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One word: yes.
I’ve recently begun leading classes and workshops on gender. I have a degree in Gender Studies and am a theory lover and this is something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time but only recently did I get in touch with the right people here in Seattle to make that dream a reality. The more I think about gender the more I realize there is no basis for gender, the more I try to grasp and understand gender the more I realize there is nothing there to hold.
Now, this is not a new concept both in general or to me. As I said, I’ve got a degree in this and I’ve read quite a lot of gender theory and I know the concepts of “gender is constructed” and “all gender is drag,” but for the longest time that didn’t stop me from trying to figure out what gender is. How can we figure out what something is when there is nothing there in the first place?
I’m sure some would say that it’s obvious, that masculinity has to do with maleness and femininity has to do with femaleness, because that’s what we’re told, and that’s supposedly how the world works, but I (and hopefully you) know that is just not true. If it were there would be no instance of female masculinity or male femininity or genderqueerness or third gendered identities or all the other options that we now have words for. If it were true there wouldn’t be examples of trans* people throughout the entirety of human history and pre-history (or at least people who we can put our label of “trans*” on even though they may or may not have had a similar concept).
In looking at, studying, teaching about, dissecting, and attempting to put my own gender back together like some sort of Frankenstein’s Monster creation I came to the only reasonable (in my mind) explanation of what gender is: self expression. But I mean the core of the self, in the same way that art is or can be self-expression. And therefore too, perhaps, is gender art.
Whether or not a gender preference is inherent in all of us could easily turn into some sort of nature vs. nurture debate, but really, since gender is a language and gender changes throughout cultures and time periods there may be activities that we all have some sort of draw to, but I can’t say where that originates.
All I know is that gender is tricky and complex. If we look at it as a language as Riki Wilchins says (“Gender is a language, a system of meanings and symbols, along with the rules, privileges, and punishments pertaining to their use—for power and sexuality (masculinity and femininity, strength and vulnerability, action and passivity, dominance and weakness). Since it is a system of meanings, gender can be applied to almost anything” – Queer Theory/Gender Theory p35) then I think hegemonic socialization only knows enough for us to scrape by, it knows enough to survive but it doesn’t know how to write poetry, and I want to write poetry.
There are new gendered words springing up all the time these days, which I think is wonderful, and anyone constructing their own gendered way of living in the world is doing the work of learning the language, no matter how that gender ends up looking. We are starting to create the rest of the language that we have been missing, or discover the bits of language that have been relegated to the shadows for years. Because of this it is becoming easier to learn how to create our own conscious gender presentations so there are more people doing just that.
I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about gender lately. My last class went swimmingly and left me with a lot of things I want to write about on here when I have the time, which seems like rarely. Gender seems to be coming up more and more in everyday conversation, or perhaps I’m now just around more people I can talk about it with. Gender and kink seem to be pretty damn central to my life, including my sex life, right now, which makes sense since that seems to be the only things I can actually post about.
I’ve been dissecting these desires that keep popping up in me to transition, and I think the cause behind them is primarily wanting my gender attribution1 to be something other than woman or female. This has been making me ask myself why I care to be seen that way, and that I’m not sure of yet other than the fact that I don’t identify with those terms and haven’t for quite some time. Some days I am comfortable being seen as I am not, others I curse the limitations the societal concept of gender forces upon us, all days I want to help others understand this world of gender that I live in and help them chuck those societal concepts to the curb.
My bodily sex and gender desires keep fluctuating, as always, but the lack of identification with most things female, womanly, or feminine save for femme is pretty constant. I’ve said for years that the femme gender I am drawn to for myself is that which is difficult to attain on this body, it is a femme that is generally seen as reserved to those assigned male at birth. It is a drag queen femmeininity, a glitterfag femmeininity, a femmeininity I’ve been told throughout my entire life doesn’t “belong” to me. But what if it does? I’ve been exploring this a lot lately.
At the moment I’m happy being somewhere other than “male” or “female,” “woman” or “(wer)man,” “masculine” or “feminine,” even though it means often not being seen and having to explain myself over and over. I enjoy playing with those concepts but do not fit into any of them any way except for queerly. I’m actually okay with that, or at least most of me is, but part of me is desperately trying to figure it all out. I’m letting that part of me relax and become comfortable with not knowing but it’s taking its sweet time getting there.
And so, I wait. I meditate on otherness, on rarely if ever fitting in to any box, and I become at peace with it. For a little while, anyway, until the next misgendering, the next microaggression. I meditate on what it means to be other gendered, to be genderqueer, to inhabit a genderqueer body rather than a male body or a female body. I meditate on gender and I come up with and/or expand on models that help me explain the exciting and swirling complexness that is gender, and I realize I am okay being in a void, even if that often means I am just fumbling around in the dark.
