Another gender-related post…

…stemming from another system of dreams.

This one had to do with two friends I had, one in Kindergarten (which I’ll refer to as K); the other, in High School (HS).  In the dream, both of them were “interested” in me…though HS had seen me in both male and female forms.  Because of the latter, I was more interested in her…and was trying to figure out how to break this to K.

What I remember most notably is a feminine hand on my chest, rubbing it as though I were male…recognizing me as male.  I think this was the HS friend.  The point was not that my chest was flat or rounded — the point was that my being was recognized…and maybe there was love coming from someplace I didn’t think to expect.  (I can’t even remember this person’s last name, anymore; then again, I did remember her from 18 years ago.)

This is an interruption in a long span of not being particularly attracted to anyone.

I realized that…maybe this is an effect of not having recently developed close enough relations with anyone, to the extent that they could see the whole of me.  The last notable relationship I had was with someone who insisted on seeing me as “lesbian,” thus — in my mind — as a woman.  Needless to say, this was not tolerable…

But in the dream, I did realize that the difference here was that of being seen as “lesbian,” as versus “trans* male who is primarily attracted to women.”  This also explains why I get set off by men hitting on me, as 1) they’re invalidating my actual gender (as versus the one they assume I have), 2) I don’t feel my wishes (to end the encounters) are respected, 3) I’m not interested, and 4) I feel inhibited from seeking female partners at the same time as men assume they have implicit permission to come after me.

It’s also apparent to me at this point that my dysphoria is social and not physical.  If I can keep having a rounded chest, and still be seen as masculine (as distinct from “butch,” which my experience suggests is more of a social role than a gender orientation)…that would work.  And maybe then I could have a sex life (or one that was enjoyable, at least).

Then…what to do about this?

Last night, I briefly considered low-dose testosterone, mainly for the voice drop…but I don’t want to lose what I have left of my hairline.  (Although male-pattern baldness should cease advancing when T administration ceases, I won’t get that hair back.)  Plus, there is the problem of being on T for too long, which can erase my visibility to the queer community, if I end up being a relatively straight trans* male.

Not to mention the fur that I’m pretty sure is going to pop up if I use T for any appreciable length of time, which will inhibit my ability to dress femme and get away with it (without shaving.  I dislike shaving).  On the other hand…fur.  🙂

I did, on browsing my own blog, find a number of places where I had been considering my gender presentation.  Fairly consistently, getting back into shape has been a goal, though it’s odd to track my weight changes.  I was able to find dress shirts that fit, in the Women’s section, by the way!  I wore one of them to the test I took today, but that’s another entry…in any case, it actually fits, and doesn’t restrict my movement.  The only drawback is that it feels synthetic.

Right now, I’m trying to get back to the point where I don’t feel undernourished and rapacious because of the fever I’ve had, along with the corresponding denial of food.  I seem to be hovering around 159-160 lbs. (down from 164-165), which gives me a lot of fuel to burn (especially in the mornings), but the last time I exercised, I became fairly short of breath after about 5 minutes.  I felt like my throat was closing up, but wasn’t sure if it was asthma, or what.  D says this is because I’m just getting over being sick.

And I know I’ve been slipping on the sugared beverages, now that I have wiggle room.  I need to cut it out.  🙂

The other thing I noticed was a question of…piercings!  I haven’t been wearing any earrings, for quite a long time, now.  And I’m not sure whether to go back to body jewelry, or to work with non-ferrous metals and make my own stuff.  I’m pretty sure that I did get a cup bur (a tool to round the ends of wire), and I know I have wire up to at least 18g…I can use copper, brass, or silver (though I think my thick jeweler’s brass wire has a small amount of lead in its alloy; I’m uncertain as to whether wear on my pillowcases or on the insides of my piercings will expose me to lead).

The only trouble I’m facing is seeing whether my piercings are together enough to avoid enlarging on their own, from the weight (or metal) of my jewelry.  (Right now I have a set of filigree sterling earwires in, just to open the space.  I have also experienced irritation at base metal wires causing the piercings to abnormally enlarge.)  If they’re going to open up anyway, I might as well go back to the 14g rings I had, before, and/or just forget about wearing heavy jewelry.

At this point, though — if that happens, I’m getting fancier rings; and then possibly getting a third lobe piercing (I’m hoping that an act like this will signal the women I might like as to my group status).  The major problem is that it becomes harder to get a job after the third piercing, which seems to be a legal way to discriminate against minorities who use piercings as code.  Not that it’s official, but I’m fairly certain that it does mean something, because I’ve seen enough people using it.

