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.
I would blame my recent graduate school adventures for the lack of posts on here, but it started way before that so I really have no excuse. The last few months have been pretty wonderful. I presented at my first conference on a trip to San Francisco1 and I started graduate school. Onyx and I (Onyx especially) have been really involved with Occupy Seattle as well since the day it started. He’s been more involved overall than I have due to school, but I have been supporting it as much as I can. We also held our annual V for Vendetta/November the 5th Party which was wonderful. I’ve just about stopped doing anything other than school and spending time with Onyx at this point, the party was the last time I really socialized with anyone else.
Week eight of ten has just begun so I’m working on final papers and the like, this quarter has flown by so fast! I have a lot I want to write about on here, but we’ll see when I have the time to do it.
For now I just want to leave you with an amazingly awesome song by deli.sub aka delisubthefemmecub on tumblr, I absolutely love him2, and I know he says that his videos aren’t really meant to be seen on their own outside of his tumblr stream but I just have to share this anyway. Gender Fierce (Anthem?):
In 2008 I started a femme-focused group blog. I wasn’t new to the world of blogging, but I was definitely new to blogging as a community. I’ve learned a lot since then, although I will be the first to admit I still have a lot to go, and at the beginning of the month I did a little bit of remodeling. What was once The Femme’s Guide is now Femme Galaxy, with a brand new name, new theme, some new writers on the way, and a few new post series ideas in the works it is almost like a whole new site. Almost.
The biggest thing that hasn’t changed is the focus: femmes and femmeininity. I always wanted it to be a community-focused site, but I wasn’t always aware of how to get that. Couple that with my own fluctuations with the identity of femme and my own gender confusion for the last few years and my motivation to work on the site went way downhill. For more on the low-down of why I changed the name and the things I hope to do with it check out the post I made when I officially re-launched the site and changed the name.
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. [↩]
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 [↩]
I’m having trouble with gender dissonance1 again and am working on getting to a place of doublethink2 around my gender. I just wrote about this, in case you missed it. Because of this I’ve been thinking a lot about my gender journey, my process to get where I am today, and I’ve been wondering about what will come in the future.
Most of these images are up somewhere on this site already, though a couple of them are new. Click for a larger version.
After compiling these, though sure there are plenty others, I am struck with just how long my genderqueerness has been with me. The first image is from somewhere around 2002, the next three from 2005 & 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and, finally, 2011. The very last one is from today. Even when I was presenting mostly femme I was gender bending a bit, usually at least a few times a year doing drag if nothing else, but often as a side part of me that I just pushed aside for a while, thinking I could just be femme.
I’ve come to a lot of realizations recently over why I did that, ones I’ve shared with Onyx and which I think make sense in a way. I’m becoming so much happier now that I’m integrating all of me, though I’m discovering even more identities, even more parts of me that are all me yet slightly different combining sex, gender, sexuality, and power in different ways to create a sub-category of me. I’m a service submissive boy, a demanding genderqueer Top, a bratty masochistic femme kid, a loving Daddy, a glitterfag, an innocent and excitable little kid, and more.
While a lot of the images above may seem similar, and they are, undoubtedly, are me, they each show a different gender expression in my eyes. A lot of them look similar, but I can see the first time I felt sexy and confident as a femme, the first time I really embraced my genderqueerness, the fun of dressing in drag in so many different ways. They are all similar, but all different.
Now, with my short peacock hair, flat chest, round hips, and eye makeup I’m becoming more comfortable with the self that changes into the red lipstick, twirly skirt, and low-cut top wearing femme that changes into the steampunky gent that changes into the bratty femme girl and so on and so forth. How I present varies, but my identities are all inside me all the time, choosing who gets to come out to play.
Just when I think I understand my identities the universe decides to throw me another one. It’s understandable, really, I’m forever expanding, growing, living laterally, and I don’t look at identities as fixed entities but as forever fluid, changing/shifting/evolving right along with me.
