Purveyor of Pleasure

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

Tag: change (Page 1 of 8)

Eight Hours

Sitting and watching the minutes tick away until it is 8 hours to my surgery (or at least, the start time they’ve given me), when I’m no longer allowed to eat. I am wondering how much I’ll be able to sleep tonight, given my level of anxious anticipation of the event.

A brief aside, though, I installed a fancy new bidet toilet seat today, which will be of great help to me while I am unable to use my arms. It will also be of great help to me in life, because bidets are rad and I have wanted one for a long time. This is as good of an excuse as any! Those of you who are coming over to help, visit, or drop off a meal will be welcome to try it, or at least marvel at it, or ignore it, idk, you do what you want!

I’m certainly scared. The level of certainty around this that came after the pre-op appointment has melted a little bit in the last few hours and all those questions I posted about previously are back in my head. I kind of anticipated this, and also was hoping to avoid it.

As the time creeps slowly onward and I get closer and closer to surgery time, my thoughts are thinking of aesthetics. At the Community Queerituality meeting I attended this evening we discussed a lot of things, including queer aesthetics. Some of the things cited by the facilitator as queer aesthetics were brightly colored hair, piercings, and an undercut, all of which I sport on the daily. My response to this had me contemplating aloud the ways those aspects of my appearance had been constants over the last sixteen plus years and came from other countercultures I have been part of, not initially markings (to me) of my queerness, but certainly of some kind of alternative social affiliation. I also shared about my strong desire for many years to be seen as queer while I was trying really hard to be cis. Definitely these aspects of my appearance are markers of difference, but not inherently (to me) of queerness.

In typical post-sharing-in-a-group anxiety, my brain is going over the things I said in that context and the responses I got. Another participant, not long after I spoke, mentioned disliking the idea that queerness had any particular aesthetic, and I’m not sure if it’s my anxiety that is telling me they were addressing what I had said directly, meaning I hadn’t quite explained what I was trying to say adequately, or if they were riffing off of the topic itself. I agree with them, ultimately, but this is part of the basis for what is coming up in me tonight. The hook that the transphobia is able to get in through, maybe.

The questions swimming around my brain are about aesthetics. This is a procedure that is designed to change my aesthetics, designed to change my outward physical appearance. It is different than a purely aesthetic surgery, however, because it is a trans surgery, because it is about gender confirmation, and yet it is still about aesthetics in the sense it is about what we can perceive and about beauty and reality. It is about what other people will see when they look at me, and what I will see and feel when I am with myself. It is about sensation and senses and perception and we may talk about these things as being superficial, but they really aren’t, they’re about how we experience the world and manifest reality.

Writing this out has been useful for those thoughts so freely floating around. I have never disliked having a large chest, exactly, though it hasn’t felt like mine or part of me in a while. Certainly it has been both inconvenient and wonderful at times. When I was younger and striving/trying/pretending to be cis, I placed a lot of emphasis on my chest and the way it looked in clothing. I was proud of my fat hourglass figure. I hung a lot of my own self-worth and self-esteem on being sexually desirable, and my chest was always a part of that. It was rarely for me, but as a symbol or indicator of something. It took me a long time to unpack that for myself, part of those two plus years of talking and thinking and feeling into this surgery as an option for me was really investigating where my desires were coming from. I’ve said for a long time that my ideal form is as a shapeshifter, being able to play with my form however I like. I’m sure most of us would choose that, if given the option, but not all of us would play with the same aspects of our form.

There is a declaration in this action as well. I am claiming ownership of my body and my ability to declare who I am. I have had other body mods that have functioned as me claiming my body as my own, both in the form of piercings and tattoos, and in some ways this is the same, but in other ways it is completely different. I don’t entirely understand gender, honestly. I don’t think anyone does. My experience of it is something innate, something sacred, something that can also be fluid and changeable. I have been worried that my desire for this has more to do with expectations of what being trans looks like in an AFAB body, or because of the trans narrative that says this is what I should want. I am afraid of a lot of things, but that is a big one.

