Attempting to Reconcile Gender and Sex
I love this story for multiple reasons: 1. I love this woman--who she is, what she says, how she acts, and most importantly, because she's my friend.
2. It's pertinent to the recent surge in hearing from the LGBT community.
3. It's honest, and as you'll see, a story still in progress. <3
"I can remember a time before I developed, when I was still a kid, before all the experimental identities I would go through, at the age of seven, marveling at the fact that sometime soon, my flat-chested body would be that well-developed figure that my family members on both sides share.
I don't remember exactly when it happened, but by sixth grade (as evidenced by field trip pictures) I was already hitting puberty-- well-endowed, having periods. I always wore baggy t-shirts, sweatshirts, and pants-- partially the tomboy I always had been, partially to hide the body I didn't know what to do with yet. I was a smart kid, and my identity in school always focused on being 'the brain.' I didn't think about my body too much, even though it was already beginning to wedge into my circle of (male) friends. Educationally, my mother was only too happy to get me some training bras, a book on changing bodies, and let me figure it out myself.
By the time I hit high school, my body affected the way I dressed in a kind of dual personality. Half the time I still wore over-sized t-shirts and pants, and I blended into the art/anime crowd dressed androgynously (where being different was cool). The other half watched marathons of the early seasons of America's Next Top Model (wondered why my body would never be as good as theirs), read Cosmo, and wore fishnets and skirts. By dying my hair strange colors, wearing heavy makeup, spikes and chains, both of these identities could be reconciled in the alternative scene I found myself in.
The body that had begun to develop in middle school continued to develop in high school. It wasn't long before my breasts (I think DD's at this time) made it so I didn't feel comfortable wearing anything feminine-- not because I didn't want to, but because nothing in the sections I used to shop in would fit me without feeling exposed. 'Juniors' now signified the tops I couldn't wear without huge gaps or plunging necklines. I was already known at school as "that girl with the saggy boobs"; I felt trapped in a double standard society that worshiped large breasts and put so much value and attention on them, and bullied me for not having 'the right shape' of large breasts. I would later come out as a lesbian (and even later, as a pansexual), which gave me an excuse to dress even more butchly-- I wore suits two years to Homecoming (though I wouldn't dare to Prom).
Later, in college, I questioned my gender identity and started experimenting with gender presentation. My biggest obstacle in appearing the way I wanted to was my breasts. Even through binding (the process where trans/genderqueer individuals use sports bras or compression shirts to minimize or eliminate breast appearance), I felt that I couldn't 'pass' as masculine as I wanted to be, and the process of binding was painful and constricted my breathing. I suppose this would be some kind of similarity to corsets when they were in fashion-- same reason, different goals.
Now, a few years out of college, my feelings about both my body and my gender exist in a kind of grey area. The breasts that kept me from feeling masculine enough are still there; I've thought about reduction surgery, or even more radically, removing them completely. At the same time, there are times I don't mind them, even like them-- a kind of high femme drag. Since my identity is malleable, still a big question mark for the most part, and changes day to day, my feelings are mellowed with a kind of acceptance for what my body is: attempting to reconcile gender and sex. It's a lot of contradiction. I can't bring myself to edit my body in such a way, when I'm not even sure what I would like it to be. (That, and I have people I love that like them!)"
"It would be a lot less lonely to see other genderqueer people like myself in the media at all; even when androgyne is portrayed, it's almost always in the form of skinny women with boyish, flat chested figures 'playing' male fashion model, thin wisps of fantasy.
My thoughts may be a bit different from the norm, but they are still a response to the same images and messages. While I might not feel the need to be 'pretty', the need to feel 'attractive' as who you are is universal, and vulnerable to toxic messages.
I'm just trying to take it day by day."
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