“Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”

I get that if someone copies you you’re supposed to be flattered, and I am. It just sometimes feels like someone is stealing a part of you and changing the meaning of it, or taking the meaning away.

Now I know that that seems selfish- why not let everyone choose how they want to look, do what they want to do? I’m fine with that, do what makes you happy as long as its not hurting anyone.

When I first said about wanting to cut my hair short last summer, my friend said she’d been thinking about it too. We both had our hair cut, we both loved how we looked. It just meant something different to each of us- for her it was a new style, it was easy to look after, less annoying than long hair. For me it was right, it matched my internal image of myself. But that was alright, hair is just hair and plenty of people of all genders have androgynous hairstyles.

Then the other day she said she wanted some shirts because she’s been ‘admiring my aesthetic for ages’, so we went to the local charity shops and she picked up a few. And that’s fine, clothes are just clothes and plenty of people of all genders wear shirts day-to-day.

The thing is, I present myself like this because it feels right compared to more feminine hair and clothes. It makes me feel comfortable and less like I’m dressing up as something I’m not. She does it because she likes how it looks, but is equally happy being ultra-feminine. I am flattered and I’m glad she’s happy (and she does look good) but I feel like how I look and how I feel are so intertwined that having someone just take the aesthetic value of it hurts. It’s like having a quote from your favourite book suddenly becoming popular without people knowing the full context. There’s nothing wrong with liking the quote, they just don’t fully understand.

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How do you know you’re a girl/boy?

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My original plan was to ask several people this question, but I haven’t quite worked up the nerve to do it yet. I’ve asked two people so I know the answers are unlikely to cover everyone’s feelings, but I feel like they probably broadly cover how most people would define themselves.

This first answer is from one of my closest friends, and the only person I’ve spoken to about my gender doubts. Her answer is both helpful and unhelpful- in a binary system, being female doesn’t feel wrong to me, but it also doesn’t feel right.

However what she said about how she looks/wants to be seen is great. I try to forget about my body as much as possible, not because I’m unhappy with it, it’s just not me. By that I mean I like how it looks, but it’s something I’d rather appreciate on somebody else. I just want my waist to be less defined, and I’d like more definition in my arms/shoulders. I’d like my chest to be flatter (but I can deal with it as it is, if I had an average sized chest I would probably not cope so well). I never really want to look particularly feminine; make-up and pretty clothes just feel wrong on me.

Screenshot_2016-02-24-11-30-06Ok so person number two. It’s interesting how again dysphoria has been picked up on, but I suppose that’s the main narrative that cis people hear about those who don’t identify with their assigned gender.

I don’t like my bits. Then again, I like to forget what people have under their clothes- like they’re Barbie or Ken dolls. So from that respect, I like not having obvious genitalia, it’s easier to forget about. I don’t know how much of this ties into my asexuality but I’d much rather just be a completely physically neutral being. I’d much rather that everyone was.

I think it’s hard to identify as something if you’re trying to match what other people are feeling with what you’re not. What that does mean though is that you get a clearer idea of where you don’t quite fit in, which can be helpful in leading you in a new direction of questioning.

I think that although these are only two people’s perspectives on why they match their assigned gender, it’s made me more sure that I fall somewhere under the non-binary umbrella.

Any other answers to “How do you know you’re a         ?” would be great, to get a variety of perspectives from a range of identities.

Gender Diary Week 2

A continuation of last week’s Gender Diary.

Day 8 (17/02/16)

I’m just a person. Wanting to be more on the masculine end of the spectrum physically but feeling pretty feminine mentally. Then again, what I’m terming as feminine is just me feeling baseline because I don’t know what it feels like to be a specific gender. Got a hair cut today, bought a shirt and tie. Couldn’t stop smiling.

Day 9 (18/02/16)

I look feminine and it’s wrong. My chest isn’t that obvious but it’s there and I know it. My face looks wrong. My hips are too curvy. My walk is not right.
The girls toilets felt wrong today. Each time I went in I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there. I feel more genderless than normal, less masculine, so I feel like I shouldn’t feel that uncomfortable. Normally I’m ok with it.
Someone asked “is that a girl?” as I walked past earlier and it stung. It stung bad. I guess that’s the first time I really feel like I’ve been misgendered- normally when people call me a girl its more of an itch, even though I use she/her pronouns and that’s fine. Or maybe it was because I wasn’t identified as female that made me uncomfortable. I don’t know.

Day 10 (19/02/16)

I don’t know. I’m just a person. Want to look masculine but don’t particularly feel like it- seems to be a recurring theme recently. Hanging out with female friends I didn’t feel at all out of place, gender was irrelevant. Wore a tie with a casual flannel shirt this morning and loved how I looked.

[I think the problem with gender stuff is that its so binary- there’s not much room to be anything other than male or female- and that makes it hard when you sort of feel like everything but not really like anything. Also, what does it feel like to be a specific gender? I need answers. I think I might ask some people and compile their responses in a separate post.]

Day 11 (20/02/16)

Was pretty happy with myself until I styled my hair and suddenly I looked too feminine. I don’t know if I keep freaking out about that because of this questioning of my gender stuff or because I don’t want to look like a girl trying and failing to be masculine. Feel pretty genderless. Voice is too high.

Day 12 (21/02/16)

I was a guy in my dream last night- or at least not a girl. It felt right. My reflection today is weird- I feel like it’s not right, it’s not me. I don’t feel like anything in particular, but if I try and imagine myself as a man its harder than imagining myself as a woman (but not by much. Like, I can imagine myself looking like a man more easily, but can’t see myself acting like one at all? I don’t know how much of that is stereotypes). Husky voice this evening made me happy.

Day 13 (22/02/16)

I don’t know if I’m getting ill or something but my voice still rasped this morning. I liked it. Friend said my shirt made me look masculine which felt good. Felt out of place around both girls and guys today. Confused.

Day 14 (23/02/16)

Felt feminine when I woke up so put on a figure-hugging t-shirt, but changing into a loose t-shirt and jogging bottoms to go swimming just felt so much more right. Face looks wrong. I don’t know.

Platonic Attraction

Written for the February 2016 Carnival of Aces

Platonic attraction is so confusing.

Aesthetic attraction is fairly easy to explain to people: that someone is very attractive, that their clothes really complement their figure, that the way they move is so fluid and appealing. My favourite way of explaining it is probably one that I’ve seen on Tumblr; you can appreciate that a sunset is beautiful without wanting to have sex with it, and its the same with aesthetic attraction. For a long time, before I had a word for asexuality, I just defined the attraction I felt towards other people as “Seeing someone that looks good and just wanting to go and give them a big hug”. I’m not sure how I didn’t know that I was ace from that to be honest, but I digress.

Aesthetic attraction is something I feel pretty regularly. I get minor squishes a lot less, but they sort of lead on from that aesthetic pull. They happen when people are enthusiastic, when they’re trying to explain something to someone and their eyes are lit up and they just look so happy and friendly and open. That’s when I notice people and think ‘Wow, I really want to be your friend’. Or sometimes just ‘You’re adorable and I just want to have you about so I can watch you- in a completely non-creepy way, you’re just very aesthetically pleasing to me’.

I’m not really a fan of physical affection unless its someone I’m very close to and I seek it out. I live with one of my best friends and to be honest, it’s the strongest squish I’ve felt towards anyone ever.  I just want her to be happy and would do almost anything to make that happen. We’ll crawl into the other’s bed if they’re feeling bad. We snuggle up together in front of the tv (a lot). We’ll surprise hug the other person from behind. To those on the outside it might look like a relationship, but it doesn’t feel like one. The way I describe it is very deep platonic love- I just want to spend time with her and have a close personal bond- I don’t want anything more from her than what we have already.

 

Gender Diary Week 1

Something I’ve noticed recently is that how I feel about myself and my body is different on different days. I’ve got used to it, but I’m curious about just how much it varies- on days where I feel ‘more female’ I tend to disregard my ‘male days’ completely, or downplay them. I think this is probably where most of my gender confusion comes from so here I plan on keeping a Gender Diary to track my exact feelings on each day. I’m currently planning on doing this for 2 weeks, but we’ll see.

Day 1 (10/02/16)

Feel like a guy, wore a t-shirt and hoody today with a sports bra and it felt good. Voice was kind of deep which was really satisfying. Sagged my jeans the most I have in a while- but not too far as I have no clean boxers at the moment. Really want some fake plugs for my ears because I hate having both ears pierced.

Day 2 (11/02/16)

Androgynous/slightly masculine. Woke up thinking about a beard. Having no clean boxers yet again is annoying but not as bad as yesterday. Ordered fake plugs but not as definite about wanting them as I was yesterday. Started wearing plain studs to open my holes a bit.

Day 3 (12/02/16)

On the gender spectrum I’m probably somewhere between neutral and feminine feeling today. Pretty happy with my body but not feeling entirely like a girl. Finally have clean boxers so wore those today and just felt…wrong. Sagging my jeans felt odd. Changed my plain earrings for ladybird ones.

Day 4 (13/02/16)

Feminine. I feel like today I could wear jewellery or something cute, but I’ve opted for a (kind of fitted) plaid shirt and skinny jeans (as opposed to my loose old skinny jeans that I’ve been wearing). Wearing ladybird earrings again because they make me feel cute. Shaved my underarms for the first time in about 2 weeks because it doesn’t feel right any more. Voice was kind of husky this morning which I liked. This evening as I was getting ready to shower I looked at myself in the mirror as a guy. So confused.

