Purveyor of Pleasure

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

Category: Gender Galaxy (Page 2 of 9)

Thoughts and Experiences of Gender

Someone in a facebook group I’m in asked the question “What are your thoughts and experiences figuring out where you fall, or don’t, on the gender spectrum?” so here’s my response.

A big part of my gender experience at the moment is being sick of being seen as female, though I don’t exactly feel male either, and I strongly identify with being femme. I have played with gender consciously for years, got a degree in gender studies to help me figure some of this out (I hoped it would, anyway), and have been contemplating medical transition type stuff pretty seriously for a while now.

I have known myself to be genderqueer for over a decade (that’s when I started having language around it), and definitely have been genderqueer and worn a mixture of “masculine” and “feminine” clothing for as long as I remember. When I was very young in playdates with friends I would rarely put myself in a masculine or feminine role with things we were playing, but would choose gender neutral things (such as, we were playing wedding and I would be the officiator rather than the bride or groom–though that wasn’t 100% of the time). My mom encouraged me to wear pants and more androgynous clothing, but I also really enjoyed dresses, skirts, and more feminine clothes as well. In high school I began consciously developing my own genderqueer style, which included wearing suits one day, and a skirt and fishnets the next; or sometimes a “men’s” button up shirt, tie, skirt, and fishnets all together; or a suit jacket with a corset; or punk-y bondage pants and a tshirt; or all sorts of other things. I wore a suit to my Junior Prom, and then a vinyl dress to my Senior Prom. I shaved my head when I was 16 and kept my hair short through most of the rest of high school, constantly dying it crazy colors. I have so many other expressions and experiences that make me really realize how long I’ve been non-binary genderqueer, but that’s enough for now.

I was one of the very few out people in my high school, having come to understand myself as “bisexual” (so I called myself then, I usually go for “queer” now) in seventh grade. This and my style of dress managed to make me an outsider and weirdo, but I always felt comfortable there too. However, I had little experience with people who wanted to date me during these years, mostly people were interested in fooling around a bit, but not actually in a relationship.

In college I started experimenting and expressing femininity more, at least partially (unconsciously) because I thought that would help me get a partner. I also lost a good chunk of weight and could fit into the very high end of standard sizing (or mostly the in between sizes, but sometimes that meant standard sizing). When beginning to delve deeper into femininity and explore that I immediately was most identified with a femininity I found expressed by gay men and drag queens, but I also immediately rejected that I could express that type of femininity due to being AFAB, and was confused and sad about it.

I did find myself a partner during this phase when I was attempting to be femme cis woman, and luckily he is someone who supports me in all of my gender expression. I have struggled for years to figure out how to express myself in a way that felt truly authentic, and so I’ve just tried as best as I could. Over the years I’ve amassed a gigantic makeup collection as well as clothing all along the “gender spectrum.” I really enjoy a wide range of gender expression, as I always have. I began packing and binding quite a few years ago, and do so off and on. I also enjoy to wear push up bras, corsets, and high femme dresses. I enjoy it all.

I tried for so many years to be content with being a cis femme or femme genderqueer for a long time. Now I’m beginning to work on being seen more and read as a guy, even though I don’t identify as male or feel male really fits me, but I know female doesn’t fit me even more. If I have to choose (which I both do and don’t), I would much rather be read as male than female. So I’m much more interested in being read as a femme guy than a femme woman at this point, because that at least feels closer to who I am, even if it is not quite right. I actually have an appointment in a few hours to begin testosterone to see if it’s right for me. As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m really sick of being seen as female, which seems to happen no matter how I dress or what I do. I wholly embrace my femininity and the closest way I have to describe my gender at this point is as a non-binary genderqueer femme trans person (maybe trans guy if I need to orient myself slightly in binary land–which seems to help some people see me–plus “guy” feels slightly gender-neutral at this point too). In the last few years I’ve been able to see (digitally, mostly) a number of femme trans guys and realize that aspects of transition are an option for me, which has definitely shifted my idea of what my future could be like.

All that said, I’m not sure I’ve figured out gender at all. I’m getting somewhat close, maybe.

A Big Beginning

I will be starting testosterone on Monday.

I have an appointment with my doctor at 3pm on Monday to learn how to inject it properly. This is both exciting and terrifying for me, but the more real it becomes the more I’m really looking forward to it and feeling like it is the right thing to do.

I had my first appointment with this doctor over a year ago, November 2013 to be exact, and that is when we began discussing the possibility of testosterone. I had been talking with my therapist about it before that. At that time I decided to wait until after I was done with Grad School and I had lost some weight for me to start (I was also just generally nervous about some of the side effects and obviously not ready at that time). While I am not done with school, nor have I lost weight (in fact, I’ve gained a bit through this thesis process), I am tired of waiting and it feels important for me to begin now.

I have understood myself to be genderqueer for nearly a decade, though I have been genderqueer for as long as I can remember. Around 2011 I began playing with the identity “femme trans guy,” but I didn’t entirely know what that would entail. I did not think things like testosterone and surgery were available to me, so even with starting to call myself a femme trans guy I didn’t completely know what to do with that information.

Since 2011 I have had times where my gender has come forward, and other times when I was trying so hard to be a femme woman or a femme genderqueer or anything other than what I have slowly come to realize I am. I have denied myself for so long, and it is past time to really embrace all of me. I am a guy, and I am genderqueer, and I am also undeniably femme. My pronouns are they/them/theirs, or any other neutral pronouns (this has been true for ages), though I may want he in the future.

At this point I am far more terrified of the social aspects of transitioning than anything else. The process of coming out and experiencing other people’s transphobia and transphobic microaggressions feels excruciatingly exhausting to me. I tend to be a fairly private person, and this is not something I can be completely private about. I plan on telling people slowly, in my own time, or maybe not at all. We’ll see.

I am also aware that I won’t fully know if testosterone is right for me until I try it, and possibly until I am on it for a while and my body can really feel into it. I have had the T in my possession for a couple of days now, and the more I look at it, touch the little glass vial, feel into what it will be like to take it and if it is right for me, the more it feels comfortable and right. I don’t know if I will be on it forever. I don’t know if I will want surgery in the future (though I do really like my breasts in general, but who knows). I can’t predict the future at this point, all I know is that I will be starting testosterone on Monday.

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 []

Gender Fierce

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?):

P.S. In case you want more of him: This is also amazing, powerful, touching, saddening; and this also.

  1. It went rather poorly, but oh well, it was a learning experience []
  2. in that way that you can love someone who you’ve never met and only read their posts on the internet []

Femme Galaxy

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.

A Genderqueer Manifesto

One word: yes.

The Language of Gender

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.

Living in the Void

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.

  1. The gender that other people assign onto us, the gender we are perceived as “being” due to the other person’s understanding of gender. []

By Any Other Name

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.

  1. though I am moving away from using this as my last name []

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