Tag Archives: neutrois

What am I willing to share?

1 Jun

A year or two ago, I got into a kick of reading primarily young adult literature over that written for adults. It’s not that I think one is better than the other, but YA lit has the tendency to do a lot more identity-exploring than adult lit, and I find that interesting.

I’m currently crawling through the beginning of writing a book I want to try to get published. This is something I have wanted to do since I was about three years old, so it’s a long time coming. It’s YA, and because I want to write in YA and I like reading there, I’ve started following a fair number of YA-focused blogs. A little for advice, but mostly for book reviews.

(Obligatory recs: Check out YA Highway for general news, reviews, and advice. Intergalactic Academy is awesome for sci-fi reviews. Seriously. Go read it now. Although their light-text-on-dark-background layout may make it easier to read in a feed like Google Reader.)

One of the blogs I follow is Malinda Lo’s, and she just wrote about YA Pride Month. Basically, taking the US’s general Pride Month of June and focusing on it through a lens of YA lit. The part I found most interesting in her post (and that makes it worth mentioning on this blog) is a footnote about how Lo will be interviewing authors writing YA novels with LGBT main characters. The book I am working on now has queer main characters so it caught my eye.

I decided that in my YA Pride series I wanted to mostly invite writers who identify as LGBT to be interviewed or guest post for my site. While I don’t believe one needs to identify as LGBT in order to write about LGBT people, I also feel that there is value in supporting LGBT writers. In the interests of full disclosure, I have had trouble finding transgender-identified YA writers to participate in this series, simply because there are so few of them. I haven’t finished my search for contributors yet, and I may still be able to find a trans YA writer to participate, but if I don’t, the reason is not because I didn’t attempt to find one; it’s because we need more of them.

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Shoulders

27 May

This might seem like a weird area of my body to focus on with regards to gender dysphoria, but recently I had to shop for clothing to attend a wedding in and I realized I have a thing about my shoulders and collarbone.

Bare shoulders and a bare collarbone are not neutral. Unlike other items of “women’s” clothing that happen to fit my body, I can’t find neutral/masculine details to tilt me away from an overall feeling of pretending to be a woman that I’m not. Exposing that part of my body in public is unabashedly feminine. Guys may go around with a couple of shirt buttons undone, but unless there’s exercise or sex involved, you don’t see dudes going into events with shirts that show their collarbone from shoulder to shoulder.

You might be wondering why I bothered looking at anything that would leave my shoulders bear. To be honest, I just don’t want to melt, and it was also the more economical option. The wedding is going to be on a hot summer night. Dresses expose skin in a socially appropriate way that also allow for greater cooling capability. Plus, I own no other formal clothes I can wear without a binder, and you would have to pay me a decent amount of money to wear a binder for an entire wedding on a hot Southern night. What can I say, I overheat easily. A dress was also going to be less expensive than finding an entire suit.

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Asexual and neutrois

30 Oct

Although there were about eight years between the time I started identifying as asexual and when I started identifying as neutrois, I don’t think I could separate my asexuality from my gender, now.

But first I have to talk about how being asexual tied into my identification as neutrois. And I can see this post getting rather sprawling, so I’m going to attempt to use headings. I’m also going to put a cut, because this is kind of a long post.

(Warning: I talk about physical sex and sex drive in here, though not in much detail.)

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Boxes

15 Oct

Lately I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about my presentation, as it relates to my gender. My gender is neutrois, as I’ve talked about before, and I consider myself neutral-gendered. Masculine and feminine presentation don’t make me masculine or feminine, they’re just what I found striking while getting dressed. When I’m able, I want top surgery to make it possible for my body to be more neutral.

But there’s always going to be the issue of clothes. Lately I’ve been trying to figure out how to comfortably incorporate the feminine details I enjoy in clothes into my wardrobe. I’m in the awkward situation now of almost never being able to go to the store; if I buy clothes within the next year, it’s going to have to be online. (Look at the confidence I hold in my ability to learn how to drive!)

Some things would be easy to buy. T-shirts, which already comprise 85% of my closet. I either measure myself, probably already own a t-shirt from the company, or can measure a t-shirt that fits comfortably to figure out what size to buy. Unisex t-shirts are also easy to find with masculine, feminine, and neutral designs and details.

When I wear my binder, I can wear men’s shirts without them gapping in the front. But I don’t want to wear my binder every day. I worry about long-term binding and I don’t like to bind for more than five hours at a time, although that might be partly because my binder isn’t broken in yet.

So while I’m working and until I have surgery, I’ll need women’s shirts. I understand this. In some situations, I prefer the women’s shirt. (For example, the other day I wanted a warm long-sleeved shirt to wear around the house in the winter. I ruled out the men’s because they didn’t have the pink flannel I liked best.) The surgery will just give me more options, and I’ll be able to buy women’s shirts because I like the design, not because I need the cut.

Obligatory momentary pause while I go all starry-eyed imagining never buying a bra again.

But then there’s … dresses. And skirts. I don’t know how to feel about these.

