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…

Nonbinary thoughts…

Been a while since I did an identity post, eh?

I really should be working on homework, but for the majority of the day, I’ve been working…so…more work is not high on my list, right now.  Something did come to mind, last night, though — as I was attempting to fall asleep.  This is the fact that California has recently legally recognized a gender status other than F or M.  This information came to me through the following blog:

California recognizes legal non-binary status

This, in addition to the fact that I have been invited to a gender non-binary group (I have yet to explore this), and was thinking about alternative body modifications last night…plus the fact that I’m back in Library School (we’ll see for how long) and have recently found pay scales for library work…it’s just something that opens up a lot of possibilities.  Particularly so, as the Library community is really, really liberal where it comes to minorities.

My attention has been drawn to my embodiment, recently, as I am back in Library School, and thus have to watch out for eating too much out of stress.  If I weren’t on medications, it likely wouldn’t be an issue; but small changes in my diet — like one sugared beverage a day — can cause me to gain weight, now.  Last night I was also paying attention to this because of my birth control:  my cycle has become so light on this, as to almost be nonexistent.  (Sorry, half the planet goes through something like this; so far as I’m concerned, talking about it should be considered normal.)

Last night was particularly tough, too, because it was hot, and I had ingested so much water (in addition to the problem of water retention, from my cycle) that it was causing a bit of pain.  I mentioned Spiro to M and D, who are relatively liberal on other medications, to the response that I don’t have to take a pill for everything (trust me, they take pills much more freely than I do).  Spiro is spironolactone; it reduces the levels of androgens in the body, but is also called a “water pill” because it causes one to have to use the restroom a lot.

Right now I’m still fighting with my acne and shaving my face at least once every two days.  I’m sure I wrote about this before:  I have a condition which causes my androgen (tested blood testosterone) levels to be high, which (along with feelings of security that I can’t be impregnated) is the main reason I’m on birth control.  The acne and the facial hair follow the high androgen levels; it doesn’t help that I seem particularly responsive to androgens.

I am not certain what is going on with my hormones, at the moment; I do know that no one besides me wants to test my testosterone again, even though my levels came up abnormally high when I had it done before I started birth control.  The facial hair hasn’t spread, but it’s still there, and will be there until I start doing something like threading or waxing or electrolysis (I think my skin is too dark for laser).

Given how many women I’ve seen go through permanent hair loss (lack of eyebrows) through plucking, though, waxing is a viable option.  The problem is becoming secure enough with having substantial hair on my face to give the wax something to stick to.  Before now, I haven’t touched it, because I have never really been certain I’d never go on testosterone, and if I went on testosterone, I’d want a full beard, not one which is thin in patches.

I know that if I do rev it up a bit and start exercising, this will increase my androgen levels…though that, in this case, with a higher metabolism and reasons to bathe more frequently, would likely be healthier than where I’m at right now.

The ideal case would have me working out to the extent that everything tightens up (in a good way) and I get a bit of muscular hypertrophy.  That is:  big muscles.  This, in addition to mens’ clothing (which I’d be able to wear better with less fat), and…maybe clearer skin and eyeliner…that would be ideal.  And at that point, facial hair wouldn’t even really look out of place.  It would be nice to be able to braid my hair back and be seen as a beautiful young man.  (It lasts until I talk.)

I know how to do this; the problem is getting it from the point of being an idea, to one of being a reality.  Right now I’m a little over 150 lbs — which is a weight that, at least, I feel secure at — though I’m told I don’t look it.  I’ve been told by members of the local Female-to-Male transgender community that working out for big muscles is stereotypical and doesn’t come close to actually living as a man.  The thing is, I’m not a man, and I don’t really want to live as a man.

I don’t really see myself as a woman, either, but it’s gotten to the point that I don’t correct people when they see what they see and it doesn’t match what I see.  I don’t need everyone else to agree with me.  What I need is some way to find my own way in the world and skirt the homophobes (some of whom are trans) and transphobes (some of whom are lesbian and gay) so that they don’t overly impact my life.

But wouldn’t it be interesting…to appear as a muscular and strong female in mens’ clothing, long hair, eyeliner, with multiple piercings and a non-binary license?  If I didn’t have to worry about negative repercussions, I could also do low-dose testosterone and go off of it after the voice drop:  but I have enough issues with body hair (and acne), already.  That stuff doesn’t go away, and it’s tough enough to empathize with other people who have it more profusely, without realizing I’d have to manscape if I did go on T.  Right now, at least, it’s manageable.  But I wasn’t blessed with the almost-no-body-hair gene.  Not to mention the party that’s going on, on my face.

And, my voice is already fairly low.

Then there’s what to do if I traveled out of state, or out of the country.  I’d think that being obviously genderqueer would kind of restrict travel options.

Changing tracks, a bit:

It was just recently that I realized that a significant number of abnormal reactions I’ve gotten from others on admitting I was attracted to them, may have been based on homophobia.  I don’t see myself as a woman, but it’s likely others see me as such.  In that case, I’ve got to be prepared to be a target of homophobia if I’m interested in someone of my sex, for more than friendship.

