Language and Thoughts on Feeling “Stuck”

Language is my current point of struggle with my gender. I cannot articulate my “self” because there are no words for us, and without words I cannot conceive of myself clearly. My mental image of myself is foggy, my gender is a gaseous cloud, an amorphous blob. I want it to congeal, solidify. I want to be able to tell you who I am, what my gender is, what it feels like, but I don’t even know. There aren’t any words for people like me.

I’m wondering if I’ll ever be able to move past this point, if the language will come with time. Looking back, I’ve come a long way from where I was a year ago in terms of how I think abut and the ways in which I’m struggling with me gender. And all the times that I felt “stuck” like I couldn’t move forward in my exploration of my gender eventually passed. I found something, thought something, or read something that helped me move on. So part of me knows that with time and introspection*  I will find ways** or language to express what my personal gender is (rather than what its not), but struggling towards that feels so frustrating and futile. I have no idea how to go about it (hence the struggling) and I don’t even know where to look to for ideas, because within the context of this culture, the dominant culture of western civilization, the only one that is mine to inherit, we (non-binary folks) are new. For people like me who have no other culture to inherit than this toxic, brutal, genocidal one there is no history of people like ourselves to look to, we have to make it. and thats hard.

I think that there may be ways we can look to other cultures, ones that do have histories of people like us, for insight and understanding, for clarity, but I’m hesitant to do that or encourage other white people do that because, ya know, appropriation is kind of a thing white people are good at. White people have stolen away the meanings and the sacredness of so many things from so many cultures and I don’t really want to risk being a part of that as a non-binary person.

For perspective, I try to remember how far “Trans” has come as a whole since Harry Benjamin first began his work with “transsexuals” in 1948. Trans people’s collective ideas about gender identity, transness and their sense of themselves has evolved pretty rapidly in the past 65 years.

Non-binary trans folks are really really new in western culture and given time we’ll grow and evolve too, I know this, I know that our theory and perspective and sense of ourselves will change and expand in good ways and that that will take time, its just so hard for me to be patient.

In the mean time, I’m trying to learn to find the positives in being undefineable.

* and solitude, I’ve found being alone to be very helpful, but more on that another time

** I’m looking into art as means of exploring and communicating about my gender without relying on language


Trans* Men and the Erasure of Childhood Femininity

Reblogging this because I totally feel like this about my childhood too. I’m not a trans* man, but I frequently feel pressured to redact parts of my childhood to fit the “correct narrative”, to prove that I really am trans* or at least not provide information that could be used to invalidate my identity. This is an awesome post!

Reblogged from The Rainbow Hub

By Michael Young

Gender identity is far more complex than what you wear or what hobbies you partake in. It is more complicated than how you wear your hair or the toys that you played with as a child. Many trans* men proudly proclaim that they never liked dresses, they always kept their hair short, they were a ‘tom boy’. They keep anything ‘feminine’ close to their chest, secret and hidden lest someone clutch it and hold it aloft as ‘proof’ that they are not trans* enough.

This is my confession: in many ways, I was not a typically masculine child. My parents granted me the freedom to express myself without fear or judgement. I loved the Power Rangers and Polly Pocketequally. I had long, flowing blond hair and perpetually scabby knees. I dabbled in make-up, played dress-up and skateboarded too fast down steep hills like I had some kind of death wish.

These things are not what make me a man. Equally, they do not make me less of one.

The hardest part of coming out, for me, was not pronouns or family or work. It was the pressure to disconnect myself from certain aspects of my childhood, the person that I had once been (and still am, in many ways). To edit myself – talk about my eighth birthday and leave out the fairy castle cake, paint my experiences in blue rather than pink or purple. It was the sudden revelation that I could not talk about my first boyfriend, or any boyfriend, without it feeling somehow socially unacceptable, without someone double-taking or their smile freezing on their face.

I felt ashamed of the ballet class I took when I was five, the dress I wore to my prom, the snapshots on the walls that damned me for my ‘girlhood’. Like somehow, if I was a ‘real man’, I wouldn’t have or shouldn’t have partaken in these things. I erased whole sections of my childhood, consciously locked them away and didn’t talk about them for fear of being judged. Of being told I wasn’t really trans*, that my interests or hobbies or the way I looked took away my credibility.

I would never tell a cis boy that he can’t do ballet, or play with make-up, or dress up in pink. I would never tell him that those things mean he’s not a ‘real’ boy. Yet I still felt the shame associated with that, and still judged myself by those arbitrary standards.

Many of us boast about hating dresses from an early age, or about wanting to be Spiderman for Halloween like that somehow validates our masculinity. Like we have to dress up our childhood as a stereotypical boyhood in order to be real, or to be taken seriously. But if we liked to knit, or our favourite colour was pink, or we went to prom in a dress, that’s okay. It doesn’t define us. We can talk about that without being less of a man. It doesn’t make us fake, it doesn’t invalidate our gender, and it isn’t shameful.

We are not born knowing that the colour pink is for girls and that the colour blue is for boys. Gender isn’t formed by what you wear, what you do, what you like or how you express yourself. Gender is what’s inside you, and no one can define that but yourself. No matter what you looked like or how you expressed yourself as a child. My name is Michael, and I am a man who had a fairy castle cake for my eighth birthday. And I’m okay with that.