A Question for My Readers:

How do you identify your gender?

What does it mean to you to “feel like a woman?”  if you identify as so.

What does it mean to “feel like a man?”

If you identify as something else altogether, what does it mean to you to feel like that identity?  How do you know what you are?  How do you know you are not something else?

Thanks, and be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

20 thoughts on “A Question for My Readers:

  1. I’m feeling rather braindead tonight, so I apologize in advance if my response is not particularly articulate.

    I don’t feel like a woman or a man. As far as I’m concerned, butch is my gender; that is, I identify as a butch rather than as a man or a woman. I came to this conclusion after reading “Stone Butch Blues”; reading that book was like coming home to myself. After years of floating around in a vague, nebulous, genderqueer identity, I finally had a word for what I was.

    Butch is my gender. Butch is my dyke identity. Butch is fighting over my presentation with my parents. Butch is the looks I get in the women’s bathroom. Butch is the pain and isolation I’ve felt growing up. Butch is the way I love. Butch is the way I live.

    • Ashton,

      This is great. Just what I was looking for. I have been struggling with the man/woman borderline–feeling a bit lost and angry, about making claims about identity, about pronouns, about feeling like a fraud in both boxes. But yes, I’ve claimed trans (like you’ve claimed butch) and I have to remember that if I “get to” be brave, I “have to” be strong, and persistent. Thanks. 😉

  2. I don’t feel female or male. I tick the ‘F’ box because I’m used to it, it’s what I was told to do because of what’s between my legs.
    But what’s between my legs doesn’t make me feel like a woman. It doesn’t make me feel like a man either.
    I think I’d rather identify as queer right now.
    I don’t know if I’ll ever identify as a man, but I know I’ll be ticking the ‘M’ box when my circumstances change.
    What about you?

    • Yeah, what about me? Ha, this is why I asked. As I mentioned in my response to Ashton, I’ve been having a hard time identifying myself, but that’s only difficult when I relegate my choices to M or F. I’m having a “frustrated with our cultural gender choices” period which will come and go throughout my life, presumably. I am happy and comfortable to own the trans label, but as you know, that isn’t so easy to accept for others.

  3. I suppose it’s more about knowing what you don’t wake up feeling, than what I feel – because so much of that now is society, history, culture, race, sexuality etc etc all tied up in it. I, on the whole, don’t identify with what I see ‘women’ should be. I don’t fit into it fashion-wise or beauty wise. I don’t like to primp or pander, nor prance and be coy. I try to blend in and be invisible a lot. It’s easier now I’m older and most people wouldn’t look at me and want to have sex with me. The young tend to be rather more vocally judgmental. Society is just intrinsically judgmental. Nor do I view myself as a man. I have not been socialised as one, I do not wake up thinking I am one. I do think my boobs are a pain a lot, but am happy they are there at other times. I do wish I had a penis when I’m having sex with my girlfriend, but not enough to sacrifice what is currently there – for although it doesn’t assist me when I’m with someone else, alone we are friends. I do ally myself with feminism and think a lot of men are absolute jerks. I bottle a lot of emotions for a woman, but am too ‘hysterical’ at times to be a man. I like to play with Action Man and hated Barbie, but liked Sylvanian Families and wasn’t that impressed with Transformers, apart from the engineering behind it. I can read about a variety of subjects and try not to put a gender stereotype on them, although magazines and articles seem to do that for you. I act like a fun person to be with around my nephews and don’t know what to do when children cry. I’m a butch woman, but a real butch woman would eat me for breakfast because I do not feel confident or assertive enough to make decisions and argue against loud, brash people. I read trans blogs and think I have a lot in common with what they say but there’s that part that doesn’t fit. The hair. The fitness. The rough skin. The obsession with flat chests and fitting in. I’ve been happier being different for most of my life and it took me a long time to evolve into who I am today. I still feel uncomfortable at times. I still get annoyed that men’s shirts don’t fit me – but why is that MY problem? That’s society’s problem for making cool clothes for only one shape. I’m not going to become a man for what is essentially the world being a sexist pig. It is obvious I am a woman but I like to snap parts of society in my direction while they try to pull them away from me. Why should one gender have all the fun? Why should it only be boys who can climb tress, dominate skateparks and be emotionally cold/strong? Why is it only women who are allowed to be sensitive and beautiful and float?

