Growing into myself: nonbinary gender presentation.

I am not sure if I have mentioned here, my recurring dream series in which I’m investigating (or considering) gender transition. I think it started when my first gender therapist retired. Since then, I’ve been through — a lot. Enough to cause me to wonder if I am following the pattern of having been gender-variant in youth (the stereotypical term is “tomboy,” but I wasn’t a jock), and mainstreaming a bit, in my adult life.

If I think about it, a lot of what was labeled, “queer,” in my youth is absolutely normal for an adult person — like wearing my dad’s old clothes. The kids I grew up with just had unrealistic gender expectations, I think.

It wasn’t until after I was 19 that I learned what, “transgender” meant, and though I feel like I synced very well with the student community at the time, I can’t really trust those memories. Back then, I had a mental condition which was going untreated, which affected my judgment and cognition.

As the memories formed, that is, they were formed on the basis of a messed-up input system, calling the validity of my judgments at the time, into question. The fact is, though, I still have the memories which were made with the invalid encoding…so I have to take that into account when I remember them. I don’t know how else I would remember them, though.

At this point in my life, I’m in a much more stable condition, but there is still the history of about two decades of experience in which I was learning all I could about gender variance. That was two decades of questioning my gender.

I know now that I am likely not a transgender man, even if I may want to be. I’m thinking that it must be simpler (no offense meant) for a person who identifies as something for which there’s already room in society, even if it is an expansion of an existing category. Whereas, from the place I sit, I see no clear and set (and desirable) path forward as regards nonbinary people.

I know that I feel most at ease when I consider myself nonbinary (that is, neither a woman nor a man) — the term “enby” has come up in relation to this on the Reader, apparently a reading of, “nb,” for, “nonbinary.”

Of course…that doesn’t mean that what I’m going through is necessarily any less intense than it would be, if I were a cisgender man or a transgender man. What I actually am is something that I’ve decided not to really advertise, because it could get actually intense. And I’ve had enough of that, in my youth.

I also still have anger problems. That’s relatively okay when you’re a kid. Not so much, when you’re a legal adult.

The thing is, it then becomes apparent, when I do come out, that I’m skating under the radar as a woman — when I do not consider myself a woman at all. Regardless of whether I’m obviously female, or whether I wear mainstream clothes. I have no obligation to mark myself. However, I’m not totally settled in this arrangement.

The thought has come up to partially transition (my dream was specifically about getting top surgery so that I could take testosterone and not appear as a man or significantly androgynous person with breasts), so that I’ll be more obviously nonbinary, but that is a uniquely dangerous position in this society. It would seem less dangerous, apparently, than being a transgender woman of color — except for the fact that I could then be mistaken for a transgender woman of color. (Then again, I’m uncertain of the statistics of societal violence against nonbinary people.)

Amazingly, I’m not alone in having a lot of trepidation about that. It’s one thing if you’re driven and need to transition. It’s another if you maybe somewhere in the back of your mind, want to transition, but see people being killed for transitioning.

I also fairly obviously, to myself, have a mental map for a body that leans feminine, even though my gender identity does not coincide with “woman” (and seriously does not coincide with “straight woman”…I just don’t want what most straight men can offer me).

And yes, I do know that a lot of what I’ve been involved with, craftwise, is femininely-oriented. There’s a reason for that: I was trying to get as much out of being permitted to do things like sew and make jewelry as I could, to see if there could be any reason for me to stay female. So now I’ve got a history of crocheting, and stuff. 🙂 The art is more gender-neutral, but again, I have this attachment to flowers…

I mean, you see where I was going with my opening paragraph now, right? But still, those are hobbies, and not anything that tells me who I am. Even if I were male, I’d still be able to crochet, and sew, and make jewelry, and art with floral themes…people may just look at me weird. 😉 And that’s what I’m up against, when I’m thinking about transitioning to a male presentation.

And then there’s all the stuff about arteriosclerosis and acne and body hair, and I tend to back down when I consider that (though I did find my first coarse arm hair, the other day…I’m pretty sure that my body will take care of part of the masculinization process itself, as it ages).

