The Gendered History: A Follow-Up

Talking with my metamour recently made me think of and reread my Gendered History series. I feel like it implies that now, I’m completely happy in my body, that I don’t ever question my gender or my pronouns or my presentation, that I never wish I were something different, that I don’t ever have any negative thoughts related to my gender.

Spoiler alert: that’s not true.

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Outside Questions: How can someone tell if they are transgender or genderqueer?

For the first time, I’m tackling a question someone asked elsewhere and posting it here. It’s not an uncommon question, it’s not an easy question, and it’s not even a completely clear question, terminology-wise. How can someone tell if they are transgender or genderqueer?

The first thing I want to address is what may be implied by the “or”. A person can be both transgender and genderqueer. I am one such person! I sometimes shorthand it to “transqueer”, but I also sometimes shorthand “speed limit” to “splimit”. I am genderqueer because that is my gender. I am transgender because my gender does not match my assigned at birth sex, and because I say so. It’s important to note that not all genderqueer people are trans; you only are if you say you are. This is a word you can choose for yourself, not a word you can choose for someone else (excepting cases of choosing for a fictional person, though I know writers who would argue that even the fictional person is choosing for themself and that you’re just writing down their choice).

Second: how can you tell if you’re transgender? Like I said, this is a personal choice. Most people look at the definition of “gender different from the sex assigned at birth” and then, if the definition fits, choose if they wish to use this word. Some people use it for a while and then stop using it for various reasons, none of any more or less value than others. This word is a choice. This word is for YOU to choose for YOU. Not for someone else to choose for you. Not for you to choose for someone else. For you to choose for yourself, and for you to respect another person’s choice regarding whether or not it is used for them.

Third: how can you tell if you’re genderqueer? This is even more personal, I think. This is your personal journey with your gender identity and gender expression and even in what words you like best and least. If you’re not sure, I would start by reading other people’s accounts of their own journeys, or of their feelings and perceptions and experiences of being genderqueer. Here’s mine. Google (or another search engine of your choice) will help you find more, I’m sure.

An extra note: how can you tell if someone else is transgender or genderqueer?

By listening to what they say. By reading what they write in their online profile, on their Facebook page, in a letter or email, on their forehead in Sharpie if that’s how they choose to tell others. If you suspect but aren’t sure, don’t tell others that they are. I would even caution against a straight question, unless you’ve already expressed multiple times (sincerely, honestly, understandably) that you are supportive of this person regardless of their gender. If you haven’t expressed that but want to ask, start expressing it. Make your friendperson feel safe with you, and they’re more likely tell you whether you ask or not. Make them feel unsafe, insecure, or unsure, and they’re not likely to tell you at all.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

I feel very strongly about the Transgender Day of Remembrance. I believe that it’s not enough, but it’s what we have, a part of what we can and should be doing. I believe it’s important to remember our past and our siblings (yes, our trans* siblings, not only our trans brothers and sisters) even while we push ahead to our future. I believe it’s important to hold these in public and visible places, to invite allies, to support each other, to support the lost.

I wanted this to be a very different post. I hoped I could write a different post, I thought maybe I could move past this and talk about how much it means to me – as a trans* person and as a human being – to see the number of allies that showed up in the extreme cold and the wonderful supportiveness.

But I can’t. Someone made what I have to assume was a poorly thought out decision at my local Day of Remembrance. Someone thought it was appropriate to give a speech that was thinly veiled victim blaming, and they carried it on way too far.

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Baths: Apparently They Don’t Have To Be A Thing

When I was an infant, I was bathed in a plastic container in the kitchen sink by whoever felt I needed to be cleaned, with whoever was already in the room present.

When I was a rather small child, I bathed mostly with a sibling (on rare occasion, due to geographic limitations, a cousin) with rather often an adult in the room, depending on the age of the other child in the bath.

When I was a slightly-less-small child, I still bathed largely with a sibling, but the bathroom door was shut, and it was just the two of us. I don’t remember if this was because I hated to be alone or because the family was trying to save water or for someone other reason. Regardless, this was when I learned about genitals and, supposedly, the difference between “boys” and “girls” and the fact that genitals were the only thing that mattered when making this distinction; all other gender markers flowed from the crotch.

My family eventually taught me how to shower, and baths fell to the wayside because showering was basically the coolest thing ever invented. I could be like a grownup, my singing sounded better than when I was sitting down in the tub, and seriously I just like the feeling of warm water running over me that doesn’t get cold just from sitting in the air. I stopped taking baths because who wants cold water, and who wants to be a kid. (Oh, past me, everybody wants to be a kid, whether they admit it or not.)