The more I think about it, write about it right now, and really feel into my body, the more I know my body is done with having this large chest. That’s kind of as much as I can know right now. I am supposed to have this experience, for whatever reason, maybe including because it is part of the dominant trans narrative. But this is not for superficial reasons. This is not for fitting in reasons. I think this is the important part, what was bugging me about the exchange earlier. My appearance has never been intended to fit into any particular sub- or counter-culture, even if it does or has. I am always, before anything else, wearing what I want to wear and looking how I want to look. This is, of course, influenced by cultures of various kinds, but it has to do with what aesthetics please me the most. I am forever trying to figure out how I can be comfortable with the person staring back at me in the mirror. That is the most important factor in all of this for me. The change that surgery marks is both big and not big in this sense. It will change everything and nothing all at once.

Four Days to Top Surgery

I had the pre-op appointment on Thursday. I felt so much better after the appointment, not just because of the information that was given to me, but moreso because the level of care, compassion, professionalism, and humor that everyone I spoke with had. I feel in very good hands. Not sure if I’ve mentioned already in here that I’m having surgery with Dr. Megan Dreveskracht at La Belle Vie in Tukwilla. I’m scheduled for Noon on Thursday, October 4th. Now just four days away (basically three and a half as I’m finally posting this)!

I was pretty paralyzed for a while there… or at least moving very s l o w l y through my days. Basically, I had a whole lot of freeze happen in my nervous system after I scheduled surgery. A microcosm of the macrocosm of surgery freeze I have experienced over the last few years, no doubt. I had a challenging time staying in my own experience for a while, feeling stuck and having to sort out a lot of feelings, preferring to distract myself. I scheduled nearly a month ago, which seemed like plenty of time. I had assumed the year I waited between consult and surgery was enough time for me to have sorted through my myriad of feelings about surgery, but obviously not. Not only have I never had surgery before, making this experience terrifying in and of itself for that reason, but this is a trans surgery, so I also had all that to contend with.

My fear and freeze had to do with the questions that I had no answers to. I wondered what it would be like to have surgery. I questioned how I would be able to let myself be the kind of vulnerable and receive the kind of support I know I’ll need. I felt a whole lot of internalized transphobia come up. It had already taken me many years to come to the decision to have surgery, each movement forward finding a new set of blocks within me. Already wrestling with so many transphobic questions for years, I had paused in my road to top surgery after my initial consultations a year ago because of the way they bounced around my internal landscape. All the questions came back after I scheduled. It was no longer an abstract interest or desire, it was happening. There was a date.

Of course, this transphobia isn’t coming from me, not really, but it is inside me. It’s coming from the culture and has seeped into all of our bodies through conscious and unconscious messages. It is coming from the current power structures and social institutions that we collectively agree to. We can call it heterocisnormative imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy if we want to, but no matter what we call it, it is the water that we swim in and where we get our nourishment (and, coincidentally, why we are all actually starving). The assumptions. The caveats. The questions. The comments reminding me not to rush into anything (my response: I’ve been talking to my therapist about this for over two years. I’m not rushing). The assurance that I’m still loved if I do this (my response: that was never in question! And yet, it is, thanks, transphobia). The commentary on the politics of trans surgery or how it may or may not impact my mental health and my life to have this surgery (my response: too much for a small aside, but I’m doing this for me and the personal is political). Then there are the questions I have grappled with for years, why it took me so long to do this: what if I don’t like it? what if it’s the wrong choice? what if it means people will think I’m a man now? why does it matter so much to myself or anyone? why will it make me a “more valid” trans person (as if I’m not a valid trans person already) in the eyes of so many? why can’t I just be fine without it?

So many questions.

These questions, and more, have been running through my head pretty regularly for years. Those responses are all ones I have received directly. This is all transphobia. It’s exhausting.

It has been a long road to this surgery. I recently looked back over old journal entries to find dates for transness/transition/top-surgery-related milestones: I started binding in 2011, using gender neutral pronouns in 2010 and id’ing as genderqueer in 2007. I’m pretty sure it was also 2011 that I finally began thinking my genderqueerness might be enough to consider myself to be trans. I had previously been told by a number of trans folks that I couldn’t possibly be trans because I’m femme and AFAB, an experience that, no doubt, set me back a bit in terms of my self identity and gender expression. For a few years, at least, I was terrified and anxious any time I tried to express anything other than (cis) femme, certain that someone would realize I was a fake and call me on it. Instead of feeling like I could embrace other trans folks in my process of gender exploration, I was at least as terrified of us as I was of cis folks invalidating my gender.