Not that I wouldn’t like to be a buff, soft guy. I think it’s closer to where I am, than not. But that’s idealized, and it comes with a very high price. (It would also be easier for me to go to the gym if men [who see me as a woman] would stop hitting on me. Seriously.)

So at this point…I’m basically choosing not to disclose, or to selectively disclose, my gender status. And I’m not choosing my wardrobe (largely) based on what will get me pegged as a gender and/or sexual minority (GSM): mostly because I’ve aged out of being able to comfortably wear most mens’ pants and shorts (age means curves…and there isn’t anything wrong with wearing clothes that fit because they fit).

Of course, this means that I go around basically unknown; but I was unable to be unknown for years, in my young adulthood. It’s kind of nice not to be singled out.

Right now the thing I’m focusing on is…jewelry. Those of you who know me from a while back, know that I make jewelry. This is the place where I show that I’m different. The issue I’m having with this is that my piercings are now opened to 14 gauge, which is a little more than 1.5mm wide.

This means that if I do make jewelry for myself, I’m dealing with heavy wire and a wider surface which will be exposed to the metal. That’s an issue for me because I am currently unaware as to whether I can absorb heavy metals, like lead, through the tunnels of my piercings, at least if the metal tarnishes into soluble salts. I’m not sure of the chemical composition of the specific tarnishes I’m dealing with, though. (And it doesn’t give me a lot of comfort when some of my jewelry obviously has developed something like verdigris on it, which is slightly toxic.)

I do have heavy-gauge “Jeweler’s Brass” wire which may (at times) have a tiny amount of lead in its alloy, which has stopped me from making earwires out of it. I have read the MSDS, which says it should be fine to wear next to skin…but this is a piercing, a scar tunnel through the skin.

The obvious solution is to use Sterling or Fine Silver wire, but that limits my color options. Solid gold is out of the question, though gold-fill is not — it’s just exorbitantly expensive. In addition, all wire tends to take on a satin finish if you bend it enough…and I’m scared of polishing or burnishing the gold right off of gold-fill wire.

In the past, I’ve worked with craft wire (it tarnishes, even when it says it won’t; and never, never torch it [it’s noxious]), and copper wire. I’m certain that I don’t know what other metals besides copper are in the wire I’ve gotten from the home-improvement store, but the latter is what’s relatively safe to braze (torch). The other option is getting metals from a serious jewelry-supply store (not a craft store!).

Also, most places which sell earwires for the jewelry trade, do not sell heavy-gauge earwires. The heaviest I’ve seen in mainstream jewelry-supply catalogs is 18g, with the norm being 20 or 22g.

While it’s relatively easy for me to shape heavy wire…dealing with filing down the end of the wire and then shaping it may require annealing (softening), which requires a torch. Torching wire means having to pickle wire (remove excess oxidation and flux), and after that comes polishing (not to mention the fire-safety precautions that need to be taken when using an open flame).

When the best you’ve got is a Dremel, and you’ve used a Foredom…you really want a Foredom (a flex-shaft rotary tool, usually with a pendant handpiece). But you only get a Foredom if you’re dealing with a lot of serious manufacturing, and it would take quite a bit of sales to make back the $350-$500+ invested. (It’s just cheaper to take a class or lab, at this stage.)

In short, it’s a lot of work. Though — I did just get an idea, which is to wear tunnels and then thread non-metal materials (like threads or cords attached to woven pieces) through there. I have been thinking of going up to 10g, so that should be possible.

Did I ever tell you why I write? Stuff like that comes out. I’m not even entirely sure why. 🙂

Because of my present size, I also have been taking the opportunity to wear mens’ shirts, partially out of necessity and partially because I can, and they’re more comfortable for me because they don’t show my body as much. It’s more of a comfort when I’m getting unwanted male attention, but that hasn’t happened for a while. (Apparently, it tapers off as a person ages.)

This doesn’t really range into anything where I’d obviously be, “cross-dressing,” however.

