Selfies and Pronouns (Part 1)

Growing up there were things on Facebook and Myspace where you posted selfies or pictures of yourself for a certain amount of time to seem more “real” to yourself, others, or just show off. I never participated in those because I was always anxious on how to take a good picture, figured no one wanted to see me so I took pictures of others… things like that. Well, I have made a decision. I’m gunna do the 30 days of Selfies in June. They can be done with Snapchat, my phone, my camera, my computer, etc.
My reason behind waiting 26 years to do this is because of a thought I mentioned in my previous post. If my definition of non-conforming is always shifting. Why not embrace it visually along with mentally? Show off my quirky smile, mohawk hair, or if I feel crappy, make the photo the crappiest, or try to make myself feel better. Depends on the day and or mood. So, we will see how well I do that. I’ve been horrible at goals, new years resolutions, etc. After I’m done with the month of June, I’m going to talk about how I feel about myself afterwards. Make a post about the shot at the beginning and a shot at the end. People always talk about crazy transformations or shifts. Lets see if I get one. No sugar coating.

I also want to talk about a hot button topic, probably in 2 parts (mainly because it’s a big topic and I don’t have much time to write about it right now). Pronouns. The dreaded words that put you in boxes. Or, can liberate you from yourself.
At the beginning, I didn’t think that pronouns were important. But, the first time I went to the Pride meeting on campus and was like “Hi. I prefer gender neutral pronouns I also respond to fe-“. Commence interruption of people waving hands and saying things like “No, we will use your prefered pronouns. It shows respect to you.” and “Even though you are different, we want to support you.” It was nice, and a little unexpected. At the time, I hadn’t even asked my girlfriend to use gender neutral pronouns with me yet. Pride meetings ended up becoming a safe haven for me. Every other week I could pick out the candy from between the condoms and laugh and tear up and shake out of nerves as we talked about a variety of topics.
I eventually got up the nerves to talk to my girlfriend about my pronouns. And she told her family. It just spiraled from there, to my work at the time. It stopped at my family though. They don’t even fully understand what it means to be gender non conforming and with my family also speaking a second language, I’m unsure on how to approach gender neutral pronouns in a second language. That’s gonna require some research.
When people forget about my pronouns, they either backpedal and wait for me to tell them “It’s ok, I’m not offended” (even though my heart cracks a tiny bit), or they back track and replace my name. I’m not sure which I prefer, if I were to even choose one.
The first makes it seem like the burden to correct and coddle others rely on me. It’s tiring and exhausting, and hurts too much. If I have to remind you continuously, does my mental well being even matter to you? The second one, just seems to circumvent my request all together. While yes, you are acknowledging me directly, the fact you have to back track and don’t even try to correct yourself hurts. I cringe every time. But, overall, pronoun usage is a personal choice. It can shift, especially if you’re gender non-conforming, and brings up additional challenges that others who are trans, might not have to experience. Because we step completely out of the binary.

What I will talk more about gender neutral pronoun types, it’s use in my art, how it’s affected my art, and my work life.

Oh and in case anyone was wondering, I prefer gender neutral pronouns (They/Their/Them) or male pronouns (He/Him/His).


Ripples after the Stone

So as I posted before, I went to the plastic surgeon about getting top surgery. It seems like such a weird thing to talk about now. The last few days have been a roller coaster of emotions, and me figuring things out.
The consultation was good. The doctor was nice, assistants were great, and open about the processes. The weird part was when they asked to look at the goods and started spouting gibberish. It made me nervous not knowing what they were meaning  with the different phrases, acronyms, and numbers. I mean, I can assume things, but it still made me nervous.
During the consultation I felt confident. Spacey due to nerves and wishy washy because of a couple things I had assumed. Nothing bad.
Then came the ripples.
I have had bouts of severe body dysphoria, anxiety, and worry about how I am perceived. It got so bad that I decided to wear my binder at work, a high energy job where I have to be moving quite a bit (It’s hard to breathe sometimes if I put it on too tight or if I try to run) and I refused to take it off till almost 12 hours later. I’ve gone from a high of thinking about how nice it would be to hug others and be closer to them to actually thinking about missing my chest, the familiar weight and social assumptions that cause me discomfort. It’s so weird. I haven’t had to deal with my dysphoria this much in such a raw emotional state before.
So, I have practiced my violin more, tried to focus on my writing, and tried to focus on my life in the present. Not one month away, not the future. Once my mind is more settled, I can work on my surgery “homework”.
I have come to the conclusion that my definition of non-conforming is currently shifting. And will always shift. Because of my fears currently, I am gravitating towards more female things. Clothes shopping, looking at fashion, going through my old things to bring back old memories, etc. Heck, I’ve even painted my nails. First time in almost two years I have painted my nails. And I’ve flirted with the idea of wearing my male clothing and putting on eyeshadow, or trying to find the right lipstick to match my tie.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I can still be presenting as a more feminine gender non-conforming person and still be validated as a person. I can wear a pair of boxer briefs under a cute summer dress. I can not shave my legs and wear booty shorts. I can like video games but find joy in braiding hair. I’m not defined by the social norms of gender. I can break those barriers on a daily basis.
Do I need a surgery to do that? No. Like I said, it can be done daily and be different every time. I don’t need it to “pass” because I don’t have a list or social guide I have to follow. Would it be helpful for my own personal well being, specifically my emotional health? Most definitely. Heck, this whole surgery thing might not even happen because I have state insurance.
I can deal with the ripples, if it means that I am more comfortable with myself. And heck, life is a journey where we learn more about ourselves.  So I will take all the rocks life will throw at me, watch the ripples, learn more about myself, and watch as those rocks line the bottom of the pond of my life. a beautiful, multi-color mosaic.

