Here’s something thought-provoking?

This is a 20-minute educational video about transgender-ness, including interviews with some transgender people. One of the main interviewees identified as genderqueer (I’m going to edge not-so-neatly around pronouns now, because the interviewee said that pronouns were important, but never identified the correct set to use). Since I’ve been toying with the genderqueer idea for a while, I found this part of the video incredibly interesting, particularly since it seems rare that you learn about aspects of transgender that aren’t binary (i.e. a man wanting to be a woman or a woman wanting to be a man).

The way the video explains genderqueer, as far as I can recall, is the identity of your gender not being accurately expressed by binary notions of masculine/feminine. I started applying what the genderqueer person was saying to see if it fit with my conceptions of myself. I really want to get across the fact that I am not feminine and that I incorporate a lot of masculine characteristics into my sense of self. I also want to be able to explain the fact that I feel that my life would have been a lot easier if I were born with a penis, but I don’t have enough dysphoria to feel that physical transition is right for me. (This is exacerbated by the fact that it’s a lot easier to have a gender-transgressive identity/presentation as a biological woman than as a bio man.)

But am I genderqueer? This is a term I’d started to apply to myself of late to describe all these feelings, and the initial reason I picked it was that it didn’t sound like “transgender”, to be honest. I have the preconception that there’s something about the “extreme” nature of the word “transgender”, and the association with wanting to change your physical characteristics, that causes me to shy away from it. It’s also such a huge thing: I find sexual orientation and preferences relatively easy to incorporate into my existing identity, and it’s easy for me to say “I’m a woman with more masculine characteristics”, too — but to say “I am not a woman”? That’s ridiculously radical and it challenges everything I’ve known about myself for the past several years, because that’s one of the first things you know about yourself; you know that your pee hole is different from Nicky’s or Jimmy’s; that yours is like Mommy’s but not like Daddy’s. I’m finding the physicality of sex really hard to separate from the more psychological concept of gender, and I’m not sure to what extent anything I might say is true. Saying I’m male or masculine or a man seems too extreme; saying I’m a woman or female or feminine seems like I’m leaving out something important. But I still go into the women’s restrooms.

To be honest, I keep going past the men’s restrooms when I walk into the women’s (always at a time when there’s no one around, so that no one questions my right to be there, something I have paranoia about) and I peer into the men’s and wonder if there’s anyone in there at that moment. I have never actually been inside a men’s restroom in my life. I have never seen a urinal in real life. And in some ways I’d like to be able to pass in that perfect way, to enter the men’s restroom with less apprehension than I do the women’s. (I think I need to learn to piss standing up first. They say “practice in the shower” and that’s always been enough to turn me off the idea.)

But I just, I don’t want to go all the way. I don’t feel like I’m “a man in a woman’s body” or any of that stuff. As I think I’ve said before, I actually like having a woman’s body. I like the idea of having sex with another woman — two (or more) women’s bodies — although I should explain I’ve never had sex of any kind. I don’t know what I am. And like, in that video, when “genderqueer” was put under the “transgender” label, I suddenly felt like maybe it wasn’t the right label for me after all….

Is it internalized transphobia? I don’t know.

I think I might have talked before about my feelings about “dressing up”. Although I wear men’s or androgynous clothing almost all the time, I have a lot of women’s clothing — left over from when I was 12 or 13-ish and wore skirts all the time, stuff my mom has bought me in an attempt to encourage my latent femininity, or stuff I buy because it just looks pretty. The problem is, it looks great at the store, but it’s come to the point where it doesn’t look right on me at all. I have short hair, I don’t wear makeup and can’t apply it well, and I conceal my body under my clothes a lot of the time. I’m not used to wearing feminine clothing in public, and when I do so I often feel really awkward. There’s also an interesting feeling I have a lot: when I decide on a given day to wear women’s clothing, I will sometimes think to myself, “What if I meet someone new today? I don’t want to give them the wrong impression, of being very feminine.” So hence the dressing up: most of the time when I wear women’s clothing, I do it in my bedroom with the door closed (even if there’s no one else there, I do it with the door closed), and I look in the mirror and snap pictures that I show to no one. I like how I look, sometimes, when I sexualize myself in a feminine way, as women’s clothes invariably do. But it’s more like I’m someone else, looking at this girl and thinking “Oh, she’s hot,” or it’s a half-hearted hope on my part that this feminine sexualization will entice other people to see me sexually, which never happens really. And then I feel very awkward and put on usual clothes: jeans or cargo pants and a t-shirt, and I’ve taken to wearing a tweed jacket now because it’s gotten chilly. Always the same. And sometimes I want to dress up, and I just get scared as hell.

So I can’t be a man, right? Because I still want to dress up, and I still keep buying new women’s clothes. It’s almost like behaviour you’d associate with a male transvestite, where the pleasure’s in the clothes. Does that make any sense? But I’m not a male transvestite…. It’s totally Shakespearean: a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. Isn’t that something in As You Like It?

I’m looking at the word count feature on WordPress and I cannot believe that this post has gotten so long. I need to do some work now. I guess I just feel very unsure, and I don’t know what to say.


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