Purveyor of Pleasure

Pleasure is my business, my life, my joy, my purpose.

Tag: all gender is drag

Lost

I got lost somewhere along the way. I often think I wasn’t supposed to look like this. I think life wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Somewhere my voice got lost. I forgot to speak up, then I forgot how to. I removed so much of myself that I started only using other people’s words, not my own. Then I forgot what was mine. I was rewarded for it; they like it when you’re obedient.

People used to comment on my appearance like I was either hiding behind it or using it to express myself. Neither assessment ever felt right to me. What I look like was always disliked, so why not wear what I actually enjoy?

I tried so hard for so long to be comfortable with my outsides and my insides. I was not always sure if either of them was me, really.

I spent so much time frozen and alone. I guess that’s what I got for growing up in Alaska (not really that, but it’s a good excuse).

I spent so much time paralyzed by fear and uncertainty. I guess that was what I needed. . . at the time.

Personal Gender Praxis

In discussing gender with a friend a while back I came to the question: where is my default? They had recently shifted into a gender expression that is closer to their identity and mentioned that they were beginning to feel like they are not in drag every day. They have found their default. I chewed over this concept in my head before saying “I’m not sure I can wear anything that isn’t drag.” I don’t just mean this in the way that all gender is drag1, but in the way that I wasn’t sure if anything was more inherently true for me and less drag less copy than anything else. I’ve been constantly wondering: is there a way that I can express my gender adequately?

There are many aspects of presentation often/generally associated with femme or femininity–skirts/dresses, makeup, hair flowers, etc.–that I really really enjoy. I generally think that I’m pretty sexy in femme-type clothing. That is, when I’m not succumbing to internalized fatphobia and feeling down about myself. I really enjoy taking the time to do some elaborate makeup on myself, something artistic, something lovely. But none of these things has to do with my gender identity for me. All of these things are presentation. I definitely favor a femme presentation, and am rooted in that, but I still experience dysphoria and dissatisfaction with being seen as a woman or female.

I have solidly identified as genderqueer for over eight years now and was presenting genderqueerly as far back as high school, though I didn’t know the name for it then. During my first few years of acting I nearly refused to play female parts. And yet I still question it sometimes. I still wonder if I’m just “transtrending” or trying to seem different or unusual or to be a “special snowflake” or some other bullshit. And let me just take a minute to say how offensive it is for someone to use the term “special snowflake” to describe someone else’s gender. There’s something self-deprecating when people use it for themselves, but to use it toward another person is just rude and shows that you don’t actually appreciate their unique identity. More often than not I see it used by people whose gender falls into the binary or someone who would never use it for themselves, and it just reeks of disrespect. End rant.

All that said, despite the many times I request gender neutral pronouns from people in my life I almost never get them. I know that it’s “confusing” because I was DFAB and there are many aspects of my presentation that are femme, and that gender neutral pronouns are difficult to use and remember, and all of those things. I know that I fuck up with other people’s pronouns sometimes, especially when they are gender neutral, though I try to correct myself. The correction is what matters most, I’ve noticed, and not going overboard with the apologies when correcting.

Speaking of pronouns, I had an experience recently where, after mentioning that I really enjoy the ne/nem/nir pronoun set and making a self-deprecating comment about being a “gender hipster” because of it (that seemed to be taken at face value rather than as a joke. Oops), I actually had someone attempt to use that pronoun set when referring to me. They asked if they had used it correctly, and I, somewhat abashedly, sort of dismissed it in a “oh, sure, whatever, it’s all good” sort of way. It actually meant a lot to me that they attempted, but I was also already in an uncomfortable social situation around a lot of people I didn’t know and totally downplayed it. They responded with something that stung about me not actually caring about caring about the pronouns because I was so flippant about it.

Why did I do this? I have thought about the situation a lot, and what I can figure is because I am so just not used to getting the pronouns that I ask for. Almost ever. I’ve identified this way for so long and I’ve been requesting these pronouns for so long that it’s just exhausting to even attempt to police people into using them anymore, so I just sink deeper and deeper into not being seen. When I do get the pronouns that fit me used for me I am overjoyed because of those years of not being seen, but also because of all the times I’ve gotten them from someone, and then they forget the next time, and even if I say something or remind them it then starts slipping away each time I see them… well, let’s just say I don’t get my hopes up anymore.

It’s really difficult to get excited about something that I am just sure won’t stick around. This is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, though, too, since I’m not actually advocating for myself in this situation. Sigh.

I’m sure if I presented in a way that was read as more masculine it would at least be easier for people to remember not to “she” me. If forced to choose between masculinity and femininity, however, I choose femininity. I just am not a woman, and I don’t feel like I am cis female either. I have pretty solidly identified as a fem/me trans guy for the last few years. I’ve been seeing a therapist for a while and I’ve talked to a doctor about starting T, which is a possibility for me as all my tests came back in a way that means I’m in the clear (though there is a bit of family disease history that puts me in a little risk) and could start taking it if/when I want to. My doctor, therapist, Onyx and I have discussed it a bunch and have determined it would be best if I finished grad school and lost some weight before starting it.