I can try and wear my normal jewelry, and then if — by October — I still want to or need to gauge up, I can set that in motion.  The major reason I’m not getting a piercing now is that cold weather may keep me from getting an infection.

I’ve also been thinking about the pronoun issue:  that is, dropping “she/her” from my list of approved self-applied pronouns, and going by “they,” exclusively.  This may be in addition to changing the name I go by, out in the real world…but I’m going to have to sit on the latter and see how it feels, before making any changes.

Bombarded with TG dreams, today

It’s taken me a while to get around to even writing this, but:  I’m feeling all right, right about now.  For a bit I was thrown off by a couple of dreams about gender transition, and myself as male.  I am guessing…this means that my gender identity is still fluid?

I think I actually had three gender-related dreams, over the last 24 hours.  I can’t remember all of it, though, save a reflection of myself with my hair down and my face dark and barely visible, with an eye partially blocked by blood.  The second was an insight that the major thing blocking me from testosterone (in the dream) was the idea that if I were male, I would have cultural limitations imposed on me (like not being permitted to wear dresses [without ridicule]) which would then require other manners of expression which I did not yet know.  The third thing was the insight that even if testosterone administration made me go bald, I’d still have extra facial and body hair to cancel it out…so I’d actually be growing more hair.  😉  (I was assuming that I’d eventually gain a full beard…which I shouldn’t bet on.)

And I am not sure about this, but…I found an old post relating to getting a casual linen blazer…for $60, which (at the time) I thought was too much.  (On top of this, it was dry clean only, and too casual for job interviews; and I wasn’t planning on going on any dates.)  It’s probably a good thing I didn’t pick it up, because it would likely not fit me, right about now.  But I’ve got an idea to go out and pick up something like it, plus an actual nice tie of my own.  I’ll have to have D show me again how to tie it, but it will be nice to have a (personalized!) dress shirt, jacket, and tie which I can wear with slacks.

I’ll have to remember to measure my neck and shoulders before shopping for a Mens’ dress shirt, though.  I wonder if my neck has now reached at least 14″ in circumference?  (This is the smallest size in Mens’ dress shirts in my country.)  Or — it is possible that there will be something comparable in the Womens’ section.  I just have not tried on too many Womens’ button-up dress shirts — they can be really expensive, and they tend to limit movement because of the shoulder construction; plus, they’re not made to wear with ties (meaning I can’t properly tighten the tie), and they fit closer to the body than I’m comfortable with.

Yeah, I should try for Mens’.  Especially as I now wear a Mens’ M from the store I’m planning to visit, and have sized out of their Womens’.  I haven’t mentioned it, but I’m hovering around 161-162 lbs. right now.  (Though most of the belly weight which I have been concerned about, doesn’t look bad when I’m standing with good posture — it just looks terrible with poor posture.)  I’m sure that if I exercise more than I need to in order to simply stop the weight gain, and keep drinking water instead of sweetened drinks, I should actually go down in weight.

I’m starting to wonder if some of it is hormonal — I do deal with hirsutism (the reasons for this [other than a naturally high testosterone count and apparent predisposition to high testosterone sensitivity] have never been explained to me, but other people with hirsutism whom I’ve known, have had PCOS [polycystic ovarian syndrome]…which apparently, I don’t.  PCOS can cause people to become overweight [insulin resistant?], grow extra facial and body hair, and have acne, like myself).

The medications can’t be helping, though, either.  One of the major factors in my gaining weight, has been an unchecked amount of sweet drinks.  Eating ice cream and a conscious, sparing, mindful amount of candy will actually have less effect on me than drinking two or three sodas a week — or one Frappuccino — even though that sounds ludicrous.

I also have found older postings here related to working out for muscle mass…which sounds pretty good about now, as I do have a bench and weights, and it would be simple to add in upper body exercises to my routine.  It would be nice to have a couple of set days of the week to do this, though, so it isn’t just “whenever I feel like it.”  I started out working out about every other day (sometimes every day), but now it’s just like “whenever I see myself getting out of shape.”

Hopefully, I can get more motivated on gaining muscle mass, at least, even if I’m not going down in weight:  my fasting glucose numbers were fairly excellent, considering the medications I’m on.  So I shouldn’t have to worry too much about insulin resistance or diabetes, for now (to which weight gain from my medications can predispose one).  My counselor also wanted me to get out in the fresh air.  It would be nice to go walking or running, and it would help my cardiovascular development, as well as likely helping me get to sleep and feel better in the daytime.

