Dating while Non-binary

Griffon doesn’t know about the genderqueer thing. I’m still not really confident enough to discuss it. I keep thinking that maybe I’m wrong. Or appropriating the title. Or maybe it’s just a phase or an idea that I’ve twisted around. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, just in case. These ideas are on my mind, but every time I quiet my insecurities down and actually think about my experiences and self-image, I know that I would be lying to  say that I’ve ever fully identified as female. Maybe I will someday. Just like how someday I might stop being attracted to women or develop a sex drive or decide that I want to create tiny humans in my torso. It doesn’t seem likely, but I can’t deny that it’s possible. And that possibility shadows any potential conversation.

Plus, Griffon is a heterosexual man. I don’t think he’d stop being attracted to me if I told him that I’m non-binary, but I can’t really predict what it would mean for our relationship. Obviously he’s not captivated by traditional gender expression, since I cut my hair short and wear men’s clothing and forego make-up (except on special occasions). From my perspective, not much would change, I’d stay the same person with the same habits and hobbies, except I’d be able to wear my binder sometimes. From his perspective, I have no idea. Honestly, I don’t even feel like I have a comprehensive understanding of gender. I don’t feel particularly tethered to any gender, there’s no gender that I find particularly attractive, all the nonsense about gender roles and expectations has always seemed pointless to me. I’m not trying to seem particularly “enlightened,” in fact, I feel the opposite. Knowledge that comes easily to so many people seems totally beyond my grasp.  As such, I feel completely unqualified to guess what telling my heterosexual male partner that “I’m not *really* a “woman” per se, at least, not all the time,” will mean to him.

Relationship-wise, I don’t like feeling as though I’m hiding things from my partners, and I know they don’t like having things hid from them. Functionally, I want to be able to wear my binder without feeling like I have to change out of it to be around him, lest I  accidentally blindside him into a conversation that neither of us is prepared for.

Things I Don’t Understand

Things I’ve been thinking about lately that I just don’t get. I’m going to talk candidly about menstruating in here, possibly also gender dysphoria (they’re very interwoven subjects for me), so trigger warning if anything in that arena is difficult for you.

1. Straight white males complaining about “tokenism” in the media. Not tokenism of Straight White Males, mind you, tokenism of minority and underrepresented groups. No no, Straight White Males, tokenism isn’t a problem that you get to whine about re: how it affects your Very Special Feelings. See, this is our complaint. Us being the minority and underrepresented groups. The reason why tokenism is a Bad Thing is not that it means a black guy got cast on your favorite crime drama, it is a Bad Thing that the lone black guy (or gay guy or disbled guy, or even sometimes a non- white/straight/ablebodied lady) is remarkable. See, if media handled an inclusive cast, these things would not need to be pointed out. The problem isn’t you having to feel mildly uncomfortable that your video games include options and characters not crafted special to your liking, the problem is that, by throwing in no more than an occasional nod to the world outside your Straight White Male bubble, people who produce media are pandering clumsily to a wider audience. People don’t like being pandered to. It’s condescending.

2. When people suggest baths as a treatment for menstrual cramps. I mean, I know I bleed much more heavily than a lot of people, but generally uteruses cramp up on the first day of the period, right? When bleeding is at its heaviest? The last thing I want to do is seem judgmental of women’s bodies, believe me. I like to think of myself as fairly forward thinking when it comes to menstruation, it’s just a bodily function, etc. I’m even vocal about the suffering caused by my own cycle, but honesty time: I have a great, great deal of respect for women’s bodies, but I still occasionally rediscover that I’m walking  around in one. I spend most of my time feeling distinctly agender, but since I can’t remove any of my biological parts (unfortunately) they remain here for me to suddenly remember, usually via bathroom mirror. I’m still coming to terms with menstruation and my body, so the idea of sitting in a bathtub while bleeding heavily sounds pretty awful. I always have to assume that anyone suggesting baths has a very light flow, in spite of cramping, because I can not actually handle the idea of soaking in my own menstrual blood.

3. How dudes expect to be taken seriously as allies to feminism when they react to women saying that they don’t think cismen can technically be “feminists” by throwning tantrums. As in, when women don’t like cismen using the title. I mean dude, did you actually stop to think about why some women might have opinions about who can be considered a “feminist” vs. an “ally”, or did you just begin your very grownup pouting session the moment someone suggested that you might not be welcome in their club? Guys get so hung up on this. My personal opinions of the definition of “feminist” aside, at the very least, this makes me wicked uncomfortable reading the guy’s stuff/being around him. If you can’t handle a woman saying “I don’t think men can use the title of feminist” then I really don’t want to see what you do when a woman mentions privilege or the patriarchy. Worse, I don’t see you bowing out gracefully when I ask for a safe space to discuss queer experience, or a woman in your life wants to go to the Women Only Night of Feminism Club. Let it be noted that I’m not saying men can’t disagree with women about how cismen can self-define, but shouting I AM OFFENDED I AM TOO A FEMINIST kind of makes you look like Derailment Dave. And no one likes that guy.

4. No one in my life has noticed my stutter. I have a stutter. It used to be way more pronounced and embarrassing, but even then, somehow, no one noticed it. It still comes out sometimes, mostly when I’m upset or anxious. It’s not even small, I’ll compulsively repeat entire words, phrases, sentences. No one has ever mentioned it, and if I bring it up, they seem honestly bewildered. It’s bizarre.