It’s apparent that, at least if I’m operating in a heterosexual mode, I have close to no sexual attraction to anyone.  But have I ever truly operated in a mode where I was both unafraid of and considering possibilities of being together with someone of my own sex?  It’s gotten to the point where I’m not even sure if I’m bisexual or pansexual anymore.  My interest in males is minor, and I used to get mad at them for assuming they could flirt with me, while I felt barred from flirting with everyone to whom I was actually attracted.

On top of this, I’ve found that I am really only marginally attracted to genderqueer people who were assigned male at birth.  I don’t know what is behind this; I know it’s politically incorrect to have one’s set of attractions include female people (binary [cis and trans] women, female-assigned genderqueer, and female-assigned transgender people, excluding binary transsexual men), but not male people (most binary cis and trans men, most genderqueer people who were male-assigned).  My feelings toward transsexual women [included above in “women”] are more complicated, because in many ways I feel a commonality with them.  I don’t know why.

I don’t know why any of this, really.  I know it isn’t quite politically correct, but for me it’s a biological tendency that I don’t understand, and which can’t comprimise for the sake of politics.

Outside of being attracted to the above group…I’m pretty much asexual.  In the pursuit of discovering or recovering the above sexuality…I’m (tonight, at least) seriously considering again identifying as gay, so I can focus on healing this rift in emotional connectivity that began to tear loose when I was 14.

I wouldn’t be a binary gay person (I identify with the term “gay” over “lesbian”, even though I’m primarily attracted to women, because to me “lesbian” implies womanhood) — most of the time, I have seen the mainstream L and G communities represent themselves as comprised of binary (cis and trans) men and women…I’m not a King either…I’m just…genderqueer.  I’m who I am.

And if people are going to outright assume that I’m lesbian instead of what I actually am, maybe then I do have something in common with lesbian people — and can gain from that community, even though I am not binary.

As a last bit:  a post came up on my Reader recently about otherkin; particularly, the wolf subtype.  One commenter directed a different commenter to the following TEDx Talk (which I had little luck sifting through the TED website to find).  I did find it easily on Google, however.

I figured I should watch it, before writing this post.

As regards the otherkin thread, I’ll leave that where it lies, for now.  Granted that the otherkin and transgender communities do overlap a bit; I know some people who fall within this range (though not many in person).

The above Talk was somewhat…interesting, though the speaker only really went into “trans”-anything as feelings of being at home (or not) in one’s body.  In this way, he could have been using the term “transgender” as a synonym for “transsexual” (as I’ve seen to be common practice).

There is another level to this, which is one’s sense of self:  gender identity.  He really didn’t go into this level at all.  So for me — I don’t really know what it’s like to be, probably, most of the women I’ve met.  I know I don’t identify primarily as a woman.  My roles as creator and thinker and writer come first.

My body isn’t my biggest problem.  Though I do feel like I would have been better off as a (cis) man, I’m not even a trans man at this point — and I’m sure most people would think themselves better off as cis men!  Especially if one could wish for and be guaranteed comfort in performing a gender congruent with their changed body.  I am leery of the thought of transitioning to male and hoping everything will fall into place after that, really.  I don’t think who I will be will change, and I’m to the Yin side of things as they stand, anyway.

And anyway, who says that being a man is better than being me?  🙂

A bit off topic.

I’m not sure if it’s post-holidays, post-Finals, nothing-I-am-forced-to-do depression or not, but I’ve mostly been, well, sleeping, for the time in which I haven’t had work (and as mentioned previously, I did have two surprise days of work, last week).

I haven’t been able to decide whether to get myself up and get to work on my own projects and needs, or to soak in the time when I don’t have to do anything — because it will be over soon.  Consequently, I’ve been in bed way too long, and apparently I’m starting to have nightmares in which I shout in my sleep.

On top of this, the entire identity tangent has become stronger…now that I have the time to deal with it, it’s kind of become a bit overwhelming.  I can see why people have pets, now — in the times where there is nothing to do, a pet can keep a person from thinking about all the things that are wrong that they can’t do anything about.

I was also gifted a small amount of money for New Year’s, which I’m trying to figure out what to do with.  I suppose I don’t have to do anything with it, though; I can save it for the art supplies I’ll have to buy later this month.

(I’m not looking forward to carrying 7 units in Spring [I had enough trouble with 5 this last semester], in addition to probably at least $200 in art supplies and books; but I need at least 6 units, to avoid money stress.  Amazingly, paying for the books and supplies means I avoid repayment of my loans, which seriously drain me and are the main reason I’m planning to look for a second income, after Summer.)

There are a couple of things I can think of to use the money for.  Besides art supplies (I probably need to channel this energy into one or more art projects, as the art has tended to be what has kept me sane) — these would be experiments on the way to some sort of body modification.

