Papageno 4 by selfmade1
I found and used this on last week’s Pleasurists and love it so much I wanted to share it here too. I’ve become enamored with peacock feathers lately and want to do this to my hair. That is all.
I seem to have gotten past the point of trying to nitpick my identities and settled into a space of simply sitting back and enjoying them. That’s not to say that I’m not still analyzing and overanalyzing my identities at the same time, but I’ve gotten out of the “but what does it all mean?” funk that I seemed to be in for the better part of the last year or more. Instead of being obsessed with being seen by others as whatever given identity I want them to see me as I’ve settled into the realization that it’s not a failure on my part if I’m not seen a certain way.
Gender was a great source of questioning and anxiety last year in particular, before that it was my power/bdsm identity, and it seems as with my switch identity I have settled happily into a fluctuating identity. My genders seem to fluctuate greatly, there are times when I feel extremely compelled to present femme, which has been recently, and other times when femme just doesn’t fit as well and I lean toward the boi and fagette. I’m coming to feel like fagette is my home planet and femme and boi are the two I take frequent jaunts to on my spaceship (see: Gender Galaxy), which kind of makes sense in that fagette feels to me to be more androgynous, something else entirely, and closer to my core genderfluid identity than the presentation of femme or boi.
Overall I’m genderfluid, genderqueer, or any of the other words used to describe a non-fixed-in-the-ever-pervasive-binary and non-fixed-in-general gender. I enjoy playing with all types of gender expression. My gender is play. My gender is drag. While gender is definitely more than the clothes we wear that is a huge identifier and I do tend to dress femme most of the time, mostly because skirts are just damned comfortable (especially when you have long labia and multiple labia piercings). I also find it easier to find plus size feminine clothes that I like than plus size masculine clothes that I like. I have these damned hips to thank for that.
Instead of looking at presentation as a way of limiting myself by being unable to present the multiplicity or fluidity of my being I’m simply letting go of those worries about what others might possibly think of me and contenting myself in the knowledge that no one can have a whole idea of who and what I am because that is constantly in motion and constantly changing. If someone chooses to latch on to the idea of me as a fixed identity that is their problem and not mine.
I can content myself in the knowledge that I can be the inspiration for new and ever changing thought processes in others and in myself simply by being myself and allowing myself to be at every moment. I allow myself to simply embrace my identity at any given moment without the hangup of what I felt the last moment or what I might feel a moment from now. It’s truly freeing and inspiring.
Yesterday (October 11th) was National Coming Out Day. If I had been on top of things this post would have come out then, but I’m a little bit behind on just about everything at this moment. I used this day to reflect on my identities. Here are some of my thoughts.
I’ve been out for quite a while. Unless this is your first time here and/or you haven’t read the about page yet you should already know that I have a long string of labels I like to use in order to describe my identities. I am a genderqueer fat femme drag queen fagette and pomo queer intellisexual polyamorous switch. I am also an occultist, sacred whore, astrologer, and all manner of other things. Specifically NCOD refers to coming out of the proverbial closet, or LGBT(QQIA) people coming out, so I focused on my identity string.
I’ve talked about this before, but the main reason why I use so many identity words strung together like I do is so that it is nearly impossible to pigeonhole me into one identity or another. Instead, it forces people to acknowledge the way the identities blend and interchange between them, and how my identities are fluid. At least, that’s my theory.
I don’t really have a story of coming out to my parents. I remember being a teenager telling my mother I was bisexual. Her response? “Oh. I thought you were a lesbian.” And that was it. During the triad with Marla I told both of my parents about her and our relationship configuration and they both responded without judgment, just asked practical questions about the situation.
Coming out, ultimately, is an ongoing process both for me and, really, for everyone. While there are people who fit into the stereotypical way that a certain identity or another looks there are just as many if not more people who are not so easy to categorize with a look. For those of us who are not blatantly obvious we have to come out over and over again, to just about everyone we choose. This is compounded by the fact that I present femme most of the time and have a cisgendered male partner so we are often mistaken for a straight couple even though neither of us is straight.
