taiWelcome! I’m Tai Fenix Kulystin, I am a queer fat genderqueer polyamorous switch and my pronouns are they/them. This blog is my personal exploration of gender, sexuality, spirituality, kink, and the joys and pitfalls of an overanalytical nature.
Outside of this blog I am currently finishing up a Master's degree to help me launch into my career as a Gender & Intimacy Coach and Somatic Sexuality Educator. I am passionate about working with people of all bodies, genders, sexualities, and relationship styles to help them move toward experiencing the (sex) life of their dreams. Read more about this site & me→


Archive for the ‘Sexuality’


04.29

2014

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01.28

2014

Sexual Identity Story

I was recently answering a question in a queer poly FAAB/woman/feminine-oriented group I’m part of and thought it would make good blog fodder. I have a ton of posts I keep working on and meaning to finish, but keep putting off, so I figure I could slap this one up. I have no idea what my readership is like these days (not that there’s many of you since my writing gap has grown larger and larger), but I imagine this might not be new information. Oh well!

Question posed: What is your story with your sexual identity? What’s your relationship with being queer?

My post:
(tl;dr, early bloomer. much queer, but always awkward. so genderqueer. much kink.)

I had my first sexual experience around third grade with a female friend of mine at the time: kissing and rubbing our bodies, including genitals, against each other while sleeping over at each others houses. I fooled around with a few people in middle school and high school, had my first boyfriend in middle school, where we ended up in a polyish relationship where he was dating me and another girl for a period of time. We weren’t together for very long, but mostly because it was middle school and less because of the poly. I had a few girls who were maybe sort of almost girlfriends, but who were mostly friends who were girls that I made out with or had sex with once and not really ever again. I was horribly awkward and shy and I didn’t know how to approach girls, or anyone for that matter. I did experience some discrimination and uncomfortableness from others because of my visible and unapologetic queerness, but I was used to being othered for most of my life anyway.

Being attracted to people regardless of gender was always a non-issue for me to some extent. When I learned the term bisexual around 6th grade I began calling myself that and coming out as bisexual, which lead me to being the President and Co-founder of my high school’s Gay/Straight Alliance (as they were commonly called then), and also lead most of the people in my school and my hometown thinking I was a lesbian. I came out to my mom somewhere around freshman year of high school and her response was: “oh, I thought you were a lesbian.” A non-issue. My older sibling identifies now as queer, as I do, and they were where I learned the term bisexual from all those years ago.

I discovered the concept of bdsm/kink around 6th grade as well, having had fantasies about it for as long as I’d had fantasies. That became and has always been a central part of my sexual identity as well. I first believed I was strictly a Submissive or Bottom, but have been identifying as a Top and Switch for the last seven or so years now.

I started playing consciously with my gender in high school as well, probably also leading a number of people to assume queerness from me (even though the conflation of gender and sexuality is inaccurate and not useful for anyone, imo, it is unfortunately pervasive, and gender does in fact tie in to sexual identity, since sexual identity is based on it, e.g., one cannot be homosexual or heterosexual without having a gender to base the homo or hetero aspect of that identity on. But, I digress). My genderfucking once included a fellow student that I didn’t know once asking me if I was a guy in drag (I was wearing a wig and “feminine” clothing). This was highly amusing to me, even though it was obviously meant to be offensive (I didn’t take it that way, though). I also did a lot of acting all through school (elementary-high), and basically during the plays in 6th and 7th grades I went through a phase where I only wanted to play guys (a big part of that, I think, was that I was always taller and larger than all of the girls and most of the guys in my age range at the time, but also probably something else).

I started identifying as queer around when that became common language, somewhere around 2005ish while I was in my undergrad in Gender Studies. I started identifying as genderqueer around the same time, though I had played with gender for long before that.

Onyx and I met when I was 19. It was my first real long-term relationship, and we have been together ever since. We’ve been poly since we met, and I had a long-distance relationship at the time we met as well, and that was also a non-issue. I wasn’t familiar with the term polyamory when we got together, but I knew the concept of an open relationship and was happy to expand my identity to include poly as well. We were only theoretically poly/monogamish for the first few years of our relationship, though.

