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Twice

October 10, 2009

Ever since I was seventeen I have seen a man’s face in my head. Sometimes his body type changes, sometimes he is pale, sometimes he is dark, but his face has always been the same. He became a common partner in my fantasies. I felt so strongly connected to this man that I wondered who he was.

Is he someone I’ll meet? Will he be a friend, a teacher, a brother, a partner? Do I have to find him, or will he find me? Where is he? Why do I keep seeing him, am I obsessed with this facial structure, what if I judge other men’s beauty by him, a figment of dubious origin and purpose? Where is he and why can’t I find him?

Until one day, in the middle of a lecture on permaculture of all things, I realized that maybe he was me.

And in its way, it made so much sense. Past the initial confusion of ancient lunch-ladies calling me ‘young man’ the first time I cut my hair short, I’ve always enjoyed being mistaken for a man, even flattered. I always put it down to the general feeling that the global superpower’s gender roles were extremely silly. And it would explain how compelling I found characters who regularly alternated between the binary sexes and genders when I was an adolescent. Hell, I wrote stories about it. More recently I felt intensely fascinated watching a movie with my mentor about sex-gender switching people (but I also just wanted to have sex with them).

It is bizarre for me how new things keep popping up when I set out to explore my dominant, sadistic sexuality. It’s kind of like, “Again? Really? How could something else possibly be coming up?” Look at paragraphs twelve through fourteen of this post. That is obliviousness.

This blog began with that I’m dominant. I could finally admit that. And then that I’m a sadist. It was okay to say that too. Okay, then it became apparent I’m not straight. Oh, and by the way there is a man lurking in my head and he is me. What is this, fucking dominoes? Tip over one and eventually the rest will all fall down? I cannot even comprehend the artistry and subtlety of my self-repression to have so blithely hidden this all from myself for two decades. And I am in awe (terrified awe) of the social system that could have made it seem like a good idea to do so.

I’m don’t feel trans, -sexual or -gendered, I don’t feel queer, I don’t feel androgynous, I don’t feel Two Spirit. Those are not mine to take. I am a woman, and a man, and I feel like I have no right to say any of this. I’ve never had to live with transphobia or gender dysphoria. I don’t feel like I’m in the wrong body, I don’t feel like I’m not a woman. But I am feeling somehow fake. I have lived in straight, cisgendered privilege my entire life, and up pops another gender, demanding his life back.

I cannot even entirely think of this man as myself. He is like a separate person living in my body, with his own personality, experiences, memories. Or lack thereof, because he didn’t get to live like the girl and woman did. I think that can be a blessing. I had to grow up as a girl and a woman in this culture, and that has left its mark. The man never had to grow up in this culture as a boy and a man, which in a way, leaves him freer. On the other hand he took the brunt of much of my self-loathing. But he has so few memories. His mind is blank, and he does not yet know who he is. <– See use of third person. That is almost the only way I can relate to him right now and not feel odd.

I don’t know how to explore this. I don’t know how to manifest this, and I don’t know how to present as a man. As I wrote before, I have a hard time understanding adornment conveying information. I don’t find skirts feminine. I don’t find short hair masculine. I wear many more skirt-like pieces of cloth now than I do pants-like pieces of cloth, and my hair is considered short. I have no desire to subject myself to the discomfort of pants to fit common perceptions of masculinity. I really loathe pants.

I’ve been doing small things among the people I live with specifically reserved for male men, which has caused minor confusion. Also debates with eight-year-olds. Yesterday I brought up gender as a dinner topic, and once the discussion finally got revved up and the silence abandoned, it was a great conversation. But somehow today I just feel weird and confused, and less centered about my experience than I had been.

Hell, I still haven’t figured out how to present as a dominant woman, much less anything else.

What a muddy, mucky, confusing, beautifully diverse world.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2009 12:19 am

    I really relate to this post, not just because a couple of my close friends alternate genders and so I’ve developed a bit of awareness of how they feel, but because I didn’t deliberately gender identify through dress at all until I was about twenty-six. At that point I’d been continuously sexually active for a decade, but I’d been unwittingly deferring my own sexuality because (ha) I’m submissive, and it simply didn’t occur to me that that’s who I was, and that’s what I was doing.

    That amazing revelation came about when I realized that I’m bi and queer and very kinky (another way to put that would be to state that my sexual drives are not very gender-ascribed). Gender for me is pretty fictional and pretty fun. I started to deliberately wearing an especially femme version of myself when hanging out at queer events, just to see how that felt, and it felt awesome, like self-reinforcement and signalling both at once. Now that style is just how I dress when I dress up, because feels good; it fits me, I’m comfortable in it and know it well and I can tell it’s hot. For me, coming into my own personal style and self-investment, has a lot to do with it. I really liked this post and the earlier one you linked to – I want to think some more about this stuff and write a separate follow-up post.

  2. October 11, 2009 12:20 am

    *I started to deliberately wear

    oops, sorry!

  3. ranat permalink*
    November 3, 2009 10:03 pm

    Hey there, I am all about the belated replies lately.

    I’m definitely thinking of gender presentation as a form of signaling, and in general communication. It’s been a pretty big part of human social habits, and I’m finding myself wanting to explore it some within the bounds of wearing weather-appropriate clothing. I have some ideas that I’m not sure how they’re going to develop. I’ve got several practical clothing projects (like correcting my dearth of socks) that I need to get on first, but I think things are going to evolve. The only marker I’ve really tried out (with no one in particular to signal to around me), is using some string I made to put a single column tie around my wrist. It’s pretty. :)

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