(Intent of) Explaining My Gender and Preferred Pronouns

I’ve been asked twice this week whether I will start taking hormones soon or if I’m thinking about getting some kind of surgery to alter my sex. It turns out that P will be starting T this October and has also changed their name. My answer is always a clear and plain “no”, but I sometimes have a hard time explaining why.

So this week I had to try and explain my gender to P and my art teacher again, although I had already come out to them a year ago. I had a great conversation about stereotypes, non-binary identities and sexless angels though, so that was nice.

I often just tell people that I’m genderqueer and hope they’ll more or less understand where I stand on the gender spectrum, but the term “genderqueer” encloses so many different kinds of people who all experience their gender differently that it hardly gives any kind of explanation to start with. That is actually one of the reasons why I like the term though. I’ve talked about my sexuality here before and even made a table to separate which kinds of attractions I feel and to which degree, but my gender isn’t so easy to pin down. However, I feel like I have to write this down someday if I want to have a less difficult time explaining what it is I am when somebody asks about my gender identity. So here goes. I warn you that this may turn complicated and end up with me contradicting myself a couple of times.

Let’s start with the easy part. When I’m asked whether I’m a boy or a girl by somebody who I don’t know/will never know, I do what I’m not supposed to do and automatically classify them as cisgender, unknowledgeable of non-binary identities, and faithful partakers of the female-male binary. I then answer with a “male” or “female” depending on the day, simply ignore them or, if I’m in a really good mood and my safety isn’t in danger, answer with a “yes”, “no”, “sometimes” or even a “both and neither”. To be honest, all answers are correct. I’m a girl; I will always be a girl to some extent. But I’m also a boy. But I’m not half girl and half boy, I’m FULL girl and FULL boy. Some people treat gender as some sort of cube which you can fill up with bits of genders and once the cube is full, well there you have your gender identity (25% female, 40% male, 35% neutrois for example). But I’d need more than one cube; I’m 100% female and 100% male.

At the same time, I’m sure the way I experience me being a girl or a boy is probably different to how other people who identify as a girl or boy feel. I don’t really fit in at women or men spaces, and I share no bonds with people who are from the binary only because they share my gender identity. I don’t identify with them. This “neither” feeling would be connected to my non-binary identity, which I refer to as agenderism or neutrality.

Yet I sometimes feel like I would more likely fit in more with the masculine side of the binary and sometimes I lean more towards the feminine side. That’s why I also say I’m genderfluid, and will usually dress according to which way I bend. Of course when this changes halfway through the day, it can cause dysphoria. I had a hard time learning that clothes are just clothes, and I can wear skirts when I’m in boy mode and a shirt saying “I am a boy” when in girl mode. Agender mode is more like an in-between; I’m not particularly feeling more like a boy or a girl. In neutrality mode there is a sense of absolute gender void; there’s hardly anything there, and it would be very hard for me to understand what feeling like a certain gender would feel like. It’s like I forget the concept of gender altogether. This doesn’t occur often though, so I usually don’t bother making a difference between my agender and gender neutral identities.

So to resume all of the above I’ll use my original mathematical formula that combines all aspects of my gender:

Girl + Boy + Agender + Gender neutral = Genderqueer. Emphasis on one of the first four depending on the situation (a.k.a. gender fluidity).

Some people say that gender and sexuality terms only limit who you are and close you into a box. But since I’m in favour of people defining terms in their own way, finding their own meaning, breaking any lines that might limit them and also happen to love words, I see these terms more as a way of letting people try to understand you. My identity overflows from any kind of box that the gender spectrum has, but the term genderqueer is precisely a term that means “there are no boxes for me”, so I’ll be going with that until I find a better one.

Now that my gender is covered, I’ll get to the pronouns. I like he/him/his pronouns because they contradict what is established to be the norm according to my biological sex, so having someone refer to me as a boy makes me feel like I’m challenging society’s binary understanding of gender, which of course makes me glad. Until I realize that they are actually labelling me as male because that is what they see me as, and then I can feel uncomfortable. Because of the same reason, she/her pronouns sometimes also make me uncomfortable. Note that this only occurs when the person referring to me doesn’t know about my identity; I have no problem with any pronouns when used by somebody who acknowledges my gender, which is why I usually say I don’t mind which pronouns one uses after coming out as genderqueer. Any neutral pronouns are great, though I’m more used to hearing they/them/theirs.

The two exceptions are French, in which I prefer she/her pronouns, and Japanese, in which I prefer he/him/his.

