I am not sure if I have mentioned here, my recurring dream series in which I’m investigating (or considering) gender transition. I think it started when my first gender therapist retired. Since then, I’ve been through — a lot. Enough to cause me to wonder if I am following the pattern of having been gender-variant in youth (the stereotypical term is “tomboy,” but I wasn’t a jock), and mainstreaming a bit, in my adult life.
If I think about it, a lot of what was labeled, “queer,” in my youth is absolutely normal for an adult person — like wearing my dad’s old clothes. The kids I grew up with just had unrealistic gender expectations, I think.
It wasn’t until after I was 19 that I learned what, “transgender” meant, and though I feel like I synced very well with the student community at the time, I can’t really trust those memories. Back then, I had a mental condition which was going untreated, which affected my judgment and cognition.
As the memories formed, that is, they were formed on the basis of a messed-up input system, calling the validity of my judgments at the time, into question. The fact is, though, I still have the memories which were made with the invalid encoding…so I have to take that into account when I remember them. I don’t know how else I would remember them, though.
At this point in my life, I’m in a much more stable condition, but there is still the history of about two decades of experience in which I was learning all I could about gender variance. That was two decades of questioning my gender.
I know now that I am likely not a transgender man, even if I may want to be. I’m thinking that it must be simpler (no offense meant) for a person who identifies as something for which there’s already room in society, even if it is an expansion of an existing category. Whereas, from the place I sit, I see no clear and set (and desirable) path forward as regards nonbinary people.
I know that I feel most at ease when I consider myself nonbinary (that is, neither a woman nor a man) — the term “enby” has come up in relation to this on the Reader, apparently a reading of, “nb,” for, “nonbinary.”
Of course…that doesn’t mean that what I’m going through is necessarily any less intense than it would be, if I were a cisgender man or a transgender man. What I actually am is something that I’ve decided not to really advertise, because it could get actually intense. And I’ve had enough of that, in my youth.
I also still have anger problems. That’s relatively okay when you’re a kid. Not so much, when you’re a legal adult.
The thing is, it then becomes apparent, when I do come out, that I’m skating under the radar as a woman — when I do not consider myself a woman at all. Regardless of whether I’m obviously female, or whether I wear mainstream clothes. I have no obligation to mark myself. However, I’m not totally settled in this arrangement.
The thought has come up to partially transition (my dream was specifically about getting top surgery so that I could take testosterone and not appear as a man or significantly androgynous person with breasts), so that I’ll be more obviously nonbinary, but that is a uniquely dangerous position in this society. It would seem less dangerous, apparently, than being a transgender woman of color — except for the fact that I could then be mistaken for a transgender woman of color. (Then again, I’m uncertain of the statistics of societal violence against nonbinary people.)
Amazingly, I’m not alone in having a lot of trepidation about that. It’s one thing if you’re driven and need to transition. It’s another if you maybe somewhere in the back of your mind, want to transition, but see people being killed for transitioning.
I also fairly obviously, to myself, have a mental map for a body that leans feminine, even though my gender identity does not coincide with “woman” (and seriously does not coincide with “straight woman”…I just don’t want what most straight men can offer me).
And yes, I do know that a lot of what I’ve been involved with, craftwise, is femininely-oriented. There’s a reason for that: I was trying to get as much out of being permitted to do things like sew and make jewelry as I could, to see if there could be any reason for me to stay female. So now I’ve got a history of crocheting, and stuff. 🙂 The art is more gender-neutral, but again, I have this attachment to flowers…
I mean, you see where I was going with my opening paragraph now, right? But still, those are hobbies, and not anything that tells me who I am. Even if I were male, I’d still be able to crochet, and sew, and make jewelry, and art with floral themes…people may just look at me weird. 😉 And that’s what I’m up against, when I’m thinking about transitioning to a male presentation.
And then there’s all the stuff about arteriosclerosis and acne and body hair, and I tend to back down when I consider that (though I did find my first coarse arm hair, the other day…I’m pretty sure that my body will take care of part of the masculinization process itself, as it ages).
Not that I wouldn’t like to be a buff, soft guy. I think it’s closer to where I am, than not. But that’s idealized, and it comes with a very high price. (It would also be easier for me to go to the gym if men [who see me as a woman] would stop hitting on me. Seriously.)
