Dysphoria and how you manage it: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 5

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Dysphoria and how you manage it

I actually wrote a bit about this not too long ago, but I didn’t really address management tactics, so here goes.

The main thing for me, in dealing with the social dysphoria that inevitably comes from being misgendered on the daily by people who just plain old don’t know any better, is constant reminders that I am not defined by how others see me. I mean, hilariously, people also tend to assume I’m straight, so given that level of obliviousness, I find it hard to be bothered when they think gender is binary also.

I find it easiest to manage social dysphoria when I my self-presentation is authentic and when I haven’t already deliberately watered down my gender ambiguity out of fear. If I’ve deliberately presented myself as binary-gendered (whatever the fuck that even means, really…), then I find it harder to shake of misgendering that occurs, because I partially blame myself, even though I know that’s not actually valid or called for. on the flip side, if I’m looking good by my own standard, and if I feel awesome about the image I’m projecting, I’m just straight-up less likely to care what other people think about what I look like, so.

As for body dysphoria, I don’t have as much experience with it. Some days I look in the mirror and am surprised at what I see. Some days I am suddenly in love with my body and some days I am shocked when my body seems gendered to me in a way I don’t want it to be. I mean, I know bodies don’t have genders, I just don’t have better words for that experience. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see a woman’s body, and I have all kinds of feelings around that. Other days, I see my body, and it is a part of me and who I am, and it is great.

I don’t have any really solid ways of dealing body dysphoria, though it is usually mercifully short-lived for me. Binding helps, but if I am in this headspace, I will really only see the ways in which binding fails to give me a distinctly masculine shape, so it definitely doesn’t get at the root of the problem, whatever that may be.

The only other thing I can do is throw myself into activities that absorb my brain, the ones that settle me into a more agender space, where I am less aware of myself as a physical being, and more just a free-floating context-free self – writing, or watching tv, or crafting can do this for me. Though I think this might actually more honestly be an “ignore it til it goes away” approach rather than an actual preventative/management measure.

So yeah, I’d love to hear others’ strategies for dealing with body dysphoria, since I don’t really have any solid ones.


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Gender identity vs. gender presentation: my gender is adorable, y’all

My gender identity and my preferred presentation don’t really “match”. Which I guess is more a way of saying that my gender presentation doesn’t read true to my gender, which is a complicated thing, since the way I am read is tied up in gender norms I have no interest in complying with in the first place.

My gender, as I have best been able to understand and articulate it, is fluid and moves among agender, androgynous, genderfuck, and slightly masculine leanings. There have been times when I have tentatively identified with transmasculinity, and I do have continuing interest in some day pursuing masculinizing medical interventions, but when I get right down to it, transmasculine is not a good descriptor for me.

My presentation, meanwhile…

When I first came out as genderqueer, I had a strong urge to lean hard into a masculine-androgynous presentation with my clothes and hair. This was a very important part of my gender journey, no question; at the time, I was trying out new things and seeing how they felt (oddly liberating in many ways, and I found it fascinating to watch people’s perceptions of my gender shift the harder I leaned into masculinity).

But in the long run, I find masculine-androgynous presentation bores me. I missed a lot of my old clothes (which thankfully I did not entirely purge). I got bored of my hair being to short to do anything with (though to be honest even when I had long hair all the time, I only ever *did* anything with it once in a blue moon), and for the last while I’ve been growing out the top part while keeping the sides and back shaved down. The top part just reached the point where it’s long enough to pull into a bit of a ponytail, and this delights me because it comes with so many adorable possibilities.

Which brings me to the point of what I think I’d been missing. What isn’t represented in my understanding of my gender in and of itself is a desire to be adorable. I am sometimes a spiky person, and I have a lot of walls that I put up around myself with a lot people – though far fewer than I used to – but I don’t really want that to be the sense I put off, and mostly it isn’t. I’m actually pretty approachable. And cute!

Masculine clothes hide my badass adorableness in a way that can be useful, for sure – it makes me seem more grown up and professional sometimes when I need that – but also in a way that makes me feel boring.

I’ve been working on rebuilding the adorable part of my wardrobe, and it makes me really happy to be reclaiming the parts of my previous aesthetic that always rang true. It’is really hard for me to navigate the waters of keeping a certain level of ambiguity in my presentation (to ward off dysphoria), while also getting back into what are ultimately some more “girly” clothes stuff. But I feel like I am getting somewhere with it, finally.

Hooray for small victories.

My other persona: Kasey talks books and movies

In case any of y’all are interested: I’ve started blogging for the library where I work. I’m aiming for bi-weekly posts, about various books, movies, and (less likely) music I love or that I’m thinking about. I have a couple posts up already (and I might also go ahead and repost some things here if they’re relevant to this blog, but if you *are* interested in my thoughts on books and movies, you should see about following me over there too!

Here’s me being all profesh and stuff

Name some queer heroes, influences, or crushes: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 4

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s question: Name some queer heroes, influences, or crushes

Oh my! In no particular order:

Joey Comeau
Specifically, Joey Comeau’s writing. Extra specifically, the way he writes about sex (in the novels Lockpick Pornography and We’ve All Got It Coming, as well as his collection of erotica, The Girl Who Couldn’t Come. It is fabulously queer and gender-fucking and feels so validating, like someone got in my head. When I talk circles around the ways in which I like to dismantle scripts in sex, and make vague-hand-wavey claims about how it is possible to have sex that looks normative but have it still be queer as fuck anyway because of the people involved, and their relationships to each other and understanding of what’s happening when they fuck, this is what I’m talking about. And Comeau’s work is one of the things that reassures that I am not delusional to think that such a thing exists.

Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian
(a.k.a Darkmatter) God I love these folks’ work. It is beautiful and vulnerable and courageous. They are both beautiful and vulnerable and courageous, and I love them for it.

Rae Spoon
Rae just makes the most gorgeousest music, ok? And I love the ways in which they’ve contributed to non-binary visibility.

Ivan Coyote
Ivan writes and tells the gorgeousest stories. And I aspire to the calm grace and generosity with which they respond to people who misgender them, and the like. I want to grow up to be more like Ivan in the ways that they are at peace with themself in some ways, I think.

Anohni
Another one for the “makes gorgeous, ethereal music that gets inside my heart and perfectly expresses what life can feel like sometimes” books, along with Rae Spoon.


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

The real reason I love gender fuckery

Well, the 30-week genderqueer challenge is working for me! This post is inspired by last week’s prompt/post!

Really, the reason I love gender fuckery (and especially the reason why it’s so important to me sexually, sometimes) is as a means to an end.

I want for my body to just be my body, as it is. I want to be able to just be, without the pressure of all of the meanings and value that other people insist on putting on it, and on forcibly making me acknowledge those meanings and values (this is what sexual harassment usually is – not just objectifying a person, but actively making sure they know you are doing it, and trying to elicit a response from them, thus forcing them to participate. It’s disgusting.)

I hate that because I live in a world where this shit is so pervasive that it is is sometimes hard for me to see my own body without seeing it through the lens of cisheteropatriarchy. I hate how hard it is for me to be free of that.

What I really want it to see myself and my body on my own terms. But before I can do that, I need to fuck up the existing scripts I have for understanding my own body.

I need to take what I have been taught – both explicitly and implicitly – about my value and about what having certain body parts (or not) means about who I am as a person and how I am valued by others, and I need to twist it around, and shake it up and tear it to pieces and put it back together again, in every way I can think to. I need to pull the pieces apart and put them back together in impossible, unrecognizable configurations. I need to make new shapes out of the old meanings, over and over and over, until it all stops meaning anything at all, like a word repeated until it is nothing but a series of arbitrary sounds.

I need to fuck with gender, so that gender will stop fucking with me.

What’s your favorite ways of upsetting gender roles / genderbending / genderfucking? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 3

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s question: What’s your favorite ways of upsetting gender roles / genderbending / genderfucking?

The short answer to this is probably “ALL OF THE WAYS!”

I honestly do get a kick out of fucking with people’s ideas of gender and what it means and what gender I am, and what that means, and everything else. But that’s not much of an answer, I guess. So I’ll just give you what jumps to mind immediately:

First, I know that my favourite public moments of gender fuckery are usually the ones when I notice children trying to figure out my gender. For some reason, I put a lot of stock in the fact that children often find me impossible to place within their own sense of the gender binary – I’ve even overheard young siblings disagreeing with each other about my gender. There is something endlessly fascinating about watching them watch me and try to pick up something sort of information that will solve the dilemma for them. But I like it even more when they actually ask. I only wish I could actually engage with them on the question more often, but the adults they are with usually get overly embarrassed on my behalf and try to tell them they’re rude.

I get something kinda similar from moments when adults do something along the lines of calling me “sir… I mean ma’am, sorry” or vice versa. It suggests to me that my efforts to signal my gender effectively are actually working, though I understand that most people don’t know how to read the messages I’m sending, so I take confusion as the best possible evidence that I’m doing it right (in the sense of “how I want to do it”, not in the sense of “this is the sort of response all non-binary people should aim for in their gender presentation” – I see you, femme enbies, masc enbies, and those of you whose bodies get you misgendered against your will no matter what you do, and I love you all!)

The second that that this prompt brings up for me is the way gender (and gender fuckery, specifically) plays a role for me in sex. It’s a thing I’ve never been able to articulate properly, even though I have directly written about it before, but there is a thing where it seems like I can tell when someone who is having sex with me is just interacting with my body as an archetypically “female” one, rather than as my particular, individual, agender/genderqueer body. Even setting aside the cissexism of categorizing bodies this way, if I feel like someone’s interest in my body is directly linked to its “femaleness”, I just can’t.

Maybe it’s that, at some point, if that’s someone’s understanding of my body, then they’ve forgotten about the person inhabiting that body, and are interacting with my parts but not with me (which is just the easiest route to triggering a dissociative episode I can think of!) But also, I do get a kick out of the idea of having kinds of sex that are incomprehensible to hetero-normo folks. Like, my partner(s) and I will fuck however we like, and we will use whatever words to describe the things we are doing that we like, and we will decide what it all means, thank-you-very-much.

…I realize this is part 3 of 30 on this challenge, and I’ve already had two responses that have been semi-coherent at best. This is proving more of a challenge that I thought it would be, and I am hoping that when I am done, I will find that many of these things have percolated themselves into more cogent shapes and I will have more regular-type posts for you on these issues! Onward!

Also, though, seriously, I’d love it if all of y’all told me about your favourite ways of fucking with gender – you don’t have to be genderqueer to answer this question!


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!