I first really talked with my therapist and doctor about the possibility of top surgery well over two years ago. It always seemed like something other trans folks got, but not me. Actually, I am sure they both asked me about it prior to when I started testosterone in 2015 (which also took me over a year to actually allow myself to explore, my first appointment with my Doc to discuss T was in late 2013 and I didn’t start T until early 2015), and I have been uncertain about surgery all those years. Questioning if it’s a good idea, if it’s really for me, all those questions above, all the thoughts. I wasn’t regularly binding until a couple of years ago, having previously utilized it as part of my gender expression rather than a central indicator of it. Now, and for a while, I have been binding daily (unless I am at home all day with no visitors). I experience more social dysphoria than physical dysphoria.

Because of my level of privilege, the barriers to top surgery have all been personal and cultural, with a minimal amount of medical and/or class barriers to the experience. Because I have private insurance through my husbear’s tech job, I have a trans-knowledgeable therapist I see every week and a GP who is one of the best trans-related healthcare providers in Seattle, also arguably one of the best places to be trans in the country. My fat body has been a barrier to my choice of surgeons, and I did have to endure some fatphobia in the selection process, but there are still plenty of surgeons in Seattle who would take me as a patient. I met with three doctors to choose the one I am going with. I hit a bit of an insurance snag last year, as we switched insurances in August and again in January, and that was enough to be a factor in my stalling, but not the main cause. I took my time getting to this place because of all the barriers I had built up in myself against surgery, against getting what I want and need, against doing things for myself.

Ultimately, though, I’m doing this for me. Sometimes I wonder if transitioning is the only thing I’ve ever truly done in my life that is just for me. For so many years I tried to be cis. I tried to be happy and content with being read as a woman, even though I’m not. I tried to be content with being assumed to be straight, even though I’m not. I tried to be happy with my body the way it is, especially after so much work to love my fat body, and I will be. Surgery isn’t necessary for all trans folks, but for some of us it is the answer. Even if it eases just a little discomfort, makes our lives just a little bit easier, or makes us a little bit happier, it is worth it. It will not eliminate my experiencing transphobia, either internal or external, that is something we all have to work on every day. It will not mean I will no longer be misgendered, though I’ll be more likely to be misgendered as a man than as a woman, so that will at least be a change. At very least, this surgery will free up a whole lot of brainspace that has been dedicated to the “what if” of surgery. At best, I will feel more comfortable, more at home in my own body and in the world.

I Was Published in Numen Naturae: Dismantling the Tower

Numen Naturae: Dismantling the Tower Anthology

I have officially been published in Numen Naturae: Dismantling the Tower, the second volume in the Numen Naturae anthology series! The volumes in this anthology series each relate to a tarot card and plant, exploring their mythological, archetypal, and practical applications and connections. This volume in particular relates to the Tower card and Devil’s Club.

My essay is about the relationship between the Phoenix and the Tower in the process of transformation. It was featured as an excerpt from the book on the House of Hands blog, so you can read it here if you would like, but I also encourage you to pick up the book itself, as there are many more amazing essays to read within it! It is available now! You can order Numen Naturae: Dismantling the Tower here!

Also, if you missed the first volume, The Magicians Wand, focused on the Magician card and Yarrow you can order that here along with Dismantling the Tower. Submissions for volume three, focused on the Priestess and Black Cohosh, are currently open in case you are interested in writing something.

Destruction in the Name of Healing and Transformation:
the Phoenix and the Tower
by Tai Fenix Kulystin

We are change. It is the only thing constant about this manifest world, and, I believe, change is one of the great joys of being alive. The alternative to the cyclical change and growth of this material universe is the stagnancy of limitless awareness, the experience of omnipotence, omnipresence, and/or omniscience that is often ascribed to the All. This, in my cosmology, is the reason for breaking away from the cosmic soup of all that is and inhabiting these finite forms that advance, steadily with each breath, closer to death from the very moment that life begins. There is benefit to this finite and limited way of experiencing the universe, and that is the ability to experience change, the unknown, and the unexpected.