I used to hate them. I haven’t bought a dress since middle school — my grandma made me wear one to my uncle’s wedding. I’ve donated all my old Sunday dresses. I can’t remember if I wore skirts as a child or not. In undergrad, I never bought them, but I rarely bought clothes at all, and I blanched at the idea that I was expected to wear them. Now that I’m more comfortable in my gender, and at asserting control over what I wear, I … don’t know. And since I don’t own any anymore, I can just try one on for a day and see how I am.

It’s been causing me a bit of anxiety lately, not having any idea of how to express myself in clothing. I don’t want to be stuck in the men’s section of the store any more than I want to be stuck in the women’s section. I like things people consider masculine and I like things people consider feminine.

At the end of posts I like to come to some kind of resolution, but I don’t have one here. I don’t know how to fix this feeling I have, this anxiety that I’m going to get trapped into another box that I don’t want to be stuck in.

I don’t identify with masculinity any more than I identify with femininity. I just pick and choose the things I like, and I’m not in a position now where I can go and things on. So I’m just stuck … wondering, and fretting. I don’t know what my wardrobe will look like over the years, or whether skirts or dresses would help me feel better, help me feel less boxed in. I don’t know how I’m going to pick out clothes or makeup or accessories that let me look the way I feel when I wake up not wanting to be very masculine or very feminine.

Probably, I’m lucky that overall I don’t really care about fashion: if I could wear sweatpants and unisex t-shirts every day I’d probably be fine. But I can’t do that. So I have to … I don’t know. I have to wait, and see. And waiting is hard.

But I know that I don’t want to be trapped in another box.

Adventures in Binding Pt. 2

10 Aug

While Girlfriend visited we went shopping, and in several stores we were shopping, in essence, for the invisible man. The sales people would ask us things like “What does this guy look like?” and “Do you think this is too wild for him?” and we would glance at each other and I would try not to burst out laughing, because, of course, we were shopping for me. (And yes, that tie was far too wild.)

Honestly I didn’t mind being the invisible man. Though I’m absolutely positive that not everybody identified me as straight, it was smoother to shop for somebody who wasn’t there than to tell them that tie was for me. (One guy was clearly thinking “Look at the baby gays!” when trying to get me to open a store credit card account, though.)

Read more. (For review, it’s an Underworks’ 998 XL in white)

Adventures in Binding

1 Aug

Note: If you’re interested in binding and haven’t read anything on it, I recommend Hudson’s Guide and this article from TransGuys as basic primers. They both describe binding options and where to buy or find binders.

Binding is something I’ve been thinking about, I guess, for around a year. Until now I’ve held off on it because I’m already pretty indecisive about buying clothes, and because I have a few assorted worries about it. I haven’t worn the binder much but since in my search for one I realized there are extremely few reviews from bigger people in the plus size range, I want to chronicle it in case someone needs the resource.

The reasons I held back were that I worry maybe excessively about hurting my ribs after all the reading I’ve done. Also, it’s hot where I live, and I don’t imagine heat making binding easier. It’s averaging 94 Fahrenheit (34.4 Celsius) during most of the day right now, about to crank up a few degrees this week, and typically it doesn’t cool down until October. Sometimes it’s still hot by Halloween. A couple of years ago I wore shorts on Christmas. You get the picture.

After a lot of discussion with Girlfriend (and being talked out of a last-minute reversal on the decision of getting one), I ordered a binder off Underworks a week or so ago. It took a lot of review-reading and deliberating but I settled on a 988 XL in white. A coupon saved me a few dollars (I Googled ‘Underworks coupon’). ETA: It cost $38.24 with shipping and the coupon, promo code under10, saved me $3.50.

Under the cut: description of the binder and its effects, and also some brief description of my size, which probably not everyone wants to read about.

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Transition Plans

3 Jun

I am neutrois, which means I don’t feel connected to male or female genders or androgyny, and that I also feel gender dysphoria. Medical science, having progressed past the barber slash surgeon stage, has a few options available to me to alleviate this dysphoria.

My plans are mostly dreams at this point. I don’t have anything concrete, because my entire future is a little uncertain at the moment. Among other things, I’m not sure where I’ll be living next month. It’s also hard to tell whether I’ll be able to keep up the full-time-student thing or whether I’ll drop a class and pick up a part-time job, the latter of which would push my graduation date. Then I don’t know how long it’ll take for me to actually move and settle into a new city and a new job in a new part of the country. I’ve come to believe that cross-country moves are not an easy endeavor.

So there’s a lot of things in the air, is what I’m saying. I do have some mental sketches for how my transition is going to progress, though. Graduate at the end of 2012, work for two years, move in with Girlfriend Drake, get top surgery sometime in 2015.

I don’t particularly want to put it off for four years, but I feel like that’s how long it’s going to take to save the money and have a comfortable place to recuperate in.

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My body’s nobody’s body but mine

22 May

The gaps in posting can be attributed mostly to my summer class schedule, which is kind of intense, and also because yay mental health downturn! (This is an ineffective joke, probably.) But I am trying not to fall too far behind. So here we go.

