Genderfluidity

This is a really interesting personal story piece about being genderfluid:

I Am Genderfluid by Astrophe on Jezebel

I found it yesterday, and a lot of it really resonated with me.

I’m genderfluid.

I think. I mean, I don’t know what else to call it.

My gender exists in some sort of quantum state.  It’s Schrödinger’s cat, unknown unless I examine it.  Boy day or girl day?  Let me open the box and check.  These days it’s usually a boy day, but there have been long stretches of time when I’m usually girl, and I’m sure there will be again. Sometimes it’s neither; I open the box and can’t tell whether the cat’s alive or not.  And frequently, it’s both at once.  A tuxedo cat, black AND white all at the same time, not sometimes black and sometimes white.

Someone once compared being genderfluid or genderqueer to being a superhero, and I think that’s brilliant. Your identity encompasses both at all times, no matter how you are presenting at the moment. The way Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person all the time, but are still different identities.

This cat: genderfluid avenger of the night!

Basically, I am this cat.

I believe gender is a thing that is 90% imposed on us from outside, and it begins so early – the very moment we are born – that most people (in my culture, anyway) literally cannot conceive of the idea that the chasm that separates “male” and “female” is really more like a bike tire track in the mud. And despite years identifying as female and not questioning that, I somehow managed to trip and fall on both sides of it.

Maybe things would be different for me if I’d been born ten, twenty years later, or in a place where there was awareness of anything other than male = penis, woman = vagina, no other choices.  If I’d been able to start the process of mentally divorcing myself from my body.

Then again, maybe that would have made the dysphoria horrific instead of merely frustrating.  I don’t know.  I can’t know.  I was born in 1977 in Oklahoma; transgender people were perceived as sideshow freaks, if they were acknowledged at all.  I didn’t have a good idea of what it actually for-real meant and looked like, so I couldn’t try on the label and say, hey, maybe this fits, maybe this is offering me possibilities that I’d like to take advantage of, maybe this is a way out of a situation I never liked. I can’t say how I would have turned out if I’d known that there was more out there than “I’m a girl” and “I’m a boy.”

So I am doing that work now, at 37, picking myself apart a few stitches at a time to see how I was put together, deciding what to keep, what to discard, and what to save in a box to use when I want to use it.  There are no stories for me, no narratives that reflect my experience. Most of the narratives I find are those of young people finding this out relatively early, and that leaves me with a warm feeling, yes, because I love that this is more and more possible for people, but it also leaves me feeling a little shut out because it would be helpful to see other people going through what I’m going through, how they did it, what they wrestled with and what was easily put aside. Also, many of those narratives are about being clearly transgender, crossing the bridge between one and the other, then burning it, because there’s no desire to go back. They aren’t narratives about living on the bridge, waking up randomly on different sides, or in the middle, not belonging to either side.

I barely have a candle to hold while I follow this thread through the maze.  I don’t know where it will lead. I don’t know if, a year from now, I will identify as genderfluid, genderqueer, female, male, or something else. It’s a process, and while I am surrounded by supportive people, they’re mostly cishet so they can’t help me with the work.  They don’t have the first idea what it’s like.  Just like I’m sure I don’t have the first idea what it’s like to be truly dying-on-the-inside dysphoric.  My body is a thing that I accept because I literally cannot change it enough to make the “not right” stop; for whatever reason, I’m able to accept that more completely than a lot of people do – and that doesn’t make me stronger, it’s just a difference.  Maybe it’s easier because even when I have “boy days” it’s not usually a typically masculine sort of boyishness that I experience. I mean, it’s a very teenage boy feeling, but it’s not a manly feeling. Maybe that part of me is too new to be grown up and someday that will change, I don’t know.

That’s the thing about gender identity. If you don’t fall squarely into one camp or the other, there’s a tremendous amount you suddenly realize you don’t know. About the world, about yourself, about your future . . . even about your past.

The hardest part is when I see beautiful people who can pull off male and female with equal élan. Who can visually switch, be either, neither, both. And I envy that physical manifestation of fluidity more than I can say. My body – incredibly short, fat, and stacked front and back – excludes me from that. I can make a stab at dressing like a guy, but that’s not going to make people take me for or treat me like a guy. I’ll just be a short, fat chick dressed in boy clothes. If I want to be treated like a guy, I’ll have to ask.

That’s awkward, even among friends. Maybe I’ll get comfortable with the idea eventually, I don’t know, but right now it just seems like a lot of work, me having to identify what I feel like and notifying people when that changes. It also seems invasive. I’m trying to work out a solution, but it may be I don’t find one that doesn’t feel uncomfortable.

I recognize how lucky I am not to be more dysphoric than I am, and I have nothing but love and sympathy for those who are.  We now use “bleeding heart” and “my heart bleeds for you” in sarcastic gross ways mostly, but no, I mean it, it hurts me inside that the world is so much harder for other trans-spectrum people. I feel enormous fellowship and love for all of you.

Maybe . . . maybe things will be different someday.  Identities shift and evolve, and we aren’t locked into one mode of being, the way we are told we are, taught to be.  So maybe I’ll change and change and change, trying to understand, right up until the day I die. As confusing as this is sometimes, I’m okay with that, I think.

And, so much more importantly, maybe things will be different for all of us. Maybe someday it won’t be so difficult to understand who we are and to be understood by others.

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