More thoughts on identity

I’m still struggling with knowing whether I am nonbinary because that’s who I truly want to be or as an artifact of the barriers I feel stand in the way of being a woman. I don’t necessarily feel like my brain is composed of part-masculine, part-feminine aspects. I very much feel like I was born with a girl’s brain in what was perceived as a male body. Most people these days understand that femininity is broad and can encompass tomboys and people who don’t wear makeup every day. And with the right body I think I would have made a great girl, although not one that could live up to the expectations of the cult I was raised in.

And I’m definitely a femme. I’m perfectly happy to put on jeans and a tshirt when I’m getting dirty or doing something outdoorsy. But I’ll always opt for very feminine clothing whenever it’s not extremely impractical. I’m not someone who puts on makeup every day but I certainly love doing it when I have the time and I am very particular about my appearance. In other words, a fairly typical woman in my appearance preferences.

So that just leaves my physical body. I’m tall and I have a large frame with wide shoulders and huge feet and hands. So I feel like I could never fit into culture as a woman which is mostly why I don’t try. It’s the fear of rejection from other women that keeps me stuck in this in-between place. Not that women can’t have that kind of frame either; my mom and my aunt certainly do although they often times get questioned in bathrooms about whether they belong because of it. They are 6 foot and 6′ 2″ respectively and my aunt has size 13 feet as well. So if they can do it, why can’t I?

As I’ve said a few times before, I keep my beard mainly because it covers up masculine features of my face that I really don’t like. Somehow the facial hair gives me less dysphoria than the underlying face. But I wonder if I also keep it as a signal to the rest of the world that I’m not trying to pass as a woman so they won’t judge me by that unattainable standard. I guess I’m scared of the ridicule trans women so often get so I try to avoid it by doing my own thing.

So then is nonbinary just a phase I’m passing through on the way to becoming a woman? It’s hard for me to say at this point. And just because it’s a phase doesn’t make it any less valid. It’s where I’m at right now and that’s all that really matters. I’ve found that no matter how much I try to plan, life seems to throw a wrench into the gears and redirect me. So I’m just going to take this one step at a time. I’m starting estrogen in 20 days and I’m curious to see what that does to my brain and my body to shape how I relate to them.

Who knows. One day I may need to rename this blog. But for now I remain your Bearded Genderqueer.
PS – I mostly maintain this blog as a way of shaping my own thoughts. When I start to have big gender feels I often come here to write about them before I’ve even fully thought them through. I wasn’t consciously aware of half the things I just wrote before I got there. So thanks for following along in my very confusing journey.

What is gender anyway?

There has been SO much written on what gender is from a theoretical or definitional standpoint so I’m going to skip the theory and go straight to my experience which is the only thing I’m qualified to speak on anyway.

Gender for me is less about presentation and outward appearance and more about a framework for explaining my experience of the behaviors and expectations around what it means to be a man vs a woman vs being me. We live in a binary world where regardless of what diversity there actually is in behaviors and ways of being for men and women, there are still expectations of what it is “supposed” to look like. Moving away from those expectations helps everyone in my opinion. But after a lot of thinking on it, I believe that even without binary expectations, my nonbinary gender would still exist as a way for me to explain just HOW different my experience is from the norm. Categories may feel restrictive to some people, but for me it is somewhat freeing to have a place where I fit.

My genderqueerness started as a mental scaffolding for me to explain and create structure around my experience of the world LONG before it resulted in any outward changes. As I gained more language around gender, that scaffolding grew and took shape. Without terminology, it was merely a swirling mass of confusion for me. That is part of why I am a big advocate of language that evolves and grows to meet the needs of a society rather than strict and static definitions. Without this new language, I think I would still feel lost in that void.

I believe that gender more about your own internal experience than it is about how you are externally perceived. Things like gender presentation and clothing can be helpful in signalling to people how you would like to be treated (not that it is frequently respected) but more often than not, especially in this unexplored middle area, I think it can be a barrier to people claiming their gender identities. I see many people in closed groups and discussions talking about how they don’t feel like they can “be nonbinary” if they don’t want to or can’t access an androgynous appearance. I know those feels and it held me back for a long time. So I’m here to say “to hell!” with that model of gender!

If genderqueer or agender or genderfluid or one of the numerous other new words to explain the uniqueness of nonbinary/trans experiences feels like it fits or explains things for you, then try it on. Take the time to think and feel about the description and explore the diversity of ways other people are using it. One person or site may be using a very narrow definition that you can’t see yourself in (like genderqueer for me at first) but I bet there are already people pushing and expanding the boundaries of that new category. And you could be next!

If man or woman describes your experience then great! Life may not be easy because both have a heavy burden of expectations, but at least you don’t have to fight to be recognized. If they don’t fit, then leave them behind and find the real you. You owe it to yourself to be authentic. Other people can fight you about it but rest secure in knowing that you alone are the expert on yourself.