And if you want a short Catalan lesson, when speaking I use she/her pronouns to refer to myself, but I usually write using he/him/his. In English this isn’t necessary, but in Spanish and Catalan we end all adjectives with one termination or another depending on our gender. For example, “I am tired” in English upholds no gendering, but in Catalan it would be “estic cansat” if you’re male or “estic cansada” if you’re female. There is no neutral form. But since all substantives have a gender (table is feminine, tree is masculine) I can sometimes manage to make sentences that don’t gender myself, since the adjective then refers to the substantive and not to me (“I am a happy person”: “sóc una persona contenta”). Of course this is difficult to think of quickly enough when speaking, so sometimes I talk with both he/him/his pronouns and she/her pronouns in the same sentence, just to confuse people.

So which pronouns do you all prefer? And how do you identify gender-wise? I challenge you to try and describe it (if not in the comments in a post maybe?). I hope I managed to make some sense…

The Song Project: Arcade Fire – We Exist

Time for song number two of The Song Project. You can’t imagine how surprised I was when this song showed up on the radio. I dropped my ice cream on the floor. Yes, seriously (though maybe that’s due to me hitting my head against the door because I was staring at the TV). I had watched the video the day before on YouTube and I didn’t think that the music video program would dare show something like that.

The video stars Andrew Garfield, actor who played Spiderman in the movie, meaning I usually entertain myself thinking that Spiderman might be trans.

I’ve seen the video at least ten times and tears still come to my eyes when she passes through the door into the concert. “You’ve made it!” I think, “this is your moment to shine!”. Seeing her face of uncertainty and disbelief, having her get back on her feet after everything she’s been through, knowing she’s going to be ok. Knowing that I am going to be ok too. I stare at the screen and smile every time she stretches out her hands to the audience and their cheers become louder. This video gives me incredible amounts of hope and happiness, I genuinely love it.

I heard somewhere that the actor was playing the role of a non-binary person instead of a trans woman, which is what everyone else seems to understand. With Conchita Wurst being non-binary (the winner of Eurovision, for those who aren’t aware of her existence) and now this character, we’re getting quite a lot of visibility these days. But for some reason most people aren’t prepared to understand the concept of gender outside the binary and cover these examples up with a cross-dressing, binary trans or even a homosexual experience.

I could say that they should’ve found an actual trans actress to play that role, instead of Spiderman. I could say that it would be better if they didn’t make a big deal out of the identity of the protagonist and have her return safely home, instead of the typical “they beat up the trans” setting. I could say that the singers could educate themselves more on the subject so that they don’t say that “the kid is gay” again (though she might be, the video states nothing about her sexual orientation). I could tell them that not every trans story has a happy ending. But I won’t say any of this.

It is the first time a trans character has appeared so explicitly on TV in Spain, so I’m going to give them a tiny bit of credit for it instead of being mean.

(If you wish to recommend a song for me to talk about, you can say so in a comment below. I’ve been told many times that my taste in music isn’t admirable, and I wouldn’t want to review songs people don’t like.)

Dysphoria Versus Safety

Binary Subverter was talking the other day about their binding experiences. When reading stories like these I feel sad others had to go through these experiences and incredibly lucky that I have a pretty flat chest. I actually never did any binding, though there was a time when I wished I did. For a few months it was all I could think about.

There are many reasons as to why I didn’t bind. First of all, I couldn’t afford it. Binders are expensive and there was no way I could get my hands on one if it wasn’t over the internet. At the time I hardly had any money and I was in still closeted. I would’ve had to use my sister’s or mother’s bank account and internet credit card to access it, which was a big inconvenient. I couldn’t risk it.

I also gave great importance and priority to solving my dysphoria when I first started figuring out the whole gender thing, so I can say I dealt with it before it overflowed. Hadn’t I done that my mood would’ve probably sunken quite low and who knows what I would’ve done. I am thankful that I am overly safety-conscious and one of the first things I did was research what safety measures could be taken in all cases, not just in binding, but in many other aspects that range from same-sex sexual activities to social interventions. Of course I knew that I mustn’t get close to ace bandages, so I didn’t even think about trying it.

I sometimes wear a sports bra or two tight ones that I like to consider have some affect on making my chest look flatter (they don’t). I used to hunch forward all the time to hide what could still be perceived, but that was a really unhealthy measure and I soon felt guilty about it.

