halfthoughts

A gender journey

Category: gender

Sometimes I barely even notice

I’ve been telling people about my preferred pronouns a lot in the last few weeks. Sometimes, when people actually use them, I barely even notice.

A house mate used they to refer to me while talking to another housmate  and it almost didn’t register that it was me. It was me!

A counselor used they to refer to me while chatting on the phone to the scheduling person, and it almost didn’t click.

But I think the fact that I don’t notice is a good sign. Because the opposite effect happens when I’m misgendered. Whenever someone uses she or her pronouns to refer to me, I definitely notice. There’s a pulse in my chest and then I  get panicky and anxious, because I have to weigh whether I want to come out to them in that moment or not. Usually I don’t. Especially if I don’t know them very well.

Today, for the first time I corrected someone who used her pronouns while talking about me. It was a person who I felt comfortable with enough to actually correct, probably because he already knew my pronouns, and he was also queer.

Now I just need to work up to correcting other people who don’t know yet. We’ll get there eventually.

Micro Affirmations

In the last few months, I moved back to the states from abroad and started grad school. Moving is always emotional, so it’s been a whirlwind, but there have been so many awesome micro affirmations since I’ve landed in the states. Here are a few:

-Friends playing with my new short hair and saying how awesome it looks (I love when people play with my hair.)

-Shopping for men’s shoes and having the retail people treat me like just another customer.

-Coming out to friends I haven’t seen in awhile about my pronouns and having them be supportive right away and say things like, “I won’t be offended if you correct me.”

-Coming out to my professors about my pronouns in class and having them say, “Keep on me about them” and having my classmates just nod their heads and not even seem confused at all.

-Hearing one of the faculty members (who I didn’t tell directly, but heard through the grapevine) use my pronouns super casually and look at me for eye confirmation that she got them right.

-Telling someone I was single, and not having them follow up with awkward questions about when I was planning to get married, and why I didn’t have a boyfriend yet.

-Having my cousin-in-law give me a few of his bowties.

-Having a classmate show me a link to this queer meetup event and ask, “Do you want to go with me to this?”

I’m sure there have been others, but those are definitely some of the ones that stick out. Overall, happy to be back. And excited for this new chapter of my life.

Hitting Bottom and Reaching Out

This post was written for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is themed around the topic “Resiliency”   

 [CW suicidal thoughts, depression]

Read the rest of this entry »

How do you identify?

I was in a queer space this weekend and someone asked me how I identify for the first time ever.

My insides were super happy to be asked and feel safe enough to tell them. I think it was the first time I’ve “come out” as asexual verbally to someone I didn’t already know. And their reaction was super positive and they even asked me to explain a little bit about asexuality, so they could fully understand it.

I had some bad dreams the week before pride where I came out as asexual in lesbian spaces, and was mocked and laughed at. It was super unsettling to have those dreams. I think they reveal that I have a real fear that my asexuality won’t be accepted as valid.

I think this positive experience is helping me to have a little bit more confidence in my identity and ease my insecurities about it.

I also told them I was homoromantic and non-binary and they immediately asked if I preferred they/them pronouns. So that was super validating as well.

 

Gender Neutral Pronouns in Other Languages?

I’m grateful that my native language is English and it’s already got gender neutral pronouns. I’m curious about how genderqueer/ non-binary identifying people navigate their identity in other languages. Specifically Korean. I currently live in Korea and am not out about my preferred pronouns to any of my Korean friends or family. I don’t even know how I would ask them to refer to me in Korean.

In Korean, they don’t use pronouns a lot, so that’s pretty easy to avoid in everyday conversation. But language referencing family relationships is pretty gendered. For example if I have an older brother. The word I use for “older brother” is different depending on if I am a boy or a girl. What if you’re neither?

I’m not connected to the genderqueer community in Korea, although I know they exist because I ran into their booth at Seoul pride last week. I wonder how they have been dealing with this conundrum in their community.