This isn’t to say I walk up to new people and give them the string of identity words I used above, but it does mean that there are times I have to come out, sometimes coming out multiple times to the same person.
It can be exhausting, but I appreciate the ability to live stealth as well, so I can be privy to those possibly bigoted conversations and attempt to put in my own two cents, and as a result maybe change some minds.
One thing that continues to amaze me is the ability someone has to be an inspiration for others simply by being themselves. By doing what is right and good for you others can be inspired to do the same for themselves, and I love this. Every time you come out is an act of courage. Feel free to come out in the comments.
More thinking about my post Tired from the beginning of the month has lead me to this: if you don’t know, ask. Don’t ever be afraid to ask. While it’s not always enjoyable to me to explain how I identify to someone that doesn’t mean it’s not highly appreciated. I would much rather have an hour long conversation (or even five-minute) about my identities than have my gender, sexuality, spirituality, or anything else assumed. You know what they say about to assume…
For the most part I’m pretty open when asked a question directly. I don’t skirt around things and I will take a question at face-value and answer exactly what was posed. I might not offer up additional information, but I am not shy about answering questions when asked directly. While I don’t always enjoy talking about myself (I know, that may be hard to believe considering that’s most of what I do on this blog) that doesn’t mean that I would rather not be asked about something. If I can clarify something or explain something I am always happy to, as long as I have the time. I also try not to assume that the other person will know what I’m talking about.
This doesn’t mean I think they are stupid, but because I use terms in mostly academic ways and since I don’t know if they have read something I’m referencing in my identity or explanation I try not to make assumptions either way and opt to ask questions myself. “Have you heard of…”” “Have you read…?” etc. If not I try to explain as fully as possible, and even if so I often will still mention some of the basic ideas of what I am referencing to make sure we are on the same page. I do not assume anyone is on the same page as I am, but that doesn’t mean they are not as smart as me or any other nonsense like that. Knowledge on one specific subject has nothing to do with intelligence.
Specifically what I was referencing in Tired had to do with two types of people. People with whom I have had conversations regarding identity who then turn around and seem to ignore everything I have expressed about my identity regardless. Or people assuming they know my identity without asking or having a conversation about it. It is difficult for me in either of these situations to come out and say “I don’t identify that way.” I’m just not a confrontational person and it is often difficult for me to assert my identities. I realize not being able to do that is my problem, but I do think that making assumptions about someone else’s identity is never a good idea. Similarly, disregarding a conversation about an identity is also not a good idea.
It’s hard work to have identity conversations in general. I realize this. It’s difficult to ask someone a question about their identity, you can’t always know how that question will be reacted to. Just keep in mind that when you ask make sure to ask something regarding identity rather than pinning an identity to it already such as “how do you identify?” versus “are you a [insert identity here]?” You can use specific terms such as “What is your gender identity?” “What pronoun do you prefer?” “What is your sexual identity?” as well, though the slightly more open-ended “how do you identify?” may get you the widest variety of options.
Please, ask questions, ask clearly, ask for definitions of things if I or someone else uses a term in a way that is unfamiliar to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It is far better to ask than to assume. While there may be the occasional person who is offended that you would ask or who doesn’t think it is any of your business that doesn’t mean everyone would be. That said, also think about what you are asking and of whom. Should you be asking complete strangers about what genitals they have (though this isn’t the same as gender identity discussed previously) or who they like to fuck? Maybe it is, depending on the context of wherever you are at the moment, but maybe it’s not. Be smart about it, segue into it, make sure it is appropriate, but don’t be afraid to ask if you sincerely want to know and don’t.
Similarly, if you identify with something out of the norm please don’t scare people away from asking questions, if they’re asking that’s at least a step above assuming your identity and questions are an excellent time to educate them and open their minds. Who knows what kind of chain reaction you might set off. If they ask in an inappropriate way then tell them so politely and educate them as to how to ask in a better manner next time. I can’t say I’m perfect at this, but I’m trying.
