Thursday, September 16, 2010

Biological sex - gender

I am well aware that there are many people who have a gender identity that is in contrast to their hormonal sex, or biological appearance, and I am really exploring how those things feel for me as my body reassigns itself to female secondary sex characteristics.
It's been almost 6 months since I stopped taking testosterone. I was 3 weeks short of 3 years, and it had really worked its way through my body. My breasts had shrunk to almost nothing and my general muscle/fat distribution was doing things in a "male" sort of way. My face was sporting a full moustache and beard. I smelled like a man, talked like a man. Any situation that I wanted to pass in, I could, so long as I could keep at least one layer of clothes on.
I stopped taking T because I want to have a baby. I wrote about this back in April in the post "Paternity Pulsations". My feelings about that have changed, but only in the sense that I don't know that I will be a FATHER, per se. I have really had the opportunity to claim my genderqueerness this past year. Getting past the "neutral pronouns are too complicated and confusing for people" bullshit, to the point where I can admit that pronouns are complicated. Pronouns, and the genders attached to them are so complicated I don't know from day to day where I can fit within them. And I am finding myself really spun by the biological determinant bullshit that, politically and emotionally I refute beyond all doubt.
What I mean is, as my body is undoing the undoable effects of T (my boobs grew back, my beard has softened and I shaved it off, my cycles started again, I am capable of experiencing and expressing emotion with an intensity I hadn't seen for years) I am being sent on the roller coaster of SEX/GENDER. I am feeling that for me, my gender, and the way that I relate to it, and the ways I am challenged by it is shifting with my secondary sex characteristics. I find it hard to feel male as I am changing a tampon, but likewise I find it hard to feel male while I am changing oil in a car. I don't know about "feeling male", as I am not entirely sure what male is, so how would I know where to or how to feel it. I know what it means to be perceived as male, and I know that the less my body is feeling "male" the worse that perception/presumption feels. There are some parts of my body that will never be as they were pre-T. I am post-T, I can never be pre-T again. And I don't say this out of regret for choosing to go on testosterone. But I feel like my gender is BIGGER and more encompassing than one perceived biological sex can contain. This is where genderqueer feels like home, but also has its limits. I will not be losing my tits at any time in the foreseeable future. My face is not going to stop growing hairs either. I fall some where in between the boob-ed man and the bearded lady, while being both and neither all at once.
I know that this whole thing comes across as rather scattered, hard to follow and unput together. But, maybe that's the whole point. I am all over the place. I don't fit neatly in one, the other, or even the "other". I don't even do trans in a way that is expected or understood. The joys of being genderfull in a world that's still just starting to try and understand.


Otr said...

This is lovely. I feel a lot of what you say here in my body, especially the part about perceptions/presumptions. Thank you for sharing.

Andrea said...

Thank you. I am the Mom of a 13 year-old who "lives in the middle space." He (as he self-identifies and as his body was born) has always had a full-range of gender expression, including gender-neutral nickname (that we gave him at birth), clothing choices, emotional expressiveness, friendships, body language, and so much more. He is identified as female by 95% of people who meet him for the first time, and that is fine with him. We do not correct servers in restaurants or clerks in stores who compliment my "lovely daughter."

Up until this year, my child has attended a small, progressive, parent/teacher co-op for school. Our family and friends and the school have all known my child as my child, and accepted and supported and affirmed my child's whole identity.

He started 7th grade in public school this year - and despite our advance planning with the school, is now known by many peers as "the boy who looks like a girl." My child has shown remarkable courage and creativity in dealing with harrassment, and we as his parents have and continue to meet with teachers and administrators to try to assure his safety and the safety of others. It is a wearying battle. You know this.

I do not know where my child's journey will lead. We have explored trans-identity at conferences with him, but he is not there. I believe that his place lies somewhere near your own, in the middle ground, that place that seems to make so many people so very uncomfortable.

Please know that there *are* also many of us who recognize the middle ground as part of the normal range of human expression, and are not afraid to walk that ground with you.

Respectfully, an ally, Andrea (here from the Trans-Family list)