Hyper Awareness of Gender Identity

I had a pretty packed day today.  Once I overcame my Monday blahs and it became Tuesday I found my energy once more and definitely used it up today.  It was an interesting day, and I’ve been pondering some of it’s points tonight, and realized that since my top surgery I’ve been almost hyper-aware of how I am  seen and gendered by various people.  Even those close to me…no especially those close to me.

It’s interesting as all get out, to simply want to be seen and treated as a fairly normal human being, yet locked in a world of gender bias, gender bashing and binary compliance.  But I suppose that we are ALL locked in this same world at some basic level.  When we meet someone for the first time we create a “defining image” in our minds of who that person is.  But first impressions rarely give the complete picture, so if you meet someone who leaves you less than inspired you might want give them a second chance to show and tell you who they really are, or you could be missing out on what could be a good person to know.

So with this hyper-vigilance about the way I am now seen.  I made note today to pay attention and really see what it is that I do and don’t do that leads people to one end of the binary or the other.  From my former written pieces you may know that I do not really like the binary much.  This sort of unwritten law that you are either one or the other, male or female, does not sit well with me.  I see gender as a spectrum; a range of being from one end to the other.   Some people definitively know that they are female/girls/women and some know that they are male/boys/men.  Then there are people like me out here who fall somewhere in the shady gray area in between those definitive marks.  I have said that Butch is my noun; my gender.  It may be difficult to understand if you are on another planet, but I think it’s pretty simple if you don’t try to read a bunch of other stuff into it.  I don’t fully identify with my female body, nor do have many feminine characteristics.  (And I fully understand the biological difference let me assure you.)  Yet, I also do not identify as male.  If we draw a line from one to the other and give it 10 hash marks equally spaced apart and numbered 1 to 10, with 1 being female and 10 being male, I would fall somewhere around the number 8 hash mark, in my opinion.  And I know myself pretty damned good!

I realize that even before I decided to do the chest reconstruction that I was just as Butch as I am now, just with a couple of extra pounds of unwanted flesh.  I have not changed, but my body has been changed of my own accord.  I made the decision that I would be more comfortable living out the rest of my life with the flat chest that I wanted rather than continuing to deal with body dysphoria and all that that entailed.  I think that it was maybe the best decision that I ever made for myself.  Now I can wear my shirts and they fit right, I’m not as self-conscious as I was and I’ve not got the shyness about my chest that I used to have.  Hell, that’s enough all in itself to make me not even question for a minute if I did the right thing!  I definitely did.

Now the way others see me or treat me has changed a little and I am definitely aware of that.  There are friends and acquaintances who have questioned me directly about my choice, generally with the question “so are you transitioning?”  Meaning do I plan to go further and become male or transgender.   The answer is no.  I have no complaints about the rest of my body or my life as it is.  I enjoy being a Stone Butch lesbian – very much!  I would not want to change my sexual orientation even if I could!  Some people say they wish they could be straight, well this lesbian does NOT ever wish that!  And I won’t be transitioning or moving toward becoming any more masculine than I already AM.  I haven’t changed.  My core remains the same; rock solid and maybe with a tad more firm edges now.   My mind hasn’t changed about who I am, and I am very happy with things the way they are now.  Plus, I have always been attracted to lesbian women, and I always will be.  I find no attraction to straight women or bisexual women. Sure I might think one is pretty, but there’s no attraction for me there unless she is pretty, lesbian, and Femme.

Today I had a doctor’s appointment and the clinicians first question to me was “…so are you doing any more surgeries or anything else towards transitioning?”   She automatically thought that because I had gone through with the top surgery that I was going to be transitioning to male.  Ensuing was a five minute conversation, which I had had before with that same clinician explaining that no I wasn’t and this was done completely because I wanted to be more comfortable and less bothered with my breasts/chest.  So that started my day of observation.

I stopped at the store on the way back to my place to meet my mother, and the clerk immediately pegged me for male and I got the “sir” treatment.  I always secretly smile to myself inside when this happens, it’s just somehow comical to me, but I am not exactly sure why.  Some days I like it and some days it’s just whatever it is.  I really don’t care unless they call me “m’am”  I do NOT like that term.  My issues with Sir and M’am go back to my time in the military, coupled with the fact that I was raised in the North and not in the South where those terms are used from the time a child can talk.  I personally find many more southerners using Sir and M’am than I do northerners.

I just want the freedom and the safety with people I care about to just be me.  Sometimes my defining image can come off as much rougher and tougher than I really am.  That pisses me off because it’s painful to be misunderstood and/or judged before I even open my mouth to speak.  I’ve tried to “clean up” my image over the last few years.  I’m a good person, with a good heart and all I want is for that to be seen more.  Everyone has a full life outside of their interaction with you, and when you jump to judge someone too quickly you miss  giving people the room to be who they are, where they are  – which allows you yourself to do that very same thing, because the other person is also creating a defining image of you at the same time.

Later in the day I caught myself in the car talking to my dog.  My mother was sitting in the passenger side and we were driving through town.  I was playfully reaching back to the back seat and petting the dog and I found myself saying “Nola loves her Daddi”  Ah shit.  I cringed – visibly I am sure.  I got quiet…which is what I do when I can’t talk my way out of something.  I know she heard me loud and clear, and I know there are questions in her mind about why I had the surgery, and if I AM transitioning.  I am sure she’s wondering, but I do NOT wish to have that conversation with my mother.  She is the most beloved person in my family to me.  I never want to cause her any more hurt or pain on my account ever again.  But I just don’t want to have a conversation where I would be doing most of the talking and trying to explain a very complicated self to her.  She’s my mom…I don’t know if that makes any sense.