I’m not frustrated or upset by this, it’s actually quite amusing to me, but it usually disturbs my daily life until I integrate it. I tend to analyze whatever new is coming up in me individually before bringing it to anyone else, too, which doesn’t work too well. I think that I’m just going on as usual, but I’ve come to realize that what actually happens is I become internally-focused and often my sex drive suffers because of this.
Such is what has been happening for the last few weeks. I finally started expressing the sudden desires that have been arising in me lately to others which has really made a difference. I think part of the internalization had to do with me needing to make sure it was “real” before I told anyone else (whatever that means) and being somewhat afraid of making it real by voicing it to another person.
Words have power, and declaring something for a partner or the universe to hear is a pretty big thing in my world, not something I want to do idly, hence my hesitation. On the other hand, it would depend on the language used, and the language I did end up using wasn’t limiting or certain in any way.
I think the other part of the internalization was being afraid of it. I guess I should actually tell you what I’m talking about, shouldn’t I?
I wrote about it a little bit right when these feelings were starting up: for the first time I can remember I’m experiencing some body dissonance1. It has been a bit of a bumpy ride since I wrote that post talking about being Many/And Not Either/Or and about my masculinities being shy, not in a bad way just in a new and unexpected way. Maybe a roller coaster is a better description than a bumpy ride.
Not long after I wrote that post Onyx and I attended the Delving Into Power workshop. I was in femme drag the first day, boy drag the second (including a button-up shirt and tie that night), and somewhere in between the next. I realized at that workshop that I was tired of being read as a woman. The next weekend at the Aphrodite Temple I was mostly in femme drag in devotion to Aphrodite, but I found myself desiring a flat chest at the same time. Since then I’ve had this fantasy of figuring out how to make that happen: to bind to a flat chest but wear a (semi-)low-cut shirt at the same time. I’m not sure how that will work.
I say that this is new but I can’t say I haven’t thought about transitioning before. Mostly I wrote it off, though, especially because I don’t feel particularly male or butch/masculine. I do know there are femme trans men out there, though, but for as much as I want to have a flat chest and sometimes I wish I had facial hair or a deeper voice I also want to have hips and breasts.
Perhaps needless to say, I’ve been binding a lot more lately and dressing in a more masculine way with a flare of femininity. I actually find myself more interested in flashy eye makeup when I’m dressed masculine, my glitterfag coming out perhaps. It is rare that any gender expression of mine aligns completely with masculinity or femininity, usually it’s some sort of genderqueer just like me.
My makeshift binder is a little too big on me now, though, so I just recently bought an actual underworks binder (988) which I should get tomorrow! I’m actually quite excited about this. Looking back on posts I’ve written and the progression of my gender over the last many years I’m not at all surprised by this new phase, I’m actually somewhat surprised it didn’t happen sooner.
Expressing all of this to Onyx and now writing about it helps clear up some of the dissonance somewhat, making it easier to get out of my head. The disconnection I was feeling with Onyx while I was analyzing everything is definitely gone, which makes our relationship easier on so many levels. I have a feeling we’re going to start playing more with my boy selves together, too.
Ultimately, I don’t know where this is heading, and I won’t until I get there. I’m firmly committed to this gender journey, though, to keep going no matter what I find. I’m reaching out to embrace whatever may come, not knowing what it is, but excited for the opportunity to grow and change and learn.
- often called gender dysphoria [↩]
On March 24th from 7-10pm I will be teaching my first public workshop. The title of the workshop is the title of this post, and I’m pretty damn excited about this. It’s being put on as part of the Living Love Revolution salon & workshop series run by the same woman as the Aphrodite Temple.
Here is the description:
Explorations in Gender: Busting Out of the Box
A Living Love Revolution Workshop with Scarlet Lotus
Gender isn’t limited to two categories but is a swirling galaxy of expressions and identities that is vast and individualistic, which also means it can be confusing. Join Gender Studies graduate Scarlet Lotus for a night of exploration and learning designed for people of all gender expressions and identities. It doesn’t matter if you have been transgressing gender norms for years or if you are comfortable with the gender you were assigned at birth, either way there will be something here for you as long as you are interested in what gender is all about. We will explore new concepts of gender, go over terminology from the basic to the complex, talk about pronouns and how to approach people of non-normative genders, and learn tricks and tips for playing with our own gender in a way that is comfortable for us as individuals. We all have a gender, so why not learn to explore it!
