Asleep vs Awake

Most of the time when I dream I’m just me as I am in day to day life, that is to say I’m feminine. But I’ve had a few dreams recently which don’t fit this pattern.

The first dream was set in a shopping centre. There was a floor above with glass barriers and a flight of stairs going up there. In my dream, I was making my way through the shopping centre and being pulled along by my mum as I kept trying to stop to talk to people (they were wearing name stickers so maybe it was some kind of conference?). As we passed the bottom of the stairs I noticed one of my favourite youtubers was on the next level and had nobody waiting to talk to him- naturally I wanted to go and say hi. Looking behind me as I was dragged along, I fell over and was steadied by another of my top youtubers who asked if I was ok. As he hugged me, he asked if ‘you girls’ were having a good time and I whispered “I’m not a girl”. There was a pause before he asked me to say it again so that my mum could hear. At that point I woke up.

There was also a dream in which I was leaving somewhere and came to a room with male and female toilets along with a door with the transgender symbol on it. I went into this room and found that it was a secret room and that my identity would be protected. As I went to leave, someone offered me a trial of a packer.

The next dream was about a week later, I was in a library/bar (it was strange and confusing) and there were demonstrations and tours. Somehow I got involved in one of these and was taken to a side room with a small group of other people to see how this new computer worked. I had a deep voice in this dream and seemed to be constantly about to introduce myself as Jay but never got the chance- the person would be swept away or the demonstrator would start talking. The main feeling of this dream was being really excited and nervous to introduce myself but never getting to.

Last night my dream was set at a friend’s house where I spilled a mug of tea on myself and had to go and change my clothes. When I went to change, I put on a binder which was a half-tank that morphed (as dream clothes can) to become a t-shirt tucked into a skirt. I was so conflicted, I felt like I looked super great but didn’t want to leave the room like it. In the end one of my friends came to check on me and I covered myself with a blanket before slowly revealing my flattened chest.

When I’m awake I’m constantly trying to get myself read as male by strangers but this doesn’t seem to apply to dream-me. I don’t know if that’s because I have no direct experience of being referred to as male or not, but I know that when I have these dreams I wake up really happy.

 

Leaving the EU

I feel sick.

The leave campaign used scare tactics to win votes- promising that if we left we’d “have our country back” and be fully in control of making our own laws. They said that they would solve the “immigration problem”. They said that the £350 million a week we’re spending on EU membership would go towards public services like the NHS instead. There are so many problems with this. By leaving we’re not going to suddenly gain control, we’re still going to have elected politicians making choices for us,and we’re going to have to comply with outside regulations in order to trade. Immigration is not the problem it’s made out to be. It’s been 12 hours and Nigel Farage has already denied that the Leave campaign promised to spend the money on the NHS. Our Prime Minister has resigned.  Other EU countries have started talking about having their own referendums.

Almost immediately after the results started to be released the value of our currency dropped, reaching a 31-year low. The graph is depressing, it just plummets.

Waking up at 5am to the group conversation first celebrating a Remain lead, then cursing as Leave started to edge ahead was enough to keep me from going back to sleep. But the gap grew and grew, with the final result being 52% Leave, 48% Remain. It’s frustratingly close.

Looking at the ages of voters and how each group voted, theres a clear link between age and vote. The younger voters were far more likely to vote Remain, the oldest to vote Leave. So the Baby Boomers have caused this result, but they’re the ones who it affects the least. It’s not their futures who might be impacted.

My dad and some of my friends’ grandparents wanted to vote Leave but either changed their vote after considering the impacts on their children/grandchildren, or didn’t vote at all. My dad was one of the non-voters, he strongly believed that Britain is strong enough to exist outside of the EU (as well as his racism), but couldn’t bring himself to vote Remain even after hearing how leaving might affect me and my sister, so out of respect for us he didn’t vote. He’s so smug right now.

It’s a strange atmosphere out today, I think everyone is slightly shocked. Remain was expected to edge it (although it was going to be close), so the people who voted to Leave are feeling attacked by the attitudes of the Remain voters along with a good helping of smugness at their victory. It’s tearing families and friendships apart- and I’m not exaggerating. The older generation want to go back to the “good old days”, despite being warned about the economical consequences of leaving.

I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m scared.

 

 

“Just a Phase”

Today I went into town with my friends to run some errands and we stopped to get a coffee. I’m not entirely sure how we got onto the subject of phases, all I remember of the conversation prior to this was us talking about what we’ve actually got from our degrees.

My friend who was sat opposite me started talking about how phases shouldn’t be disregarded and are just as much a part of a person as a constant trait. That yes, sexuality or gender may be a phase but its real at that time and whether it is a phase lasting 6 weeks or 60 years its still a valid part of someone’s life. Putting the word ‘just’ in front of it belittles it and makes it into something trivial. Using the word ‘phase’ suggests its temporary and therefore unimportant. We came to the conclusion that people are scared of change and want everything to stay constant which is why it the idea of people being fluid is hard to accept- it makes it harder to put people into a neatly defined box. That this is probably why so many people dismiss others’ experiences as “just a phase”.

“It’s not a phase, it’s who I am” has become something of an internet meme, usually said in a sarcastic tone to joke about a controversial appearance or choice [example: I used it when my hair was an absolute mess the other day and my friend commented on it]. But I feel that phases should be taken more seriously, nobody is the same person now as they were in the past.

I was a child once, now I’m an adult. Nobody tells me I was lying then, or that I’m lying now. Everyone just accepts that it was a part of my history and I’ve changed. It would be ridiculous of them to assume that me being an adult is only temporary and I’ll actually turn out to be a child all along. So why do it with other aspects of peoples’ identities?

Phases define who people are. A passing interest may be outgrown, or may be pursued. Trials with different labels may help people find the one that truly fits them. They may go back to their original. And that’s OK. Experimentation and fluidity of identities should be accepted because people grow. People change. And they’re allowed to change back.

I’ve Finished My Degree

There are so many milestones at the end of university. The last assignment, the last lecture, the last exam.

After all of these ‘lasts’ there come the big milestones- getting the results, graduation, moving out of the town you’ve lived in for 3 years (on and off).

Yesterday I got my results. I got a 2:1 overall with a first in my dissertation, which I’m really pleased with. Of course there are things I wish I’d tried harder in, but overall I’m really pleased with how I did.

But now that I have my results the end of university is feeling a lot more real. There’s a kind of deflating feeling that comes with the realisation that soon the friends that you’ve been surrounded by aren’t going to be as close any more (one’s moving to literally the other side of the world).

It’s strange to think that this is the last results day I’ll ever have, that when I graduate in just over a month I will really have left education. Forever. That’s scary.

I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I’ve met some amazing people and grown a lot as a person, and although I won’t miss the education aspect I will miss everything else that comes with being at uni. I’m so grateful that I’ve finally found friends who (I hope) will be around for a long time. I’m grateful that the experience gave me the chance to explore myself and get to know myself better. I’m grateful for everyone and everything that has shaped me during the last 3 years.

It’s a really bittersweet feeling right now.

I’ve Never Been a Tomboy

I grew up in a pretty non-gendered way. Myself and my sister were allowed to wear what we wanted so we both wore trousers and t-shirts rather than dresses or skirts like our friends. We played football (well, we kicked it between us) and had remote control cars. But we also played house and ran cafes for our teddies. I wanted to be a vet, she wanted to be a truck driver (when she grew up and became a boy- and my family laughed at her, told her that doesn’t happen).

My sister has spent a lot of her life imitating me, but always being the more ‘boyish’ one of the two of us, although definitely identifying herself as female. I remember when I was about 7 feeling really upset when my grandparents were talking about how my sister enjoyed playing with my aunt’s old action men, when I was the one who liked them and she showed little interest. I remember that it hurt that since nobody expected me to like them, nobody believed me. About that time, I was taking toy cars to school to play with on the low wall in the playground with the boys, feeling torn between wanting to play cars and wanting to spend time with my girl friends. I think I grew up blending in, talking myself into liking things that I was supposed to; a social chameleon. I covered my room with horse posters so I didn’t have to have posters of bands like all of my friends. I had a severe case of “I’m not like other girls”, but didn’t think of myself as a boy.

In the summer, my sister would be the one running around without a t-shirt on whereas I didn’t want to expose my chest. I was the good little girl being quiet and well behaved while she was off being mischievous. Even now with neither of us being particularly feminine, I’m seen by my family as more so.

So I’m conflicted. I know that gender is fluid and I might have identified as a girl when I was younger but that can change. I know that gender stereotypes suck and mean nothing. I know that not everybody who isn’t cis knew when they were young, but the predominant narrative is of people knowing from a very young age and having huge amounts of dysphoria. I’ve never been much of a tomboy, I don’t really get dysphoria. Am I a girl like my sister? Do I just not conform to how a girl is supposed to be?

I feel like I’ve convinced myself of something that isn’t there so much that now I believe it’s true.

Being Different Around Different People

I live in a house of girls and in my everyday life around them and going about town I want to be seen as male; that’s fine, I’ve come to accept it. Feeling more ‘masculine’ is something that’s been happening a lot lately, but not in a hyper-masc way, like I just don’t feel feminine. Last night I spent time hanging out with my friends that I haven’t seen in a while and it was a totally different experience. Instead of identifying with the girls or the guys in the group I felt the most connection to one of my friends who is ambiguous in their presentation, like that was where I fitted. I’ve never seen them wearing ‘feminine’ clothing and I have no idea what they identify as- but they have called themselves queer once or twice in their tags on tumblr. But then do I feel most comfortable with them because I feel closest to them? I’m not sure, it does feel like there’s a slight wall there- they don’t reveal much about themselves to anybody. I think being around them reminded me that there’s a third option- I don’t have to choose between M and F.

I think I quite often feel a sense of kinship with “visibly queer” people; a few times when out shopping there have been moments of mutual recognition and smiles exchanged. These are the people I feel a sort of pull towards, I want to get to know them- but I don’t know if that’s because they conform less to the gender stereotypes that intimidate me. Joining LGBTQ+ groups is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, maybe I’ll find people I can relate to.

I don’t know, it’s strange. I think just having the change of people made me more aware of how I wanted to be seen and it threw me off balance. I probably don’t mix with enough people to really know what group I feel most comfortable with but I feel like it would probably be people who don’t fit neatly into gendered boxes. Those who aren’t stealth. I don’t know.