Can’t sleep. Rethinking situation for webcomic series.

Alright.  I took a nap from 7:30 to 9:30 PM and also ate a huge piece of pizza and two bowls of lentil soup, tonight.  Accordingly, I now have indigestion and can’t fall asleep.

Which is kind of a shame, because I’m really tired.

I’m also still recovering from whatever sickness this was that I caught…but I’m guessing this isn’t really necessary information for this post.  🙂  Point is, I’ve been tired all day.

I’ve been cruising around some tags tonight, notably the “webcomics” one on WordPress.  One of the things that I’ve realized from doing so is that writing — particularly for comics — doesn’t have to be as deep and involved as I’m getting into with my own most recent story.  This is a pattern going back into my history, though.

While I was laying here hoping for melatonin (the kind that comes from my brain, not a pill) to do its work, I realized that one of the reasons I’ve been avoiding fiction writing is that it seems escapist, where it comes to my own motivation to write.  Then I realize it sounds escapist, and recall myself back to the real world:  you know, the one in which I am constantly mistaken for a girl (I don’t consider myself a “girl,” or woman, for that matter) — and get depressed.

There is an easy fix for this where it comes to my current story, though:  keep it closer to reality.  This will probably be far more gritty, but actually more realistic and maybe easier to write.  Plus, it will likely ring less of escapist fantasy.  Will this end up being the only story I have to write?  I don’t know.  I hope not.  It’s worth a shot, though.  One story is better than none…but if I’m going to write, I need to protect myself from myself…

…and also I’ve got to decide what I’ll do if writing this makes me want to start T.

I’m going to try and fall asleep now.  It’s been 30 minutes since I got up.  I’m still burping up acid, but…I’m tired.

Can’t sleep. Rethinking situation for webcomic series.

gender stuff.

I am feeling a bit tired and worn right now:  just to let you know, before I get into any of this.  What is happening with me right now is…something which often happens around the holidays.  Without the focus of school, I have a tendency to slide a bit into depression.  This is both a function of fewer daylight hours (I keep waking up with about three of these left), and of my long-standing gender issues.

I seem to slip in and out of periods when I’ll consider myself either genderqueer, or both genderqueer and transgender.  Tonight I had the ability to give voice to some of my concerns about my future…and it was fairly tough.  Something about being a 30-something Millennial, not having yet built a new family around myself…being unable to father children myself, and not wanting to carry a baby…plus the difficulty of finding someone who can both love me and respect my own view of who I am at the same time (that is, not imposing “woman” or “wife” expectations on me because I happen to be female — INCLUDING “you must agree that I’m right about everything if you’re attracted to me”)…

I tend to be a loner, though.  It can be difficult to be around people when they don’t know who I am…which is most of the time.  Recently, my social circle has receded back to my nuclear family, both because school is out and because I haven’t made any special efforts to have a social life.  At present, though, what I’m experiencing seems like it may develop into agoraphobia if left unchecked.

Anyhow, I do have the opportunity to work on things that I couldn’t work on while school was in.  It’s very apparent that I need to avoid making any large life decisions while I’m depressed, so I’m thinking I may try and channel this energy into something other than my embodiment.  Right now I’m listening to music, which is helping, although it’s also disrupting my thought pattern and making it harder to put to words what I’m feeling.

It is apparent to me that I am female-identified, though not woman-identified.  I don’t feel that I am clearly man-identified, though, either…I exist in some kind of liminal space where on the inside I’m a very femme bisexual guy, while on the outside I appear as a slightly butch female.  (I’m sure that trying to write out some of these feelings in fictive format has not helped.)  The discrepancy falls in when trying to physically “harden up” in order to appear more masculine, and on the interior not being a gay butch woman (as I’m seen) but a femme (albeit tough femme) bi male.

I suppose that if I did want to work on my embodiment, I actually do have the time (and food money) to physically harden up a bit.  The difficulty (well, one of them) in having the body I do is that when I…am looking a way that I accept best, I kind of look like a cholo — which is not the greatest position to be in where it comes to my safety.  But when I have long hair, especially on top of big muscles…I can (easily) look like a young male gangster, and in fact that seems preferable to coming off as a girl.