If you are in Seattle and want to come down it is at the Sharma Center. No RSVP needed, but you can contact me for further information. I would love it if you would spread the word about this! Here are the social networking event pages: Facebook Event and FetLife Event.
My gender often comes in waves, cycles, variations; I often have gender swings that can last from a few hours to a few days.
Lately I have had trouble feeling at home in my body, which isn’t exactly a new experience but it is not constant. There is rarely a time that I hate my body as a whole, most of the time I wish I had the opportunity to morph my breasts at will. Not my cunt, just my breasts. I feel I would be perfectly content with the ability to morph from having my own gorgeous breasts to having a flat and possibly hairy chest, or perhaps I would look like Ardhanari most days if I had that choice. Or maybe not. I don’t feel the need for a penis, perhaps because I already have a variety of silicone cocks I call my own.
Currently my masculine presentations are extremely underdeveloped. My masculinities are timid and fragile. Even writing this I can feel them resisting posting this, but I persist.
Sometimes when Onyx is at work and I’m home alone I will put my sports-bra/binder on, pack, and change my hairstyle around. I make myself more masculine or androgynous in appearance than my usual femme drag. Sometimes I put on my suit and tie. Other times I dress up in masculine style clothing and put makeup on.
I say this happens when he is at work because my masculinities are shy and frightened of reactions, positive or negative. My masculinities are not sure how to take a compliment without feeling insecure. Thus I do not show my masculinities to many people or very often, not even Onyx who probably knows me better than anyone. It’s not like the few times I’ve shown off my masculinities in public there have been any negative reactions, in fact quite the opposite.
My gender presentation is only one small part of my gender and it does not define me, but we are taught to judge genders on presentation alone. I think this is often the cause of friends bypassing the fact that I have these masculinities in me. My presentation is very femme-focused at present. While this bypassing is completely understandable it is at the same time hurtful that people who I have conversed with about my genders still seem unable to grasp them.
Despite still embracing femme fagette I am rebelling against the binary assumptions that could be made because of it, it is easy to infer some sort of feminine/masculine balance within it. That may have been part of its original intention, I’m not sure at this point, but it’s not something that I need anymore. I don’t know what I do, though. Perhaps just genderqueer.
I used to say femme drag queen fagette, which just got less and less manageable as my list of identities lengthened and I also began wondering if I was appropriating a term that “belongs” to those assigned male at birth. I’m not sure about the last part, I’m still pondering that, but I don’t want to step on any toes or give the wrong impression. Regardless, though, drag has resonances with me. I am always in drag.
I love drag, in fact. My gender is drag. It’s over the top and fun. My gender is glitter and black leather and gentleman steampunk and corsets and ballet heels. My gender is neutral pronouns and postmodern. My gender is very tangible and also a construction.
I am many/and1 instead of either/or.
I know and participate in gender as a galaxy. A swirling mass of gender planets, solar systems that we all can orbit like moons or pass by as moving asteroids, comets or space ships. Personally, I’m forever exploring every gender I come across to find the ones that feel like home. There are just many that feel like home. I have planets I love to visit from time to time and others I have set up homesteads on, building up my own thoughts, feelings, and presentation of that gender.
I am finally at a space where I am comfortable with owning my gender, but I’m not yet comfortable with sharing it completely. I struggle with the need for my various aspects to be seen and acknowledged while at the same time trying to do things for myself rather than for others.
My gender is constantly in motion even though I sometimes hate the uncertainty that constant change brings and sometimes I wish I could just “pick one and stick to it.” That doesn’t feel like an option right now. I’m not sure if it ever will be.
- This might make more sense as both/and when combined with either/or but “both” seems to put a limit on what I am trying to express. [↩]