In order for us to change and grow, there is a necessity of death. In order for there to be space for change to happen within, for a new beginning to occur, we must clear the way and experience an ending. The ending may simply be the ending of the old way of being, the ending of a relationship, or any other kind of ending. This growth–death–rebirth cycle is the particular focus of this piece, specifically working with the archetypal, mythological, and alchemical aspects of the Phoenix and how that associates with one of the foci of this anthology, the Tower card of the Tarot.
Click here to read the rest…

Not Yet Three Years

I don’t track it anymore, not in months, and often not even in years. It’s part of me now in a way I don’t have to think about. If I’m pressed to think about it, as I am requesting of myself now, it’s been 2 years and 8 1/2 months that I’ve been on T. Not yet three years, but that is getting closer and closer.

I’ve had many changes to my body and self in that time. The new way that clothes hang on me is just as comfortable as it was before, but now feels more aligned with right. I got so good at faking before because that was also right for me, but also wrong.

Tuesday night I took my testosterone at the turning of the new moon, as I do every month (weekly on the new, full, and half moons), and I called to Virgo and my highest self. This month, this year, this life has been so full of doing and avoiding, and in my most recent ceremony I requested clarity from source, and that clarity keeps on coming.

I have been stuck in perfectionism for so long it has often been hard to be. Challenging to exist as I am, because of that endless striving drive for the supposed perfect. It has also kept me from appreciating what actually is. Fear of failure and fear of success have run me into paralysis for too long. Indecision was never fearful.

In addition to clarity, I requested to open more to right relationship (with myself and others) and decisive action. We shall see how that goes.

Paralysis

I sunk into myself recently. Stopped remembering how to be anything but internal, to exist in any way but as a hermit.

I wrapped that supposed cocoon around me, but I did not become a butterfly. I just became caterpillar soup. I became mush. Mess. Liquid me, sinking deeper into my bed and disappearing inside of myself.

I sank and I dissolved and I didn’t know what else to do but lie in bed and stare at screens. All of my knowledge and all of the changes and all of the help I can give to others could not keep me from floating away from myself.

My whole world came crashing down on me.

On the Love of Self and Selfies

August-September 2015.

August-September 2015.

Selfies are the self-portraits of this current technological age. They tell you a lot about how the person sees themselves; how they want to be seen by others. The angle, the tilt of their head, if the smile is candid or staged, forced or relaxed, or even there at all.

In this age of social media we can (to some degree) control our image: how we are seen, what info about us and our lives is shared, and what is not. Sometimes. Sort of. We can try to tailor our image to fit into what we want to look like, who we want to be, or we can bare it all, our prides and our failings, letting the viewer or reader decide what to keep and what not to.

At the same time, we can only control so much. Other people will post about us, post pictures of us. Other people will see what they want to see, what they can see. What people see will always be filtered, not just through their screens, but through their own perceptions and life experiences, their own projections and assumptions. Do they have context for your words, your hair, your clothes, your all of you? Do they have to fight against their own or your own illusions to see you, or are you real and genuine? Are they real and genuine enough to see you?

How much are any of us related to reality?

I love posed professional-looking glamour shots, candid photos when no one knows a photograph is being taken, group action shots capturing an experience, and everything beyond and in between.

Sixteen. December, 2002.

December, 2002.

I used to hate photos of myself or having my picture taken, a reminder of this body I also hated. This Self I kept hidden and locked up from the world, buried beneath flesh and blood and muscle. Buried deep in some hidden corner of my heart. I tried, often desperately, to stay alive in a world that does not want my kind, which in a world that desperately needs us.

I was praised for emulating others and discouraged from expressing what I genuinely thought or wanted or needed. So I locked myself up so tight I often forgot to breathe. I forgot to move. I forgot to dance. I made a small space inside of myself where I could be free, and I called it paradise. It was a cage. Bits of me leaked out, because I could not help it, but inside I was frozen. Lonely.