At this point, I’m unsure as to whether I’ve let the weight and acne issues go as far as they have because I look more masculine to myself at a heavier weight and with more acne.  Apparently this doesn’t hold for my facial hair, though I really don’t know what I would do if I could actually grow a goatee, or hair on — whoa! both sides of my face! — right.  I’m sure it would be some kind of social statement if I grew half a beard, but…somehow, I don’t think the world is ready for that, yet.  😉

Especially as I haven’t had top surgery yet…and the only reason to do so would be to blend in as male, so I wouldn’t be harassed as trans* every time I left the house.  (It isn’t a good idea for me to bind my chest long-term…it has to do with the way I’m built, encouraging pain.  Though there is a fix I can think of, I should really talk to my OB/GYN about it first.)

Anyway…I’m tired…and should probably sign off for tonight, now that I see what time it is.  I mistakenly double-booked the day after tomorrow for two separate purposes…and I’m kind of upset about this, because that is the time in which I intended to make up tomorrow’s absence from work.  Either I’ll have to go in late, or not go in at all, which will be a further out-of-pocket expense, in addition to the holidays and getting sick…

Of course, I could work a couple of days in a row, but I was pretty exhausted last time I went in (remnants of whatever got me sick in the first place), and that was after only six hours.

Maybe…I should just give myself permission to take care of myself…

gender stuff.

Yeah…sometimes spiritual talk does help.

This piece, I suppose, explores something tangential to me…in the New Age ideal of Ascension.  Though let’s face it, many things are tangential to me.  I have so many tangents that my location based on their point of intersection is fairly clear (and while I am tempted to intentionally run off on a tangential diatribe to poke humor at this, I’ll spare you).  😉

Tonight, I had the experience of accidentally clicking on the Reader Tag, “psychometry,” through which I found a blog, interesting enough to me, if not to you.

Based on its location in my Tag listing, I assume that I have spoken about this before at some other time, probably years past.  Actually, Googling myself brings up at least two separate instances of this, neither of which look content-rich.  Psychometry…is a name given to the ability to discern information from an object based on its “energetic” imprints.  I have what might be considered the beginnings of this…I don’t know how to zero in on specific information, but I do get clear “feelings” when I touch certain objects which are not explainable by ordinary means.

As I may have said before, however, the ability to feel things based on sensing something (what?) which one cannot quite put a name or definition to, in my family, crosses over into various other unusual responses to reality, and the realm of having a hard time staying grounded in “this” reality.  Without saying too much; if I am energetically sensitive, this comes along with my creative abilities, which seem to also come along with my own mental troubles.

In The View From the Studio Door, Ted Orland quotes James Lee Burke’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment that “God might choose fools and people who glow with neurosis as his partners in creation — but he doesn’t make mistakes.”*  (83)  What I find interesting about this, as it reflects back on my life, my studies, and my work, is that a great number of neurodiverse people seem to be attracted to the arts.

When I showed a couple of paintings and drawings to one of my old team members, noting my illness at the same time as I felt inclusion in the arts community despite it, he noted that I had “Mad Skillz.”  This, and “glowing with neurosis,” kind of shed a different light on what otherwise might be seen entirely as an illness, as versus one aspect of a larger human survival strategy.  Other components of this strategy might include irrational hope and unshakable faith.  After all, the first trait qualifies as delusional; and the second trait only evades that status because the facts regarding the actual situation can’t be proven, therefore one cannot technically be proven wrong.

I’m not sure if Van Gogh is entirely “to blame” for the humanization of those of us who at times (at least) feel otherworldly, but for some reason, there are a collection of us in the arts community.  I am also certain that I am not alone in having my spirituality feed very much into my art, which in turn (along with the fear of having an effect on my society which is unintendedly deleterious — likely instilled in me from peers assuming I was subhuman, growing up), is the main thing that scares me away from it.

But it’s fairly evident that most people aren’t scared of doing the wrong thing for their society — especially those who clearly are doing the wrong thing.  It’s also fairly evident that my creative drive is likely what has sustained me to this point.  Hence, why I try — even if wobbling a bit — to return to the sheer joy and power and terror of creation.

Though it is still just weird for me to see things develop as I work on them.

Last night, in particular, it seemed as though I had been revving the (metaphorical) car in neutral, and then suddenly engaged the gears.