Consultation Tomorrow…

So, for me in my gender non-conforming self exploration path I have made the decision to discuss with my healthcare provider the possibility of getting top surgery. This would result in getting a chest reduction and I would be able to “pass” more easily as male.
Ugh, I hate the idea of “passing”.
For me, the main focus isn’t passing as more male or more female. I want to look into it because of the psychological concept of body dysphoria. According to Miriam Webster, dysphoria is “a state of feeling unwell or unhappy.” This definition can be applied in multiple facets. For me, I experience body dysphoria (manifesting in a stressed mental state) and extreme physical discomfort (sometimes so painful I can’t do daily functions with out being constantly reminded about my physical state).  And being aware of the fact I have it makes it like, ten time worse.
Telling my doctor about my interest in the procedure at my last doctor’s appointment was a crucial move in me being comfortable with myself. I was nervous for a split second as it passed through my mind. I didn’t think about mentioning it before I did my routine yearly check up. But then next thing I know some words are falling out of my mouth and BAM. I have now told my doctor I’m gender non-conforming and that I want to do surgery. I don’t do well with blood, shots, cuts, even the possibility of being in hit in the metaphorical nuts makes me sick to my stomach. And here I am saying I want to do a surgery many would see as optional.
And out of my surprised doctor’s face comes the standard questions about my sex life. Number of partners? HIV tested? Blah de blah de blah…
Well, the night before my consultation to see what the surgeon can do and what my state provided insurance will cover I’m not as nervous as I feel like I should be. My partner has given me melatonin to help me sleep, but I’m already exhausted from work and practicing my violin twice today. In 10 hours I will be groggy and walking into a appointment that could change me for ages.
I just hope I don’t have to jump through too many hoops before I can get it. Some insurances require hormones (in my case, Testosterone or “T”) for a certain amount of time. Others require a few months or a year of meeting with a mental health specialist. Sometimes they want a combination of both. Supposedly the person I would be talking with tomorrow will have more insight. We will wait and see.

Chapter One… In the Beginning

With gender being a hot button topic in America with current events and celebrities, why start writing these thoughts in a public forum?

As a gender non-conforming individual it’s been hard for me to find good resources, information about certain experiences, or just learn how people handle their life generally from non-news sources (yes, I’m counting BuzzFeed as a news sources in this context).  So I wanted to make a blog for myself, like a public diary. And if it helps someone in the long run, that’s great. But it isn’t my main goal. I don’t feel comfortable sharing most of my thoughts related to my gender and gender expression on my personal Facebook, or to even some of my friends. So, this will be a dumping ground for that as well. Sorry…but not sorry. You can choose to read what you want.

Growing up, I didn’t have much connection to the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, it was demonized in Sunday sermons, and people would cry in the pews during revivals if they wanted to confess their sins and turn away from the un-natural lifestyle. It never felt right manipulating people away from love or accepting themselves.  Do people who just want to be treated equal really have an agenda? Religion seemed to tear the practitioners down and rebuild them in what was considered good in others eyes, not God’s. I mean how are we supposed to know every single detail?! Why would a deity who loves all ask you to hate yourself to love him? But I grew up with this being hinted at and shoved down my throat. Thus, even with feeling deviant in my core being, I tried my best to fit the status quo. Until the summer before my first year of college.

My partner came out to me, and in support of them I started attending the Pride Club’s meetings on campus. And that’s the place where I felt the most accepted, validated, and finally learned that the weird experience I had growing up were because I didn’t fit in with the status quo. I was gender non-conforming, a blanket term for not fitting with my given birth gender. So, I did my best to learn more about myself and support both me and my partner.

So where was I going with this? I’m trying to remember.

Well, I don’t remember to completely honest. I could go through and find connections in what I wrote and come up with some grand point, but I’m not going to. I’m tired of trying to seem like I got my stuff together, because I don’t most of the time. To be blunt, my beginning was me trying understand, accept, and navigate things. It is rough at times, but I have the support from friends, school, and my partner. Through it all, I have found my true voice, and I want to use it.