I also have back pains, but I’ve had them since always. I’m feeling perfectly normal but then suddenly there is some sort of spark, a sharp pain, a pinch in my back, and I can hardly move without crying in pain. Very similar to what Binary Subverter described. My father and grandmother also have it, so it’s hereditary in my case. Binding would have made the back pains much worse.

I found that not shaving my legs contributed much more to the boyish image I wanted to give the world than my intents of binding, so I just stuck to that. Plus it goes great with my “girls shouldn’t have to shave” position.

To Use or Not To Use

A while back I said that I wouldn’t be using the word trans with an asterisk because some people consider it offensive, but I’ve recently been looking into it some more and wanted to make a short post about it.

In programming languages, an asterisk is usually added at the end of words when using search engines in order to find other words that have something in common. So if you were to search for trans* and add an asterisk, the results would include other terms like transportation, transmisogynist, transform or transplant. It was therefore created to be inclusive. This is the only argument I found in favour to using the asterisk, really.

Some consider it offensive because it’s as if those who aren’t “trans enough” can’t be included under the umbrella term unless the asterisk is used, meaning non-binary genders wouldn’t officially be trans (I don’t recognize this as a valid reason since some people who are genderqueer, agender, genderfluid, cross-dressers, etc., don’t identify as trans, even though others with the same identities do. Those who don’t wouldn’t be included under the word trans but would under the word trans*). Another reason for not using it is because some say it is more often used by those who were FAAB, therefore excludes trans women, which I can’t really agree with either.

However, Natalie Reed makes some different good points against the asterisk over at this place and Jack is also against it for other reasons.

Now you can decide yourselves whether to use or not. I won’t.

Pride 2014

Smoke, noise and sex. These are the three words I would use to define this year’s Barcelona Pride Parade. Hugely disappointing, really. I had intended to buy a flag or something to wave around once I got there, but half the stands sold food, a quarter were closed and the rest were not LGBT related or very expensive (I’m not buying a 30 cm flag for fifteen euros!). Nobody was waving around anything, it all seemed very dead.
Silly me for thinking asexuality would have any sort of representation. Actually, nothing had much representation, it was very homocentric – male homocentric that is. Not a word about any other sexuality and, other than drag, it seemed like nothing about gender was even mentioned.
It seems like Conchita Wurst made bearded ladies popular, since there were many (both drag and women) with beards. I was hoping to hear Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, but there was nothing. There were a group of kids on a balcony who kept on clapping and shouting every time someone curious went by, which was cute. They had no idea what was going on. Also, somebody nearly died. A girl fell of one of the trucks and lucky the driver stopped before running her over; her head was just in front of the tire.

Things I liked:
– They gave me a sticker. Five stickers actually. They were throwing them from one of the trucks and nobody seemed to care about them, so I just kept them myself.
– I got to see a drag queen for the first time, including the winner of the drag race!!!
– Two otakus screamed at my lovely tee-shirt. They both had nice hairstyles that I will one day have.
– I saw a pink limousine.

Things I didn’t like:
– People thought I was a boy (yay!) so naked males kept on hitting on me.
– The before party had a lot to ask for. A drag queen was dancing and doing playback to songs that my grandparents might have heard of, while everyone else stared and did nothing at all. For two hours.
– They gave me a condom, which is really ok since they were giving everyone condoms. But what about dental dams, gloves or anything the lesbians might need to have safe sex? Again, very male homocentric.
– It was so very hot, I nearly fainted twice. Lucky I brought sun cream, an umbrella, found some shade and a little girl gave me a hat.
– A group of homophobic teenagers thought it would be appropriate to attack one of the bathroom stools at a Pride Parade, but they were soon shooed off. The poor old lady inside had a fright though.

Hopefully next year I can go with Pear and it will be much more fun. Maybe it was just rubbish because I was alone and it was my first time.