    • CL,

      So much good stuff here, thanks, truly, for taking these questions to heart and giving me so many of your thoughts, and so much of your time.

      Some things I want to address directly:

      “it’s more about knowing what you don’t wake up feeling, than what I feel”
      Yes, how curious that we define ourselves just as much by what we are as by what we are not.

      “Nor do I view myself as a man. I have not been socialised as one”
      Indeed, I struggle with this: I know I am not a woman, but have no idea what it means to be a man.

      “I do wish I had a penis when I’m having sex with my girlfriend, but not enough to sacrifice what is currently there – for although it doesn’t assist me when I’m with someone else, alone we are friends”
      My bottom bits and I have a similar relationship, “alone we are friends” is such a kind and sweet way to put it. 😉

      I find your assessment of other genders to be honest and humorous and of course at times stereotypical, but we are painting with broad brushes here, aren’t we?

      Thanks so much.

      PS: I sent you an email a while back, did you receive it?

      • No, I never got it! I wondered what had happened to it. Do you still have it? creepylesbo@yahoo.co.uk – maybe it got lost in the spam filter somewhere.
        I do find it hard regarding the sex with others thing. I’ve pretty much had every girlfriend accuse me of being sexually abused at some point, such is my reaction to them ‘reaching down’ to me. And it does freak me out and I’ve never been able to work out why, other than it feels like I’ve lost control. I know – it’s hard not to be stereotypical when everything in the world seems based around that – especially things like advertising.

      • I have always worried about the socialisation aspect too. Can anyone really know what it is like to be born as the ‘other’ gender and raised as such? I think there are so many subtle things and inflections. And how do you teach someone that? I was lost when I met a trans woman at uni who had none of these ‘basics’ and trying to impart some, without looking like a critical jerk, was really difficult and eventually I gave up because it was beyond me at the time. I suppose particularly because to most onlookers, I probably wasn’t the best teacher of all things ‘female’.

  4. Its been only four months since my transition began and even without any facial or body surgery except laser hair removal, I am all but accepted by virtually everyone, friend and stranger alike, as a woman. To even call myself a transgender woman is only a half truth because I really don’t interact with transgender people except online. Today I went to the gym and had a conversation with another woman my age about getting my figure back after double hip surgery last summer and later on in the day I was pushing my basket through the lingerie department at a department store and struck up a conversation with a woman about where I usually bought my panties and bras as she complained about how hard it was so hard to find a basic bra that wasn’t underwire or with shaped cups or padding. I have been feeling just like her lately so I guess that means I feel like a woman.

    • Yes, it’s funny that just performing the common daily rituals of a gender make us “feel like” that gender–a reminder that much of what makes us fit, or allows us to fit, is a performance. And whether that is good or bad, who knows. But I do know when I am in a gym and ask another dude about weights, I feel normal and accepted and enjoy that conversation.

  5. I’ve been thinking about how to answer these questions for a few days now, and then I read creepylesbo’s response. Wow! So much good stuff in there which I can identify with. Thank you!

    I don’t identify as female (despite my genetics), and I have never been able to identify as male, despite being “one of the guys” in most of my social interactions. I feel like my menstrual cycle is a violent betrayal, but that the what society seems to ask of men is just as ludicrous as what it asks of women. I definitely have aspects of both male and female, but I simply identify as me. I do feel as though I have a gender, so I don’t fit in the agendered box, which has, through process of elimination, led me to finding out about Neutrois.

