Humbabella's Coming Out Party


#1

Continuing the discussion from I'm a victim, too!:

My icon is taken from the game Glitch, and glitchen were actually explicitly without gender. My province allowing an “X” (rather than an “M” or an “F”) on the driver’s license for gender starting next year and I’m going to be availing myself of that option. For a long time I have chosen to present myself without gender online (though I recognize I’ve chosen a “feminine” name) by simply choosing not to correct anyone in how they address me. I think having a space where I didn’t know how people were gendering me helped me figure out things about myself.

I think I alluded or outright stated above in this thread that I’m not very well rooted in my self-conception. I was resistant to the idea that gender identity was purely a question of self-identification simply because it would leave me without a gender (and I think I hurt a trans person I know by being resistant to that). But one day I said, “If I don’t know what gender I am, then I don’t know what gender I am, and that’s okay.”

Since then I’ve been much more comfortable with a lot of things in my life. I hadn’t realized the extent to which I had been play-acting being a man in my life. For example, if a woman asks a man to hold her purse (not that this happens often), the man will tend to hold the purse away from his body in a way that clearly indicates he is merely holding it. One day I was handed a purse and I decided to sling it over my shoulder, and the feeling of doing so was a bigger relief than it seems like it would be (the woman in question seemed disturbed by my violation of gender boundaries). Maybe that sounds kind of minor or dumb, I’m not sure.

I think there are a lot of ways I could interpret my gender. Maybe I’m just a man who feels so alienated from male cultural norms that he sees himself as a gender outsider. Maybe I’m a trans woman who is just taking the journey in small, digestible steps. Maybe I actually am a rare person in the middle of the bi-modal gender distribution. Maybe I’m so fundamentally uncomfortable with being an individual that answering the question of what gender I am would never feel right.

I was pretty careful to guard any comments about my own gender for a while, but I’m gotten comfortable enough that I don’t feel like I have to do that anymore. So the end result is that I don’t define myself being any gender and I genuinely don’t care what gender others think of me as or what pronouns they choose to use for me. At the same time I’m conscious of the fact that looking like a man to people I meet gets me all kinds of privileges that I wouldn’t have if I looked like I woman or if I presented myself in a way that left people confused about what gender I was (which might not even be possible with my body).


Op-ed recommendation: “Until we treat rapists as ordinary criminals we won’t stop them”
#2

Congrats on coming out as male. It gets better. :wink:

Kidding, in case it wasn’t clear.


#3

But seriously, I assumed you were female too, no doubt from your user name. I may have referred to you by the wrong pronoun in the past.

Now I’m wondering if my replies to your posts were coloured by that assumption. I’ve wondered that in the past about others, whether overtly gendered or not. I don’t think it was anything too unsubtle, but it’s an interesting question.


#4

I can at least empathize with this on some level. I grew up in a family a bit more rigidly influenced by military-authoritarian grandparents, and in a city somewhat shaped by machismo/marianismo, and tended to prefer the more artsy theater/goth/queer subcultures growing up.

My love of the drag aesthetic I think is perceptionally queer, I find less trouble reconciling with my cishet-ness as I don’t have a lot of fixed “this is exclusively male/female” characteristics in my head.


#5

I was thinking of making a parallel “it gets better” campaign for people with seriously mental health issues but it would be, “it doesn’t really get better but things do change over time.” (Not that not knowing what gender you are is a mental illness, but I have mental illness to spare, and I think not knowing what gender I am is highly related to a personality disorder).

Well, part of the point of what I’m saying here is that you never referred to me by the wrong pronoun because I don’t personally regard any pronoun as the wrong way to refer to me.

It’s probably a safe bet if you thought I was a woman that you treated me differently than if you had thought I was a man, because I think that not applying gender-based biases is incredibly rare.

But how could we not? I recently wrote a somewhat emotional reply in a thread about anti-abortion laws about the time I flushed a lump of tissue I still regard as my first child down the toilet. Because I don’t express my gender, it probably strikes most people that I meant that I had a miscarriage.

The actual story is that after my spouse had a miscarriage I went with her to the hospital where they told us she would have to go into surgery. While she was in surgery I went back home and cleaned up all of the blood that was in the bedroom and bathroom then returned to the hospital to be there when she woke up.

I can think of all kinds of different ways that those stories are gendered narratives. Having a miscarriage is an experience unique to people who have a uterus, but losing a child to a miscarriage isn’t. Going home to clean up has this air a heroism when presented as a male narrative - I was protecting my woman from being retraumatized by the awful scene in the condo upon her return home. But really for me it was more about dealing with extremely stressful/upsetting situations by moving mechanically from one solvable problem to the next until such a time as I can take a break and have a breakdown.

