I’m different when I can see myself

If I see myself in a mirror, I act in a more masculine way. The way I stand, move and talk all changes. It’s not a conscious decision, just something that I’ve noticed that happens. It’s something I’ve sort of registered over the last couple of months, but it only really clicked a couple of nights ago when I was on Skype with my mum. I automatically adopted a more masculine posture and gestures, made my voice more gravelly and spoke slower. I only changed because I could see myself, I was more aware of how I look and move and act.

I’ve previously been putting this down to wanting to present in the way that I feel I should- I haven’t been raised in a masculine way, so if I’m feeling masculine maybe I only notice how my presentation and identity don’t match when I can see myself. This got me wondering, is it something that happens because my attention is drawn to it, or something that’s happening because I can see myself and want to act like a man ‘just to see what it would be like’?

Change also happens if I feel like attention is being drawn to me, for example if I’m waiting somewhere in public, or about to talk to a cashier. At these points where I feel like people might be paying more attention to me than normal I get more masculine. But why? Do I do this because I want to be seen this way? Is it for confidence?

I hate looking at pictures of me with hair. I have long hair on my ID, it feels fake. I get embarrassed about handing it over because it feels like a part of me that nobody should see, like its a secret I want to keep hidden. Seeing strangers in the street, or pictures in the media, I compare myself to the masculine people I see. I don’t relate to the feminine ones at all. But I don’t feel male. Or do I?

 

 

Thoughts on Binding

Most days I don’t even think about my chest, which is probably helped by the fact that I tend to wear loose clothes and/or layers and so don’t notice it. Occasionally though, I’ll just catch a look at myself in the mirror and get a sense of wrongness.

I think my uncertainty is based on the fact that I have a small chest anyway, so it’s not massively obvious- what’s the point in binding if it’s not going to make much of a difference? Added to this is the cost. I don’t want to spend money on something that might make me uncomfortable. But then it might not. It might make me feel free. But what if it doesn’t? I don’t just have spare money laying about.

Yesterday my housemate said my boobs were looking great. She meant it as a compliment but to be honest it’s like somebody saying your poster from a fandom you used to be really into is cool- you accept it but it kind of feels like a part of you that you could easily drop, something you feel vaguely uneasy keeping hold of. Whether or not you’d miss it is a different matter- you probably would, but at the same time you’d feel like you’re moving to a new chapter of yourself, growing up.

I’ve tried to picture myself with a masculine chest and most of the time it feels like that would feel more natural than having breasts, but I get scared; I identify (loosely) as female- for convenience, mostly- so even though I dress androgynously I don’t want to be mistaken for a male. But I do. I think if it was an easy ‘one day I wake up and all this female-ness has been a dream’ I’d be totally happy, but being anything other than what I’ve identified as for 21 years just feels uncomfortable. I want to be obviously not a girl instantly. Cut all ties with this life. Create a new me. But that is a) terrifying and b) not possible.

Today my chest is bothering me. Today I want a binder. On days like this I think about getting one. I open the bookmarked webpage and look at it. And I get insecure. I open this post and look at it. And I get insecure. Would binding help? Would it make it worse? I don’t know.

I tell myself it would be worth it to try, that I was so happy when I tried on that sports bra and my chest was flat, that it might make me feel so much better. But I’m scared. I’m scared that if I get a binder I’ll become dependent on it. I’m scared that I won’t want it after all. I’m scared about how people will react.

I don’t know what to do.

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.

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

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

Gender: Unknown

I’m a girl, at least that’s what I’ve been told. But I’m confused about that.

I’m having problems with how I identify because sometimes I’ll feel feminine and sometimes I’ll feel masculine, but even on more masculine days I don’t feel like a man- I still feel pretty feminine. My ideal look (one that fits the mental image I have of ‘me’) is that which is completely androgynous, which is why I spend most of my time wearing flannel. Does the switching mean I’m genderfluid? Fluid between what? Nothing and female?

I use she/her pronouns because, well, they’re what I’ve grown up with. Mostly it’s fine, but occasionally someone will refer to me as ‘she’ and I feel my metaphorical hackles go up. But still, I don’t want to change my pronouns because even though I don’t always quite feel like they fit, nothing else seems to either. ‘She’ is familiar, anything else feels completely foreign.

Going to the bathroom in public can be awful because there tend to be two choices: ladies’ or mens’. I use the ladies’ because even though I feel like I don’t quite fit in there I’m more comfortable there than even thinking about going into the mens. All-gender bathrooms are great but I feel self-conscious using them if they’re in addition to male/female ones. The best-case scenario is those places where the only bathrooms are individual cubicles and all of them are for any gender.

I don’t generally get a massive amount of dysphoria about my breasts (probably because they’re not massively obvious), but sometimes I do. I don’t have a problem with them most of the time, but sometimes I just want them gone. But not gone. I want to bind so I’m flatter but I don’t want to bind because I don’t want to be flatter. I want to make them less obvious but I’m scared of doing that- what if I like it? What does that mean for me? Will it make me more or less confused?

My main problem with my gender is that I don’t really feel like anything, but if someone were to ask me what I am my immediate reply would be ‘female’, even though that feels like it doesn’t really fit. Also, I don’t know what to compare myself to- I don’t know what ‘being a girl’ feels like, so I don’t know if other people feel like this too. Do other girls get intimidated and feel alienated when surrounded by girly-girls? Do they feel like they’re in drag when they wear pretty clothes and makeup? Is this just me rejecting social expectations?

At the moment I’m privately going with non-binary as I seem to spend most of my time not wanting to be recognised as anything in particular, but I don’t want to say anything to anyone in case I change my mind and get accused of doing it for attention. I don’t want to talk to my friends because they’ll say something along the lines of ‘everyone feels like that sometimes’. But it’s not sometimes. And it’s only started recently. And I don’t know what to do.