I think I recognize what has happened here: I forgot that I am gender-fluid. I seem to be rapidly flashing back and forth between (my own) gendered ideals. I’m not sure how or why this happens…but I’ll get back to you after group. I need to see if I can work this out in speech…
One of the reasons I posted what I did, last night, was to prepare myself for today…I have a meeting coming up, where I can talk about these issues. What has come to light is that — I actually am wondering, now, if I am lesbian, but just have come to assimilate an inappropriate definition for the term. Also: I have been majorly socialized in the wider “queer” (LGBTQIA) community, with a focus on transgender and genderqueer experience…having been ostracized from lesbian groups early on.
While I don’t see myself to be “butch,” as who I am goes…really deep, deeper than it has in many of the butch women I’ve known (but not of the butch trans* men), I can relate to this experience, having both emulated and admired the people I knew and saw who were part of this really great queer community. And I lived in that role for about two years, at least; though I think I was seen as butch and/or as trans*, long before that.
It’s just that I am thinking that chafing at men coming on to me, being asexual from a heterosexual reference point, and wanting to be recognized as masculine by a lady, that…that kind of sounds, well, more gay than trans. It hasn’t helped, though, to have trans* men tell me that I’m “just a lesbian,” as I used to get in my mid-twenties. It didn’t help for them to tell me that, disparagingly, like they were “more than lesbian,” you know?
I don’t think that the possibility of this has been…adequately explored, and explored with neutral power-levels. While it’s very…apparent that I do have some male-leaning identity (my role models have always been drawn from a pool consisting of more than women), maybe it would be good to try and find some places to hang out where I could be exposed to women’s community.
I am aware that my socialization may cause some disturbance (it is different politically to fall in with women’s groups than with trans* or genderqueer groups), but maybe it’s still the best thing…
…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.
Writing this post would be so much easier if I’d written it, two days ago. At that time, though, I was still too busy working on my last project: a beaded micro-macrame collar bridging off of two mother-of-pearl focals with bells and a central drop. Apologies for not having pics yet — I didn’t have time to take them, today, and the lighting is pretty awful right now, especially where it comes to mirrors. In addition, I haven’t even been sure that I’ve wanted to share my design online.
Right now this necklace is unique, and my design is protected by virtue of being unpublished. I don’t grant much weight to the practicality of copyright, but I do know that no one can mimic me if I don’t show them what to mimic. If I publish photos or drawings, I risk having my design ripped off (well, it probably will happen, let’s be honest; and it may not even be for-profit or out of any kind of wanting to make me feel bad: it will probably be one-offs by micro-scale crafters). Of course though, if it’s ripped off, that does allow me a degree of anonymity!
It’s not like this collar is the greatest thing ever, but a lot of thought and work went into my design and the creation of this, so it’s kind of special to me. It also has a meaning to me that is hidden to most others outside my (gender-variant) circle.
That is to say: in effect, this thing is custom-made for me, by me. The color choices were partially intentional, partially subconscious, and include personal reference. The knotting work was done over at least five to six hours, spread over three days (I was using a 10-cord variation of a sinnet based on the square knot that I don’t remember having ever used before). I was amazed that I was able to get the bell charms to actually jingle, and…it’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful.
In any case, I’m not used to completing things — but I did as best I could with what I had, and with what I was willing to risk. Next time I know what to change — what I was afraid to risk this time because of being concerned about having to undo a lot of work (i.e., a lot of small, tight knots: and I can’t find my awl (though I remember seeing it). I did have some success with large, sturdy, sharp needles — particularly what I think was a 3″ long doll needle — using the sharp end to pick out the knot and the blunt one to loosen it. C-Lon (the cord I used) is relatively good with not shredding and not ripping all the way through, if it does shred from being picked at.
This is the first time in a long time that I sized a necklace to myself; and definitely the first time at this body weight (which has broadened my shoulders and likely, my neck).
The difficult point is that this is the first one I’ve made, and the first attempts are, generally speaking, where the kinks get worked out.
Unfortunately, though, I only have one each of the two mother-of-pearl focals I used for my pendant: one, a ring; and one, a pierced disc. These are arranged so that the disc floats inside the ring, held by cord and wire. I obtained these years ago, at a bead store which is now fully online and which does not stock these parts anymore. To rework the straps anchored on the ring means putting in another two to four hours, at least: though I know what to do to speed the process along, this time (thread on 10-12 beads onto each set of anchor cords at a time, then work all the knots, repeat).
I also know how long the straps need to be, which is something I didn’t know and couldn’t envision the first time around. The way this is designed is not as a straight, flat choker: it’s V-shaped (right now the straps are coming off at about 60º to each other), so measuring the length wouldn’t tell me much, even if I could figure out what points to measure from…which seems as though it would require advanced math skills. Worn, it’s a pear shape which…I’m not even sure how it distorts so it fits, but it does.
And, no, I don’t have a real-size bust to model this on, though continuing on in macrame work is a good argument towards getting, or making, one. I can imagine a dress form being useful for this (especially where it comes to pinning the work down and fitting it), though all I really need is the neck and shoulders. A fabric store near me has a workshop where it’s possible to make our own dress forms…it could be worth looking into.
So, you may be wondering where I’ve been. Largely, I’ve been rediscovering my beads, cords, wires, metals, cabochons, tools…giving myself permission to invest time in creative work which did not have to have a “meaning” (though I’m sure you could see where it actually did turn out to have a meaning, particularly where it comes to a newer acknowledgment of a femme + male-identified space [yes, I am female, for reference]). This piece was my celebration of that.
I had a long time off because of the MLK Jr. holiday, during which I dressed up as feminine (particularly, I wore a skirt and the standard-gauge jewelry I had made myself [which I had to remove my 14-gauge surgical steel rings to wear]), and I had a gender-euphoric moment when I realized I could do this. Not only this, but because I make my own jewelry, I have complete control over what I wear in that department. I can make my own statements with my jewelry, instead of having to purchase a ready-made statement.
I actually can be femme + male-identified + female-bodied. And I don’t have to disclose this to every person I see, and I don’t have to act out or stigmatize myself visually to signal my internal difference.
I don’t have to be tortured by being physically female, or deny being physically female, for my non-woman identity to be legitimate…and I don’t have to avoid my own femininity and the feminine expression I’m permitted, just because my identity insistently differs from what is expected for someone who appears feminine. Other people “not getting it” is not my fault or my problem.
In short, I retain full control over my identity and expression.
Only time will tell if this again shifts back to “gender-fluid” as my primary identity.
Today I had no time to work, but the three days prior, I’ve been working on this necklace, and a couple of other projects. I’m actually kind of amazed at how well it turned out, though I think I could stand to loosen the tension on my macrame straps. Next time.
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.
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…
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.