- The gender that other people assign onto us, the gender we are perceived as “being” due to the other person’s understanding of gender. [↩]
Every once in a while I wake up and realize that something I used to be passionate about has become a chore and that new passions have taken over for the old ones. While writing is still a passion for me the idea of having a schedule for it or “needing” to do it is just simply tiring. I’m not sure how to fix this at the moment, but it’s something I’ve been meditating on.
Having the Kink Academy posts to write each week has put into perspective how little I write on this blog anymore. I start dozens of drafts but either end up scrapping them or writing over them with a different draft idea that rarely comes to fruition. Hell, my oldest drafts are from 2008.
The same could be said for my review blog. I have dozens of products to review right now, most of which are far overdue, and yet I am having difficulty focusing on them and actually getting anything out. I am still passionate about sharing my experience with and knowledge of toys with other people, but I think having so many toys to review just became exhausting, I never felt like I was getting anywhere, just producing post after post.
Perhaps that is the problem with blogs in general, even when a post is finished there is the next post to think about. It is an endless pull at my mind at all times: thinking about what I want to write about next.
I’m getting more passionate about creating and organizing, making space for others to share their own voices and for me to share my knowledge and experience with others. I am starting to see beyond the scope of me and into the we in a way that I’ve always wanted to but not had the ability to do before because I had too many of my own stories in the way. It is quite exciting.
So, this is my check-in, I’m thinking about my projects and figuring out how to make them better. I have something big in the works as well as lots of little improvements on everything else. I have people interested in making art with me and am figuring out how to do it. I am still committed to this writing project specifically and am excited to begin bringing aspects of myself into it that have not been seen before.
Growth requires the temporary suspension of security.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I call myself, the names I go by. Scarlet Lotus (St. Syr1) for some things, Scarlet Sophia for others, and Scarlet Tai elsewhere. When giving my name I usually say “I’m Scarlet” as opposed to “My name is Scarlet,” a subtle but notable difference. Scarlet is less of a name to me than a title these days, which may sound a little absurd, but that’s how I feel about it. That is a whole other post, however.
The more I think about it the more I wonder about having these different names. I’m beginning to think I just need one that I use for everything, but at the same time that thought makes me nervous. I’ve also begun thinking I need a name for my growing male side. At one point I started using Quyn, but I don’t feel it fits anymore.
In all this thinking I was reminded of a post by Aiden Fyre aka Mina Meow titled What’s in a Name? where they talk about having been born with a bi-gendered (or, other-gendered) name and wonder about that chicken and egg aspect of their gender journey. I was also born with an other-gendered name of which Tai is a nickname, a nickname I’ve been called most if not all of my life. Most people hear the name as Ty, but either way it is usually masculine-gendered. My full name is exceptionally unique easily searchable so I’m not yet comfortable disclosing it on here, perhaps one day that will not be the case.
Point being, however, that Tai feels like home, but now so does Scarlet. I don’t just use Scarlet online, either, most of the people I know here in Seattle know me by that name. At this point I kind of see myself as having a feminine-gendered name of Scarlet, an other-gendered name of Tai, and in need of a masculine-gendered name. Part of this desire for multiple names may be to act as a cue to aid others in understanding my gender at that moment, but at the same time I’m not confident that this is a good idea. It seems like too much work in some ways. At the same time, though, I like the idea of having different names.
I’ve also been feeling a lot more of my male side lately. With the rise in my sex dissonance I’ve come to realize my lack of masculinity. I’m not that interested in being butch or masculine, but I’m interested as presenting as a male, specifically a femme male. I’m feeling more like a femme trans man than I ever have before, and I want a name for that other than Scarlet or Tai. Though maybe I don’t need one.
This all is basically me thinking and analyzing through this post, it’s not any sort of conclusion, just musings. I don’t know how I feel about all of this yet. I don’t know how everything is going to play out yet. I don’t know where this gender journey will lead me. I do know that I have been binding more lately, I haven’t been feeling female but I’ve been exploring the femmeininity that comes up in me when I feel male, which is extremely different. I’m not interested in passing as a woman, in fact I’m sick of it. The problem is that I’m separating maleness from masculinity and that is difficult to present.
I don’t know what to call myself anymore, the name dilemma is only part of the problem. I have been fantasizing about so many new things lately, almost to the point of uncomfortability. I’m still trying to figure it all out.
- though I am moving away from using this as my last name [↩]