For the first few years of our relationship I also had a difficult time with him being cis male and us being in a seemingly heterosexual relationship. I was not used to experiencing heterosexual privilege and it was really uncomfortable for me. I felt invisible and ignored by both queer and non-queer communities and people. I began feeling uncomfortable in queer circles and queer community because of my primary partnership with a cis guy, and I experienced individuals change their way of relating to me once they found out about that. I had my first serious girlfriend when I was 23; an attempted triad with me and Onyx that ended horribly. We were mostly monogamish for a while after that, until over a year ago when I met Rose.

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Shifted to Poly

For a large part of the last year Onyx and I were monogamish. There was occasional makeouts and things with other people, but even though there were a few people we were interested in I couldn’t think of venturing out into another relationship at the time. I was a wreck and thoroughly closed to myself. I could barely let Onyx in and the idea of a new relationship was daunting and terrifying.

Since Onyx and I got together we have never been strictly monogamous. Our flavor of non-monogamy has shifted many times over the years, but more often than not we have only been in a relationship with each other. When we first got together I had another long-distance relationship I was in, though that was not particularly healthy and stopped before we moved in together. For a long while after I moved in with him we were monogamish or poly-theoretical. We were not monogamous, but we weren’t actively seeing anyone else or seeking out additional partners. We flirted with a long-distance N-style relationship with a couple friends of ours at one point. Then Marla came along. We shifted into the triad and then to polyfidelitous together. Once that ended, and after our time apart, we have basically been in an open/non-monogamous relationship. We have played with/had sex with people, but we haven’t really been in any other relationships besides the one between us. This began to shift a few months ago.

At the end of September I met a couple of people at a weekend ritual workshop and began to date them. The concept of meeting someone or wanting to play with someone at the ritual was so out of my head that Onyx and I didn’t even have a conversation about the possibility beforehand. It was unexpected, sudden, and intense with both of them in completely different ways. Luckily, even though the ritual was in Portland, they both live in the Seattle area and so we have been able to continue seeing each other. More on them in other posts, though.

In light of those new relationships budding another friend and I started dating as well. She and I began talking about dating before my father died, but due to that happening it got postponed until recently. Due to extremely busy schedules and both of us having multiple partners we haven’t been able to spend too much time together, but we are working on it.

Onyx recently began dating another person as well. This is someone I am close with and knew before he did. I introduced them, which is amusing to me. It has been really lovely to watch the two of them beginning their relationship, especially since I have much love for both of them.

Historically in our relationship he has been much more open and relaxed about me seeing other people than I have about him seeing other people. He has also had more interest in the last year or two for other people than I have. For a while after the triad, once we got back together, we were primarily wanting to explore new relationships or play partners together rather than separately. I didn’t know why it was so daunting to me at the time, but there were many things going on with me and it was difficult to play with someone else with him. It has been really good to have this shift to poly happen with me finding multiple people to build relationships with after not feeling much interest for that. Having the experience of being the first one to venture into a new relationship has helped me be comfortable with his new relationship as well.

Our communication abilities are the best they’ve ever been (and I hope to continue to be able to say that as our relationship progresses), so we have been able to talk about any issues, jealousies, envies, or whatnot that come up. Because of this our experience with poly this time is much different than the last.

Each of us seeing already-poly people who have at least one (usually many more than one) other partner is really helpful as well. We aren’t exactly new to polyamory and non-monogamy, but neither Onyx or I had much positive experiences with it before now. Being in relationships with people who do have positive experiences with it, who can handle their shit, who have good communication skills, and who are seeing other people so they aren’t focused exclusively on one of us has been exceptionally good.

I currently only have express consent from one of the new people mentioned in this post to give them a name or talk about them in depth on here, so look for upcoming posts about him. More consent will be asked for, so eventually I will not have to only speak in generalities. For now, though, know that there will be more poly-focused posts in the future.

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03.09

2011

Aphrodite Temple

Life is moving along at such a pace lately that it’s difficult to keep up with writing about all the things I want to write about. Not that I’m complaining, really, but this hasn’t happened to me in a while. Nearly a month ago Onyx and I attended a Living Love Revolution Aphrodite Temple. It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, but in a wonderful way. The temple was absolutely phenomenal and transformational in so many ways.