Pear and I

I haven’t mentioned Pear yet. Before I introduce her though, I thought maybe I should stop putting letters as people’s names and maybe assign them fruit instead so they are less confusing. Pear has nothing in common with a pear by the way; the names are chosen randomly.
Pear and I met at drawing classes. I try to be as outgoing as I can when meeting new people, otherwise I’m most likely to end up alone in a corner of the room, so I got into the habit to talking to everyone in my drawing class (30 people). This means that I have a good relationship with everyone and walk around the room talking to all and none in particular (I think that’s what you call a floater when studying high school girl cliques?). When Pear showed up half way through the year, nervous and solitary, I also presented myself and we soon became great friends. I usually get bothered with people fairly quickly and have an urge to run away after they talk for too long, but she was different. I consider her to be my best friend and I often get an earlier train to see her in the mornings.
One day we were walking to the train station together; we were talking about manga and, somehow, she ended up saying that she loved characters who dressed up as the opposite sex, as well as androgynous Asian singers. I thought that it would be a good enough moment to come out as non-binary, but I cowardly changed my mind. Instead I gave her one of my smirks with hidden meaning and agreed, then proceeded to say a list of characters and gender-bender series that I also loved.
Five minutes later she started complaining about her boyfriend, because he didn’t let her cut her hair. I knew she’d be bothered if I went into feminism mode and told her that her boyfriend had no right to decide which haircut she should have, but I did tell her she should be doing whatever she wanted with her own hair. Anyway, then she said she was sick of relationships and “wished she was asexual”. That definitely caught me off guard as I was incredibly surprised that somebody in the mainstream population (cis-hetero-monogamous-vanilla) would know about the term. Second time that I had a perfect opportunity to come out and stayed quiet.
Another day we were scribbling our names on a piece of paper and drawing flowers around them, when the guy sitting in front of us said to another friend that “all the girls around him turned into lesbians, even Pear”. I don’t think I need to make much of a comment on the nature of this statement, seeing as it basically speaks for itself, but I could’ve taken this (third) opportunity to come out to her. As usual, I didn’t.
Of course later I was ashamed of myself for not saying anything. She is the most accepting person I know and would have no problem whatsoever with me being trans or ace. But if you think that my chances of disclosing my identity were over, you should know that I was given yet another opportunity to do so.
It was last week. I thought I might as well mention that there’s the Barcelona Pride this Saturday, and that I’d be going. She was upset because she couldn’t go, so I said I’d buy her a flag or something. She told me she wanted the pansexual one. I made sure to tell her that I’d be buying an asexual one for me and in response I got “why would you want an ace one, being asexual is so sad!”, as she proceeded to tell me that only 1% of the population is asexual. I wasn’t going to waste this chance so I butted in with a “I’m part of that 1%!”. She was shocked for a second or two but then started squealing and jumping up and down, saying that she finally met an asexual person and that she’d always wanted to know my sexuality (really?).
She’s been very interested and asking a few questions these past few days about asexuality and aromanticism. I also came out as genderqueer. She suspected it and says it’s fine, that she has no problem whatsoever and feels so much closer to me now. Turns out she’s pansexual too (not a lesbian).

So we go back down to the “not trans enough”

I haven’t mentioned this before, but ever since I have began to interact with “real life queer people”, I have become friends with people like P, who I have already talked about, P’s girlfriend and L. L and I have become good friends because we are the same age and we are going through the same circumstances and situations at school and in life in general. The other day, though, L told me that P isn’t trans because he doesn’t want to be a boy, referring to the fact that he is non-binary, has no preference for pronouns and hasn’t undergone surgery.

P was telling me a while ago how he had bought a binder and how he was planning to have top surgery as soon as he could pay for it and convince his parents. I also know that he has been through a lot of difficult experiences because of his identity, so I didn’t really like L’s comment. But it isn’t the first time I hear people saying that non-binary people aren’t really trans, or completely ignoring or invalidating their existence.

I am also non-binary, but I can tell you that I very well am trans. I have somewhat found a way to feel comfortable with my body and have accepted the way society may perceive me and my gender instead of letting myself succumb to dysphoria. Who says I am not trans because I sometimes use the girls’ toilets? Shall I tell them about how hard it is to not be able to listen to Korean music regardless of how much I love it because of the amount of jealousy I feel towards the singers? Do I have to mention that just the other day I was insulted while walking down my very own school because of my gender expression? Do I have to give explanations as to why I like wearing pink, why I giggle sometimes or how I cry when watching “Bridge to Terabithia” for the fifth time even though I identify as a boy? Do they not understand that I don’t want to undergo surgery, that I love my body, that my fear of injections is much bigger than my fear of being misgendered by a stranger? Did they know that I say I’m comfortable with my body but still spend half an hour in front of the mirror deciding which clothes to wear because I don’t want my breasts to show or my hips to be noticed?

Does the way how somebody feels uncomfortable about themselves determine their transliness? Of course it doesn’t. Neither does the way they love their bodies or how they act or the way they express their gender. Surgery, hormones, clothes and experiences are completely irrelevant when it comes to determine a person’s identity. P is trans, I am trans and so is L. And so is anyone else who says they are. We are all just different types of trans.