I think that all of us suffer at least a bit from having ready male/female (or white/black, atheist/religious, etc.) narratives that simplify down the issue that different people are really, really different.


#6

Is it abnormal that I’ve never really given any thought to what gender I am? I identify as male because I was born male, but I am not making any special efforts to either be more masculine or less feminine. I care even less for societally-imposed gender roles. If someone I don’t even know says I should act a certain way because of how my genitals hang, they can fuck right off.


#7

One of the things I like best about communication via computer is that people don’t need to reflexively attribute categories to people for gender, race, class, etc as they might do in person. But surprisingly (to me, at least) many people still do try to, or have some unconscious defaults they associate with people. I avoid categorizing or labelling others in such broad ways and find it annoying when others do it to me.

As a young child even in the 1970s, my understanding of “human nature” was basically “genetic engineering”, that organisms are both hardware and software, and that whatever their nature is is whatever somebody coded. I even used to sketch ideas for new biological sexes which shared chromosomes in different ways. That there are male, female, and intersex people seemed easy enough to me to accept, but I never considered it definitive. And for better or worse the notions of masculine and feminine always impressed me as being more or less bogus. Many rage at my assertion that one only has a sex whilst actually engaged in reproduction. A plumber or insurance salesperson has no biological sex, because sex is not a component of either function/role.

My conception of gender seems obvious to me, but is probably as likely to be equally annoying to straights and the LGBT community alike, which that people’s gender changes automatically all of the time, and that there is no way to tell which is driving the bus at any given moment. A man and woman in a relationship are often gay/straight/other depending upon which gender is currently active. So my outlook is far more open than the straight perspective, but it does not fit in with the largely identity-based view popular within the LGBT community. I try to respect and acknowledge that people identify with a gender because it is important to them, despite seeing them as being in constant flux.

Categories are a powerful conceptual tool, but I think that many people gravitate towards categories which are mass stereotypes because they imagine it will make communication easier. It is always good exercise to devise some of your own categories instead of relying upon those (often dubious) provided for you.


#8

I know that is something that plenty of men can associate with, but different people are very different and feel things for different reasons. Not identifying with what you are can be a symptom of privilege - black people get reminded they are black all the time, white people rarely have to think about being white. It’s easier for heterosexual people to be heterosexual than it is for homosexual people to be homosexual even if neither has any say in the matter.

Plus I know I wouldn’t be the only man to be put off by male culture. I have plenty of friends who rebelled against the roles that they felt were imposed upon them as males.

Part of my personal problem is that I have trouble believing something about myself if I don’t have the same sort of evidence I would need to believe it about someone else. My internal workings are just too unreliable. Odds are, if you feel you’ve never had a problem with the way others identified your gender, you are cis, so I didn’t want to try to make myself into a “special snowflake” by saying I had a less common gender identity.

This is probably the best description of my internal experience. Lately I’m much more conscious that I feel differently about my own gender at different times. I think most people in the broader queer community accept that this is one way people experience gender (genderfluid might be an appropriate term, but as you say, categories don’t work all that well). I wouldn’t guess it was universal, though. Some people seem to very much fit nicely and comfortably into their cis boxes (or their trans single, specified gender boxes).


#9

No, I don’t think it is, but perhaps that’s because I didn’t really give any consideration of that myself until just a few years ago. I had never really had cause to examine my perception of my own gender. I had plenty of friends who were trans*, and I occasionally cross-dressed in some contexts, but the narratives I heard from them didn’t match my own, so I continued to assume I was male. A few years ago, I made some new friends that were non-binary. About the same time I started taking some classes on LGBTQ issues and suddenly the light dawned … hey, their narrative? Yeah, that does match my own. (Or at least the stories I was hearing / reading had a lot more data points in common with my own than I was hearing otherwise.)

It’s kind of fun being in your 40’s and figuring out something that’s so much a part of your core identity. I can now look back on parts of my life and they make so much more sense now! I never really had cause to think I was anything except male, mostly because the only other identity I was conceptually aware of was female. I knew I didn’t want to be (exclusively) female, so where did that leave me? Default: male. Once I realized there were other options, things made a lot more sense!

@Humbabella I don’t remember if we ever interacted directly on Glitch or not, but I know I’m always glad to see you here. Thanks for sharing your story! If you ever need to talk to someone, or some book / website recommendations, please let me know.


#10

Yeah, I’m absolutely default white straight male, 0 on the Kinsey scale etc. I’ve never really thought much about my gender, probably because I have absolutely no need to, I can just plod along being me and not experiencing any challenges to it. I’m sure privilege plays a big part of that.