It’s kind of hard to do that when you’re female, as it’s relatively accepted for a female-bodied person to wear mens’ clothing, at least where I am. The trouble seems to come in when a person is obviously outside of gender norms and apparently not-male and is looking at mens’ clothing…though the most I’ve gotten are snickers, and the occasional curious guy hanging around.

If, though, if I started making my own clothes, that would open up the field to some experimentation! I would just have so many more options, and ways to self-define. I’ve seen some people doing stuff like this, here. Like I’ve experienced in other places, most of the sewists are female-presenting, though that often doesn’t mean what one might think it means!

I’m relatively new to using my presentation to display parts of who I am, as I’ve had so often to forego that in favor of just being clothed in the best available option (which often boiled down to “what fit”). It will be interesting to see where I take this, in the next few years.

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Solid footing…?

I’m thinking again about female-to-male gender transition, a.k.a. gender reassignment, a.k.a. gender confirmation.

Tonight, for whatever reason — maybe because I’m feeling better, maybe because I slept so long, maybe because it’s becoming clearer life is transient…and the rebirth I’ve been hoping for in which I get to be male will never exist…

…and that my attempt to hold solidarity with all the people in the past who were female and did not feel themselves to be women; and with all the people now who feel the same way and don’t have the privilege of gender reassignment…

…and, because I’ve noticed relatively unhealthy coping mechanisms coming up (namely, the hope that having a girlfriend who can see me will be enough to fulfill me [usage, anybody?], but also that I compulsively try not to be “pretty” because I don’t want the attention [which usually invalidates my gender] and this is wrecking my body)…

…and because I’ve realized that I actually would rather have male parts than female, even though I don’t “hate” my body…nor do I know for a fact that being in between a fully male and fully female body will be inferior to what I’ve got now…

…and because I know that the reason to keep my chest the way it is, is to distract from my belly, when I don’t want either of them (and testosterone may actually help the belly flatten)…that is, the state I haven’t wanted to be in with a belly and breasts and apparently male, is the state I’m in now, as nominally female…

…and because being overtly MALE is a new thing…and would be a more vulnerable position than I’m in now…

…and because the main point of contention is that I don’t want to inject myself with hormones on a weekly basis for the rest of my life…(though this might be the “manly” route)…

…and because there is no way I want to be pregnant…

(…and because I did hear myself in a recording earlier tonight and realized that I don’t sound clearly male or female…)

…and because I don’t have to change my name…

I think I’ve realized…that this is serious. I have a very short jump to being fully legally, chemically male. Socialization comes after that. I have one year to get everything together before other issues may arise.

I first went into counseling specifically around gender, 15 years ago. (I haven’t yet actually taken testosterone, but it’s extremely fast-acting.)

The problem is that the situation is confusing and I was and am in the thick of it, without decent words to describe what I’m going through.

But I’m tired. I need sleep. The point of it or this is that I’m wondering if I am bordering being transgender and male as well as nonbinary, at least at this juncture.

I’m not certain getting further into this is warranted at this point, as I do notice my brain fogging up on me. I just wanted to note this. Before it went away.

(sorry for the partial sentences) 🙂

Loneliness?

Right now, I’m wondering if I’m actually just really lesbian, in a genderqueer way.  I generally don’t call myself “lesbian,” because to me that implies a “woman” gender identity…which I don’t have.  I’m gender-fluid with notable forays into femme presentation, but to me “femme” could be applied to persons of any sex status (femme men exist; but I don’t consider myself a man).  I have also been thinking about gender transition to trans* male, but I’ve been weighing that over about 15 years at this point.  I’m not doing it unless I have to, and I don’t think that social reasons are considered valid where it comes to gender transition (as society changes).  I could be wrong, though.

