The Purge

Posted: April 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

Today I went through all my dresser drawers and pulled out all the clothes I won’t wear again.  It came out to a couple of kitchen trashbags full of clothes.  Some of it was clapped-out 10+ year old T-shirts, but I am also bidding farewell to almost all my pants.  I’m hanging on to my convertible camping pants (the legs zip off to turn them into shorts) and a pair of sport shorts that are great for swimming in, plus a couple pairs of gothy pants that I am sure I can work into a stellar ensemble at some point.  The rest of it, though?  I am so so glad to be offloading it.  Not only has it made lots of room in my drawers, I’m shedding psychological dead weight along with it.

Today is a fantastic day.

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Mental Gymnastics

Posted: April 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon since starting to lead a pants-free life.  Most of the time I’m wearing this skirt in either black or burgundy:

crinkle-skirt

Crinkled tiered skirt by Ellos.  My go-to daily wear.  It is SO awesome and comfy and just everything I want in legs-covering.

This is an ankle-length garment.  I’ve now had five different people (all cisgender men) comment on the fact that I am wearing one, and the way they do so has been interesting.  Three called it a kilt (and one managed to wedge a comment about my genitals into it in the bargain, in a work setting no less), one asked if I was Scottish, and one asked if I did martial arts.  This last was interesting as I think he was interpreting my skirt as hakama pants.

Watching these social overtures take place, I am struck by how intently these people seem to want to perceive me as A Dude, and recontextualize everything else based on that core mental construct.  Given that all of them have come without my initiating conversation in a fashion-oriented direction, I also suspect that these people are trying to re-establish their own mental equilibrium in the face of confusion by asserting their core assumptions aloud.  Which, in turn, tells me that to some extent my efforts to break out of the binary rut are working, because there would be no such response without some kind of stimulus.

I’m a pretty big person.  In addition to being fat, I’m also just large-framed; my shoulders are broad, my bones are in fact big (thick fingers, broad hands, wide feet, etc. etc.), and I think if I were downright emaciated I might manage to shrink down to 175lb.  I still wear a beard, which I’m not presently interested in shaving off (though watch this space for future efforts in femme-hacking a beard).  These characteristics in concert seem to carry so much mental weight for many people that they override anything else I might do.  I am feeling echoes of the concept of masculinity-as-default-personhood.

Coping with all of this has been complex.  I had a pretty glum few days, and while this issue wasn’t the entirety of the reason it was certainly an element.  But at present I’ve found some equanimity about it all, and am even looking at these responses as an encouragement to take more femme elements into my daily presentation.

I’ve been getting a fair amount of l’esprit d’escalier around these things too.  The first time I got “kilted” was at a queer karaoke night, and I was also wearing full makeup, so it’s not as though there were no other elements of my appearance to suggest a feminine aspect was at work.  So I just bemusedly corrected the guy and went on about my evening.  On subsequent interactions though, I have generally been sufficiently flummoxed in the moment due to thinking about other things that it’s not till later my mind suggests deeply satisfying responses, such as:

Them: “Are you Scottish?”

Me: “Well as it happens, yes, but I’m wearing this because I’m transgender.  It’s a skirt, not a kilt.”

Them: “Nice kilt!”

Me: “Thank you, your bloomers are quite flattering as well.”

Them: “It’s too cold to be wearing a kilt yet!  Your boys are gonna freeze off.”

Me: “Good thing I’m wearing a skirt, and have the tact not to talk to people about their genitals in a professional setting.”

Them: “Do you… do martial arts?”

Me: “Not anymore.  I’m just suuuuuuuper queer.”

In hindsight it’s probably for the best that none of these things came to mind in the moment… I have always disliked confrontation.

This is where I’d put a satisfying coda to the post if I could think of one.  Since I can’t at this time… see you next time, Constant Reader.

Posted: April 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

In recent weeks I’ve made a concerted effort to more deliberately express my gender in terms of how I dress.  It’s been an interesting process.  Though I’ve been painting my nails for ages, and dying my hair fun colors, people have read me as a cis man very consistently.  I’m invested in an aesthetic that incorporates unquestionably femme elements, and did some thinking about what I could do in that direction.  The first major step I took was to get an ankle-length skirt.

