meant the ratio of available girls and the ratio of available boys were completely different and if I was to count on them all to even out the difference, there was no way I was fifty-fifty bi-sexual.
Then I learned about the world “pansexual” and I learned about trans people, then I met polyamourous people and my equation was about to become an incredible mess.
Then it felt okay again. Maybe I was not fifty-fifty bisexual, and I had to let go of the scales of the balance, and the scales on my eyes.
Am I transgender? To answer this I have to delve into what gender is. Mine. Others’. I’ve never been adequately or even remotely comfortable identifying as a man. I would never, ever, tell you “I’m a man” unless I was coerced or forced to.
Sex helped. The connection between “being sexually active” and being gendered has to do with how my body feels. To be sexually active is to be engaged with a gendered body: my own, and someone else’s. I was 14 when I read Anaïs Nin. There was this man, the bisexual lover whose body mellowed when his male lover came around, his hips and thighs and his curves changed, and it felt right. Here was the confusion between my sexual orientation and my gender identity.
I am transgender. I’ve heard asking: “what does ‘being attracted to an opposite sex’ mean to me?”
Some people asked if I’d ever “done drag”.
I replied: “do you mean dressing up like a woman?”
They said “Yes”.
I said, wearing a shirt, and bluejeans, “I am right now”.
I could be wearing a corset, a dress, a top hat, a petticoat, a skirt, and heels the size of my cock, and “doing drag” would not mean anything to me. I’m not dressing up. It’s not a costume.
I’m dressing down.
I didn’t want to use the word “transgender” because it implies going from female to male or from male to female, and I didn’t know where I was starting from, or where I was going. I had been assigned M at birth, but would I want an F instead?
What if it’s not my journey? Turns out, it took thirty years to get the hang of the M. Would I start from scratch again? What if transitioning doesn’t mean getting my genitals reshaped surgically and presenting publicly as the gender I didn’t get assigned at birth?
So I shaped a word to suit me. Intergender. Etymologically interesting, except the word already had aonther meaning, describing gender for some intersex people. So ab-genus : No gender. Outside the gender binary.
I’m not a man. I see men everywhere, and you know how much space they take, and I know I’m not one of them. I knew I wasn’t a boy. I knew I wasn’t a girl. I knew I was something else, not like a girl and not like a woman, or a boy or a man. I was okay being on my own. I knew they were talking a different language and having a different experience of life. As I now know, they were cis, and white, and neurotypical, and I felt like I would never know what that was, and I was okay with it. My body was genderless, my clothes were assigned to me the way my name or my pronoun were assigned to me. My genderless body was lean and smooth and my hair was long and thick and there was no way to infer anything and I liked it that way. My mother’s husband despised it. He relentlessly pressured me to cut them short so I would “look like less like a girl”. One day he told me : “You’re not Samson !”. Maybe he thought quoting the Bible would sway me, because it had worked so well before.
I wish I had had the wit and the strength to reply: I was Samson and I was Delilah.
Then puberty came in my pants, and puberty came on my face.
Now that secondary sexual characteristics have erupted and sprouted and grown, I miss having only the primary sexual characteristics. Getting rid of facial hair, body hair, pubic hair, has become a time consuming effort. If I could magically make it go away, it would have been long gone years and years ago, and I would not miss it. Then the one place I liked hairy began to go bald and it was even more obvious, front and back, what my expected gender was.
So I shaved my head too, because Ellen Ripley and Sinéad O’Connor and Deborah Dyer all look better than I will ever do.
Maybe if society didn’t make women remove so much of their hairs, then having them wouldn’t be associated with being a man. Maybe people wouldn’t tell me that removing all of this is just conforming to my idea of womanhood under the patriarchy. I’ve trusted my lovers with my gender. An ex-partner told me that whatever I felt or I said, to her I was a white man with a skirt. So she had to go. It was one of many abuses.
Maybe a different hormonal balance would solve it. Maybe less testosterone. I’m scared of going this way, and I’m terrified about considering surgery. I can’t trust the doctors with their ideas about male and female, when I’m neither and both.
I’ve learned how to pilot this body. I know what I have, I have no idea how different anything else could be.
I’ve learned how to please myself and others, aesthetically and sexually. I’ve learned that with enough work and effort, I can be as close to my SELF as I can think of, onstage, or in bed.
Now my new lovers love me as I am, not a man and not a woman, autistic and polyamourous, and that comfort helps to try to be content, and not only to accept myself as I am, but to organise my life around it to make it better.
I “just” need some time off and a pair of tweezers.