…gender today. And we’ll touch on sexuality too. (And I’ll follow this post with one containing the promised book update (although it might have to wait until I get home again, not sure if I have the up to date reading list with me) and a little something about the job process.)
I don’t think I have, on any of the platforms I use to communicate, actually talked about the topic. My facebook page has an infobox on it with my gender identity and sexual orientation in it, but I’ve never really talked about it (except for two of my friends). Not that I don’t want to talk about it, it’s just that it never seems to come up really, and it seems weird to just get up and go: “let’s talk about my gender identity today” in personal communication. If asked about either (gender and/or sexuality) I’ll gladly answer.
A quick little bit of background. I’ve always known, growing up, I was ‘different’. I barely have any memories of my elementary school periods, just flashes here and there. This, I suspect, is mostly due to suppression on account of the many medical procedures I had to undergo as a kid (what with being born with hip dysplasia). The last one of these was when I was ten. So when I say I’ve always known, I mean starting from ten, eleven on.
I was never interested in boys, or girls for that matter, and other matters dealing with the physical form. I came across something yesterday that nicely describes my general feeling growing up, and now still most of the time. It comes from a post on the genderkid blog:
I didn’t grow up with any body image problems because, for most of my teen life, I’ve done a good job of ignoring my body. Whenever I did look at myself, I didn’t see anything wrong: my body fits pretty well into society’s standards of “normal”. I just didn’t identify with what I was seeing. I avoided mirrors because I was better off thinking of myself as a floating brain.
But while I was growing up, I never questioned the basic stereotypes, took them as something that just happened: I was going to get married a husband, have a couple kids, the whole shebang. Of course, as I got older and stayed not interested, I sometimes wondered but mostly put it to being a late bloomer. I also never gave any thought to other possibilities, like that I might be a lesbian or bisexual and would end up with a woman, let alone considering that there were more ‘types’ besides men and women.
This was partly due to where I grew up: a very small, rural town where not a lot of people were different in those ways. There was, as I knew it during my teens, one lesbian couple in my town, and a transwoman a town over. I never interacted with the transwoman, I only knew about her because she was the neighbour of one of my friends. I on occasion met half of the lesbian couple but due to the age difference (she was near my mother’s age) we’d never interact on an equal enough base that I’d ask about it, and even if I had, it most likely would’ve been considered impolite.
Combined with my continued disinterest in all these matters, I never investigated my own difference. Not until I graduated high school and went on to university. There I befriended Gert. And after about a year or so, he came out to me as being gay. I was completely accepting of it from the start, I think being exposed to the couple in my hometown did really drive home the normality of being gay. We discussed it on occasion, being gay, and him being the first non-heterosexual person I was close too was the catalyst that got me thinking about myself and started me on this whole journey of self-discovery and such. Starting with my sexual orientation, but, a year or two later, also including my gender identity.
So, since sexuality came first, let’s start with it here too.
I’d already realised that I had no particular attraction to anyone. Sure, I found some people pretty or cute, but that was about it. I didn’t, and still don’t, have any desires to get physical with someone, be they male, female or something else. This confused me, what did this make me? Apparently not straight since I’d make no distinction between sexes in finding people cute or pretty. But then again apparently not a lesbian either because of previous argument. Was I then bisexual? I labelled myself as such since it seemed to fit best at that moment.
I kept wondering though, surely there must be more people feeling as I did. Or was it just a hormonal thing? In any case, life kept me occupied, school, friends, hobbies etc… and I didn’t give it all that much thought. Kinda using the bisexuality conclusion as a temporary end point. A while after, not sure how long, I was watching Discovery Channel one night and saw a re-run of an episode of Sex Sense (which in the USA was called Sex Files and which happens to be on YouTube in its entirety here) about asexuality. I’d seen the original a while before (a year or so i think?) and found many things familiar even back then but didn’t give it much more thought. This time however, the similarities with my own situation hit me squarely in the face. Next day I immediately started doing research and pretty soon I found AVEN (Asexuality Visibility and Education Network). And all the information and stories of other people I found on there made me realise that I was, in fact, asexual.
Since this post is getting way out of hand as it is already I’ll just point readers towards the AVEN site for more information about what it is and isn’t. But in short, it’s basically not having a sexual attraction towards other people. Finding this out was a bloody epiphany for me and for the next few years, whenever I went on self-discovering journeys of varying length it mostly focused on the sexuality part. It wasn’t until about a year, year-and-a-half ago that gender started coming back into the picture.
When I started to figure out that I didn’t feel I was a woman, I at first assumed that must mean I was a man. But that didn’t fit either, which confused the hell out of me; what else was there? Eventually the name, or label really, that I picked (for myself anyway, not in public) for my gender identity was gender neutral. Then the whole sexuality thing took center stage and when I came back to gender issues, in part fueled by some things one of my friends told me, I approached it the same way I had done with the sexual information seeking: I dived into Google :D.
A whole lot of research later I learned that gender was not nearly so binary, so simple, as I had always thought. I learned there’s way more options and, accompanying that, a plethora of names out there that people use to indicate they identify as something other than male or female. I figured out that I did indeed identify as neither male or female. But whether something outside of it or something in between… I didn’t know. So I kept the gender neutral as a sort of ‘posh term’ but mostly when I thought about what my gender was, it went something like neither? both? all? I’m still not exactly sure how to call it, but by now I have figured out that fluctuating seems to be most appropriate. Most of the time I have no particular gender identity and just go as a neutral. But I have periods, ranging from something as short as a few hours, up until a few days where I balance a little more towards male or female. It’s like one of those trend graphs that usually follow a straight line but sometimes have peaks below or above. Same with my gender identity. Usually it follows the straight neutral line but sometimes it peaks towards male for a bit and sometimes towards female for a bit.
It’s kinda funny, actually, (and quite stereotypical too :S) but I can often tell if I have entered a male or female period when I’m getting dressed (my brain needs a little startup time in the morning so not a lot of coherent thinking and reflection takes place then :D) since the type of clothing I pick to wear is different then. In female periods I’m more inclined to pick a skirt or otherwise more female oriented clothes (like more figure hugging stuff that shows that I do in fact have teh boobies). In male periods I tend to pick my cargo pants and hooded sweatshirts to hide my female parts. And in the neutral periods I mix and match from both sides.
I think I’m getting towards the end now, I can’t really think about anything more to add at this point. And in any case, I’ve rambled on long enough now 😀 I’ll get back to this topic in later posts, after all, I have a pretty icon for it, I might as well use it 😛