(I’m hoping someone gets the reference in the title.)

I have never been particularly comfortable with mirrors. I’ve had a complicated relationship with my hair my entire life, and I’m on the shorter end of the bell curve having topped out a little over 5’2”, my weight, and of course, the dysphoria around my chest, though for most of my life I didn’t realize the feeling for what it was.

There’s also the overactive imagination thing where historically, looking into a mirror for too long prompted “What if someone’s watching me from the other side?” and “What if something in there is going to eat my soul?” but that’s an entirely different post.

Lately I have been catching glimpses of my reflection in mirrors and seeing … well … me.

I don’t see my hair, or my weight, or the condition of my skin, or my chest. I just see me. And usually I’m pretty amused, because this is a new face I’m seeing: not female me, but neutral-gender me, who looks kind of like a fourteen-year-old boy, how about that. And that’s entirely a mental shift, since I’m not binding and I didn’t magically flatten my chest recently.

Basically, it’s nice to be able to see someone who feels like me in the mirror. Since that’s never really happened to me before. I feel like I’m slowly reclaiming my body for me, when I’ve been trying to make it into someone else for years because I thought that was my only option.

Who knew how nice it could be to feel connected to your own body?

Voice

18 Apr

One thing I only realized very recently that I have dysphoria about is my voice. I am a homebody, only talk on the phone to about five people and now live full-time with two of them, and if I had to do public speaking for a living I’d be dead from a heart attack by now. So I don’t often have the occasion to hear my own voice.

When I am having an especially terrible bout of heightened awareness about my dysphoria, I tend to feel that I’m disgusting. I don’t want to see anyone or touch anyone. I remember once having to hug someone when I was feeling this way and trying so hard to communicate that I felt too gross to touch them — that I thought that a disgusting blob like me shouldn’t be touching them.

But unfortunately, hugging is seen as a gesture that makes people feel better, so the harder I tried to get out of it, the more they insisted it was just what I needed. And there was part of me that was worried they would think I thought they were disgusting, which wasn’t the case. So I hugged them. Then I ran back to my room and hid under my blankets for a while, tucked up to my chin so I couldn’t see myself.

It’s just been recently that I’ve realized I also don’t want to talk to anyone when I’m feeling this way. Because my voice is very feminine. I have a doll’s voice. I could voice a talking doll. When I’m feeling particularly awful about myself, I don’t want to be reminded of what I hate, and I can’t tuck my blanket up over my vocal cords. I don’t want anyone else to be reminded of it, either.

For a while I thought maybe it was a dumb thing to worry about. I guess what I’m still getting used to is not that there’s an endless series of things for me to feel badly about, but that, when I’m feeling surprised I’ve found another thing to dislike, it’s because I have the right to think of my body as a non-binary extension of my non-binary self. And even though my voice is feminine, it’s not female.

Side note: it’s ridiculous how accomplished I feel when I write a post that’s under 500 words. A product of taking two years of journalism classes.

My full name

15 Mar

I have been going by the short version of my name for a few months now, which for the purposes of anonymity I’m going to say is Alex as opposed to Alexandra (neutral as opposed to feminine). The other day I was filling out yet another online form, which asked for my “full name.” I reflexively typed Alexandra.

Then I felt hot all over, and vaguely sick, and started at the blank for much longer than necessary before saying “Fuck it!” and changing it to Alex. I immediately felt a bit better … but the uneasy feeling lingered for several hours.

This is the first time my dysphoria has been triggered by my full name. In this situation, I had the benefit of not really needing to put my full name, because it wasn’t asking for the name on my credit card or my social security card. It was just an online poll and potential gift card win.

But this isn’t the usual situation. In most situations where I’ll be asked to write my name on a form, I’m going to have to put my full legal name. Apparently I’m going to be tripping over dysphoria every time I have to fill out an official form.

I would go out and change it this year, but I’m moving in with Girlfriend in a few years, and we’ve already decided to change our names when we move in together. I don’t want to have to change my social security card, bank info, etc., twice in such a short amount of time. I guess I could go ahead and hyphenate my last name with hers, but I was looking forward to doing it alongside her.

My impression of the process is that it’s not that difficult, legally, although there’s tons of paperwork. I assume that because I’m just shortening my name, rather than changing it entirely or to a definitively masculine name, it will be easier to convince a judge to let me change my first name. Since Girlfriend and I will most likely be living in a liberal area, I also assume getting our last names hyphenated without a marriage certificate will not be that difficult.

I know that others do not have those privileges, and I feel awful knowing some people must face transphobic judges. I know I also have an easy time of getting people to call me Alex and don’t have to fight about it. My family has been doing it for years, and my offline friends were mostly just slightly confused and then accepting because hey, it’s still kind of the name they’ve always been calling me.

Which makes the road easier, for me. Hopefully it won’t be too long until the paperwork issue is also sorted out, and I have one less thing to trigger the dysphoria.