There are a few things going on here:

  1. Being irritated at men coming on to me (largely because they expect me to be a woman for them, and/or that the way I look says something about who I am).
  2. Experiencing strong feelings of attraction for someone I don’t know (repeated shock at their beauty every time I make eye contact:  maybe I’m not asexual; just “asexual” in a heteronormative context?), and not knowing what to do with them.  Also, I’m trying to deal with “what if’s” around whether I’m being perceived as predatory simply because I don’t know what to do in this situation, and I’m not perfect and I feel like I’m messing up and this is different if I’m being seen as male (or queer — I’m using this term in the U.S. reclaimed sense) as versus not.
  3. Not wanting to have my sex status shoved in my face, particularly where it could be used as a tool to try and subjugate me.
  4. Dealing with the after-effects of decades of sexual harassment.
  5. Trying not to take rejection as a personal failing or throw out vibes of frustration built up over long periods of isolation and unrequited crushes.
  6. Wondering what it would be like if it were OK for me to freely flirt with women on an equal-power basis, and about how my life might be different if they felt the same permission towards me.
  7. Wondering if I am socially lesbian (want an escape from heterosexual gender norms in my relationships) but not fully biologically lesbian (can still be attracted to men and masculine people so long as they don’t enforce or expect heterosexual gender norms in my relations with them).  I haven’t heard anyone express this point of view before me, though it could explain multiple phenomena.
  8. Identifying strongly with Vegeta…which probably won’t mean anything unless you’re a Dragonball (Z/Super) fan.  I’d probably have to explain it, anyway.

I’ll stop there.  I don’t think I’ll be able to touch on all this, tonight.

I haven’t been to my regular gender group in a while, so this stuff has been building up over…at least two weeks.  Chances are that I won’t be able to make it this next time, either.  The full version of this likely won’t get a chance to come out IRL, for another little while…so I thought that writing some of it out, would help.  I’m not sure at all, though, that actually publishing it will help…

I did talk to my folks about this, recently; they say that most people go through this stage (learning to deal with feelings other people don’t want to know you experience [in regard to point #2]) in high school.  I didn’t have the chance to go through this stage because of the massive sexual harassment and isolation and, pretty much, hostility that I had to deal with in that situation.  It just basically wasn’t safe for me to develop these skills, because it wasn’t safe to be anything other than cisgender+heterosexual.

Noting everything above…kind of explains where I’m at, right now.  I’m not sure if I need to go more into depth with it right now (it took enough effort to dig all that stuff out of my memory), but I will want to come back to it, later.

There is one thing that has come up, though:  and that is the possibility of trading out a gender-group night for a Ladies’ art night (I’m applying the term, “Lady,” loosely).  Right now I am not sure which I might need more…

I also think there are two separate Art Nights I can go to; one at a nearby cultural venue (much closer), and one at an artist-supply store.  I just am coming to feel like I need women, and I don’t know what that’s about.  I’ve never felt it, before.  But I guess I am getting into middle-age, and I do need to meet new friends, and rekindle old friendships…

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.

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…

(long) What to put my time into?

It’s…interesting.

Over the past few days, I’ve been having a dialogue with myself about where to put my energies.  For example, with my homework, and from there out, with my art, creative writing, reading, blogging…music…?

I have seen some people online develop in a given medium very quickly, due to daily practice.  The most obvious example of this I can think of (and I hope I’m thinking right) is Charlie at Doodlewash, but as best I can remember, there are others whose names I have neglected to pick out of the ever-coming tide that is the Internet.

I’ve started to think about my activities, not in terms of what I do well, not in terms of what I presently can do, but in terms of what I want to do.

This is assisted, no doubt, by the curricula I’m presently studying…though that might get a bit arcane here.  Basically, when someone realizes they need information, they likely start out with a very poorly-formed idea of what it is they’re searching for, because they don’t know what they don’t know — and asking them what information they need is asking someone to define the parameters of what they don’t know…which, they don’t know.

When I first started researching Buddhism, for example, it was along with studies of alternative spirituality (particularly Theosophy and Spiritualism; I don’t remember whether Pantheism was along with, or after, this) and the Western Occult Tradition.  Right now I know more about Buddhism than most people around me — I know more than what every beginner book I’ve seen recounts, as though it’s new — but I reached out of my sphere, in the first place, to try and escape people and their twisting of religion to support their bigotry.