Problem is, I am not convinced this will help my dysphoria or “fix” my gender problems, though it seems like a good potential start/attempt. There is something to be said about being able to be seen, however. Many of my identities put me in this liminal space between culturally acceptable binaries: bi/pansexual-queer, genderqueer, switch. I am femme-presenting easily-read-as-cis and partnered with a cis guy, and most of my identities are invisible. I don’t know if this will help me be seen, but I know I need to try.

  1. “[T]he more we go looking for that real gender, the more it recedes and in its place we find only other [people], who also stylize their bodies in very specific, learned ways we recognize. Woman is to drag—not as Real is to Copy—but as Copy is to Copy. Gender turns out to be a copy for which there is no original. All gender is drag. All gender is queer.” – Riki Wilchins in Queer Theory/Gender Theory, p. 134 []

Genderqueer in Femme Drag

I’m currently in the Bay Area attending the Sexological Bodywork Training, which is a whole post in and of itself that I should probably write one of these days. Right now, though, I need to talk about gender, because it’s 2am and I have to be out of the house by around 7:30am in order to get to the training on time, but I can’t sleep.

Today one of the topics addressed in SexBod was gender. We were asked yesterday to bring something to wear today that represented our gender. I panicked a little. I didn’t know this would be something to do when I left Seattle, and so I felt way under prepared. This sent me into a tailspin about whether or not, because I didn’t bring something for my two and a half week stay in the Bay Area that meant I couldn’t legitimately claim to be inhabiting a gender space that included that presentation. Am I just faking it? Am I appropriating? Am I really just a cis person who wants to be different? Does my femme gender presentation negate my gender identity or my sex identity?

I have been presenting pretty high femme lately, and I really enjoy high femme. I love my breasts and I love showing them off. I love my hourglass figure. I love corsets and have taken to wearing a lovely black satin underbust corset a lot in daily life. I love my cunt. However, I do not identify as female or a woman. Even though I love these aspects of my body I do also have a strong desire in my being for a flat chest (which I can sort of achieve with my binder), facial hair (some of which I have naturally), and a cock (though my desire for a cock is mostly a desire for my clit to enlarge into a cock and to keep my front hole as well, something that I know is at least slightly achievable with testosterone). These desires are highly conflicting in me as I do not want to have to have one or the other, I want to be able to have both options.

While I recognize, understand, and believe that all gender is drag and gender is simply a symbolic language and I should be able to move in and out of it as I choose, at the same time there is a difference between gender presentation, gender identity, and sex identity, and when those identities and presentations are fluid it seems like people default to the “real” one must be the one that the most easily understood, and that if I choose to present femmeininity I must be cis female because my body is perceived as female. At the same time I have anxiety over presenting ways other than femme, because I doubt my own attractiveness even as femme and adding more non-normative presentation into that makes me question it further. This is hilarious (to me)1 in some ways because I find gender variance and genderfucking incredibly attractive, and I know there are many other people who do as well, but I still hesitate about it.

Because I’ve sort of resigned myself in the last year or so to not being able to be read as what I am I’ve sort of given up. I love femme too much to give it up, and I have not yet figured out how to be seen as a genderqueer femme man without binding every day and taking away other markers of my body that I don’t always dislike. I find that because I am female assigned at birth and I embrace femmeininity when I do bind or pack or try to present in what is for me a more genderqueer way I get dismissed as being fake or trying too hard or like that is my drag and being cis female must be my reality. It often pains me to be read as cis female, but part of me has accepted that I probably will be no matter what I do, unless I decide to transition, and even then (because I would be a femme guy) I would probably sometimes also be read as female anyway. It’s all a big confusing mess to me.

To complicate things I’ve been feeling super femme lately, but I notice that whenever I get into spaces that allow me the hope of being seen as genderqueer that comes out in me stronger than anything else. But what would it mean to be seen as genderqueer? It’s so frustrating and confusing that presenting femme makes me feel like it negates my other identities, but when I have the desire to present as femme what else am I supposed to do?

Mostly it comes down to being seen. I don’t know if there is a way to actually be seen as a genderqueer person who is FAAB2 and femme, because femmeininity is often read as femininity and femininity on a body that is regarded as female means I must be cis female. I often wonder myself if I’m “really” just a cis female who is trying desperately hard to be different and delusioning myself or something, but the pain I feel is real, the dissonance I feel is real, the struggle I feel inside myself is real, so it feels like something innate in me, not something I’m forcing. At the same time I just don’t know how to be seen. I don’t feel like when I say I prefer third-gendered pronouns and I don’t identify as female or woman but I am femme that people actually understand that. It is easier to just let people project their own ideas of gender onto me, but it is exhausting, and often I let part of myself be hidden because of it.

  1. not “haha” funny, though []
  2. female-assigned at birth []

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén