Getting a Binder (And Looking Back at a Past Post)

Re-reading my past posts is something that I don’t normally do but I wanted to write this and thought it would be interesting to see how much my outlook has changed since I posted this just under 3 months ago.

I honestly didn’t think that I had had much of a change of perspective, but I guess it happened gradually so I didn’t notice it. Looking back at the post, I think it was written from a place of fear- I was just starting to question my gender and that was pretty scary.

Parts of what I wrote are still true- I still don’t notice or think about my chest too much because its easy to hide, and imagining a masculine chest does feel more natural to me. But I think that there’s been a subtle shift in this too. Whereas before it was more of it being hard to understand the (generalised) feminine wish to have bigger breasts, now its more struggling to understand why anybody would want them at all.

Other parts of what I wrote have completely changed, for example being mistaken for male is something I aim for when out in public now. It’s strange how time shifts our perspective and we slowly change without even realising until we look back at how we used to be.

On Wednesday I wore a shirt and tie to a party and felt way more comfortable than I do usually when I’m wearing a dress. Yesterday the binder that I ordered from GC2b arrived so for the event I went to last night I wore it. It was mind-blowing the difference it made, I had pretty much no anxiety at all (unusual for me in social settings) and didn’t spend the evening constantly checking myself on how I looked. The amount of confidence it gave me combined with the comfort of it was amazing, and I’ll probably write a review soon. I’m still slightly worried, as I said in my original post on binding, that it might become a kind of crutch whenever I leave the house. I don’t want to become completely reliant on it, but seeing as I’m able to ignore the general area if I wear the right clothes I’m not too worried about that at the moment.

Overall: I have a binder now which is exciting rather than scary, and my gender identity has changed more than I thought it had since I’ve had this blog- I’m definitely leaning more towards transmasculine than I was a couple of months ago.

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Coming Out To Friends

Last night I went to a party with my housemates and a friend, all girls. Three of them wore beautiful dresses, one wore a shirt and trousers with a lace bow, and I wore a suit, tie and waistcoat. I don’t go out much but when I do I wear a dress because that’s what is expected, and honestly I think that contributes a lot to the anxiety I feel in social situations. Last night I felt so confident and happy being able to present in a masculine way and my friend said it showed- because I felt good I looked good.

We didn’t spend long at the party before passing the evening (and early morning) back at our house drinking and chatting. We started with Never Have I Ever, a first for me, and from there the conversation turned to LGBTQ+ topics as so often happens in our house. I’m not entirely sure how we got onto the topic of gender but we spent a good amount of time talking about it. I think that the way that my friends were talking about someone we saw earlier in the day being referred to as a different name to how we’d previously known them, combined with the alcohol in my system gave me the courage to say something about myself.

I told them that I don’t feel like a girl at all, but don’t feel masculine. I explained that on a simplified male-female spectrum I feel like I fit somewhere in the region of effeminate male, and how that’s making me question myself. Surely I’m just confused and am actually female? I don’t feel like a girl, or a boy, but when strangers treat me in a more masculine way I feel so happy so what’s going on?

They sat, they listened. They asked if I wanted them to change the pronouns or name they referred to me as. They exclaimed in horror when I said that I just want to decide so badly instead of being in this weird limbo place because I don’t want to tell my family face to face and I go home in a month; reassured me that I could take my time and don’t have to figure it out quickly because it can take time to fully understand yourself.

Knowing that my friends are completely cool with trying out different names is so comforting to me. The fact that they agree with the fact that it might only be a phase but that doesn’t make it any less real; that they are fine with my non-decision.

They also liked the name I’ve been considering: Jasper. It’s not particularly common, it’s two syllables (weirdly important for me in a name), and the shortenings of Jay or Jas were said to be really nice. It felt good to hear them try the names out, to say them aloud in an attempt to see what this new name would sound like in reference to me.

Overall, it was a great evening. The company was excellent and we got onto some really interesting topics. I feel like we all got to know each other so much better over the course of those 5 hours because it was honest, heartfelt conversation which is pretty hard to initiate in everyday conversation.

I think I might try out male pronouns tomorrow now that I know that they’re completely cool with it, to see how it feels. I just want to know.

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I look at myself
In the mirror
And I like what I see
When I look masculine
But I don’t feel masculine
In the stereotypical sense

So I am confused
About how I fit in
To anything

And I know

That gender is not a binary
And gender roles mean nothing

But I get a glow

In my heart
When strangers see me as male
Even though I don’t feel male

I just feel like me.

 

“Sorry mate”

Today I went shopping. In the fruit section there were loads of people, I think because one end of the aisle was blocked with people trying out something that was being offered a sample of mayonnaise or something.

So it was hard to get to where you wanted to be, even if that place was like 5 feet away- not because it was packed, but because everyone was trying to move around each other and getting in each other’s way. I got stuck in one of those awkward situations of me and someone else both moving to the same side to try and move out of the way of one another, and then he said those magic words;

“Sorry mate”

I’d passed as male! Or at least, not exclusively female. I was excited, I think I had a smile on my face for a good hour or so afterwards. It’s strange, I still don’t really feel like I have a gender but I really want to be seen as male. I guess I’ll work it out eventually- it might be easier once I start working and interacting with people outside of my friendship group to find the space I want to take up in the grand scheme of things. Until then, I’ll take questioning glances from passers-by as they try to put me into their male or female boxes.