I don’t know how this creativity thing works.  I have been given some tools to help me harness it, but knowing how to drive a car doesn’t mean you understand how the car functions.  It means that you can get from Point A to Point B by using it.  That doesn’t mean that it’s easy to block out the noise which comes when either you do well, or don’t.  Nor does it mean that you won’t suddenly engage a gear and lurch forward and freak yourself out.

The easiest way to block a person from being creative is to convince them not to begin; beginning is the hardest part.  After you have something to work with, even if it’s just a scrawl…you can start to see things in it, and what it might become.  But beginning?  It’s a leap of faith, and when you know you’re going to be terrified either way at the outcome (“oh no! it’s horrible!”/”oh no, I’m being reminded of my life purpose! [now what?]”), it’s hard to take that leap.

The difference is that one terror is the terror (or relief) of failure.  The other terror is the exalted joy of success, and accompanying sense of direction and responsibility, which requires (guess what?):  CHANGE.  Bravery, direction, and purpose are not easy burdens to bear, but they become far easier when you’re committed to them, and embedded in the work already.  Past a certain point, there is no going back.

Of late, this has weighed on me; particularly within the last 15 years, in trying to figure out what to do about my embodiment…though I realize now that there is no, “best-case scenario,” for me.  I am not a, “‘woman’ who ‘wants to be’ a man,” or a, “‘man’ who ‘wants to be’ a woman,” and whether either of those things are even accurate ideas, is an obvious question.  What my life is has gone far beyond black and white dichotomies; and maybe that is my choice, made while I was unaware it was a choice:  to live in full color (yes, with yellow, in addition to red and blue [or magenta and cyan:  you pick]:  you get many more colors that way) in a society that has historically largely seen in greyscale.

Surgery would be superficial, for me.  Hormones would require never-ending care.  I’ve been in the transgender community in one form or another for at least the last 15 years, and I know now that I am clearly not transsexual.  Remedies made for them will not work for me.  At the same time, I doubt I could be happy in relationships where the fact that I don’t identify as a woman would be unknown or disrespected.

Particularly, I don’t identify as lesbian (to be lesbian implies, to me, womanhood; it doesn’t to all, however), and could likely partner with a man — but that man would have to respect me wholly, including the fact that I don’t see myself as a woman, and cannot bend on that point for his benefit.  I stopped seeing myself as a woman as a matter of survival, and my survival comes before my relationship with him.  (I’m thinking that this is a new flavor of genderqueer.)  The same point stands for a significant other of any gender, by the way.  Men are only the most commonly occurring options.

In talking about gender and sexuality and how I want to shape my future, I’m talking about self-actualization, which is another aspect of creativity.  It is, to be certain, one of the clearest points I could assay to support my hypothesis that to change…is scary.  Especially when what you’re considering changing is something that will alter your life from the ground up.  (Yes, art does that for me.  It changes me as I work on it.)  But sometimes we change and we don’t know we are changing until the process is already well underway.  Sometimes we take a third or fourth or fifth+ route that we didn’t originally see as an option, but which is the only way to survive while keeping ourselves somehow intact (that’s not meant to be a commentary on surgery; I can’t speak to the feelings that cause one to feel enough stress at their embodiment that physical transition is the only option).

Anyhow, I was talking about Ascension, or the evolution of our collective beings to a higher level of functioning (as I presently understand the term).  It will be interesting to see if any of this works out in the ways I’ve seen predicted.  I know (and know that I know) little enough about the universe and my own existential existence not to have ruled out messages of hope.  After all, it’s one of those survival mechanisms.

*Orland, Ted.  (2012).  The view from the studio door:  How artists find their way in an uncertain world.  Santa Cruz, CA & Eugene, OR:  Image Continuum Press.

Yeah…sometimes spiritual talk does help.

Shifting into a femme space

Well…huh.

I’m trying to figure out how to approach saying what has come up for me, today.  There’s a lot of it, though maybe it doesn’t need so many words.

I have reached the point where I am able to look in a mirror and see myself as male — or as I would look if I were, physically, male.  The most surprising point I came to when I did this is that I would likely be seen primarily as a male of African descent…at least if the fat in my cheeks were redistributed to be leaner, and my chin developed a slight bit (cartilage growth happens on testosterone:  meaning it is likely my nose would develop a slight bit, as well).