This was a two-day retreat, essentially, at a remote location outside of Seattle. There were somewhere between twenty and thirty of us there. We had been told about it before we went, of course, including having some of the activities described in a good amount of detail, but I don’t think either of us were really prepared for everything that occurred. In a good way.

I could feel a very noticeable energy shift in me from before the temple to after. I have felt far more open as well as more radiant, which often go hand in hand. I feel less timid about expressing myself however feels authentic for that moment, less anxious about what other people will perceive and more content with what I have to offer. I feel in touch with love, which was at least part of the point.

There was great emphasis on embodiment, autonomy, safe consensual touching, and getting what you need. It is all about getting your needs met and learning about how to ask for those things you need. It is about finding the beauty in yourself and everyone around you. It is also about Aphrodite, of course, and all these activities just aid in connecting with her more.

While we were there I felt somewhat disconnected with Onyx, or like I had to disconnect with him in order to be seen the way I wanted to. It’s something I didn’t experience at the play party we went to on March 4th 1, which says to me I may getting through that little blockage. It’s something I’ve held on to for quite some time, this notion and worry that I will be seen as less queer because I’m with him, when that’s really just silly. I have tried not to be ruled by it, but at the same time I have been.

I wasn’t opposed to the disconnection in the moment, exactly, but I saw it as a necessary part which irritated me. I think going through the experience of the temple, though, allowed me to let go of that and be able to connect with him more ever. I’ve been allowing my shy masculinity to shine through ever since I wrote about it and more and more since the temple itself. I think I experienced what it was to be seen for me in the moment which has just made me want to be seen like that more often.

I also didn’t experience any jealousy or anxiety about being disconnected and each of us being touched and caressed2 by other people, which was fantastic. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do with that going into it. It was remarkably easy, and though we were in the same room we rarely interacted with each other during the activities. I’m excited to see what happens in the future.

I loved it so much I’m now in the Priest/ess training program for it and Onyx and I will be going to the one being held in April. I want to go to the July and November ones as well, and would be surprised if that didn’t happen. I’m beginning to work quite closely with the high priestess, not just for the training but doing classes and workshops with her as well as working on websites for her. This is only the beginning.

  1. yet another thing I should write about… that one might fall through the cracks, though. We’ll see. []
  2. and in his case a little more than that []
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11.16

2010

Ebb and Flow

Just like everything else the needs of poly people can change quite often. Since Onyx and I got back together and I returned to Seattle we have had quite a few casual play experiences but neither of us have really been interested in another new relationship. I think at least partially this is because we were both so burned by the last one, but mostly because of the change in our dynamic and activities.

We’ve both gotten considerably more involved in the local occult community than we ever really have been before while we’ve been together. Our D/s-slash-O/p relationship is also far more solid and working. Also we both are working a lot and I’ve been taking a certification class recently. Add all this up together and it means we have just about enough time for each other, let alone someone else.

This is one of the drawbacks of being poly: even with a desire for another relationship there is a point when it comes down to how much time you feasibly have for a new relationship. Now, all of this isn’t to say that either of us would be against a new relationship should something develop organically (the only way we would want it to anyway), but neither of us is actively looking for another partner.

That being said I do still feel the pang of desire for being with a woman. I need a woman in my life with which to have an intimate relationship, that is just a fundamental truth at this point. I’m confident, however, that I will find someone when the time is right. There are just too many things that I am working on and that Onyx and I are working on together so there isn’t much room for anything else. I am very much still poly, as is Onyx, but that doesn’t mean we’re out there actively looking for new relationships.

This isn’t abnormal for poly people, in fact while in the midst of writing this post I came upon the term polysaturated1 which describes what I’m feeling quite perfectly, except I only currently have one partner but many many activities.

This all said, not looking for a relationship also does not exclude the possibility of casual and play partners, in my opinion. Something with friendship and emotions but without being “serious” would be ideal for me at this point in time. I would love the opportunity for purposefully casual play with friends as we’ve already explored a little.

This desire has definitely encouraged me to get looking around more at the local kink community, which I am already making plans to get more into. Not just to find causal play partners but to friend friends first and foremost. While there is definitely bleed over between the occult and the kinky scenes here in Seattle it’s also not a ready topic to be broached with a new acquaintance at occult social events.