So at this point…I’m basically choosing not to disclose, or to selectively disclose, my gender status. And I’m not choosing my wardrobe (largely) based on what will get me pegged as a gender and/or sexual minority (GSM): mostly because I’ve aged out of being able to comfortably wear most mens’ pants and shorts (age means curves…and there isn’t anything wrong with wearing clothes that fit because they fit).
Of course, this means that I go around basically unknown; but I was unable to be unknown for years, in my young adulthood. It’s kind of nice not to be singled out.
Right now the thing I’m focusing on is…jewelry. Those of you who know me from a while back, know that I make jewelry. This is the place where I show that I’m different. The issue I’m having with this is that my piercings are now opened to 14 gauge, which is a little more than 1.5mm wide.
This means that if I do make jewelry for myself, I’m dealing with heavy wire and a wider surface which will be exposed to the metal. That’s an issue for me because I am currently unaware as to whether I can absorb heavy metals, like lead, through the tunnels of my piercings, at least if the metal tarnishes into soluble salts. I’m not sure of the chemical composition of the specific tarnishes I’m dealing with, though. (And it doesn’t give me a lot of comfort when some of my jewelry obviously has developed something like verdigris on it, which is slightly toxic.)
I do have heavy-gauge “Jeweler’s Brass” wire which may (at times) have a tiny amount of lead in its alloy, which has stopped me from making earwires out of it. I have read the MSDS, which says it should be fine to wear next to skin…but this is a piercing, a scar tunnel through the skin.
The obvious solution is to use Sterling or Fine Silver wire, but that limits my color options. Solid gold is out of the question, though gold-fill is not — it’s just exorbitantly expensive. In addition, all wire tends to take on a satin finish if you bend it enough…and I’m scared of polishing or burnishing the gold right off of gold-fill wire.
In the past, I’ve worked with craft wire (it tarnishes, even when it says it won’t; and never, never torch it [it’s noxious]), and copper wire. I’m certain that I don’t know what other metals besides copper are in the wire I’ve gotten from the home-improvement store, but the latter is what’s relatively safe to braze (torch). The other option is getting metals from a serious jewelry-supply store (not a craft store!).
Also, most places which sell earwires for the jewelry trade, do not sell heavy-gauge earwires. The heaviest I’ve seen in mainstream jewelry-supply catalogs is 18g, with the norm being 20 or 22g.
While it’s relatively easy for me to shape heavy wire…dealing with filing down the end of the wire and then shaping it may require annealing (softening), which requires a torch. Torching wire means having to pickle wire (remove excess oxidation and flux), and after that comes polishing (not to mention the fire-safety precautions that need to be taken when using an open flame).
When the best you’ve got is a Dremel, and you’ve used a Foredom…you really want a Foredom (a flex-shaft rotary tool, usually with a pendant handpiece). But you only get a Foredom if you’re dealing with a lot of serious manufacturing, and it would take quite a bit of sales to make back the $350-$500+ invested. (It’s just cheaper to take a class or lab, at this stage.)
In short, it’s a lot of work. Though — I did just get an idea, which is to wear tunnels and then thread non-metal materials (like threads or cords attached to woven pieces) through there. I have been thinking of going up to 10g, so that should be possible.
Did I ever tell you why I write? Stuff like that comes out. I’m not even entirely sure why. 🙂
Because of my present size, I also have been taking the opportunity to wear mens’ shirts, partially out of necessity and partially because I can, and they’re more comfortable for me because they don’t show my body as much. It’s more of a comfort when I’m getting unwanted male attention, but that hasn’t happened for a while. (Apparently, it tapers off as a person ages.)
This doesn’t really range into anything where I’d obviously be, “cross-dressing,” however.
It’s kind of hard to do that when you’re female, as it’s relatively accepted for a female-bodied person to wear mens’ clothing, at least where I am. The trouble seems to come in when a person is obviously outside of gender norms and apparently not-male and is looking at mens’ clothing…though the most I’ve gotten are snickers, and the occasional curious guy hanging around.
If, though, if I started making my own clothes, that would open up the field to some experimentation! I would just have so many more options, and ways to self-define. I’ve seen some people doing stuff like this, here. Like I’ve experienced in other places, most of the sewists are female-presenting, though that often doesn’t mean what one might think it means!
I’m relatively new to using my presentation to display parts of who I am, as I’ve had so often to forego that in favor of just being clothed in the best available option (which often boiled down to “what fit”). It will be interesting to see where I take this, in the next few years.