I learned to adopt others’ ideas, others’ perspectives, others’ personae just to keep me alive. Though there were plenty of times I did not want to be. I thought for many years of the ways I could end what felt like the torture of living. I never really had access to knives sharp enough in the hardest moments, never a hand steady enough to apply the necessary pressure in the right places with knife in hand. Some kind of self-preservation sabotage, or cowardice.

Just one more day, I would tell myself. One more moment. One more breath. One at a time until the numbness takes over again.

Feeling nothing was often preferred to feeling everything.

The suffocating overwhelm of hopelessness was always more than I could handle.

Sixteen. December, 2002.

December, 2002.

Paradoxically, perhaps (in that way that life is), I found my outlet on stage acting larger than life and speaking four hundred year old lines about love, longing, pain, death, betrayal, revenge, cunning, magic.

I identified with longing: longing for love, longing for belonging. I identified with the uncertainty of desire for life, search for a sense of self, and mistrust of others. I identified with fighting to stay alive against seemingly insurmountable turmoil.

I let other stories, other characters, other personae infuse my being. They lead me back to some depth of myself where I had been hiding. Slowly. Only ever slowly. I got little glimpses of life then through these, glimpses of what life could be, though I never felt like I was part of it. Always a little removed, always a little numb, always a little (or a lot) the outsider. Always terrified of ridicule and mostly indifferent to praise, unable to really believe just about anything as real.

Although acting brought me back to myself, it was still more for others than it was for me.

I woke up one day and realized I was terrified of the world, of the other people in it, and, most importantly, of myself. I had designed a life around this fear, attempting to keep myself safe through hiding, locked away from the world in hopes that would mean I would no longer be hurt.

Determined to understand and integrate the fear, I began to investigate it. Where did it come from? What is real and what isn’t? Why do I act the way that I do? I had already been asking myself some of these questions, but did not realize just how numb I was. Just how locked inside. Just how broken.

June 2014

June 2014

I began to crack open the shell I had built up around myself over so many years, letting the outside in and the inside out. I embraced vulnerability, connection, change. I began feeling again. Deeply. Not just when I was having sex, but all the time. Sometimes more than I could bear.

Somewhere along the way I realized I was missing love for myself and trust in the world. The more I love myself the more I am able to take up space in the world, to be comfortable with who I am and what I am doing. It’s cliche, I suppose, but cliches are cliche for a reason. As I began to love myself more, I began to take selfies and revel in them. Or maybe it was the other way around.

A selfie, for me, is not just about finding the right pose, the right angle, though sometimes it is. It’s about sharing a moment in time, even if my smile often looks the same. It’s allowing myself to open up to myself, open up to the camera, open up to the viewer in a way I used to abhor. It’s showing myself off to the world. It’s taking my place in the world through allowing myself to be in it and take up (digital) space.

January 2016

January 2016

Reflection and Confirmation

As I write this, I am heading back to Seattle after yet another weekend in Portland. It was a quick trip this time revolving around presenting Saturday at the Death:OK Conference on creating Soul-based Ceremonies for Honoring Death. I was able to squeeze in a few visits with people, but there are plenty more that I missed connecting with because of time constraints.

The weekend was a very reflective one for me, and quite an opportunity to gain perspective on my work in the world and my approach to life going forward. I was deeply inspired by everyone I met at the conference, such deep rich humanity showed up, and such beautiful life.

This is not so much a change as a confirmation. It is ever more clear to me that trauma and grief are just as central to my work as love and pleasure and desire, because they have to be. They are not separate. At the center of it all is the beauty of the embodiment of humanity.

When I talk about wholeness, which I often do, i am really taking about working ever more toward experiencing and expressing all aspects of our own divine humanity–all its vulnerable, often messy, and ultimately beautiful forums.

It is about turning toward the depth of our own selves. Turning toward the parts of ourselves that we disavow and embracing them. Turning toward the emotions we try to ignore or stuff down and bringing them up so they can serve their purpose and we can understand what they have to teach us. And so much more.

A Small Coming Out

My aunt asked me if I had a cold, referencing my more-gravelly-than-she-was-used-to voice. I took that moment to make the choice to share with her and my mom that I have been taking testosterone since January. This is only sort of true, as since I started I’ve raised and lowered my dose, paused in my taking it, started again, and am currently playing with the dosage/levels in order to find the right fit for me.