Anyone who is already friends with me on FetLife may have noticed that I’ve been on there more lately and I’ve especially been looking at events in my area and tirelessly ticking “going to” or “might be going to” when I find one that interests me. Onyx has been doing much the same. We already signed up for a Delving Into Power workshop with Lee Harrington in February which we’re both very much looking toward. Plus the weekend intensive class I’m taking is over next weekend so we will have more opportunity to go to events than we have in the last two months.

I’ve been slowly pulling our focus toward kink as well as everything else that we’re doing, as I’m sure you may have noticed if you’ve been reading this blog at all the last couple months. Whether or not this happened because of starting the 30 Days of Kink or I started the 30 Days of Kink because my focus was already shifting to kink-related areas is a definite chicken and egg scenario. Regardless, it’s happening.

I’m really looking forward to getting into the community here, and I’m sure I will share as that journey moves along. Perhaps the ebb and flow of poly needs and desires will change once again through this exploration.

  1. via Gabe on FetLife []
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10.28

2010

Call for Submissions: Lesbian BDSM Erotica Anthology

Sinclair Sexsmith just put out this Call for Submissions on her blog and asked for it to be distributed. Since I like to post call for submissions on here to help spread the word here it is.

Call for Submissions: Lesbian BDSM Erotica Anthology [Title TBA]
To be published by Cleis Press in fall 2011

Editor Sinclair Sexsmith is looking for hot, sexy, well-written stories about kinky sex between queer women, from bondage scenarios to power play to role play to sadism and masochism to sensation play for a new anthology of lesbian BDSM erotica. Looking for characters with a range of age, race, sexual experience, gender identity and gender expression: butch, femme, genderqueer, gender-non-conforming, dapper, and others will all be considered. Cis women, trans women, and genderqueer characters who identify with the lesbian community are welcome. Stories should have strong literary voice, characters, tension, and rising action. All characters must be over 18. Prose only will be considered, no comics, graphic stories, or poetry. For examples of what I am looking for, see Tristan Taormino’s collection Best Lesbian Bondage Erotica.

Deadline: January 1, 2011

How to submit: Send your story in a Times New Roman 12 point black font Word document (.doc) with pages numbered of 1,500 to 5,000 words to lesbianbdsmerotica@gmail.com. Double space the document and indent the first line of each paragraph. US grammar required. If you are using a pseudonym, provide your real name and be clear under which you would like to be published. Include your mailing address and a 50 words or less bio in the third person. Publisher has final approval over the manuscript.

About the editor: Sinclair Sexsmith runs the award-winning personal online writing project Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Gender, and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top at www.sugarbutch.net. With work published in various anthologies, including the Best Lesbian Erotica series, Sometimes She Lets Me: Butch/Femme Erotica, and Visible: A Femmethology volume 2, Mr. Sexsmith also writes columns for online publications and facilitates workshops on sex, gender, and relationships. Find her full portfolio and schedule at www.mrsexsmith.com.

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National Coming Out Day

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.

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09.08

2010

30 Days of Kink

I discovered this via Rayne and thought it would be an excellent exercise. There’s a 30 Days of Letters prompt that a few people I read have been doing, but I wasn’t inspired to do that one. I’ve been thinking a lot about bdsm and kink lately but haven’t written a lot about it, so I think this will be good for me. Maybe I can get Onyx to do it on his blog too.

I’ll update this post as I go with the links. By the way, I’m still hoping people will submit a post for my What Brings You Pleasure feature!

The 30 Days/Questions

Day 1: Dom, sub, switch? What parts of BDSM interest you? Give us an interesting in-depth definition of what that means to you. Basically define your kinky self for us.

Day 2: List your kinks.

Day 3: How did you discover you were kinky?

Day 4: Any early experiences that, in retrospect, hint at your kinks?

Day 5: What was your first kinky sexual experience? If you haven’t had one yet, talk about what you hope to have happen.

Day 6: Describe your weirdest/most interesting sexual fantasy.

Day 7: What’s your favorite toy?

Day 8: Post a kinky image you find erotic.

Day 9: Post a kink related song or music video you enjoy.

Day 10: What are your hard limits?

Day 11: What are your views on the ethics of kink?

Day 12: Tell us about a humorous BDSM/kink experience you’ve had. If you haven’t had one, talk about aspects of kink/BDSM you find funny.

