I want to open you
Show you the beauty that lies within,
Help you fill the void inside you,
That empty place
that can be full.
I want to crack you open
like a pomegranate,
Taste your bittersweet juices
Until my fingers are
stained with you.
I will lift you up to
the mirror of my soul,
Reflect you back to yourself
So you can see all that you can be.
I will not heal you,
That is your work,
But I will point you to the key
So you can heal yourself.
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.Labels: gender, gender presentation, genderqueer, identities, language, learning, love, Rhetorical Gymnastics, words
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.
- traditionally the word for an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously, though now often used in place of dysphoria in reference to gender issues [↩]
- simultaneously accepting as correct two mutually contradictory beliefs [↩]
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.Labels: becoming a sex educator, both/and not either/or, come see me teach, comfortable in my own skin, commUNITY, doublethink, drag, draggender, femme, femme fagette, femmeinism, gender bending, gender drag, gender fluidity, gender galaxy, gender identity, gender presentation, genderfluid, genderfuck, genderqueer, genders, glitterfag, glittergender, hypergender, identities, identity foundations, Living Love Revolution, looking forward, many/and not either/or, masculinities, new experiences, that scary feeling makes me know I'm doing something right
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. [↩]
I seem to have gotten past the point of trying to nitpick my identities and settled into a space of simply sitting back and enjoying them. That’s not to say that I’m not still analyzing and overanalyzing my identities at the same time, but I’ve gotten out of the “but what does it all mean?” funk that I seemed to be in for the better part of the last year or more. Instead of being obsessed with being seen by others as whatever given identity I want them to see me as I’ve settled into the realization that it’s not a failure on my part if I’m not seen a certain way.
Gender was a great source of questioning and anxiety last year in particular, before that it was my power/bdsm identity, and it seems as with my switch identity I have settled happily into a fluctuating identity. My genders seem to fluctuate greatly, there are times when I feel extremely compelled to present femme, which has been recently, and other times when femme just doesn’t fit as well and I lean toward the boi and fagette. I’m coming to feel like fagette is my home planet and femme and boi are the two I take frequent jaunts to on my spaceship (see: Gender Galaxy), which kind of makes sense in that fagette feels to me to be more androgynous, something else entirely, and closer to my core genderfluid identity than the presentation of femme or boi.
Overall I’m genderfluid, genderqueer, or any of the other words used to describe a non-fixed-in-the-ever-pervasive-binary and non-fixed-in-general gender. I enjoy playing with all types of gender expression. My gender is play. My gender is drag. While gender is definitely more than the clothes we wear that is a huge identifier and I do tend to dress femme most of the time, mostly because skirts are just damned comfortable (especially when you have long labia and multiple labia piercings). I also find it easier to find plus size feminine clothes that I like than plus size masculine clothes that I like. I have these damned hips to thank for that.
Instead of looking at presentation as a way of limiting myself by being unable to present the multiplicity or fluidity of my being I’m simply letting go of those worries about what others might possibly think of me and contenting myself in the knowledge that no one can have a whole idea of who and what I am because that is constantly in motion and constantly changing. If someone chooses to latch on to the idea of me as a fixed identity that is their problem and not mine.
I can content myself in the knowledge that I can be the inspiration for new and ever changing thought processes in others and in myself simply by being myself and allowing myself to be at every moment. I allow myself to simply embrace my identity at any given moment without the hangup of what I felt the last moment or what I might feel a moment from now. It’s truly freeing and inspiring.Labels: binary, boi, fagette, femme, gender, gender galaxy, genderqueer, genders, growth, growth requires the temporary suspension of security, identities, joy, letting go, love, pleasure, Rhetorical Gymnastics, worries