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?
(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.
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?):
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. [↩]
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 [↩]
March 31st was the first International Transgender Day of Visibility and I hope it won’t be the last. While I don’t exactly identify as transgender1 I think this was a wonderful idea and want to help it spread for next year!
It also happened to be the same day that I got my first official binder. After some work to get it on, for which I enlisted Onyx’s assistance, I wore it all day long, including to class that evening. I’ve been wearing my makeshift binder around lately but I needed an upgrade, and this definitely is one. It doesn’t exactly make my large chest go completely flat, but it does what it can.
Here is what I wrote on my non-blog-related Facebook wall for the day: “March 31st was the first International Transgender Day of Visibility and I want to make myself visible. I currently identify as genderqueer, an identity I have claimed for quite a few years. I love that a day like this now exists and want to take a moment to extend heartfelt gratitude to everyone in my life who have supported me on my gender journey, and those who will (continue to) support me in the future as I continue on my path. I also want to take the time to thank the trans* and otherwise gender-variant people that have influenced me, both those I have met face-to-face and who I’ve only me through their writing or video, especially those that came before me and made it that much easier for me to discover my own gender. Without all of you I would not be who I am today.”
I didn’t get any responses, but I got a whole lot of people who liked the post, so that was good enough for me. It’s not something I usually talk about so openly, especially on the FB profile that has my family and friends from High School on it and such, but I was happy to do it, and for a reason to do it beyond just my own desire to come out.
I look forward to having the opportunity to be visible again.
By now, most people are aware of the Transgender Day of Remembrance that happens every November 20 to memorialize the people we’ve lost.
Over the years, there have been calls by some trans people to make the TDOR a more happy-happy joy-joy event, to which the founders and others have resisted. TDOR does serve an important function in terms of focusing attention on anti-transgender violence.
Rachel Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan is one of the people who asked why couldn’t the trans community or someone start an event that celebrates who we are?
Then she asked the question that led to the formation of this event, ‘Why isn’t that someone me?’
Hence the first annual International Trans Day of Visibility was born.
- though I am starting to think I should more and more [↩]
Okay, so I’m only kind of cheating this week because I’m not exactly going to be talking about things that I learned from the videos I watched this week, although I will be talking about some awesomely fantastic videos. My life for the last week revolved around my first public workshop, which was on Thursday. I was presenting on the topic of gender. For most of the week I was gathering data and information from both books and web sources to be sure that what I presented was the latest and most up-to-date gender theory that I could be presenting.
Part of the reason why I want to write about this and these videos this week is because I want to bring attention to them. It is easy to focus on kink when looking at videos on Kink Academy since, well, it’s right in the name and there is a vast library of videos to choose from. While gender can be a kink for some (it certainly is for me–but not in the sense that I fetishize gender-variant people, in the sense that I get off talking about gender and gender theory–but I digress) that doesn’t mean that everyone is open to talking about it.
Learning about gender should be something required for everyone, not just those who are gender-variant or don’t fit within the gender binary. Everyone has a gender, but often people who are cisgendered (their sex and gender align with what they have been assigned by society) are forgotten when talking about gender because people who fit into the norm often do not get discussed because we assume that everyone knows what that means. However, I also think it is necessary for us to talk about cisgendered people to attempt to un-other gender-variant people, but that is a whole other topic. [...]