This was the first time I told any of my family about taking T. I was asked if I had a goal, an end result that I was shooting for. I said I’m not trying to go to male (whatever that means anyway), and I’m pretty close to where I want to be. And I realized this is true. Mostly femme-presenting, but not always. A little confusing in the right lights. Genderqueer femme. Pangender genderfucker. Genderfabulous. In the sometimes-called “middle,” though gender is not actually a line like that, but T levels are (or, at least, we talk about them that way).

I’ve gained so much of myself over the last a bit over nine months since I started, and I feel simultaneously more visible and more invisible for various reasons. When I started I didn’t know if or how long I would stay on. I had confidence that my body would know, that I would be able to feel if it was right for me, and I did. And I’ve thought a lot about what I’m getting from T, what I’m not getting from T, what it “means” to be on T, all of that. And I “altered” my “natural” hormones plenty before T through ten years of various types of hormonal-based birth control, so I also figure: how is this any different? It’s really not. And yet it also is.

Both my mom and my aunt were accepting. Not phased much outwardly by it, but clearly a little shaken up by it and the casual way that I shared this information. I was also shaken up by the casual way that I shared this experience I have hid from many people in my life for the last three quarters of a year. My therapist assures me that it’s my choice who I tell and who I don’t, that I don’t have to tell everyone, and I know that is true. And it has become an integrated part of my experience already, and it’s mostly the people who haven’t seen me or heard me for a while that would notice anything different anyway.

I’m not always likely to volunteer information about myself, in fact I rarely do, but I don’t like to intentionally dodge or lie when asked directly about myself. I strive to be genuine in all that I do, so it felt good to share, even if it was jarring and a bit disorienting and if I had been planning it I could have fortified myself a bit more. I didn’t expect any other reaction than what I got, my family is pretty accepting, and also pretty stoic, and that combination is the reaction I received.

More than anything, though, this experience made me realize I’m closer to where I want to be than I thought, and I know more about where I want to be than I have before. It’s still amorphous, liminal, and difficult to describe, and I know it will change as I change. However, I’m no longer trying to grasp it so tightly, define it, dissect it, or understand it out of confusion and desperation. And that’s a big difference.

Close to the End

Not quite there yet, but I’m working on it. I need to be done with writing my thesis soon. In the next few days, really. I will still have editing and other sorts of work to be done for it, and I will have to get on the task of figuring out what I will do for my symposium, so I will be far from completely done in the next few days, but I will have the writing of it completed and be in the home stretch.

Of course, I’ve thought this before, and every time I think I’ll be done something happens to get in my way. I had set aside all of this past week, from Sunday to Saturday, for thesis writing, and what happened? I woke up Monday morning with strep throat. Of course. But I’m on track again and actually getting writing done. Just have to actually let myself focus and not get distracted with everything and anything else.

There is no longer a question in me as to if I will *actually* be done, if I can actually get it done, if I can break through all the internal barriers and beliefs that I have held for so long that tell me that it’s not okay for me to do a work like this for one reason or another. I have done so much work on myself in the last few years since I started grad school, and it seems to have hyper-condensed in the last thirteen months since I started writing my thesis.

Thirteen months! Sheesh. I hoped to be done in nine, but often life doesn’t turn out the way we plan. Of mice and men and all that. I’m excited, though. I’m excited to be done, to move to the next chapter of my life, to see what lies beyond grad school. Grad school, this thing that has taken up so much of my time and my life for the last nearly-four years. I come out of it a completely changed person. So many of my patterns have been investigated and bent, at least, if not broken. So many of the things I thought were part of me, that I would never get out of, like my depression or certain anxieties, have been nearly completely abandoned for other ways of being. In short, I have changed.

Now as I am nearing the end of this monster of a project that I chose to undertake, this 150-plus-page beast that I have chosen to slay tame and ride on the back of as I go into the future, I am amazed at the work I’ve already done. It’s going to be my first masterpiece, this Master’s piece of mine. It won’t be perfect, it probably won’t even be super polished, but it will be finished and it will be mine. The culmination of my past learning and desires for the future all wrapped up into one long-ass Master’s thesis. Here’s to that.

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.

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