I’ve been wearing pants pretty much exclusively for my whole life.  I have a few kilts, but in addition to them being coded as very masculine, the way they hang on my body makes them feel like pants – they constrain my waist in the same way.  When my first skirt arrived, I was somewhat nervous about putting it on with the intent to, you know, wear it.  In front of people.  Anxieties about immediate social censure buzzed around my head.  But the actual physical experience of wearing it was something I was in no way prepared for.  You know those scenes in movies and cartoons and so on where the clouds part, a beam of light falls on someone, there’s a fanfare of trumpets and singing angels, etc.?  This was like that.  It felt utterly glorious.  What’s more, the physical comfort is incomparable.  I can move!  The idea of dancing doesn’t make me want to cringe!  I feel more at home in my skin while wearing a skirt than I can remember feeling in my adult life.  It’s to the point that I am fine with never wearing pants again if I can manage it.

Another thing that came along with the whole skirt deal was pockets, or the total absence thereof.  That has taken some getting used to because I really took for granted being able to just carry small objects on my person without a lot of forethought.  I am finding though that carrying a small shoulder bag is actually a lot MORE convenient and useful than having pockets ever was, as well being substantially more comfortable.

I am also getting more familiar with how to achieve the appearance I want to have using makeup.  This is INCREDIBLY fun.  I’m enjoying looking in the mirror, spending time with myself.  Heck, I have even taken selfies just for the fun of it.  I never before conceived of wanting to do so or understood why anyone else would, and then found myself thinking “damn, I look GOOD today” and just snapped a few.

cute_pre_karaoke_20180405

I’m finally, actually doing this.  And it feels so good, so freeing.  I wish I could hand this feeling out like flyers to strangers.

On Pronouns

Posted: April 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

Early caveat: I am writing this from the perspective of being a nearly-forty-year-old white AMAB American who has lived in many states, has a stable home and job, and is fortunate enough to currently live in San Francisco.  I am under no illusions that my perspective is somehow universal.  I benefit much from a range of unearned privilege.  The following post does not address that; smashing the system is something we’ll get into in other writings.  The below is something of a cri de coeur.


My pronouns are they/them.  The extent to which I care whether or not you use them varies in direct proportion to how important you are in my worldview.  I want to spend a little bit of time and thought on what all this means to me, and why I care.

There’s a lot of writing out there on the Internet already about gender-neutral pronouns, and I am not intending to reheat that particular plate of hash; Google is free.  Some folks, like me, use they/them to connote this, while others have different pronouns they use to convey similar, adjacent, or even quite different concepts, and that’s totally fine.  One thing I think these do have in common, though, is that a person who chooses a pronoun for themselves, and then communicates that choice to others, does so as the result of a long process of self-reflection, with significant desired outcomes.

The first is personal: a wish for the requestee to engage their brain when speaking to or about the requester, and acknowledge the personal truth that’s been communicated thereby.  When I say to you “I am non-binary, and my pronouns are they/them,” you have the choice thereafter to either

a) respect what I’ve said about myself, and nourish our bond by holding to the explicit request I’ve made, or

b) ignore my statement, use gendered pronouns for me, and thereby assert that your convenience of thought is more important to you than the very fundamental assertion of selfhood I have made.

And either one of those is your right to choose.  But know that if you consistently pick b), I know where I stand in your world, and that it’s probably not worth my time to self-advocate to you specifically.

The second desired outcome is subtler, but more profound.  In using non-binary pronouns for others, we undermine a conceptual framework in which many assumptions of personhood and lived experiences lie.  This is very deep stuff – categorically speaking, we tend to think of someone’s gender as being only slightly less basic a defining category than species.  People rely on this framework quite heavily in order to inform their modes of interaction and expectations about how others behave, and how they fit in the world.  It can be very difficult to modify or even interrogate this way of thinking, especially if one has only experienced consonance between one’s internal experience of gender and that assigned to them by society.  But by using “they” to refer to a person who has not made an explicit statement about the pronouns they use, we make room both for that person’s agency, and for the enrichment of our own paucity of information about them.

Consider for a moment a beautifully played piece of solo music; perhaps a piece on guitar.  The notes, chords, and the spaces between may move you to smile, to dance, to weep.  The musician’s emotions are communicated to you, and you may feel a connection to them that goes beyond anything for which words are adequate, even if only for that moment when their notes make gooseflesh rise on your skin.

