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Posts Tagged ‘dysphoria’

Women and Men

May 15, 2011 4 comments

I’ve been on the road a lot recently (moving, I fucking hate moving), and the car is pretty much the only place I listen to the radio. Advertisements are the bane of my existence right now. I think I’ve heard every variant of “men and women” over the past week or so. Every time I hear it I just think “Oh, well I’ll stay home then.” There’s a particular add for Planned Parenthood that runs pretty often on some of the channels over here that really makes me want to poke my eyes out, because that’s supposed to be a safe space, and I just get that twinge of “well, that’s not me”. Fuck, I was in a therapy group not too long ago where they did that, even after I had talked to the counselors in charge about my identity.

The problem is that they think they’re being inclusive. They’re trying, but missing the mark for a tiny percentage of us. They don’t want to specifically exclude me (often, they don’t even know that people like me exist, which is its own problem), but that’s what they end up doing. It’s always the little things. I think I could handle someone coming up and screaming in my face, just so I could have something that’s obvious to other people to deal with, but that’s not what oppression looks like most of the time anyway. People treating me like an alien is one thing, but treating me normal and still making me feel like an alien is depressing as hell. This stuff is so ingrained in our society, sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever be able to escape it.

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Body musings

September 5, 2010 Leave a comment

I had a bit of a confrontation with the mirror recently. I’ve had an interesting relationship with my body, there are lots of things I’d like to change and not just having to do with gendered characteristics. I really want electrolysis on my face, facial hair is the number one body-related dysphoria trigger for me. I’d also like to gain weight, and stop having quite so much acne. And I’ve never been sure what to do or think about my genitals (I don’t like them, but I like some of the things they can do, and I don’t like my alternatives, though I like some of the things those could do too…).

But I’ve realized something. Out of all the things I dislike about my body, the thing I hate the most is the meanings other people put into them. I had a period where I was shaving off all the hair I could reach, because body hair is “masculine.” That stopped mainly for economic reasons (many many razors, gets expensive over time), but now I’m at a point where I just don’t feel like it anymore. I’ve gone back to shaving my armpits (because having hair there makes me feel grotty) and chest (because I think my five chest hairs look funny), but other than that I discovered I don’t care. I don’t dislike any part of my body because it is “masculine”, I dislike them because they feel weird to me. What I do dislike is the fact that people look at my body and think “male” automatically. Mens bathrooms and male pronouns cause me much more distress than any part of my body (usually, I might make an exception for facial hair).

I might have once described myself as (and some people might now describe me as) male-bodied. But when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a man’s body, or anything that remotely resembles maleness to me. I just see me. Maybe that’s new, maybe that’s something to do with self-acceptance or something. I’m not sure. Right now, I’m just baffled that anyone could look at me and think “man” (and I’m not particularly androgynous, especially when you take off my head [please don’t do that literally]).

Another reason that I did so much shaving, or that I until recently was somewhat fixated on physical transitions (to what I couldn’t tell you), is that I was trying to exercise some measure of control over my body. I don’t have much say in the functions of my endocrine system, or in my genetics. But it turns out that what bothers me more is the lack of control I have over people’s perceptions of me. I actually have no idea how people see me at any point in time, even people I’ve told about my gender identity (I’m a bit afraid to ask those people, not knowing what the answer is). While I would like to do a lot more exploring with my gender expression, I’m generally comfortable where I am and shouldn’t have to express as obviously ambiguous just to have people read me as non-male. I’m starting to think that the idea that I would have to do that, or that I had to do some sort of physical transition for my feelings to be legitimate, is something that was pushed on my by society at large. That my non-binary gender is only “real” if I have to jump through hoops and go to a huge amount of trouble to express it.

That’s not to say that I’m not going to do anything about my body. I’d still like to get electrolysis. And figure out something to do about the Pendulums of Awkwardness that doesn’t get me put on expensive hormones for the rest of my life to avoid osteoporosis. But I’m doing those things for my own self, not to try to express some performative gender that shouldn’t need to be performed. I should be able to be my gender, not have to show it.

I give in: an actual intro of sorts

June 13, 2010 4 comments

So, I’ve mentioned in my profile that I identify as androgynous. It is, I suppose, time for me to explain what I mean by that, largely because everyone will have their own idea of what it’s supposed to mean. This is the part where I give the disclaimer that every person’s gendered experience is different (that is every PERSON, not every trans person) and that my definition of what it means to be androgynous will be different from others identifying themselves as such. Here we go.

The basic principle behind it all is that I am neither male nor female. I do not personally consider myself a fusion of the two. I mix “masculine” and “feminine” characteristics and behaviors rather freely, but I don’t associate those with being male or female particularly so they don’t inform my identity. Neither do I identify as neutral, or nothing, I have a gender of some sort, I just have no helling idea what to call it. The visual I use to explain it is this: imagine a line, with male on one end and female on the other. Now picture a dot way up in outer space away from the line. Doesn’t matter where really. That dot is me. Naturally this causes some basic communication issues. I’ve already discussed the pronoun issue, but it goes a little deeper than that. Gendered language can be really subtle, and I miss a ton of it. It takes me a moment to realize I’m being referred to when people say “he”, so imagine my confusion when people refer to the male/female ratio of a room or comment on any non-stereotypical behavior of mine. I basically don’t get standard concepts of gender, I’ve learned what constitutes masculine and feminine behaviors in my (contemporary American) society but I don’t really grok any of it on a deeper level and speaking about it is kind of forced for me.

In terms of body issues, which are rather common amongst trans folk, it fluctuates. I personally don’t identify with my body, and how much that bothers me really depends on my mood and level of undress. I hate facial hair and don’t identify with what’s growing out of my chin that sometimes I forget it grows back. I am occasionally legitimately surprised at my body when I undress, like I expected it to change while I wasn’t looking or something. Occasionally it manifests as serious psychological pain, in the vein of what others refer to as “dysphoria”, though this has become rare as I’ve learned to “deal” with it (I think my methods for that deserve their own post, suffice to say there are probably better methods out there). As I am a college student and not exactly well-off, actually doing something about my body surgically speaking is a ways off. I try not to think about it too much.

The last thing I want to mention is how triggering gender stuff can be. Pronouns or gendered words being used in reference to myself, especially if I have to use them, can cause or exacerbate a period of depression, anxiety, or dissociation. Bathrooms also can be a huge issue. If I know I’m going to be home or in an area with gender-neutral bathrooms anytime later in the day, I tend to hold it in public unless it’s an emergency. If I’m already having issues (see depression, anxiety, and dissociation above) I avoid public restrooms or even going to the bathroom in general to the point where it may be unhealthy (ever not go for two days, yeah, bad idea). I think details about bathrooms deserve their own post as well.

Hopefully that was enlightening. If this is stuff you already knew about and had a handle on, good for you. If it’s new to you then that’s good too, check about for more. I don’t have a lot of resources linked here, but some of the people I link to have plenty so go for it.