    When I first began reading online about neutrois people, it felt like such a slap in the face there was no way I couldn’t identify with it. After so long I had found something that seems to fit. The more I’ve explored it within myself, as well as read about it online, the more certain I am. This feeling has nothing to do with how I present myself to the world at large, or how they perceive me. My closet is overflowing with clothes I like, regardless of their gender assignment, and I regularly mix and match for no other reason than thats what I want to wear. Some days I bind, some days (although less frequently lately) I wear a push up bra. I have debated about top surgery for a more androgynous appearance, but doubt I’ll ever do it. I don’t identify as trans*, as I’ve been this way my whole life and am not transitioning from or to anything. I’m just being me.

    So I have a gender, and its neutrois. Most days I just wish gender didn’t affect so many things in life so I could just be me without feeling like a complete outsider.

    • Thomas,

      What a nice and thoughtful response from you, too. I hope you know about Maddox’s blog at neutrois.me/ This one is a great resource for neutrinos-identified individuals, and they just had a really great post on pronouns, to boot.

      Much of what you post here resonates with me, especially this, “I don’t identify as female (despite my genetics), and I have never been able to identify as male, despite being “one of the guys” in most of my social interactions. I feel like my menstrual cycle is a violent betrayal…” Yes, I was “lucky” enough to have uterine cancer, and so no longer have a menstrual cycle, and I can’t convey what a relief, or, to use a tired cliche, what a game changer being free of that betrayal has been for my life.

      I’m curious, when you write, “When I first began reading online about neutrois people, it felt like such a slap in the face there was no way I couldn’t identify with it.” What part, exactly, felt like “a slap in the face?”

      I do feel like you a lot of the time, in that I wish my gender wasn’t such a hassle to my daily life, wish I didn’t have to think about it so much. But you, Thomas, with your chosen traditional male name, and your push up bras, you make me smile. I look forward to every day that people like you live in this world, and push the gender definitions and limits and understandings. Thank you, in short, for being you.

      And anyone who tries to make you something different can fuck the fuck off.

      -Eli

      • Maddox and neutrois.me are absolutely amazing and probably the tipping point for me recognizing my own neutrois identity. I think I originally found your blog through comments on theirs 🙂 Its funny though, I blogged about pronouns maybe a day before Maddox did. It was a little eerie for me reading their post after writing such similar feelings of my own.

        As to the “slap in the face,” it was like the world finally made sense by finding the words and terminology for what was going on in my soul. Being able to articulate what I felt regarding my own non-binary gender beyond just saying “I’m not a girl, but I don’t want to be a boy either,” was an incredible moment for me. It was a jarring moment, and I think my brain literally tripped over itself.

        And my chosen name has a whole history behind it… Now that you mention it my brain is plotting a new blog post of my own…..

  6. One of the earliest recollections I had in “feeling like a woman” came when I began to practice sitting to pee. After I once had to sleepily get up to pee in the night, it finally dawned on me why we expect to have the toilet seat already down when a man would usually not give it a second thought! I also learned about the layers of clothes we sometimes need to wrangle just to do that which explains why we might feel like wanting to get home ASAP, besides of course, the cleanliness of some public restrooms 😉

    • Interesting angle, Deanna. and how funny sometimes insights come from the most far-fetched situations. I don’t usually have epiphanies on the way to the john at 3am, but what a great example of exactly what I am talking about. And the converse is true as well: standing to pee is a hallmark of ftm culture, and there are many a websites and chatroom discussion threads dedicated to just this act. Yes, we “feel like” our gender most when we are enacting the movements relegated ONLY to that gender.

      • Cold porcelain on your fanny and having to extract yourself from getting stuck in the bowl doesn’t require much of an epiphany as you probably already knew before. A fellow blogger on her page used the term “remedial girl” which is like having to take a course in your freshman year in college because you really didn’t get it in high school, like how to write a good English sentence.
        On another note, whenever I watch TV or a movie I am always noticing the women’s makeup and the cheeks are almost always redder and the eyebrows always darker that in real life. Never noticed it before.

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