I have just described an interaction in which you made a connection with another person, perhaps one that changed your life, without you ever having any gender-based information about them, nor even needing it.  And if this is easily enough done in the abstract, it is after all only a small step to the concrete.

When I say that I do not want to be addressed or spoken of with male pronouns, it is because I reject every assumption that goes with the use of those pronouns, and refuse to have them applied to me.  In this, I do not mean to invalidate or even address anyone else’s experience of gender.  But my own experience is that the descriptors of masculinity feel inadequate at best, and like outright lies at worst, to communicate who I am.  I claim the right and the freedom to assert ownership not only of my body and its adornments, but my self-definition at its most fundamental levels.  If you will damn me, then let it be for the truths of who I am and how I authentically wish to live, rather than for cowardly lies that I am comfortingly normal and easily categorized.

Because I?  I am AMAZING.

amazing

Thanks for reading this far.  I’ll have lots more to say in the coming days.

Back to Blogging, Apparently

Posted: April 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

It’s been a hot minute since I was on here, and a lot has evolved in my life in that time.  Among other things I’ve broken up with Facebook (it’s not me, it’s them) and thus need some other outlet for missives to the world at large.  And whoo, do I have A Lot To Say.  I don’t have a therapist anymore because Kaiser is crap at that side of things so I’m just gonna get it on ya.  Sorry, not sorry.

The upcoming content I’ll be putting together on here is going to include my process of working out what it means to me to live a non-binary life, both as a retrospective and as it evolves on a regular basis.  There will be pictures.  Of me.  If you have known me for any length of time you may have a gauge of just how unusual that is, viewed against the backdrop of how I used to do things.  But, spoiler alert: I am really, really done with a lot of how I used to do things.

So, place all loose items in the underseat storage and make sure your lap belts are securely fastened, friends, because it’s gonna get weird in here.

Your Title Here

Posted: April 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

I read this post this morning, which (for me) sparked a new series of meditations on the intersection between feminism, parenting equality, queerness, normatization/passing and self-advocacy.  Go ahead and read it – I’ll wait.

Hi, welcome back!  Okay, now here’s what it spooled off in my mind, in no particular order:

– I half-jokingly stated to someone recently that since S has been hogging the baby since conception, I’m going to exclusively hold it for the next nine months or so.  It’s only fair.

– A friend of mine recently made a comment about work environments and dress codes and appearance and so on.  I’ve been feeling sort of conflicted, or maybe just complex, about my decision to work in an environment where I most likely won’t get the freedom to have a purple topknot again (or not for a long, long time).  Ultimately it came down to prioritizing providing materially for my kid over flamboyantly proclaiming my weirdness and queerness visibly at fifty paces.  But I feel a tug inside about that on a daily basis, because what else it means is that I pass, all the time.

– I hate.  HATE.  The fact that parental leave is lopsided in gender distribution and that there’s no expectation that both parents will take the same amount of time off to bond with their new sprout in this country.  And that’s not even touching the bummer that is how little baby-time is considered normal to take off for anyone, vagina-enabled or not.  At the same time, I recognize that the particular spot I am in is awash in privilege, because taking any time off at all is even an option.  Far too many people don’t get that luxury, and it breaks far too obviously along race and class lines.

– I’ve been telling S that as soon as she feels physically capable of being up and about in the wake of delivering yon kidlet, I want to encourage her to get out and into the world on her own some on a regular basis and leave me alone with them.  This is multifaceted – I want some baby alone time, I want her to feel able to reserve a connection to selfhood and personal identity that exists independently of motherhood, and since I’ll be having to return to work after only two weeks, it’s only glancingly approaching fair that I throw myself into assuming independent childcare time as much as I can in addition to the team effort I know we’ll be putting out.

– Why is this even hard?  Forced gender expectations cripple us all.

Rant: off.

The Face of the Future

Posted: December 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have espied the visage of my progeny!

We went for the Big Ultrasound today.  Due to a hypercompentent ultrasound technician and a very quiescent wiggler, it took half the time we were told to allow for the procedure.  I was wryly amused that the tech gamely tried to infer my last name from one of my partner’s last names; after being gently corrected, he paused a beat and then said “well, we’re really glad you’re here!”

The sprout-to-be has BONES.  So many bones!  I counted the statistically normal number of limbs and digits humans tend to come with, and got glimpses of the face, and we heard the heartbeat again.

DUDE.  I’m gonna be a dad.  This is so cool.