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Monday, October 8, 2012

Gender variant acceptance ~Sevan

As an androgyn/gender variant/non-binary type person; I’m used to having people “not believe” in my identity. What I am often shocked by, is when I hear people’s identity come into question even in trans* spaces. I’m shocked to hear someone else; who has been fighting for recognition of their own identity turn around and do the same thing to someone else.

I thought that gender identity was in our minds? That’s what I teach at my presentations and that’s what I talk about here.

I have had people tell me that they accept gender variant identities…but clearly I’m male, and should come out as such. I've had people tell me that they accept my gender variant identity….but that other person over there…not so much.

I think the whole thing comes down to perception, and expression.

I can’t speak for other gender variant folks (though I’d REALLY love to hear from them on this topic!!!) but for me; expression of my gender is a funny thing. It’s HARD! It takes far too much work and forethought. Since there is no “gender variant” section in the clothing store…I have to make it up as I go along. I can’t ever take for granted that my presentation and my intention will be read correctly or as I meant for it to come across.

If I dress in men’s clothes without binding, it doesn't usually read as “gender variant” it reads as “dyke”. If I dress in men’s clothes and bind…I may be read as cis-male. (this never ever happens. I usually still get read as “dyke” but it’s within the realm of possibility…)

If I dress in woman’s clothes then I’m read as cis-female. (even though such attire is sometimes just as uncomfortable and unfitting of my gender identity as male clothes)

You see!? I can’t win!!! How can I possibly dress in a way that would express to you, the general public…that I’m androgyn? When I dress in skirts and men’s shirts with a nice tie I’m viewed as just…somewhat strange. It still doesn't read as what I’m going for.

As such… I've given up trying to be “read correctly” because this identity…it isn't about you. It’s all about me. Being comfortable with myself, being my best self, being comfortable in MY skin.
On the flip side of that…personally I don’t want to be a “gender warrior” every. Single. Day. Of my life. It’s exhausting. It’s tiring. I can’t do it. I just can’t. I commend those who are able, those amazing people. So you may come across me on a day where I’m wearing one of my other passions on my sleeve. Love, Equality, Bi rights, HIV advocacy…when my gender is on the front; I often can’t talk about anything else. Just like the rest of you; I AM more than my gender.

Sometimes going out to a restaurant or new space with new people I’m not familiar with; I dress “female” because I may not want to come out via my dress and attire. It might not be safe, it might not be appropriate. (ie: Work. Mainly.) Most often; it’s not understood without me explaining.

I have searched myself, gone through hours and hours of therapy, I have TRIED to fit within the binary. Don’t you think it would be easier for me to do so? I sure do!! I've tried. Believe me I've tried. I've thought ever awful thing possible about my own identity. Then I came to terms with myself, and did what I needed to do to express myself, feel comfortable within myself and present to the world as much “me” as I can.
This was not an identity I came to lightly. Transition; especially at a time when gender variant transition wasn't even written about…was not easy. My gender identity is no more about clothes and style than any other. That’s only what you can see. There’s FAR more to me than what’s on my skin, or how I interact with people, or what my energy might express.

Since I can’t wear my entire wardrobe every day; you’re not seeing the whole of my self expression on any given day. Same goes for any other gender variant person. Step back and look at everything you know about the person. Then; take them at their word. We do the same for the rest of our community. 

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am a little confused why this is such a difficult issue fo you.
Like you, I am female. Like you, if I stand naked in front of a mirror, I see a woman.

When I dress, I wear what is appropriate. If I am just hanging around the house, depending on the weather, I am usually wearing comfortably casual clothes. Shorts or a skirt if it is warm, a longer skirt or slacks if it is cold.

If I am out grocery shopping the same applies. I do not see the problem with "gender appropriate presentation".

Sevan Bussell said...

Annon: the problem (just like I mention all over this blog, and specifically, this blog post) is that I'm *not* a woman. I take Testoerone. I am an androgyn. Someone who is between male and female. I'm not "a woman like you" that's the problem.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I "googled" androgyne, and found that it refers to "the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. This may be as in fashion, sexual identity, or sexual lifestyle, or it may refer to biologically inter-sexed physicality, especially with regards to plant and human sexuality.[1]

It goes on to describe someone who, "does not fit neatly into the typical masculine and feminine gender roles of their society. They may also use the term ambigender or polygender to describe themselves. Many androgynes identify as being mentally "between" woman and man, or as entirely genderless. They may identify as non-gendered, genderneutral, agendered, between genders, genderqueer, multigendered, intergendered, pangender or gender fluid".[citation needed]

So lots of new words there, but I get the idea.

So now I am wondeing how the testosterone helps? Why not take estrogen?

Sevan Bussell said...
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Sevan Bussell said...

Hi Anon, thanks so much for going and doing a bit of research!
here's an old (but still applicable) entry about how I came to terms with being androgyn. http://candiussellcorner.blogspot.com/2010/03/speaking-my-truth.html
I will answer your question directly though and say that I did try very hard to balance my female hormones (as I was born female) in hopes that cycling "properly" and frequently enough would help alleviate my issues. It didn't help at all.
I might ask though...would you suggest trans* woman take testosterone to alleviate/fix their transgender feelings?

Anonymous said...

I read your referenced posting and I am still operating at a loss. You seem to have all these different "issues", yet no clear approach to dealing with them.

You seem to self diagnose,picking and choosing your own "therapies".

You make reference to your menstrual cycle, but only in reaction to your getting off birthcontrol. I mean female puberty is difficult at best.

According to wikipedia, thi is a mental issue which seems to have been exacerbated by your self-medication. Then out of left field comes this relationship witha transitioning transgender woman.

I am sorry. I must be getting old. All this gender stuff just seems much too complicated.

I am not particularly religeous, but it seems to me that God made us all male or female. This genderthing just seems to have appeared out of cyberspace or some other weird dimension.

Sevan Bussell said...

I must disagree with you again there Anon. If we go with the premise that God (or Goddess..) makes no mistakes...then we must account for the creation of intersexed people. They; to varying degree, are a mix of male and female physically. Androgyn (and some similar identities) are mentally a mix of male and female, and most of strive to have our outer bodies reflect that.
Such identities didn't "spring out of cyber space" since we can look at many tribal people who have accepted 3, 5, and 7 different genders; and have for a very very long time. Far before the advent of the internet. To say the least.

Anonymous said...

Again you have left me totally beyond words. Now it sounds as though you are trying to make yourself inter-sexed.

That just seems bizzare to me. But that is just me. I hope you will not be offended by my not understanding.

Jay Hilversun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.