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Anonymous Gender Identity and Expression A forum for support and advice about figuring out and expressing your gender identity. If you have concerns about coming out, please use the Coming Out Advice forum.

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Old 15th May 2013, 05:24 PM   #1
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Default 32 and finally questioning

Okay, here we go. Maybe I just need a little advice and perspective from other people who have similar experiences. This is gonna be a bit long, thanks SO MUCH for taking the time to read this.

I've always had this feeling that I was part male and part female, to one degree or another. Back as far as junior high, I always felt cut off from socializing with women: like I belonged with them, but I was barred. I could climb a tree and skin my knees with the best of the boys, but I never really felt like I fit with them, not completely.

I'm 32 now. That feeling has always persisted, but I've kept it in a box on the shelf and never looked at it too closely. I went through a few periods of definitely genderfucking my appearance, and I got a lot of shit for it when I did. So, I've been digging around in the box a bit more, and it's a little bit of a pandora's box, it seems.

I've got a pretty masculine body, I'm 6ft 165lbs, pretty fit & trim. I've been shaving/waxing my legs lately, and have my toenails painted (too cold for shorts & sandals yet, thank god). I dyed my hair pink/blue/purple, have the sides shaved and the hair flipped to the side, long in the back. My clothes are much more colorful, and the pink & blue shoelaces stand out. My look is a bit punk, so I get the odd look but zero harassment. The odd looks are both amusing and affirming

If I had my way I'd dress more androgynous, for sure. Anyway, the hardest part is when my friends or partner goes off for "ladies night", like craft night or coffee chat. I know how important safe spaces and the chance to develop sisterhood are, and that a man's presence might be intrusive, so I don't resent that at all. It just hits me like a fucking sledgehammer in the chest every time, it's like someone is screaming at me "YOU DON'T BELONG!"

I ask myself "Am I a man?" and I don't even know what that means anymore. I really have no idea what that question means. What is a man, exactly? There's no such thing as a Real Man, that's a fiction that no human being fits perfectly. If I ask myself "Am I a woman?" it's just absurd, of course I'm not a woman, though I feel like I relate to and identify with women.

I'm cool with ambiguity and taking time to figure this out. The hard part is feeling cut off from socializing with women, that denial of belonging. The other hard part is being afraid to take on the label "queer." I feel queer, but I get a lot of cis/het privilege 'cuz I definitely pass solidly as a guy and my partner is a woman. I don't want to appropriate someone else's struggle, you know? I just imagine people asking "What? Just how exactly are YOU queer?"

I work in a tool shop, fixing power equipment and talking to contractors all day. Most of my friends are LGBT allies, many are queer-identified. So it's not like I don't have support, but I'm not sure I'm ready to come out as "questioning" to anyone, most especially people who have known me for a while. My partner is extraordinarily supportive and cool with all this, and she has a thing for gender-bending guys, so this really works out for her . I just have no idea what any of this means, where it's going, or how I'll feel down the road.

Well, thanks for reading all that. It's a relief to just get it out there and know someone will read it.
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Old 15th May 2013, 06:20 PM   #2
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Gender: Woman in transition
Orientation: Fun independent women
Out Status: everywhere but new job (2 people there)
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Age: 33
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Default Re: 32 and finally questioning

So one of the things I work with is signals. Yes this is going to be an analogy, I am going somewhere with this. It will be fast and I promise you easy and jargon free. Well except "V" by itself means "Volt". Other than that.

The thing about electric signals is that between you sending it and someone receiving it, you get a lot of what's called noise. That means basically, if I sent out a signal that was say 3 V, by the time it gets where it's going it either picks up or loses we'll say 1 V at random. It could be anywhere from 2 V to 4 V. And if I receive a 4 V signal, I don't know how strong it was when it was sent; it could be anywhere from 3 to 5 V. The way around this is, the sender has a narrow range that they use - say 2 to 4 V. And the receiver has a slightly wider cutoff range. They ignore everything below 1 V or above 5 V, and treat everything else like it's 3 V. With me so far?