Anyway, this just something I’ve been curious about lately. As a linguistics person, I’m always intrigued by languages and how they adapt to society. I’m sure every language has it’s own growing pains and snags related their respective genderqueer communities.

If you are someone who identifies as non-binary/ genderqueer and are immersed in a non-English community, in what ways have you been able to adapt your language to your identity?

Coming Out….

I went to this Lesbian meetup this weekend and all that I could think about was all the “other” things that I needed to come out about, just by being there.

Before I went, I was skyping my friend who said, “At least when you go there they will already know you’re gay.” Which is totally true. And I was super grateful about that part being a given.

But then I realized there’s more to being queer than just liking girls. And being queer isn’t always the only thing you have to come out about.

So here’s a long list of the things I always feel like I have to reveal about when I meet someone, even in spaces where they already know I’m queer. Of course I don’t always come out about all of the things on this list, and I know I’m not obligated to. But these items float thru my mind regardless.

#1 There’s the fact that I don’t drink at all. And these types of events are usually at bars or clubs which include lots of beer ordering and drink buying. I’m grateful that I’m becoming way more comfortable about being upfront about the fact I don’t drink. Which helps me to feel comfortable going to these events in the first place. I know I can always order a water or a soda if I need to.

#2 There’s the fact that I’m glutten free and can’t eat anything at the restaurant or  for a late night snack after clubbing because of the flour. Usually I just solve this by eating before hand.

#3 There’s the fact that I’m asexual and I get really awkward when people hit on me. I hate flirting, especially via texting so I tend to completely avoid messaging apps in general.  I don’t know how to respond when people ask for my number and they immediately start messaging me in a flirting way, not in a hey nice to meet you kind of way.

#4 There’s the fact that I’m an introvert. So I am super awkward about approaching anyone for a conversation or asking for their number. This is made worse by  #3

#5 There’s my gender identity and my pronouns. To be fair, I haven’t gone to many, but of the handful of LGBT meetups I’ve attended throughout the last few months, only one person has asked me about my pronouns. And that was after I asked theirs first.  I guess after all my tumblr binging I was just secretly hoping people would just start asking about them or giving their’s when I meet them. But it hasn’t happened. And I’m too nervous to supply them myself, as part of my introduction along with my name.

#6 There’s the fact that I’m still half  closeted. I’m barely openly out to myself, let alone others. Which probably explains why I have trouble being open about everything else on this list.

#7 There’s the fact I’m in the depth of my depression. Mental illness has it’s own category of stigma which I’m working on being more open about these days.

#8 There’s the fact that I’m not interested in dating at all right now. It’s just not on my radar. Mostly due to #7 and #3. And the fact that I’m leaving the country in a few months. I’m always afraid to be too friendly because I don’t want to give off I’m interested in dating vibes.  But I want friends. And I desperately need queer community- see #7 and #6.

That Time I Cut My Hair

A few months ago I got a hair cut.

I was inspired by LGBT YouTuber Ashley Mardell who had recently cut her hair. I remember watching her video about hair and following her kickstarter campaign in which one of the perks was she would be cutting her hair. Anyway, the way she talked about hair disphoria super resonated with me.

When I saw the first instagram she posted of her new do. I remember looking at the photo and feeling that positive tingly sense of euphoria filling my chest. I looked at the photo and my mind said, “Yes! I want to do that too.”

So I saved a screen shot of the photo on my phone and set a day two weeks out to cut it. On February 3, I went to the barber, showed him that photo, and got my hair cut.

It was the first time I’d ever cut my hair that short. And it was the first time I ever loved my hair cut right off the bat.

 

Ace Halfthoughts #2

Sometimes I wonder if some of my past mistaken crushes were actually just a result of aesthetic attraction to the clothes they were wearing. And I wonder if it was not so much that I was attracted to being with them, but that somehow the genderqueer part of me was attracted to their gender expression because of an unrealized desire to dress like them.

