I seem to have littered previous posts, including even the interview, with vague hints at “problems with gender”. When I say problem, I suppose that I mean something closer to the sense of a word or logic problem. Something that should be teased apart. After the last few days of talking with a few friends and with James, I think I should probably clarify in words what exactly I mean by that, because I think it’s engendering (ha) all sorts of very real problems.
First, I should note that I wrote quite a bit about this back in January as stuff started to build up to the melt-down I had in March. I’ll repost a few snippets of it here just to avoid repeating myself.
I have never felt so uncomfortable in my own body. I had never done something like have sex with the guy I’m engaged to and felt that it was wrong, nor has the feeling lingered into the next days as despair. While I had been plagued with suicidal thoughts before for what felt like no real good reason, I’d never considered anything like self mutilation with the specific goal of removing my sex drive via chemical or physical castration so I wouldn’t have to experience it. I had never thought back on my childhood and thought to myself that the way my parents had acted around me would prove to be the source of a lot of strife in my adult life. They had always been fairly liberal people bringing me up, but I’ve been impressed with very straight-forward gender roles, and to feel those being tested as the lines blur in my own self-image is causing more grief than any other single thing in my life since I came out in the first place.
I felt that furry would be a safe way for me to explore along the cline of gender identity and you know, I really did pretty alright at first. I could pretend to be a female fox and get away with it pretty easily – remember the right pronouns, act just so, and it goes over pretty well. I wrote about that in one of my posts for [a][s], even, how the fact that furry is endowed with both an even distribution of sexual orientations along the Kinsey scale and a population that is 80% male leads to it being rather acceptable for a guy to play a girl on the ‘net. That is, acceptable as in fairly innocuous – there would be eye-rolling and some banter about the issue, but not necessarily any real issues in a group setting (speaking from experience, it can cause issues among couples, of course). But, you know, I’m just not a girl. I certainly think I would be less uncomfortable if my biological sex were female, but I don’t think I would necessarily fit within that gender role, either. Even so, I went along with things for quite a while, pretending to be a guy sometimes, pretending to be a girl others, and feeling awkward about either for different reasons.
Back in January, I can’t exactly say that I was comfortable with the whole confusion surrounding gender that was going on. That I spent so much time waffling this way and that on the binary gender roles is not evidence of any confidence or even a thorough understanding what has already been thought about and written about in this realm. I was stuck feeling terrible because I had no other framework for thinking about this, and it wasn’t until the last few months as I read things such as Hanne Blank’s Straight, a book about the relatively short history of heterosexuality, the AVEN forums, and my own twitter feed’s sea-change toward being gender-focused that I started to be able to actually be able to comprehend gender as separate from biological sex, never mind gender as clinal. It’s always a bit of a shock to realize just how absurdly primitive your understanding of something is, but I can’t say it’s not helpful.
So, no, me six months ago, I’m not transgendered. I don’t think that that was the write avenue to look down. In the process of researching this current experiment, I read and thought about the process of transition quite a bit, even considering procuring some very mild Estradot patches and going on limited hormones in order to see if feeling even more androgynous would help me understand myself more. I think I’ve concluded, though, at least for the time being, that it’s not so much discomfort with with my biological sex, as much as I’m uncomfortable with just about everything supposedly tied-down and permanent. Your gender is supposed to match your biological sex or it isn’t. If it does, your orientation should be set around high school and then stay there forever. If it doesn’t, you should transition, then revisit the orientation question after you’re done.
I’m just not quite sure I can really get on board with that.
Recently, an ex, FtM, and I hooked up a few times and played around. He’s gone through most steps of the process of transition, top surgery and hormone therapy among the most visible, and is perfectly happy being a man with a vagina now. It took a shock like that and a lot of reading for it to really get through my (admittedly quite thick) skull that people aren’t kidding about the whole gender gradient thing. It’s strong evidence of just how firmly gender roles are ingrained within our society, or at least how firmly they were ingrained within me. I remember having it explained to me in elementary school (by another kid) that “gay guys just want to be girls and gay girls just want to be guys”. It was confirmed by parents.
So. Not transgendered, then. Agendered? Genderqueer? The first one I’m not so sure about. I don’t think I could manage being agendered. As an experiment, I did exactly that online, turning my character into an agendered fox and referring to myself as ‘it’ (personal choice, there, I know most people hate that, but it is very postfurry). The reactions were startlingly negative, and, well, to be honest, even though I’ve got problems, I always…uh…“feel” a gender, of some sort. Genderqueer or gender fluid I can get behind a little more easily, as that more easily expresses how I feel, and, if pressed, that’s how I’ll explain it.
The reason that this still doesn’t quite fit, though, is that a lot of what I spend time thinking about or feeling treats the ‘me’ part as the object, rather than the subject. The term autochorissexualism was coined recently to describe those who fantasize about sex, but only in terms of others, with themselves not being involved. Either they’re the passive observer, or it’s just the concept of sex (rather than sex itself) that acts as the motivator. It’s sort of like that with me and gender. While I can envision me, say, purchasing quarter-doses of Estradot in order to get a slight amount of feminizing effects, it’s like thinking about some person named ‘me’ doing such. That, in the long run, was what stopped me from even worrying about that, after all.
I’m wary of using language to describe it at all, I guess. I loathe the “no labels” movement because it’s incredibly solipsistic, but I simply haven’t the words right now and am wary of using the wrong ones. Yet here I am, trying to pin language down to some vague hormonal imbalance or whatever. It’s helpful for me, at least. If it takes 1500 words to describe my gender, then sure, it’s probably best that I just go with genderqueer or gender fluid, but just the fact that I can think about this in words and be able to express myself when I need is quite important, to me.