Even prior to the protests in my country over police killings of men and boys of African descent, this had been pointed out to me by bystanders…that transitioning to male, for me, is not the same as it would be if I were White.

I may be wrong here, but I’m thinking that I remember something about how almost all of my male relatives on the Black side of my family have been in prison at one time or another.  This is basically not doable for me, but chances are that police would be paying more attention to me if I appeared to be a dark-skinned Black male than a dark-skinned Black female.  (Granted that my skin isn’t even that dark, but it is a good deep olive; deeper in tone than the vast portion of people I run across on a daily basis.)

Which, you know, brings up the point that I don’t even know how I come off to people, as things stand now.  It hasn’t been much of an issue except where it has come to privileged White peers — mostly in college (I still remember getting asked about how I got my “scar,” which was just a line where my melanin was lighter in the center of my chest.  Someone had never seen a brown person’s skin, before).

Let me get off of that.

In any case, today I have been thinking about what it would be like to be socially male, as versus (as things are now) socially female.  Although — it wasn’t really until I started making friends with guys in the Art program (some of whom had military experience) that I realized how distanced I was from traditional heterosexual male culture.  It isn’t especially that I saw their versions of masculinity as superior to mine, but my sphere of experience was definitely feminine in relation to theirs.  I do kind of like it that way.

The major issue here is that right now, I am more fully aligned with wanting to have a girlfriend who sees me as masculine, or to be a boyfriend (yes they are two different things ♥) than wanting to be someone else’s girlfriend.  (Quite plainly, I don’t know how to, “be a girlfriend.”)  This gets kind of sticky where it comes to being attracted to men (especially those who may see me as a woman; which in some cases is understandable due to the range of their experience.  For example, I have a depth of knowledge in feminism which may be out of the reach of most younger men, especially men who haven’t been exposed to queer community), but it’s pretty near undeniable that I’d rather be a guy’s boyfriend if I could.  (And I probably would bring in quite a bit of world-opening material for that guy…)  I’ve found other queer (cis) men to be actually kind of …intrigued by this possibility, by the way.

But it’s also pretty clear, from one of my past involvements, that I’m not actually fully a man (not to say that those who identify with me here are not fully men, if they do identify as such; but for me…the way I see myself [which goes to a depth I can’t relate in one post] cannot fully encompass “man,” in my mind).  I’ve been in nearly the exact reverse position in past experience, here, and it did not help me to think of the person I related with as their target gender.  There was something different about this person that taking on the label “woman” would not erase (but then granted, this person did not identify as a woman).

With me there would not be a clear switchover from female to male.  I have a surfeit of femininity to the point that I would be obviously abnormally feminine for a man — and this is what has held me back from asking to be referred to as “he,” in the past.  (If they call me “he,” what happens the next time I wear a bra and women’s shirt in Dusty Rose?)

It’s also why I haven’t taken testosterone, so far.  I’m not really a queen (and believe me, I have met FtM queens), but I do range into “femme” territory.  It’s like being just to the other side of the line of being “butch” but still female-identified:  hypothetically, this is occupying the position of being femme and male-identified.  The only wildcard is that the person is also trans* as well, which is a different variable:  one that has to do with history and the body, but not necessarily with identity.  It also means, though, that anyone who is going to — say — date me, is going to need to be informed that I identify as a femme man (or as a genderfluid person who ranges into femme/male territory), not as a straight woman or as a lesbian.

Seems that the most obvious route for me is to be a pretty man.  A pretty man on estrogen.  🙂  A PRETTY PRETTY MAN.  😉  I kind of wonder how to motivate myself to do this again, though.  When I went through weight training the first time, it was obviously to harden up and become more “butch,” as this was one of the things which both protected me and displayed my openness to relationships with women (the men were probably still largely too immature for me, then.  The one physically male person I did have a relationship with, was genderqueer).  This hasn’t been able to be a good motivator for me in more recent history, however.

And as idealistic as it would be to say that I’m doing it for myself and my health…is that holding a lot of weight?  And I mean, I’ve known guys who have worked out so they could be pretty men (for the ladies), and they didn’t seem to have a problem with it.  Then again, they were also about a decade younger than myself.