And my hair…still hasn’t been trimmed.  I found that it is long enough for me to braid most of it back, however…which I haven’t done in a really long time.  I may do it more often, as it allays the fact that my ponytail insulates my upper back.  It will probably keep it cleaner at work, too.

I’ve found a trick that helps me braid my own hair as well:  basically, putting loose ponytail holders around two out of three bundles of hair, and sliding them down as I braid, eventually sliding one of them off and using the other to bind the end of the braid.  It’s not easy to braid my own hair without seeing it–! and it doesn’t help that it doesn’t get regularly taken care of, either.  Maybe I can have M actually straighten and trim it, if I’m going to wear it braided!

But anyhow…I’m doing okay.  If anything, I’ve found that my gender identity kind of wobbles, and it is nice to have a fully intact body.  But I super would like to get back to the version of myself with big muscles, and the physical power that goes with them, without trying to appear stereotypically male.  I think that — and wearing more clothes which fit, allow movement, and are masculine (whether from the Mens’ or Womens’ sections) — would actually go a long way toward helping me feel better.  Right now my hips are the biggest thing disallowing me from wearing long-hemmed Mens’ shirts easily, but I kind of like my hips.  I also like the long hems.

Yeah, that’s getting into TMI, but, well, you know–!

It isn’t as bad to gain weight there as it is to gain weight, some other places…

And I really do want to get back into running, as well…I’m missing the speed and agility of my youth…

Piercings, gender presentation, body image

I have just realized that, should I want a new piercing, I can get it at any time.

ANY TIME.  😉  Not just that, but any gauge.  Not ONLY that, but I can actually go up to 10g in my main piercings, if I decide that this is what I want to do.  If I plan on that, though, I’ll need to tell the piercer.  I’m not up to date on how far away the new piercing should be, from the old one; but if I go to the tattoo parlor I’m thinking of, they have very good reputations, and should know where to place it.

Several years ago, I made the provisional settlement with myself that I would not go above 10g until I had figured myself out more and was more stable…which, I am, now.  But I’d still like to hold myself to that gauge limit until I can reassess the situation.  Particularly, it won’t matter until I get to 10g and get comfortable at it.  Why 10g?  It’s pretty much a no-going-back girth, at which the ring diameter and thickness of shank (or wire gauge) appear close-enough-to-optimal, to me.

I am currently wearing 14g surgical steel rings, which never come out, and are treated as part of my body.  I’m actually still wearing the rings I was pierced with, though I’ve gone up and down in gauge several times (it’s a fairly time-consuming process to stretch [stretching can tear the flesh if done too hastily, and that has permanent consequences where it comes to any additional stretching], but it’s easy to take the rings out and let the piercings tighten or close).  This has been going on long enough that I’ve realized that I may not be able to wear conventional earrings anymore, without my piercings expanding from the weight and turning into slits…which can turn into migration, which can turn into a split lobe.  I don’t have this issue yet, and hope not to have it — but that means that I need to reassess my situation as regards my jewelry.

So while I really did enter into this with the opportunity to move one way or the other (as regards having expanded piercings or conventional ones); it looks as though the window of opportunity to have conventional piercings has passed (about…ten years down the line?).  My scars seem just permanently too loose, now.

Most of my conventional earwires are about 22g — it’s a fairly common size.  (I judge this from my experience in working with wire for jewelry; 24g is much too light, thin and weak for most earwires.  20g is nearly alternative-size.)  My piercings, though, are four sizes larger than that, at this point.

Generally, the sizes graduate in increments of two, so starting at 22, we have 20 (which is the largest mainstream wire I have, on a pair of gold-fill department-store rings), 18, 16, and 14.  The smaller the number, the larger the diameter of the wire itself (independent of whatever is made from it).  10g is two sizes up, and marks the beginning of the really beautiful carved and sculptural pieces, along with the beginning of the use of plugs instead of rings or barbells.

The major (psychological) factor restricting my entry into this is the availability of quality, safe, large-gauge jewelry…for the rest of my life.  It’s fairly apparent now that the “Modern Primitive” trend was, in fact, a trend.  There are still a lot of people around now, though — particularly young men — with expanded lobe piercings.  I’m not entirely sure what’s motivating people 15 years my junior to do it (who kind of missed the first wave with Gen X…and even I’m a Millenial), but that’s the trend.

