My Story: Gender Identity

From the start I knew that I was more like a boy than a girl. I preferred hanging out with boys; girls were bizarre to me, incomprehensible. I was raised to believe that girls could do anything boys could do, and I took that to heart. I never doubted I was a girl, but I was a girl that did boy things.

I had barbies and baby dolls as a kid, but I never wanted to play dress-up with them or make them go shopping or play house. I wanted to tell stories. How does that fit on the spectrum of gendered play? Was I engaging in feminine play when the barbies were running a horse ranch on my bed but switched to masculine play when one of them was kidnapped by Lord Zedd and the other barbies had to go ride to her rescue? Was it feminine play when I was building a pretty cabin out of Lincoln Logs but masculine play when I had the toy soldiers invade it? Was it feminine play when I was pretending to be a pokemon but masculine play when I was the pokemon catcher? I never worried about these things as a kid. I played outside, I made movies, I built things, I drew, I threw rocks and played pretend-war, I did arts and crafts and gymnastics.

I wanted to be a boy scout. I did not want to be a girl scout because I was wary of anything catered towards girls specifically rather than children of all genders, since they always tended to be doused in pink and way less fun. I liked pink, though. It’s my favorite color. I just didn’t want most pink things as they were inferior to the boy versions. Nobody made barbies that lit up and had karate-chop action.

I made a sign for my bedroom door: “BJ’s room”. My parents didn’t quite explain why I couldn’t go by BJ; I thought it wasn’t fair. Boys could be AJ or TJ or CJ or MJ or basically any letter plus a J; BJ sounded more masculine, and I eschewed the feminine.

I like wearing dresses and skirts sometimes, though. It makes me feel pretty. But it’s so much work to dress up: I have to deal with nylons and makeup and hair and my nails are always short and ragged and my legs are rarely shaved unless I know I’m going to be wearing shorts and often I’m brought to tears by the whole process because everything makes me look fat and my hair won’t behave. But I do like dressing up. Sometimes.

I wear men’s clothing to work. It’s comfortable and has more pockets. I sit like a man. I talk like a man — bold, blunt, not particularly worried about feelings, lots of ribald teasing — except when my anxiety has the better of me, in which case I’m intensely passive and shy. I hate shopping for clothes, I hate trying things on. I don’t like sports, they don’t interest me one bit. I am attracted to males and females, though in different ways: often I am attracted to females that make me feel larger and stronger than they are, whereas often I am attracted to males who would dominate the relationship. I’m the more dominant partner in my current relationship. I’m better at running the household. I make the money.

I like my breasts, usually, except when I’m just flabbergasted that they’re WAY TOO BIG and my dresses never fit right. I’d like them to be a few cup sizes smaller, but not get rid of them altogether. Sometimes I like my lady parts, and sometimes I hate them (usually around that time of the month). I prefer to skip periods when I can using birth control. I have no problem with intercourse. I would like to have male parts — men seem to have everything easier and more convenient in that department. I’m scared to death of childbirth because I don’t handle pain well.

So what am I? Where in the alphabet soup of alternative sexuality/gender identity do I fall? Am I a tomboy? A girl who’s deluding herself into thinking she’s masculine because of the patriarchy? Genderqueer? Transgendered and deluding myself into thinking I’m female because I want to match my physical body? Am I even anything out of the ordinary, or just a normal female who wants to be a special snowflake? Should I even be asking? If I don’t know myself, how can anyone else give me surety?

Chaos seems to think it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t think labels are useful or helpful and therefore I should just be who I am and ignore labels. But who am I, really? If I can’t even describe my own gender identity, how can I know who I am? One of the first questions asked online or in games is: Boy or girl? I don’t have a problem with female pronouns, and generally outwardly identify as female for convenience, so I answer girl. But should I? If I’m not feminine enough, not good enough to be a real girl, a failure at all things female, do I really have a claim on the term just because I was born in a female body? On the other hand, I still have a few areas where I’m decidedly feminine. If I’m not willing to transition and don’t mind being considered female and have some feminine traits, do I have a right to claim any part of manhood? Where do I belong?

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6 Responses to My Story: Gender Identity

  1. Jarred H says:

    I don’t know, I think you described your gender(*) quite well. You might not be able to boil it down to a one or two word descriptor or label, but I don’t think you need to. In fact, that’s the whole point that groups like the Gender Identity Project are trying to make: gender is very complex and ultimately unique to every individual.

    (*) I’m not using the term gender identity in some places because I’m learning to align myself with the Authentic Gender Model promoted by groups like the Gender Identity Project. In their model, Gender Identity refers only to the gender (man, woman, genderqueer, etc) that one perceives oneself to be. Under the AGM, there are four basic components to gender, and each of them is a spectrum in its own right.

    • yamikuronue says:

      Where can I find more about this Authentic Gender Model?

      • Jarred H says:

        Most of my knowledge about the AGM comes from the Transgender Basics video the GIP put out. You can find the video both on my blog and on the GIP site. (I believe you can also find it searching on YouTube.)

        • yamikuronue says:

          Ah, that explains it. I’m at work, so I was looking for text and ignoring videos. I’ll check it out tonight :) I suspect watching that will help tremendously.

  2. Selcaby says:

    I’m a bit like you, female but not in a very conventional way. I tend to think the things about yourself that you label “masculine” aren’t really; they’re for anybody who wants them. I think having this strict cultural separation between “masculine” and “feminine” things actually hurts everybody. It’s as if girls saw boys reject all things “girly” and vengefully decided, “Right, we’ll have our own ghetto where we don’t do anything that boys do, so only girls can play.” That seems spiteful. Why should giving your toys thrilling adventures be only for boys? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    And I don’t like the idea that liking science, disliking skirts and owning no makeup turns me into something other than female. I’d rather just keep on challenging the stereotypes and helping to break them down.

  3. asicho says:

    I feel very much like Selcaby here, but then I’m not you and don’t know if wanting to be something that isn’t labelled “female” or “woman” is important to you. For myself, I say I’m “about 95% girl”, though of course it varies like many other things do. I feel exactly like you do about periods and am boggled by my girlfriend saying she *likes* hers. (How strange! But everyone is different, I suppose.) I’d love to have boy parts to try them out, though only if I didn’t have to permanently give up having girl parts. And I can’t tell either if “a teensy bit genderqueer” is a useful thing to say about myself, or if “eh, gender stereotypes suck,” works better. Anyway, I wish you lots of good luck finding out what works for you! <3

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