I could try and explore what it feels like to be a femme man, eh?  Might as well, while I can…

Shifting into a femme space

Digging out the needles

I really want to be drawing, but something is stopping me.

I spent most of today in bed…during which, I had another one of my “transition” dreams.  These (and the accompanying feelings) take a bit of time to negotiate, after the fact.

When I was younger (between 19 and 25), I thought I was FtM; that was, female-to-male transgender.  As I got older and gained more experience in transgender and genderqueer communities, that shifted to genderqueer, and at this point it’s settled on gender-fluid; with notable periods of feeling convincingly male.  The thing that holds me back, though — or, one of them — is that these feelings are intermittent.  If I wait long enough, the certainty of male identity passes (although much the same could be said for every other identity state I move through; hence, an identity as gender-fluid is my only stable point.  If and when one of these states sticks long-term, I’ll reconsider the label).

A series of dreams I’ve had, have me exploring the dilemma of testosterone usage.  The possibility of testosterone opened up when I was about 20…over about the last 15 years, I’ve been trying to let the process of my maturation take its course, regardless of the outcome with regard to what gender I end up appearing to be.

The story arc of this series is kind of long, as I’ve been having these dreams for probably over a decade, now.  At this point, in-dream, I’ve been given a vial of testosterone and a number of syringes by my last gender specialist as a going-away memento/gift.  (The last time I saw an experienced gender specialist specifically for therapy, was quite a long time ago.  The one I have access to now is so overloaded [presumably] that she doesn’t have time to help me work out my issues, except in a group setting.)  In these dreams, I have never actually used the testosterone (with the possible exception of one — but I never got to see the effects).

The point of my noting this is that I reached the conclusion, this time, that there are trade-offs to either using or not using testosterone, for me.  The point at which I may utilize testosterone (which will eventually make me look entirely male, except for some things I can’t change, or which I can only change with surgery) is the point at which my life will be better off even with all the drawbacks (most compellingly, a shortened potential life span), than my life without it.

That was a rather profound realization, especially concerning all the drawbacks that I know about which have kept me from transitioning, thus far; and with the high rate of violence and murder, unemployment, underemployment, housing difficulties, harassment, etc., directed at transgender people.  This is magnified with trans* people of color, especially trans* women of color.  I don’t consider myself a woman of color, but I can easily be mistaken for one; and with my hirsutism (an effect which I let develop because of thinking my body was listening to my brain wanting it to be male), I can be mistaken for a male dressing as female.

(It’s been noted in my family that the cumulative effect of microaggressions, harassment, and being made to feel unsafe, committed by many members of society against specific stigmatized targets, is largely unrecognized by those who don’t have to experience it day in and day out.  If you happen to be one of those targets, and not only are you a target where it comes to race, but also where it comes to gender, assumed sexuality, class, etc., these pressures build up upon and magnify each other.)

Right now, I can blend in, relatively speaking.  Given enough time and experience, I would probably also learn how to blend in as male.  Clearly for me, though — I would never appear to be a cis (non-trans*) male, unless I went through some pretty gruesome surgeries…some of which are both prohibitively expensive and risky, with (usually, from what I’ve seen) relatively poor outcomes.

In my current state, in a pinch, I can claim that I’m a woman (though I’m not certain how much protection that actually affords, when one in four [cis, I assume?] women are raped in their lifetime and one in six trans* women of color are murdered), and pass as cis (although under my definitions, I know I’m not — being trans* or cis, in my mind, depends on identity, not bodily coherence).

If I took testosterone, I would not be able to be seen as cis with my clothes off, ever again.  And how much of people saying I “look nice” depends on their perception of my gender presentation coordinating with what is expected for a person with a female body?  If I dressed femininely after taking testosterone, I would easily be mistaken for a trans* woman of color (especially without voice training), which is not an enviable societal position (see above).

The point that I reached in-dream, though, is that for some people, a one-in-six chance of being murdered still holds the promise of a better life than the one they have.  If I ever took testosterone, bi-weekly injections and balding and heart disease and early death and top surgery and body hair and a hysterectomy with the risk of lifelong urinary incontinence would have to contain a better promise than what I’d be looking forward to, otherwise.