There is also the possibility of making my own rings, but I can’t work surgical steel at this point (blacksmithing is an entirely different beast than silversmithing), and nor can I make a spring-loaded ring.  I can make 14g silver and copper earwires…which would seem the last-ditch effort to really wear elaborate decorative stuff rather than everyday stuff…or that which I can’t make myself.  This impacts me because I make jewelry.  Sometimes I want to wear it; but my jewelry suppliers do not stock quality large-gauge earwires.  Find a different supplier?  Find a different reputable supplier, more like…

The other thing I wanted to write about was going out of the house today with a little bit of stubble.  I was minorly concerned about it when I checked myself in the mirror before leaving (I had maybe 1mm of obvious hair growth), but I had left no time for myself to shave.  It was vastly more comfortable than I had imagined it would be — I actually had very little self-consciousness about it.  This, though, also implies that I really should avoid anything that will permanently eliminate this hair, in case one day I do want to live as overtly gender-nonbinary.  It’s not unheard of at all for transmasculine people to wear facial hair, even if they aren’t “passing” as male.  The biggest risk I have is from people looking at me and thinking I actually am male…

As regards the hair on my actual scalp, I’m coming to realize that it may actually look cute, loosely pulled back with the section which would have been bangs, cascading forward.  I’ve been avoiding it because I know it looks messy — but maybe there’s a place for “messy.”  “Messy,” may be better than, “I don’t know what I’m doing, let’s just do anything and get on with it.”  I’m considering, now, actually clipping the hair which does fall forward in a more organized manner, with the intent of wearing it loose.

Pretty much the only up-side to having long hair is being able to pull it back, and being able to braid it.  That’s…really, about it, for me.  I suppose I could try wearing it down again, and it might be cute that way, too — but then I have to deal with dust getting into it, and then washing it, and then trying to figure out how to dry it.  The point worth mentioning about pulling my hair back is that I’ve realized that I don’t have to pull it back tightly; a loose band will hold it, and not strain my follicles.

As far as clothing goes…?  I have been wearing femininely-gendered clothing to work, mostly out of habit.  I actually have been getting a little self-conscious over being assumed to be a man with a feminine chest, there (I suspect one particular observation to have been about the, “is it a boy or a girl,” question…talk about colonizing perspectives); but it’s generally been okay.  I’m not sure to what extent I want to wear masculine clothing, or to be seen as male.  I have pretty much no control over the latter, anyway; so maybe it’s a question better off not answered.  And as for the former…I just want to be comfortably clothed, and not put on display.  At least, not until I get my body back into shape.  😉

And like I’ve said before, having a female chest along with big muscles and a good amount of strength…is something I really want to get back to.  A lot of guys find it hot, too, which I have been a bit surprised at.  But I think to myself: big muscles, female chest, long hair, multiple piercings, may or may not wear “cross-gendered” clothing, may or may not wear makeup.

And yes, I am still intrigued about the possibility of a legal gender-nonbinary designation.  What I’m concerned about is government tracking.  It isn’t a big deal in a sane and well-checked democracy, but if things go south, I would not trust the government not to take advantage of my marking myself in any way to be a member of a hidden (vulnerable) minority.  I’m having a hard enough time reconciling my psychological status with the level of potential threat I’ve perceived recently, let alone someone designating “Third Gender” bathrooms which aren’t kept up to the safety or standards of the other two.

This is also a reason, by the way, I have not opted for testosterone.  I would no longer be able to hide as an invisible minority; and there are a good number of studies out on how marking oneself brings with it, stigma.  Not necessarily as much to trans* men, but I’m not a trans* man, as I’ve mentioned before (nor am I a trans* woman).  And not as much to White people, but I’m not White.

What I have found interesting is that in taking on the title “gender-fluid,” my gender has actually seemed to settle someplace within those giant bounds, more or less.  It’s still not anything that would be really free from stigma if it were to come to light…in 2016.  This is largely because of misogyny (as it affects men, women, and everyone else).  20 years down the line, if I haven’t been exterminated in the meantime, maybe it would be OK.  Of course, though, I can’t guarantee I’ll live that long.  Do I want to make it about what life I want to live now?  Or hold out for things to get better?

Maybe the question is whether I’m ready, now.  There are a number of things I am ready for; testosterone is not one of them.  It’s just too big of a shift, too soon.  And hey — I have held out for about 15 years, already.  If the time is right, I’m sure I’ll know it — and I can proceed with it, then.

Right now, I’m just getting ready for a needle through my ear…