#11

At the time, we thought it did. We thought teachers were women, construction workers were men, secretaries were women, engineers were men, etc, and that this was not only a societal norm but also hard-coded in a way. There were jobs requiring apparently more masculine traits, and jobs requiring more feminine traits, and apparently the two were statistically significantly different in some way ? :confused: ? I’m glad times have changed.


#12

The option to drop in and out of perceived “deviance”, certainly. I was hoping to suggest that these arbitrary gender roles hurt everyone (not a surprise to anyone drawn here.)

I don’t know your story but the intention of my comment was supportive.


#13

You’re definitely one of the best people on here, which is what’s most important. The amount of times I have seen your posts and gone, ‘Yup. That’s right, dammit!’ are too many to count.


#14

This is awesome, and thank you for sharing this.

For what it’s worth, beyond your name and icon, I’ve always thought you had a more feminine ‘voice’ in some sort of difficult-to-define way.


#15

Why I mentioned that is because my attitudes about human nature are often criticised as being an unrealistic tabula rasa when contrasted against evolutionary biology. So when most people tell me that “you are what your genes made you” they are insisting upon a sort of natural essentialism. Whereas for me it was the opposite, I always considered even the facts of biology to be a mere artefact, that people were simply being culturally resistant to the norm that human biology, not unlike societal roles, is a product of engineering.

It informed how I socialized, but was probably a statistically freakish outlook for the 1970s even more than it still is now.


#17

Fair point, but if I were a woman I wouldn’t want to be a man either. If you mean the privilege associated with feeling comfortable with my biological sex, then yes, I don’t feel gender dysphoria because I don’t feel gender dysphoria.

I am definitely put off by male culture. I think this new lumbersexual movement or whatever the fuck they call it is trying waaaay too hard to appear masculine. I don’t make any effort to appear especially masculine or to not appear feminine, but I feel that most people do on some level. I’ve never felt the urge to conform to any prescribed gender identity either. However, I’ve never really cared enough to consciously rebel from my expected gender role. I’ve always looked at gender roles as a silly and meaningless concept.


#18

Welcome out. Where I work, a university campus, there’s a poster that says “What shoujd I call you?” It lists the standard male and female pronouns but also gender-neutral ones.

I’ve never had a problem calling people what they want to be called but it wasn’t until I read your statement that I realized the underlying message. I don’t get to define who you are. You get to define who you are.

Thank you for that insight.


#19

I took it that way. I was just mentioning privilege as part of my own confusion on the subject. I don’t want to be a man saying “Hey, I really get women!” I’ll always take anyone else’s gender self-assessment at face value, but it was a lot harder to do the same for myself.


#20

[quote=“Humbabella, post:1, topic:91005”]
I think there are a lot of ways I could interpret my gender. Maybe I’m just a man who feels so alienated from male cultural norms that he sees himself as a gender outsider. Maybe I’m a trans woman who is just taking the journey in small, digestible steps. Maybe I actually am a rare person in the middle of the bi-modal gender distribution.[/quote]

I’ve had similar thoughts myself, and occasionally still do. I’ve long thought there’s a part, but not the whole, of my mind that’s “female.” I’m not sure there’s a part that’s male, more like… indifferent.

But I really don’t want to be perceived as an effeminate man, if that makes sense; that’s somehow farther off the mark from who I am, like a caricature. Mostly I just settle for “I’m nonbinary”, I don’t advertise that in person and let people assume I’m male, I don’t ask for any particular pronouns or correct people, and I don’t spend much time worrying about it anymore. Though I do occasionally find small, vague, almost in-joke ways to express my gender. My spouse occasionally refers to me as a “mermaid” or “crazy cat lady” though :wink:

Part of that I suppose is social anxiety; I don’t want to explain myself to people. Part of it is, I’m still not sure how to explain it to myself and I no longer feel like I have to.

I did recently get a “Individual of Mysterious & Indisctint Gender” t-shirt from the Fallen London store, though on what occasion I’ll actually wear it I don’t know. Mostly I wanted to support a game that actually allows you to play as a non-binary gendered character.


#21

Good for you! It’s always good to sort out exactly who you are.

As the Prozzak song would probably have said if it were released today, “Be as gendered as you want to.”

I think, in North American culture (though this is changing) it’s more abnormal to give much thought to this. Myself, I’ve done a lot of introspection on my sexuality and gender identity (both because I don’t fit into traditional gender roles very well, and because I’m a very introspective person), and have come out the other side fairly confident that I’m solidly a hetero cis-male, and it’s the male societal gender roles that don’t fit me, rather than the male gender itself.