Cut ahead to boarding school, where a long bath could make me angry like nothing else when I needed to pee or wanted to shower that night as well. Why in hell would I do something to my suitemates that I couldn’t stand them doing to me? Not to mention this was the time of What The Fuck Is This Body Doing (more commonly, or least more publicly, called “puberty”) and one roommate’s description of her mother washing dishes as “swishing them around in dirty water and calling them clean” that immediately made me think of how taking a bath is exactly that, and so. No desire to swish myself in dirty water, no desire to lounge around naked longer than necessary for cleaning. I did not need to see What The Fuck This Body Was Doing any more than necessary, because it was wrong wrong wrong — and you might guess (or already know) that this is about when I dug my feet in and started screaming to myself that “female” was just not on.

And then dorms at college were even worse, and then in apartments still there was this whole What The Fuck, Body thing, and so I just never even thought about it until one day, I found myself moving into a place where there was a shower, but the shower doors were not yet installed and a shower curtain was Just Not On with the landlady, and I had to take a bath or go dirty. And it was awful because there were no doors – not on the shower, not on the bathroom, not on the dressing room between the hall and the bathroom – and the water was gross at first because nobody had ever used this tub before, and I had to look at my wrong wrong wrong body way too long, floating in wrong wrong wrong ways in a tub full of water. As soon as those shower doors were installed, it was back to No Bath Land for me, no looking back.

I sort of thought I’d live there forever, but then the other week I had a terrible horrible no good very bad day wherein my afternoon calm-down-already shower wasn’t doing the trick and I ended up sitting on the floor of the tub with the water running over me, being grouchy, and then I accidentally kicked the plug and the water started to fill up in the tub, and then suddenly I was sitting in a bath. And I was already clean from the shower, so that wasn’t gross, and I was so frustrated from the day that I just shut my eyes and didn’t look and didn’t feel and just floated my mind as surely as my body in that warm water … and it was awesome.

Clearly, enjoying one bath in an uncommon state of mind isn’t enough to decide me that all baths are okay. So I took another one. For science. And because I was tired and didn’t quite feel like standing up under the warm shower any more. And it was weird, and I could see all the wrong wrong, but then I covered that with a warm wet washcloth and closed my eyes and it didn’t matter anymore.

So I took another one. For science, again, I tell you. Only this time, I didn’t shower first, and it was disgusting, so I drained the water, showered properly, and tried again. (When I say it was disgusting, I do not mean the water appeared disgusting; it was the same kind of disgusting that makes me suddenly remember that smelling shit means there are tiny shit particles in my nose, or that this meat used to be an animal that I totally would have snuggled, or that once I heard a story about someone eating a worm out of their apple. It’s all in my head, but I Just Cannot after those disgusting thoughts enter my head.) Post-shower bath: fantastic again.

So in order to take a bath, I have to appease science-brain by showering first, even if only quickly and vaguely. Then I have to appease gender-brain with my washcloth-covering. Then? Then it’s awesome. I think I need some bath toys. Perhaps with those, I can turn gender-brain back to kid, before it was brainwashed into ascribing body parts to gender, and I won’t even need the washcloth anymore.

Also, bath toys would just be fun.

The Gendered History, Part 3

(Apologies for being late on this one. Regular scheduling will resume this week, though!)

This is a short (4-6 part?) series that will post weekends until it’s done. This is a personal history, the evolution and experience of my gender. As such, this series will contain frank discussion of sexual maturation (specifically of the FAAB body & its genitals), gender dysphoria, expressions of dissatisfaction with body shape, disordered eating, direct physical self-harm, depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and similar issues. Other topics mentioned include unsafe chest-binding practices, alcoholism, heterosexism, cissexism, and related. (I hope this note is unnecessary, but: many of the views I express in this segment are negative and not what I believe now at all. I have learned and grown and accepted myself & others since then. I still think it’s important to air all of my dirty laundry, in the hopes that someone fighting those deep-seated ideas can find some strength to overcome them.)

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The Gendered History, Part 2

This is a short (3-4 part) series that will post weekends until it’s done. This is a personal history, the evolution and experience of my gender. As such, this series will contain frank discussion of sexual maturation (specifically of the FAAB body & its genitals), gender dysphoria, expressions of dissatisfaction with body shape, disordered eating, direct physical self-harm, depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and similar issues. Other topics mentioned include pregnancy, unsafe sex (and the consequences thereof), and underage persons having sex.

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The Gendered History, Part 1

This is a short (3-4 part) series that will post weekends until it’s done. This is a personal history, the evolution and experience of my gender. As such, this series will contain frank discussion of sexual maturation (specifically of the FAAB body & its genitals), gender dysphoria, expressions of dissatisfaction with body shape, disordered eating, direct physical self-harm, depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and similar issues. Other topics mentioned include pregnancy, unsafe sex (and the consequences thereof), and underage persons having sex. Continue reading