What I have found, over about 15 years of studying Buddhism, is that Buddhists have their own problems to deal with, irritatingly enough.  Not only that, but it’s kind of impossible to find an authoritative voice on the matter.  Buddhism is 2500 years old, and orthopraxic (right action) instead of orthodoxic (right belief), or so my World Religions class would have told me.

Instead of asking and expecting a clear definition of nirvana or Buddha-nature, it’s more like, “does the interpretation you’re reading agree with you or not?” or, “where are the holes, and are they large enough to matter?” or, “is this logically coherent?  (Be honest.)  If so, what are the consequences?”

I may not be reading enough modern thought, in this field, though.  I’ve come to realize that the world now is different than the world 2500 years ago, though people’s problems are still largely the same.  The issue with me is the idea that everyone’s “awakening” will be qualitatively the same; that inherently, everyone is the same.  This may have been unquestioned 2500 years ago in India, but I cannot go without questioning this, now.  Living in a major metropolitan area will kind of do that to a person.

In addition to this, the entire idea of a “soul” or spirit is one of these things which …I have not read a full treatment of, from a Buddhist perspective.  What I gather is that a phenomenal self is recognized, but that this self is constructed, and not essential.  This differs from, pretty much, every other religion I’ve studied; but it also becomes entangled in current-day discourse about constructivism vs. essentialism as regards gender; a.k.a. whether all gender is “socially constructed” or “inborn.”

As a person whose gender expression (and historically, identity) inhabits a range rather than a locus, it’s hard for me to have an opinion on this.  The major point is that Second-Wave Feminism (I think this began in the 1970’s) has tried to argue that what one is “born as” is what one “is,” with the transgender movement historically fighting against this.  This axiom would state that, for example, a transgender woman was “really” a man and thus could be excluded from “women’s space,” without everyone in the group feeling bad about it.  In consequence, everyone which was included looked similar enough to be assumed to be qualitatively similar (as definitions of “man” or “woman” did not go beyond physicality; causing the [hypothetical] inclusion of trans* men within women’s space, instead of trans* women).

However, the current state of transgender politics seems to be coming to a newer resettlement where very young children are expressing identity with members of a sex which they do not physically align with…so now it seems that the argument is again back to “one is born as what one is,” just that the mistake (and it does seem to be a mistake) of assigning a person to a gender category based on their physiology…causes more harm than good.

In short, we are back to an essentialist argument, but with what is “essential” being something one cannot physically see (though there have been studies showing similarity of regions of the brain between trans* women and cis (non-trans*) women, and dissimilarity of those same regions between trans* women and cis men, at the least; last I checked, trans* men were not well-known enough to have any acceptable sample size.

But anyhow…I’m not sure if I should be a philosophy major or something, 🙂 but my own experience of myself brings me to the point of feeling that …I do or may have a “soul,” which is distinct from other “souls.”  I wouldn’t say it to be irreducible to something like any other living being would experience — that is, I’m not sure at all that what I recognize as myself is “essential” — but there does seem to be something that sets me apart in this life, that, when violated, brings me illness.  That is to say, I have a “nature.”  It’s a very changeable nature, but it’s still a nature.

And this, in turn, is separable from an ontological stance which states that no one has a soul.  The clearest representative of this to me is Scientific Materialism, though I am not a subject matter expert on this, having veered away from materialist philosophies, myself.  I did purchase a book on Sartre (Existentialism) recently as well, and it would be interesting to see what he says about it…but this is mainly for my own breadth/surveying the field.

The problem I’m having is being unsure that any organized religion is actually and honestly for the good of its members (excluding the priesthood).  In short, I’m not sure if any of it is true, and I know there are vulnerabilities commonly found in seekers which are being played upon (notably, in Buddhism, the experience of psychic pain and the drive to death [thanatos — it’s a Freudian idea]).