I really don’t want to go through with it — I’ve tried to buy myself out with the promise of exercise and large-gauge jewelry, so far — but there are unavoidable signs in myself that at the very least I’m extremely androgynous; at the most, I’m trans* and digging my heels in about not wanting to transition.  The in-between approach would say that I’m gender-fluid and have swung heavily but temporarily into a trans* masculine state.  The problem is that when I do this, it feels entire, complete, and like it will last forever.

It’s only really been since break started that I’ve become OK again with calling myself trans*.  In addition, the desire to be physically male was something I could deal with while I was in classes and talking to people and having distractions.  Now, it’s just overwhelming.

I know ways of altering my visible physiology so that I look more male.  I’m just really resistant to doing any of it, largely because it isn’t simple.  I’m not a textbook FtM TS case; until recently I considered myself solidly genderqueer/gender-fluid.

It would be easier if I didn’t have the fluidity ranging back into feminine territory, because then I wouldn’t have to feel like, “well, what if I want to be pretty again and I can’t do it anymore?”  Because it would clearly be like, “I’ve never wanted to be pretty as a woman,” and the decision to transition would be easier.  The thing is, though, the qualities of “man” and “woman” are unclear to me; I think they’ve always been unclear, and I’m not sure anymore that it’s a point of training.  I think it may be hard-wired, given that we seem to be a diverse species (even as much as certain elements try to constrict and hide that diversity).

There are a few things that are holding me back from medical transition:

  • my hair (which has always been a point of pride with me)
  • acne (which used to be really bad; I don’t want it worse)
  • my gut (it’s bad enough that it’s the way it is, now)
  • heart disease (I don’t have it yet, but have a family history of it)

Three of those things are relatively trivial.  The fourth is one that makes me pause — two close (male) members of my family have had high blood lipid levels and cholesterol; they both went on statins; both had adverse reactions to statins which were life-threatening, both went off of statins.  At least one of them continues to have ongoing problems which weren’t there before the statins, and now seem more or less permanent.

I have seen a doctor who has said that if I start to lose my hair, he can treat that; if I start to get high cholesterol, he can treat that.  But, not only is that guy not there anymore; but I’m wanting to avoid being on as much medication as I can.

This is given that I’m already taking one hormonal medication because of irregular cycles and virilization (though no one has told me exactly why I was having high testosterone in the first place, it was there [and apparently not PCOS]), and three others for mental problems which have arisen because of the peer abuse I got for being gender-nonstandard.  Although — it’s very possible that my depression, which started at puberty, was a response to my body changing, not necessarily my peer group starting to be stupid (though that happened, too).

My main issue is that I want to be beautiful, but my idea of beauty includes both feminine and masculine beauty.  So, I’ve wanted to have the combination of muscles and curves, and a full head of hair with a deep voice and a somewhat not-sparse beard.  The first is possible; I’ve done it before.  The second…not so much.  Before I started the hormones I’m on now, my hairline was beginning to recede, which — along with the unpredictability of my cycle — is the only reason I started them.  And then there are things like wanting to be taller and stronger.  I can do the latter, but not the former (even though there really should have been an intervention to delay my puberty when I started talking about this in high school; that would have likely made me taller).

There’s the possibility, although remote, given my diagnosis — that if I did start testosterone, my mental state might lift to the point where I wouldn’t need as much medication for the other issues.  However, in between now and then, I’d probably need more, because the stress of transition would likely exacerbate my illness.  This is, until people get to the point where they’re used to seeing me masculinized, and aren’t trying to engage me in dialogue anymore about why my hair isn’t longer.  (Or laughing at my large muscles — like I did it for them.)

The biggest issue here, for me, is the one of being kind of trapped in metropolitan areas because of people outside of them having no idea or sensibility about what I’m going through.  I would like to live outside of a major metropolitan area at some time in my life, though I’m told that the politics are very different in rural areas.  From my time away at college, also, I know that there are areas of the country which just basically have no connection with my ethnic diasporas as well…and it’s just really tough to live like that.

This is not to mention the unemployment and underemployment rates of trans* people (who were hit very hard in the last recession), and the doubling of that rate when it comes to trans* people of color.  (Speaking of underemployment, I do fall into that category, as well — largely because I was too scared, given the statistics I’d read on unemployment and abuse, to put myself out there right after college, as someone who was visibly gender-variant and disabled.)

When I look at it that way, it’s enough to make one not want to be gender-variant; but then again, I don’t have a choice in the matter.  My choice is in how I want to present it, and if I’m able to hide it.  I’m pretty sure that living my life in the way I want to is going to lead to people knowing that my gender is different…

I’m having a hard time being quiet about this.  When I feel like I can’t talk about it to people outside my immediate family, or online…it’s hard to deal with.  And yeah, I know this can get back to me.  I’m a creative person, though, and when I feel I can’t express what I need to, I shut down.  Like I’ve been doing for the past week, or so.

But then, should I do what I want, and really get back into shape…dress for my gender, and maybe start to bind…people are going to know, anyway.  Yeah, it’ll lead to some stares (like the ones I got from the two kids the other day), but that might be preferable to straight men thinking I’m a sweet little girl who doesn’t know that my gender is made to please them and I’m doing it wrong…