This insight makes it a bit more clear as to what separates those who need to transition from those for whom it isn’t clearly right.  Right now, I’m not sure on which side of that line I fall, though I lean toward the latter.  It’s hard to tell with my mind as it is; which is the majority of the reason I’ve waited 15 years.

Although it does sound stereotypical — maybe for me it actually is better to just exercise for strength and muscle mass.  I had been hoping in the dream that this would be easier without the parts of my body which mark me as female, but that cannot be guaranteed.  It looks very different to see a person with breasts and a built upper-body; especially as I don’t shave my body hair (I do clip it once it gets too long).  I kind of didn’t realize how it looked to have both feminine and masculine beauty at the same time until I saw a photo of someone else who had what I used to have.

I know for a fact that I need to get my gut under control.  If I could start walking and working out, I would probably feel better about my body in general, and maybe that would extend to other areas of self-care (particularly facial and hair care).  Right now I’m kind of disheveled and all over the place — including within the genders of my wardrobe (my chest has grown too big to easily wear mens’ shirts, anymore; my lower body is too big to wear mens’ pants — but mens’ and womens’ clothes come in different color schemes, which can often be implicit gendered signals).

Yeah, I…am getting kind of tired, so I’ll sign off.  I can only take so much thinking about gender at once.  😉

Digging out the needles

Alterations…

Now that I’ve actually published that last post, I’m feeling a bit better.  One of the things I can do when I get into a spot like that — not wanting to talk or write or draw or do anything but sleep — is exercise.

I was able to get in a good set of sit-ups before dinner.  Burned like crazy, but at least it’s something, and my belly stayed tucked for a little while.  If I can utilize my gender dysphoria to alter my body so that it is closer to what I need, at least it would be adaptive.

The only drawback to this is that I shouldn’t exercise right before bed.  If I do it in the morning or afternoon, though, it should help me stay awake when I need to, and sleep when I need to.

Alterations…

Gender fluidity. Kind of hard to deal with…

This post will not be about my art, so much as it is about why I’m not doing the art.  For better or worse, I’ve been asleep for the majority of the past two days.  Why?…I can imagine, but that is really what I think the rest of this post is about.

I did manage to work on the Morning Pages at about 6 AM today.  That much was good.  But I’ve been up and down all morning and afternoon, really.  While I was asleep…I’m thinking this was yesterday…I realized that one of the keys to my artistic block is that I’m afraid that if I work creatively and let my subconscious come into visibility, I’m going to see again that I want to be male.

That right there comes with a lot of baggage, because I’m gender-fluid, not stably trans* male.  This means that even if I did physically transition to male, my presentation and identity would not be male all of the time.  And that, then, puts me into a position where I’ll likely be seen at least part-time as a transgender woman of color, which is one of the most dangerous positions I could inhabit — even though I wasn’t assigned a male gender at birth.

That is, granted, that the feminine expression continues past the point at which my body starts to look passably male, and is not abandoned as simply a survival mechanism.  In my dream I was lamenting that I couldn’t have been offered hormone blockers earlier on to stop my chest from growing.  At this point, there’s no way to undo that damage except reconstructive surgery, which is something considered risky.

The alternative, which I keep thinking of and then not doing, is to be gender-fluid in a female body which is altered by exercise.  Logistically, this is a better position for me — I won’t be dependent on outside hormones for the rest of my life.  But it still leaves me with the easy slide back into “why can’t I be any form of woman,” because it’s easy for me to forget that I’m gender-fluid and at times want to be a woman…which I’m not.  Ever.  Even in my most feminine form, my gender is “femme (which could apply to males and females and intersex people),” not “woman.”  Going into the latter territory just messes with my head.

*sighs*

And it’s still hard to claim trans* male space, because of the machismo I’ve seen around that community.  That is, when I’m a man, I’m only temporarily so.  There is motion and flux involved between the poles of “male” and “female.”  I’m rarely ever stagnant…except when I’m not doing anything except sleeping.  Which, again, explains why I’ve been sleeping.  It’s an easy and temporary escape from having to deal with my body and life.

Maybe I should consider going back to one or more gender groups…just to remind myself that I am gender-variant on a masculine vector, and not entirely a woman…

Gender fluidity. Kind of hard to deal with…