Day 5 (14/02/16)

Don’t really feel like anything. Looked at myself as a guy again today. Something I’ve noticed is that I look at myself as slightly younger than a male of my age. T-shirt/flannel combination hides chest well which makes me happy. Overall, probably more masculine than androgynous. Hair’s getting too long, I look too feminine.

[I’ve decided to clarify what I mean when I say I feel ‘masculine’. I mean it as in I look at my body as if it’s male- I want muscles and a flatter chest, but not a super-masculine figure. I guess if I were to pinpoint what I feel like mentally on a masculine day it would be a pretty effeminate male]

Day 6 (15/02/16)

I honestly don’t know. You know when two photos are layered so you can see both? That’s what I’ve been seeing today. Seeing myself as both male and female, like two images overlaid. I feel mentally like ‘I’m a girl’ but like I want a male body. I want a beard. I don’t know. I’m exhausted.

Day 7 (16/02/16)

Seeing double again, but the images are kind of morphed together to form one androgynous one. Want my chest to flatten because it doesn’t feel right, but I don’t think having a flat chest would feel right either. Probably more right. Feel completely neutral in regards to gender, don’t want to be identified as either a boy or a girl. Coming out of the female toilets and seeing someone check that she was going into the right door made me happy. Wore my plug earrings. Looked good, felt good.

Week 2

Valentines Day

My favourite lesser known fact about St Valentine is that he is the patron saint of (among other things) bee keeping and plague. And isn’t that what the 14th of February is all about?

Valentines day can be tough for single people, but as a member of the aromantic community it’s a massive heart shaped slap in the face; a reminder of how society is not designed for us. Pink and red displays appear everywhere, decorated with hearts and aggressively advertising their products, because this one day of the year seems to be the only time at which couples buy each other gifts to show how much they love each other. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with the idea of Valentine’s Day- just how forced upon you it is.

Recently, I’ve snorted at strawberries that just for the occasion have hearts on the packet and come with a chocolate dip. The bunches of flowers stacked up way higher than normal got a comment along the lines of ‘Who died?’. I’ve sarcastically asked my friend if she wants some chocolates that are exactly the same as the normal ones but in a heart shaped box, so of course they’re more expensive.

I enjoy being surrounded by single friends (even though they’re not single by choice) because right now they agree with me on how tacky the day is. It’s a lovely idea- to take a day to show your favourite person how much you care about them and treat them to their favourite things- but I feel like it loses some of its meaning when you’re only doing that because you’re expected to. Why not surprise them on May 9th with a bunch of flowers, or November 28th with a card and a neck rub? Why wait for a date predetermined by society?

One of my friends said she kind of agrees with me but don’t we do the same thing at Christmas and birthdays? She also made the point that it’s a tradition thing which is sweet, it’s just that its so commercialised now that she can see where I’m coming from. When asked, I said that its not that I’m against the day- its just that its a massive reminder of how expectations are that everyone will settle down into a happy relationship at some point. That’s just not for me.

Granted, I don’t understand any of this so this is just my outsiders’ view and I guess it makes perfect sense to those who celebrate it. It’s just that in general we’re surrounded by relationships everywhere you look and February can get intense if you’re trying to avoid that kind of thing, so I find that the best way to deal with it is to laugh.

If Valentines Day is about showing the most important person in your life how special they really are, do just that and treat yourself like royalty. Take that bubble bath, cook your favourite meal, buy yourself some heart shaped chocolates. Don’t let the amatonormativity get you down. Because February 14th is about love, and the most important form of love is self-love.

At the Gym

I went to the gym today for the first time in years and it was great.

Until we went to the weights.

I was enjoying myself until I looked in the mirror and was horrified by my boobs. I didn’t like how they looked. I felt like they shouldn’t have been there [Note to self: buy a sports bra].

Then my friend said I looked like a Ken doll, before asking if she’d upset me- it was honestly the best thing she could have said. The rest of the workout was ok (I’m not as unfit as I thought I was, woo!) and then my friends went swimming. At this point we’d been in the gym for about an hour and I didn’t want to stay there alone so I went and sat at the pool edge.

“Why aren’t you coming in?”
“I can’t, I’m on my period”
“Can’t you use a tampon?”
“No, I don’t get on with them”

The truth is partly that I physically struggle to use them, but mostly that my head starts to spin and I feel nauseous whenever I try which is much harder to explain (I’ve tried, and was met with an incredulous “Why?!”). I try to avoid thinking about my genitalia and most of the time it’s easy to forget about, so being confronted about why I don’t use tampons and having to think about it made me completely shut down mentally- at least they thought I was just upset about not being able to swim with them.

3 things came out of today:

– I learned that full length mirrors make me feel really dysphoric (which explains why I often come out of tap class feeling weird)
– I don’t like how my chest looks and am thinking about trying a binder
– Next time I need to warm up better to avoid leg cramps