Day 13: Explain as best you can what the appeal of kink/BDSM is to you? Why are you drawn to what you’re drawn to?

Day 14: How would you say real life BDSM/kink varies from fantasy BDSM/kink? If you haven’t experienced real life BDSM/kink how do you think it might differ?

Day 15: Post a BDSM/kink activity you’re curious about and would like to try.

Day 16: What are the most difficult aspects of having a sexuality that involves kink or BDSM for you personally?

Day 17: What misconception about kinky people would you most like to clear up?

Day 18: Any kinky/BDSM pet peeves? If so, what are they?

Day 19: Any unexpected ways kink has improved your life? If so, what are they?

Day 20: Talk about something within kink/bdsm that you’re curious about/don’t understand.

Day 21: Favorite BDSM related book (fiction or non-fiction)

Day 22: What do you think is important in keeping a BDSM relationship healthy? How does it differ from a vanilla relationship?

Day 23: Since you first developed an interest in kink, have your interests/perspectives changed? How so?

Day 24: What qualities do you look for in a partner?

Day 25: How open are you about your kinks?

Day 26: What’s your opinion on online BDSM play?

Day 27: Do your non-kink interests ever find their way into your kinky activities? If so, how?

Day 28: How do you dress for kink/BDSM play? What significance does your attire have to you?

Day 29: Do you have a BDSM title (e.g. mistress, master, slut, pig, whore, princess, goddess, ma’am, sir)? What is your opinion of the use of titles in general?

Day 30: Whatever BDSM/kink related thing you want to write about.

Other 30 Days of Kink

Rayne @ Insatiable Desire
Cinnamon @ Seeing My Own Reflection
Gabe & Elizabeth @ Pornocracy
Kathryn/Lady Dreyanan @ Mistress Says

Are you doing it too? Comment and let me know!

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09.06

2010

There Is No Settling Down Without Settling For

I found this via twitter the other day and it struck me, so I wanted to share it and my thoughts on it. This isn’t a new video, it was posted in February of 2009, but it’s new to me and may be new to you. It’s Dan Savage talking about his idea of “The Price of Admission” for long-term relationships and how the best types of relationships are ones that make you better. Watch, enjoy, and see my thoughts under.

This is something Onyx and I have talked about quite a lot, and it’s not a new concept in many ways, but I do think that he is telling it in a way that is just well thought out and excellent. This idea of The Price of Admission really makes sense. With all our happily ever afters we grow up believing that there is some sort of perfect person out there who will fill a piece of ourselves we didn’t know we were missing. Those who grew up cynics like me never really had that fantasy, but I know plenty of people who did. I can’t say I was completely above it either, but being polyamorous definitely helps in that regard as well.

I think it’s part of my poly outlook that compensates partially for this one perfect person trope, since that’s part of the reason I am poly. I don’t believe that one person can complete another, I believe we are complete beings already but that we are all also intertwined and need each other for other reasons, but not in order to be complete. On that line, I do believe that any individual needs more than one interaction, whether or not that is sexual or romantic is another story, but I’m open to the possibility of sexual and romantic partnerships other than the one I have with Onyx, though I’m not actively seeking one right now.

Poly tangent aside and back to The Price of Admission. The PoA is really something everyone does in every kind of long-term relationship, friendships included. We ignore the little things that bug us (as much as we can) and focus on the things we love about the other person. If you are constantly looking for perfection in everyone else most likely you won’t have any friends and you will be a hypocrite. No one is perfect, but I do think that two people can be perfect for each other and fit together well.

I love his theory about the growth that can be inspired by long-term relationships, as I think it is really true and has definitely been proven true in my relationship with Onyx. Through encouraging the person/people you are with to be that lie they wish they were, the person they present in the beginning of courtship when they are trying to woo you as best they can you are then encouraging them to growth and to become that better person. Everyone does this, not just lovers but also friends, and it doesn’t always have to be a lie necessarily, we all have different personae that are still us even if they are ones ignoring the flaws.

It comes out similar to many cliches I’m sure we’ve all heard, such as real friends know everything about you but still like you anyway or there’s no perfect person only those perfect for you. Like Dan says, the most successful long-term relationships are ones in which you don’t just put up with the things that irritate you about your partner, but you actually accept them and make room for them in your relationship.

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07.26

2010

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

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.

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