How Changing My Name Is Like Changing My Gender

I was born S and assigned R at birth. But the name I was assigned at birth never fit right. No one ever called me by my birth name except doctors and my grandmother. 

On the first day of school I’d always explain to the teacher, “I go by S.” That’s what everyone knew me as. That’s what I knew me as. That’s what felt right.

 I always intended to change my name legally, someday. But I was finally forced to in High School when I couldn’t deposit a check because my birth assigned name and the name on the check didn’t match. When I went through the process of changing my name, there was a lot of paperwork, but it wasn’t actually a big deal in real life. 

Everyone already knew me as me, so it wasn’t a shock. I was completely comfortable in my true name and proud of it. So I was relieved to finally have it match my legal records. 

Sometimes, when I hear the name R, I remember vaguely that I was once an R, too. But I never really considered myself to be an R, so I have a slight aversion to the name, now. 

It’s like a pair of hand me down pants that don’t fit quite right. Someone else gave them to you, so you wear them for a bit, but you are more than happy to discard them when you find a pair that do fit you exactly as they should.

I’ve already changed my identity once. How hard can it be to change it again? Who knows how many times I’ll have to change before I feel like I’m wearing the skin that was tailor made for me.

But I’m wiling to keep making adjustments until I figure out the perfect fit. Because who wants to go through their whole life wearing the wrong size hand me downs?

Affirming Flashbacks: Dresses

Sometimes it helps to be affirmed by other people. Especially other people who knew you before you started transitioning and coming out.

When they say something that translates to: “oh yeah, now that you mention it, this thing you used to do makes a lot of sense now”, I feel this wave of affirmation wash over me.

Maybe it’s euphoria. Maybe it’s just a sense of consolation that I’m not crazy. Simply knowing that other people can “see” the real me, too, helps me ease more and more into the confidence that this IS me.

Affirming Flashbacks is an ongoing series about those moments.

———

My friend M is not trans. But she has her own disphoric relationship with clothes. She comes from a very conservative family. So when she’s living at home there are certain clothes she can wear, and certain clothes she can’t.

I remember we met up once on the east coast, and she told me how excited she’d been to pack for the trip. She was so happy to finally unpack the “can’t wear” box, that sits in her room, and give some of her favorite items a chance to air out.

She recently moved to her own apartment in a new city, and she just loves being able to wear all the clothes she wants. She was describing how much more free she feels now. Whereas before,  there was a mismatch between her outfits and her insides.

The way she described this feeling reminded me of the definition of disphoria. Or at least how I understand disphoria. As I understand it, disphoria is that uneasy feeling you get when how you feel on the inside does not match how people see you on the outside.

I feel this a lot when I get complimented for being “beautiful.” I know that I’m not bad looking, so theoretically this should feel good to hear. It’s not a lie. But whenever I would hear it, it would make me squirm. I never understood why. But recently I’ve begun to understand this squirm-y-ness as a symptom of disphoria.

It’s as though  when people would call me “beautiful,” I knew what they meant was  I was a beautiful girl. They saw me as a girl. But since I’m not a girl, I did not want to be perceived as a girl. Therefore I did not want to be seen as beautiful. There was a mis-match between what I felt on the inside, and how people perceived me to be.

This is all background for the part of the story where I explained to my friend M why I was experimenting with a more gender neutral style of clothing. After I related the story about putting on a tie for the first time, she told me she understood because of her own relationship with clothes, as described above. And then she said, “Yeah. Whenever you would wear a dress, I would definitely notice that S is wearing a dress today.”

Something about that sentence sent a wave of affirmation up my spine. I’ve never liked wearing dresses and I was relieved to know other people could see it too. There was something about me wearing dresses that stuck out. Now that I identify as gender queer, I realize the thing that stuck out was some sort of underlying mis-match between gender norms and my gender identity.

I can finally stop wearing those dresses without feeling guilty. From now on I can feel free to wear all the ties I want!