Seal Release!

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On Tuesday I spent the afternoon at Gwithian beach on the north coast of Cornwall. It was a beautiful day, warmer than we had expected and with little breeze making it perfect weather for paddling in the sea and seeing who could get skip stones the most before they sank. Our record was 5, the Guinness world record holder is 88!

We’d been to this beach before during a field trip in our first year of university but that was during the winter, so the wind and rain made it a pretty unpleasant experience.

I find that there’s something extremely relaxing about standing in the wet sand at the edge of the waves, feeling it move between your toes as the waves flow back and forth around your ankles- especially once you’ve been there for long enough that the coolness of the water doesn’t shock you with each wave.

 

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Eager to be free!

One of my friends had been speaking to someone she knew from the seal sanctuary and had been told that 5 juvenile seals rescued over the winter were going to be released, but we managed to get the wrong beach twice! The seals were supposed to arrive at 2:45 and as the time approached we started to think that we’d got the wrong time or place again. At 2:50 we decided to leave, and noticed a small crowd of people waiting together- among them the person from the seal sanctuary that my friend knew!

The seals arrived about 20 minutes late in a trailer that bumped slowly across the stony beach. One was clearly keen to be free, standing against the side of the bars to look out at what was happening. I guess that after being rescued as stranded pups it would be completely different to what they were used to. They were the only actively inquisitive one though, the rest huddled together in a pile at the other end of the trailer, regarding us all with wide eyes.

 

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First tastes of freedom
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Good luck guys!

Seals can move surprisingly fast across land, so we had to keep our distance to stop them from running directly into us. A couple emerged from the trailer before having second thoughts and returning to the safety of the familiar, while others headed straight for the sea with increasing speed. It was awesome being so close to the seals without a barrier or fence and witnessing their return to their natural habitat.

The first ones in bobbed around in the bay, swimming along the length of the beach investigating the lifeguard training and paddleboarders at the other end. As the rest of the seals entered the water they joined their companions and swam as a group to explore their new surroundings.We watched them for a while, just heads appearing above the water every so often to have a look about before they slowly made their way out of our sight.

 

 

The seals were released from the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, which is well worth a visit to see the work they do rescuing and rehabilitating stranded seals from around the Cornish coast. Unfortunately the last time I was there was in the summer after all of the juveniles had been released so it was only the resident seals living there but this more than made up for it!

 

 

25 Things I Learned at Uni

On Thursday I did my last exam. It’s a strange feeling, it still hasn’t really sunk in that there’s no more; that this isn’t just a weekend; that these last 17 years in education have been building up to this moment (well, graduation. But at this point I’ve done all I can). The last few weeks have been so intense with handing in my dissertation and revising for my final exams that it’s just nice to have a break. I’ve been thinking about what I actually gained from this experience, aside from a BSc- so here are 25 things that I would tell my past self if I could:

  1. Once you’ve lived alone, living with your family again is hard
  2. Online banking is a lifesaver
  3. Jars of change are incredibly useful (even if it means occasionally paying someone back £1.20 with 2p coins and enduring their frustration)
  4. The people you will meet are amazing. Don’t be shy.
  5. Don’t be embarrassed about buying sanitary products and end up having to make an emergency trip to the supermarket in the middle of the night. Nobody cares.
  6. You cancel plans and say no way too often
  7. But it’s ok to not say yes to everything, don’t do things you don’t want to do
  8. Don’t you dare pick up those scissors, you’ll regret it. Please talk to someone instead.
  9. Or those pins. Just don’t.
  10. The LGBTQ+ society seem cool, maybe you should join them
  11. You don’t have to dress feminine to make friends
  12. When your friends tell you to do something about your mental health, don’t insist that you’re fine. You’re not.
  13. In your third year you’ll have a multiple choice/short answer quiz. It’s not as easy as you think it will be. Revise.
  14. You don’t think so, but you’ll really enjoy working with the beetles for your dissertation
  15. You’re a pretty good cook
  16. That book you read last summer and loved? Your friend is going to lend you the rest of the trilogy. You’re going to end up buying all that the author has written
  17. Get to know your flatmates better, you’ll only have a couple of months with one of them
  18. When said flatmate is no longer here, you’ll have to go to court. It’s not as bad as you think it will be
  19. Your housemate doesn’t hate you, you’re both just socially awkward
  20. You’re going to grow up and change a lot
  21. Pay attention in lectures even if your friends arent
  22. Not going to any of the uni-hosted parties doesn’t mean you haven’t had the full university experience, there is no single way to do uni
  23. Don’t be so shy, everyone is really nice
  24. It’s ok to question your identity. It’s ok to be confused. Take it slow
  25. These 3 years are going to be great