Binder Photos

I took these when the thing got here weeks ago, but I haven’t been feeling up to much. Yeah, even posting words on the internet is too much for me to handle some days. A lot of days, recently. But that’s depressing, so lets get to the photos. I don’t usually post pictures of myself on the ‘net (you’ll notice my strategic iPad placement), so this isn’t supremely comfortable, but I’m excited about this binder. Here goes.

This is what I look like in female-oriented undergarments:

I know, this is the ugliest of bras.

And then in the binder:

This would be a Boobs ‘n Butt pose if you could see my boobs.

As you can see, I managed to wear my ugliest underwear combination on this day. I actually did go out and buy myself some cute boyshorts and panties, I just had to do that AFTER I took pictures I planned to post to the internet. Of course.

And finally:

Girl Mode

Boy Mode

I realize this juxtaposition would be more effective if I wore the same outfit with and without the binder, but I wanted to get pictures of the whole altered “look”. Maybe I’ll do a real comparison post sometime.

…and now there are pictures of me in my underwear online. YAY~

I just bought my first binder

[Trigger warning: descriptions of gender dysphoria]

I live in the Bible Belt. I managed to get through two middle school “sex ed” courses and two high school classes all about having babies and raising babies without even learning the term “vulva”, let alone learning about gender expression and sexual orientation. It’s not surprising that it took me this long to find out that I’m not a complete freak. When I was growing up, there were two sexual orientations, Straight and Gay, and I was lucky to have that much. Thinking back, my high school was surprisingly progressive, we had a handful of Out gay kids and a transvestite that nobody dared mess with. Granted, he was a drag queen built like a linebacker, and he only showed off his femwardrobe in public once, but damn. Still, I was a bit of a loner and a lot insecure, and I really didn’t know what was wrong with me.

In the last year, I’ve come out as asexual, which is a huge relief as it was my biggest area of confusion, and I’ll probably talk more about that later.

When I was growing up I thought I was trans. I didn’t have the vocabulary to identify it, but I thought I had to identify as one gender or the other (because of course there were only two) and I was not 100% comfortable as a woman, so maybe I would be happier as a man. I never talked about it to anyone, and generally it wasn’t an issue, because I just kind of accepted that I was never going to be happy purely female and went on with my life. I’ve always been a tomboy. I had more guy friends than girls, I liked playing sports and hiking more than gossiping and makeup, etc. I sound like I’m stereotyping, but seriously, you should have seen the kids at my school. Eventually I found less “girly” girls that I identified with, but I never really felt like I belonged in their groups, many of their shared experiences were foreign to me, and many of my issues were alien to them.

It wasn’t until very recently that I learned about gender dysphoria, and even more recently that I realized that’s what I was experiencing when I was feeling betrayed by my body and out-of-place. I’m not trans, I’m sure about that. I’m not a man, but I’m not a woman. I’m uncomfortable with both labels, it’s just that when I was younger, I didn’t realize that there were more options. I really like the term genderqueer, and I feel like it describes me, but I also worry about appropriating it. I’m comfortable with female pronouns, and I have come to actually like my body (to varying degrees depending on the day). These are luxuries that many who identify as genderqueer do not have. I’ve hesitated to enter into genderless, genderqueer, or androgyne spaces because I feel like I am too at peace with my body, and I would be an unwelcome and overly privileged voice.

But

I have days where I feel unquestionably female, and days where I am equally male. I have spent most of my life hating myself for one reason or another, and much of that self-hatred was directed at my body. It’s hard enough growing up cisgender, but going through puberty with no idea who you are or what you actually want your body to look like is a living nightmare. Some days I would wake up and be too curvy, too soft, too feminine, and then I would turn around later in the same week and not be curvy enough, no hips, no breasts, too broad-shouldered and, my jaw was too wide. When I got my first period, I was so disgusted with myself that I cried in the bathroom and spent most of the day locked away. I may be comfortable with the state of my body now, but it was a long road to get here.

I have reached a point where I feel comfortable with the term genderqueer, at least in my own head. The thing is, I’ve been spending some time with various communities (LGBT+, genderqueer, asexual, feminist, social justice), and all that has taught me that it doesn’t matter what the accepted definitions are. I don’t fit into the most widely understood or accepted boxes, and that doesn’t matter. Despite what my teenage self thought, ‘finding myself’ doesn’t mean changing myself to fit labels, it means changing labels to fit me. Of course there are still boundaries to this, appropriation still exists and it’s important to understand what that means, but I can be Queer and Ace and Panromantic and Non-binary and GQ all at the same time, and the only person I need to justify all of that to is myself.

I bought my first binder today, because to me, being comfortable with my body and myself doesn’t mean presenting as female at all times. I’m comfortable with myself because I am comfortable changing myself to fit my self-perception, and I’m adult enough to understand that this won’t always work well for me. I know I’ll likely always be perceived as female, no matter how short my hair or how flat my chest or how baggy my clothes, but fuck society’s perception. I realize how privileged I am to be able to say that, and I am so thankful that I live in a place and time where I don’t have to force myself to conform.