May 2017-You would think that, after more than six months of self-discovery and then a solid year of being fully out, I would have figured everything out about my gender identity. Well, you would be wrong. Very wrong. But I really should have expected as much. The person I am right now is still rather new to me, and I learn new things about myself all the time. I only started to accept my identity in the early parts of 2016, so I’m still kinda poking and prodding at different parts of my brain, seeing how it reacts and how I feel about it.
So here I am, at the advent of summer 2017, and I’m having a mini crisis. I am no stranger to standing in front of a mirror and not being satisfied with my outfit. And I’m not talking about when your colors clash or you decide to wear that funny hat only to realize halfway through the day that terrible decisions were made. No, I’m talking about looking at what you’re wearing and feeling a sort of wrongness about it. Like the very structure of the clothing doesn’t work on you. The problem is, this is about a year after I was publicly out, and I don’t have any trouble with confidence in wearing feminine clothing. So why am I so dissatisfied with my outfit? I’m wearing a camisole, a short-sleeved cardigan, and women’s bootcuts. Basically one of my go-to ensembles.
But no matter how many times I turn around in the mirror, it just doesn’t work for me. Exasperated, I turn back to my closet. One hand flicks through hangers while I bite at my other thumb nail. I end up going through a couple other outfits, none of them working, and serving only to make me more annoyed. Clothes litter my bed in what I’ve come to call a closet explosion. As I get to the point where I’m debating calling my family and saying I’m staying home for the day, I grab a simple t-shirt, from when I still bought men’s clothes. I throw it on and look in the mirror.
This is an event that illustrates one of my personal struggles. Yes, I identify as transgender. The common misconception, though, is that transgender just means identify as the ‘other gender’. So, a male assigned at birth (AMAB) that comes out as transgender would identify as female, and a AFAB would identify as male. While a fair portion of transgender people would identify with one of these descriptions, it far from covers all of them.
This is a topic I am personally very interested in, so please humor me as I give a little crash course on this.
In reality, human gender covers a spectrum. At one end lies all of the qualities that society has chosen to ascribe to masculinity. At the other, femininity. Between these two points are an infinite number of places that any person might land. A AFAB may consider themselves entirely feminine, except for a few little features of their personality commonly associated with men. A non-binary person may find that they lie square in the middle and forgo all societal expectations of gender. There are endless possibilities for where a person may land on this scale. The important thing to note is that your gender is entirely separate from your biological structure.
Many, though, feel that they do not fit in a single place on this spectrum. They may vary depending on the day, what they’re doing, or even by the hour. Folks who identify like this commonly call themselves genderfluid. The fluidity may just relate to certain mannerisms they express, or it could be acute enough to actually dictate the clothes they wear and how they present themselves.
When I’m being most honest with myself, this is actually how I identify. Most of the time, however, I don’t bother to mention it. It’s just easier to say to people, “I’m transgender”. Even those least engaged in the LGBTQ community know what that means, generally. In truth, I do tend to float far closer to the feminine side of the spectrum anyway. But a fair amount of the time, I move more central. This could be simply because of how I lived the vast majority of my life trying to live up to more masculine ideals. It could also have something to do with the basic structure of my body. The hormone replacement therapy that I’m going through, though it can cause mood swings and different emotional responses, doesn’t actually change your mind at all. Regardless, in the most specific of terms, I identify as gender fluid trans-feminine. In short, this means I identify as feminine most of the time, with certain quirks of masculinity that vary based on the day.
The gender spectrum is the commonly accepted way of viewing gender today, and I am personally fascinated by it. It’s really interesting seeing how unique everyone is in terms of masculinity and femininity, even if they don’t identify as transgender. Like so many things, gender is not black and white; it is as wild and varied as a person’s own personalities and habits. Also, while I’m not going to get into it in this post, it is important to begin seeing many other aspects of human personality as being on a spectrum. The most common example is sexuality. There is a spectrum for peoples’ sexual orientation, but also for their sexuality in general (this spectrum is important for asexual people and anyone with varying sexual interest). There is a spectrum for romantics and aromantics, and there is one for gender expression that is totally separate from gender identity! It’s really interesting stuff, but it’s also the sort of topic that give LGBTQ communities on the internet a bad reputation for being insufferably fastidious about how they describe themselves. All I can say is be patient with us and politely ask what pronouns we prefer. Believe me, we would be far happier to be asked that bluntly than for someone to presume or downright ignore our preferred pronouns.
In the end, I am wearing a simple, unflattering t-shirt, baggy jeans, and my favorite black denim buttoned shirt. My pixie-ish cut is mussed up and flying in several directions. I’ve got no make-up on and embrace what could be my best non-gendered outfit yet. I’m truly surprised with how much I’m enjoying this look, but I believe it is very accurately reflecting how I feel in this moment.