It is not easy on either side of the conversation. Sometimes I just wish I could fit into societal standards in one way or another and not have to worry about things like this, not have to figure my identities out in order for me to enjoy them and understand them. I get tired of explaining the same thing over and over to the same people, sometimes I’m tired of explaining in general even to new people who are genuinely interested, but that doesn’t mean I would rather not be asked. I’m glad to challenge normalized ideas and maybe, just maybe, open a mind or two.
I’m just plain tired. I’m tired of having to explain how I identify, especially to the same people over and over again. I’m tired of people making assumptions about me rather than letting me make my own definitions and letting them know what my labels are. I’m tired of people thinking I’m straight because my partner is cis male or that I’m a lesbian because I enjoy women. I’m tired of people thinking I’m a woman because I dress femme. I try not to let it bother me when someone mislables me, but it hurts every time.
It’s difficult to inhabit middle identities while living in a binary world. There are many days when I wish I could just feel “one or the other” instead of seeing all the wonderful options out in front of me and wanting to have one of every flavor. Call me indecisive if you want, but when I can see the beauty and joy I could get from every option I can’t just pick one, it’s not in my nature.
I’m not straight or a lesbian, I’m queer. Bisexual, maybe, though I don’t like the binary aspect it implies and prefer other terms. Queer is the best description I have. Really I tend to be attracted to other queer people regardless of their gender and specifically because of their intelligence and/or personality. I’ve used intellisexual for quite some time, sapiosexual also fits which is a slightly more common term. I am attracted to people’s brains more than anything else, and usually those brains have to be queer in some way shape or form.
Similarly I do not identify with the term woman. It’s simply not a word that I identify with nor is it a way I see myself or desire for others to see me. While I may often wear feminine drag that does not make me a woman (or any spelling variation thereof). The same goes for girl. My gender identity is genderqueer regardless of the gender expressed within my gender presentation1. My gender presentation is always drag.
While I do associate with the term femme I embrace it as part of my gender presentation. I embrace the gothy glittery drag femmeininity that is all mine most days, though not all days. Femme is my presentation more than anything, but there are also days when I wear my too-small-sports-bra-slash-makeshift-binder and present as fagette. I do think that my “fagette” presentation confuses some people, however, because it still some femininity in it, dressing in boy drag is not a spectrum-banging event for me. I am realizing more and more, though, just how much femme and fagette go hand in hand for me. There are no days when I am femme that I am not a fagette, and no days when I am not genderqueer.
Recently I’ve begun using gender neutral pronouns when I am able and it makes my entire being sing. A friend of mine referred to me using ze and hir without my first requesting it and it nearly brought me to completely unexpected tears to be seen in a way that aligned with my own gender. I catch myself internally wincing when words and identities other than my own are thrown at me in conversation, but often I don’t have the energy or desire to confront the misconception of me in the eyes of others, which just ends up perpetuating it.
I’m trying to get to the point where I am not looking for the validation of others for any of my identities, but it’s difficult not to want that. I want to be seen rather than assumed away as something else. I realize that I am responsible for making myself a whole person in the eyes of others and do not put the responsibility of figuring me out completely on other people but I’m so damn tired of having to correct people. It seems like a petty difference to ask someone to not refer to me using certain language, and yet it cuts me deep whenever it happens. I just haven’t gotten to the point where I am comfortable asserting my gender identity, perhaps because it is such a fluid work-in-progress.
I just discovered Kit Yan and Good Asian Drivers today. You may or may not have heard of them or seen them before, but in case you haven’t I have two videos for you. The first is Kit alone doing his awesome piece titled “Third Gender,” the second is Kit and Melissa Li in a piece titled “Queer Nation.” They are both extremely powerful, and I’ll let them speak for themselves.
there may be as many as a million genders, identities, and sexualities,
just floating around, searching for the right person,
to snatch them up,
put them on, and proudly parade around in their new skin,
unrestricted by layers and identity, and
limitations of culture, society, and social construction.
this new gender is a function of inner desire, and
genuine understanding of self to be lived…
Hey, I thought that our people were past this
That everyone was a feminist non-conformist boundry-pushing progressive
and enlightened spiritual being but I’m wrong
to think that queer people were born with an inherent knowledge
that push past the nurture of America
but the truth is that we screw up too
see we still haven’t found our groove on the outskirts of society
we’re still using old blueprints with bad foundations
And for a little more humor…
This has been posted a few different places including The Femme’s Guide, and I decided it needed to be posted here as well.