I am careful not to use any male/boi pronouns or words in referring to myself around her.   I’m sure some of that is just pure shame.  I’ve always carried the shame of not being who my parents wanted me to be; of not being the daughter they had hoped to raise.  Even as a child I was well aware of this.  I never looked the part, acted the part or accepted the part at all.  I knew from a very young age that I was different from the rest of the people around me, and I knew I was not supposed to be different somehow.  So it turned into shame somewhere along the way, and it’s not been easy to rid myself of it.  Don’t know if I ever will feel 100% comfortable with my family or not.  I love them dearly, don’t get me wrong, but I know that they have some different ideas of who I am.  As long as they know that my heart is in the right place with them, then I am all good with it just as it is now.

I don’t generally care about what pronouns are comfortable for people to use with me, I actually think it is quite interesting to let people find their own comfort zone with pronouns and me.  If someone wants to call me she that’s fine, I am a she.  If someone wants to call me “dude” I’m cool with that too…I’ve been raised by a bunch of “dudes” and I love them all, so the term has a hint of affection for me.   The pronoun thing is the most confusing I think.  I thought at one time about using the gender-neutral pronouns, but then I think they sound so forced and kind of weird in my opinion, so I nixed that idea right off.  I realize the world needs pronouns though, so that being the case I think I will stick with the female pronouns for the most part.  The she/her/herself.  Just so that I don’t confuse anyone any further by allowing them to use male pronouns.  Words are funny.  Words can cut deeper than any weapon, and they can even do damage when they are lacking.  Guess it’s time for me to just start correcting people, since I haven’t been doing that yet.

Words I am okay with :  Butch, boi, she, her, dude

Words I am not okay with :  lady, girl, pumpkin…don’t I hate it in the FB groups I am in when someone enters and says “hellooo ladies…”  it makes me want to bitch slap them right there on the spot.  Most of the groups do have a rule about this because many Butches dislike being called lady/ladies.  Myself, I always use the word “folks” when addressing a multi-gendered audience.  What is so hard about finding a neutrally gendered word?  Maybe it’s just easier for me because I am so focused on words and what people say or don’t say sometimes.  I’ve learned that there is much said even in silence. And then there is inflection…much can be said by simply changing the way something is said as well.   Like the guy as Spencers tonight, he emphasized the “M’am” when I approached the counter to pay for my belt that took me hours to find.  I heard him, and I made eye contact to let him know that he was wrong.  He quickly looked away and made change for my twenty.  Prick.

Well, that is some of the scattered thoughts and feelings that distracted me during my day today.  Like I said, I was definitely hyper-aware of this today, and thought that I needed to get these thoughts down in a blog for future reference.

Rock on.  ~MB

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Author: MainelyButch

I am a pretty relaxed, proud, Butch and a native Mainer who enjoys reading, writing, blogging, vlogging and social interaction. I live in southern Maine, near the coast with my 2 small dogs and I hail from a very large, loving family that is historically rooted here. I write about my life, my experiences, living successfully with HIV, my YouTube experiences, and just about anything that piques my interest. This blog may contain profanity and sexual situations, and is not intended for younger audiences. Read at your own risk. At 54 I see life as just beginning a new chapter, and have decide this is the time that I need to write the stories that got me to this point. I believe we live our lives in chapters, changing, evolving and moving continuously with the times. I love to laugh, have discussions, debates and even the occasional nonsense conversation! I generally enjoy people, but not drama, hatred, ignorance or those who choose to feel they are somehow elite or superior to another simply due to their mere existence. I try to be very conscious of the health of the world around me - environmentally, socially, economically, and ethically. The people who are dear to me know me as having a tough exterior, filled with marshmallow and crunchy peanut butter. I continually strive to be the best I can be, especially to address life head on...always.

4 thoughts on “Hyper Awareness of Gender Identity”

  1. Scattered thoughts and feelings maybe, but no less coherent for that. And I think I get your difficulty with pronouns. In my case, it’s not that “he” is wrong; it’s just that I’d very much like to add a whole load of qualifications as to what “he” doesn’t mean, things I always feel people are assuming that “he” does mean. I blogged about this myself here. That was over three years ago now and I still haven’t really resolved anything; I guess I never will.

  2. I feel like this is a really thought out “beginning of the journey” sort of post. I would love to read about how you feel about this…the language/ pronouns… in a year. Thank you for sharing. It is so needed in our community!

  3. MB I relate to so much of this. Being post op whew!!! How liberating and I do wonder at times if that would have been sufficient but I started T prior to surgery needing to do something, and I really like how it makes me feel, so its hard to consider stopping. I appreciate your being good where you are now and totally get that. As you know by a previous one of my posts around sexual orientation, I am right there with you. And overall I struggle with the boxes people try to find for us to somehow better understand when in reality all they do is miss another big part cuz somehow the boxes are never all encompassing. So, rock on and thanks for the post!!

  4. Like the reflection and can relate to smiling happy feeling when being mistaken for a male by another male. I loathe ladies, babe and my friends know only too well not to call me girl. We don’t say ma’am here in Australia. Cheers

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