I’m not sure I’ve seen the latter actually explained outright anywhere in relation to the desire for nirvana and cessation of rebirth; but I know that for me it has been an issue.  Buddhism was one of the things which kept me alive when I was going through a fairly relevant depressive phase, to the point where I realized that if Shakyamuni had ever actually existed, he was probably a depressive who lived before we had a term for it.

And…I have wandered far away from what started this post.  The question is whether to continue with this line of study, or drop it and find something else.

I am thinking that if, every day, I practiced guitar for at least half an hour, I would become fairly good at it, after a while.  This is, as versus my art.  I have to do enough reading as it is, but I could get back into that (reading for pleasure), as well.

Art is one of those things which I know I was praised for, very early on.  I know it’s something I’m relatively talented at.  But without a clear subject, it’s tough for me to get into; this being why I was prolific in the Art program at my Community College, but which I have trailed away from without the outside support and prompting.  I’m fairly certain that if I did get back into Creative Writing, this would in fact give me things to draw.

Of course, that’s Illustration, there — which is actually the drive which caused me to come back and try the Art program again in the first place.  When I first came back, I didn’t even know if I liked drawing, to be honest.  Things had just gotten really dull for me, where it came to image-making.  I remembered that I had originally liked to do it (when I was making a story with pictures [could you call that a comic?], as a kid), and I remembered that drawing the same thing over and over again — as I did as an adult — wasn’t worth it.  I’d get bored.

I re-entered with the hope that instruction and refreshed subject matter would help me see if writing and illustrating my own Graphic Novel was even something I would enjoy; and if not, I could just trash the whole Graphic Novel idea and work on pure writing, instead.

What I can say is that Art is difficult.  There hasn’t been a time for me when it hasn’t been difficult, except when I was a kid and didn’t care at all whether things looked wonky to other people.

And then, Writing…writing, writ large, 😉 isn’t hard for me.  Fiction Writing, though…is just psychologically difficult.  I have a habit of not being able to clearly tell the story I’m writing, apart from reality.  But through the Art program, one of the things I realized is that Art is not a representation of reality.  Photography isn’t a representation of reality.  Fiction writing, is not a representation of reality.  Neither is television, nor movies.

Verisimilitude to reality is used to a greater or lesser extent to provide familiarity and context to a story or message…to be honest, I’m not entirely certain what I or we are trying to get across in a way of thinking about the Humanities in terms of content as versus form.  The one thing I am certain about is that when one is within a story, that story is constructed around you, to a certain extent for you (and to a certain extent, by you).  For what purpose?  …I’m not entirely sure.  If you have thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

In any case, thinking back on it…it does seem, now that I think of it, that I’ve found expression through writing and art, and now am re-trying music.  Music is interesting, though I’m so new to it that I’m not entirely sure I can say why.  Certainly there’s a rhythmic component, and the emotional states elicited by certain tones being played next to each other and harmonizing (or not).  Then, of course, being a time-related thing, it is also — like writing — linear in format.

Tonight I was just having fun with arpeggiating guitar chords — particularly, starting with the F-major that’s closest to the top of the neck.  I think I could, eventually, make a habit of writing my own music; the question arises of if it is what I want to do, though.  Do I want to write?  Draw?  Paint?  Play music?  Make beaded jewelry?  It’s fairly obvious that writing is part of my lifeblood — I don’t feel right when I don’t do it.

I miss my beads.  I stopped my practice and working on new designs when I realized that this was not something that I could rely on to pay any bills (except maybe a blog bill for a nice layout here, if I started on Etsy); but it is what got me into Painting (which enables much more subtle custom color adjustments).  There is a lot of work which goes into designing and constructing beaded jewelry which has to do with light and color…it may be playing with my tendency to engineer from prefabricated parts, as well.

(Two of my most favorite toys from when I was a kid were my Erector set, and a circuit board D got me for Christmas, one year…)

And, hey…I just realized the linear component to that, as well…it’s just that with what I do, there is the mode of interweaving that can be realized, as well as anchoring and knotting.

Interesting…but I think I should get some sleep, right now!  Heh!  If anyone has anything to say about the content we try to get across in the Arts & Humanities, I’m more than listening…

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…