It’s not often I’m moved to tears… or maybe it is often when someone articulates something so well as Ivan E. Coyote has here. The title of this post is a line from the first video, “The Femme Piece.”
Through watching the first I found the second, “A Butch Roadmap,” also by Mr. Coyote.
I thought this might be of interest to some of you other than just me. I’m going to try and make the Portland conference, I think, since Portland isn’t too far away or too expensive to get to. I’ll be keeping an eye on further information and posts about the conferences and I hope you do the same. I like the multiple locations of semi-smaller conferences, it makes it more accessible, but it probably also makes each less well attended, so it’s a bit of give-and-take.
Next year we’ll have the second full sized Butch Voices conference to participate in, this year we have four regional conferences.
Butch Voices 2010 Regional Conferences: Call for Submissions
BUTCH Voices is a national organization composed of social justice activists who share a commitment to building inclusive community for self-identified Butches, Studs, Tombois, Machas, Aggressives, our partners and allies.
This year we will be holding BUTCH Voices Regional Conferences in Dallas, New York, Los Angeles & Portland. We invite you to join us for workshops, panels, and performances intended to celebrate our diverse identities.
BUTCH Voices Dallas – June 5, 2010 – contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
BUTCH Voices NYC – September 25, 2010 – contact – email@example.com
BUTCH Voices Portland – October 2, 2010 – contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
BUTCH Voices LA – October 9, 2010 – contact – email@example.com
These regional conferences will be an amazing opportunity to create local and regional community awareness, to share butch voices, and critical thinking about who we are. BUTCH Voices Regional Conferences are a place to: talk about why we identify in the ways we do, learn how to tell our stories, address femininity, masculinity, discuss areas of overlap and intersection that are none of the above. We will talk about sex, embodiment, community building, our physical and mental health, and issues that stand in the way of Butch-identified solidarity and justice. Most importantly, BUTCH Voices is the place where we can be ourselves with one another.
This is our Call for Submissions. We welcome workshop ideas of all kinds, films, performances, skill shares, especially on topics which speak to the cultural, sexual, emotional, physical, and psychological relationships that arise in the lives of Butches, Studs, Tombois, Aggressives, Machas, etc. We are open to all perspectives–queer, feminist, womanist, neither or beyond! We particularly encourage proposals by and for people-over sixty, under twenty-one, working-class, and people of color or persons with disabilities.
Deadline for Submissions for BUTCH Voices Dallas is May 15, 2010 and for the other three Regional Conferences is August 1, 2010. Please submit your proposal or abstract to the corresponding Regional Conference (email addresses listed above) in which you wish to present along with a short bio of yourself and any other presenter.
Please forward this widely to all who may be interested in participating.
While I was in Juneau I bought a sports bra which is smaller than recommended for my breast size. I bought it for the sole purpose of using it as a binder, turning my large breasts into a still-large-but-slightly-smaller chest. I wore it while performing in Julius Caesar and quite a bit around Juneau in general.
I haven’t worn it too much since I’ve been back in Seattle, partially because on days I know I won’t be doing much outside the house I tend to wear things that are comfortable and loose, partly because I have been feeling rather femme lately whenever we have decided to go out, and partly because I’m not completely comfortable showing off this masculine identity to the world yet.
The last few days, however, I’ve been feeling more and more like binding, packing, changing my gender presentation to one that is more masculine. I woke up this morning and just knew I was going to bind.
I’m still not comfortable enough going out here. Juneau was more comfortable, but less comfortable for other things. I don’t know this part of myself well enough to show it to people here yet, but I’m working on it.
I’m Tai Fenix Kulystin a queer fat genderqueer polyamorous switch.
I started this blog in 2007 as my personal exploration of all aspects of my life and relationships, including gender, sexuality, spirituality, kink, polyamory, and more.