So what the hell does that have to do with gender right? Well basically from what I read, you've been adding a LOT of noise on purpose. And by the way you are really awesome for doing that. You're making things a hell of a lot easier for girls like me by blurring those lines and more likely that when I tell someone I'm a girl they take my word for it.

But now, you're noticing, you might want to be accepted as a girl. And you don't even know what a girl is. Right?

Now I believe, just personally, that gender identity has some reality to it. I believe at least some of it is nature and not nurture, because 32 years of attempting to convince myself I'm a man and live that way have been unsuccessful. In fact, the little behind closed doors escapes from a world I've never really understood only got worse as time went on. Something I've carried with me my whole life is just there, and won't go away, and really shouldn't have to. And I know the way it feels when I accept myself as a woman, and when other people accept me as a woman. And I know how ashamed of myself deep down I was before I had done those things.

But I think, whatever gender is, it does have a social aspect to it as well. We all start hearing from an early age that some things are "girly" and some things are "boyish". I don't think there is very much point to figuring out how much of it is nature and how much of it is nurture, because they all hit us well before we've even formed our identity to begin with. Whether it was hormones and instinct or other people, it's there, in our cores, and we can't do anything about it.

And I think those cultural norms are "on average" things, meaning at least some of them come from the way most girls act on average, which means I think there's some nature informing some of the stereotypes anyway. They are just stereotypes - and a lot of the times harmful and untrue ones. I was in the Navy, and some of the women I met could bench more than me and drink most of their shipmates under the table.

But what I'm getting at is, I think that it's "ok" to look at the well known socially constructed parts, and use them to define what a "real man" and "real woman" are. Yes, some of it is arbitrary. We know for a fact pink used to be for boys. But you know what? If you were told every day that pink is for girls between ages 1 and 5, then pink is for girls to you, just as much as it would be if there were a hormone your brain released when it saw the color pink.

So basically (and I'm sorry this was long but hopefully it helped), a "real man" is therefore for our purposes, whatever everyone around us says it is. We are sending the signal, and they are receiving it.

And full disclosure I only have about 5 months of out of the closet female gender expression experience. But I have noticed it works exactly like that. If I have earrings, a sun dress, shaved legs, my sandals, and my sun hat on, and you are looking at me from the back, girl. 100%. No question. Every one of those things, you take it away, and you can almost measure how much more I am read as a guy.

So basically, it's simple. And again I don't think it should necessarily work this way which is again why I think your genderfucking is really awesome. But the way it works that I've experienced, is if you want to be read as a girl, you have to have two feminine things about you for every masculine thing you see in the mirror. That's it. Other people have to get a 7 or higher for you to be perceived as female, which means you need to send an 8. Again I am not saying you should be hyper-feminine to be a woman. I'm a woman right now and am typing in my "guy mode". And I am personally a little against the standards women get held to when it comes to beauty. But it is one of the reasons I am seeking therapy to feminize my physical appearance. I do want other women to feel safe around me and to be able to make friends with them, and it's unrealistic of me to expect everyone I meet to be open minded.

My other big reason for seeking therapy is that I don't want to be a woman with a birth defect but I can wait until I get SRS taken care of, and I don't view people that opt not to get any surgery as being any less "true" members of their gender. It's so wonderful that it's an option these days but it's still an expensive medical procedure.

As far as who you are and not how you express, that's a little trickier. Again, I wouldn't try to separate nature from nurture, because there is just no way it will work now that you're an all put together personality. But if you're wondering if you are a girl on the inside, or are truly a two-spirit or third gender, or whatever makes the most sense to you, the way I did it was to just put all the options on the table as equal and say "okay which of these is the most likely". I read an article recently, here, The Null HypotheCis Sincerely, Natalie Reed that I think explained better than I'm trying to here. I think it is okay to use some cultural stereotypes, but I think it's also the more the better, and I think it's okay to just throw out some cultural stereotypes if they don't make sense to you or you don't agree with them. Your idea of what a man and a woman is the valid one here; if you associate hopping on one foot and singing the national anthem with femininity, then that's a check in the girl box if you do it.

And hey good luck! To you and your partner, I hope things work out great for you and you find yourself and what you need to do to be happy
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Last edited by Just Jess; 15th May 2013 at 06:35 PM..
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