Monday, 6 May 2013

A to Z: Gender

I had originally intended to write about 'Going Out' but since I've covered that in several areas already I want to be a little more focused. The next few are going to be on a similar topic too, unless I change my mind  again.

I'm taking suggestions for R, T, U, V, and W. Also at some point I'm going to do an Questions and Answers session, for people who want to ask things but haven't had an opportunity. I'll post the questions anonymously, and reserve the right to not answer question I'm uncomfortable with.

This time I'd like to talk about gender, and how I feel about it.

Unfortunately we live in a society where people are expected to live within two distinct genders, forming a gender binary of socially acceptance. Deviation from the binary normally results in being shunned, this includes both those who exist outside it, or simply don't measure up to the expectation regardless of their gender identity. Clearly this poses an issue to those who want to live beyond their birth gender.

I suspect (and am aware that this is a bit of a stretch) most people don't have a real, deep down objections to the concept of an individual changing their gender if they so desire; there are exception based on religion and historical culture.

However discrimination and prejudice exist; I think this is centred around people's inability to quickly, and relatively cleanly categorize someone within the two genders they understand. It causes distress as it throws off the subconscious mindset people automatically fall into when interacting with people of a particulate gender, it is outside their comfort zone. The normal human reaction to new and unknown things is fear; and fear can drive people to do horrible things. Sometimes however this fear transcends itself and becomes discrimination and prejudice. The ability to fool this subconscious categorisation and to be accepted into the opposite gender is known as passing.
For some passing is extremely important, being able to live your life without being found out, being "read" is a lifelong desire and challenge. Unfortunately there isn't much leeway since even naturally born women find themselves unable to keep up with the expectation and get branded as ungainly, or manish. This is hard enough for someone secure in their gender, however for someone striving to be who they feel they really are it can be devastating.

There are a few lucky people who have won the genetic lottery and manage to pass with relative ease, however there are also those who manage to pass despite their physical limitations via careful selection of clothing and make up, mixed with naturally feminine movements and posture.

There are however many people who just don't feel that they belong within one particular gender, they don't feel strongly male or female. Commonly refereed to as Genderqueer or Pangender it ranges from the desire to be generally androgynous, to being able to chose pick and chose which gender they wish to identify with at the time.

At this point I wanted to talk about how I see my gender, and the honest truth is that I have no earthly idea. There are times when I've felt entirely male, but I don't think I have ever felt anywhere near female. The times I've felt closest it's somewhat like a shadow of female, something like a 40/60 split, female to male. Definitely an "obviously a man in a dress" feeling, very clumsy and awkward.
My default state seems to be feeling male, but with a yearning to feel female. It's something I strive for and I'm not sure exactly why. I question if this feeling is self influencing, by which I mean; do I want to feel more feminine because I think that's what I want? or do I want to feel more feminine because it IS what I want, and I am finding it hard to really rationalise what it means.

I often find myself wondering how differently events and activities would pan out if I had chosen to appear female. Sometimes I find it quite challenging to picturing, especially regarding banal, everyday events and activities; I simply can't see how appearing female fits in that context. For example doing general shopping, or even walking around town. It's likely related to why I find it hard to encourage myself to crossdressing at home, alone. All this makes me question the desire to crossdress in it's entirety.

One of the reasons for this might be never having felt that I was feeling feminine. These feelings are not easy quantify or convey, which is why I don't say I've never felt feminine; simply put I don't know what feeling feminine really feels like, if that feeling truly exists. That said I'm relatively sure I've not experienced it yet, there have been times when I've caught a glimpse of it but never long enough to think about it in anything but clouded hindsight. I'm unsure what steps I can take to help attain this feeling but I suspect being happier with the fact that I crossdress, and with my appearance when I do will likely help. I'm sure some level of counselling would assist this but it is not exactly forthcoming, nor truth be told is my desire to seek it out.
When I crossdress I don't get a wave of joy or relief that I think people might expect, at the time I mostly just feel worried, apprehensive and often quite scared, yet I have the almost ever present desire to do it. Once that fades I do gain a sense of being at ease with that desire, almost like what I'm wearing has ceased to matter and I can just continue being myself, whoever that might be. However a feeling of self-conscious inadequacy can quickly override this feeling, along with a certain amount of physical discomfort.

Something I am interested in is how others feel I change when I crossdress, do they think I act more feminine? Do they think I seem happier or less stressed? I'm not sure, and it's not something I've really felt comfortable asking. Partly because I worry that the response with be overly positive and my latent paranoia will override what they are actually saying resulting in my assumption that they do not want to cause upset or offence and hence will tell me what I want to hear somewhat. As I've said before, I find it really hard to deal with that situation. I'd much rather be told something straight and have to deal with it; granted sometimes it's hard to hear and it might result in (short term) upset or offence. However I need to learn to deal with that and move on.

I guess the question I'm wrestling with is, 'which gender do I actually belong in?' I suspect the answer is neither. I think a more useful question might be 'what do I want to do about these feeling'? At the moment I think the answer is crawl under something and hide.