Since the middle of last week, things have been heading a bit downhill for me. I got in, maybe too deep, with my writing and computer work.
Since the 1st, I’ve been relatively offline. I would not be surprised if I triggered myself with my last Creative Nonfiction post. This is why I’ve veered away from Creative Writing…it brings up really, really deep stuff that often ties in directly with my life, even if the events of the narrative didn’t actually happen.
I have been trying to shift back to my old pattern of stopping screen time after 7 PM, getting ready for bed at 9 PM, and then doing whatever I want to after that point, until falling asleep. (Tonight is different, as I need to work through this material.) The night of the 3rd, I was thinking deeply about my issues with anger and how they have impacted my life and relationships, essentially making it so that I don’t know how I’d do in a job if I had to continuously interface with the public.
The major issue I can see is how much I’ve given up in an attempt to be noncontroversial, and how much I resent it when other people assume they can overrun my boundaries, on top of that. Does that count as, “pretending to be cis? Pretending to be straight?” I don’t think so.
But because I haven’t made a large effort to mark myself, people often see me as a cishet woman, and it — simply — is unwanted. The problem is that people who assume I’m cishet, I fear will stereotype me as another thing I’m not, just worse, if they knew I wasn’t what they expected to find. Because for one thing: they assume cishet is the default. That doesn’t speak to a sophisticated level of knowledge of human diversity.
But I mean, seriously, I’d think most queer people go through that. I’m using “queer” in the U.S. reclaimed context, here — not as an insult. There is no other word in the English lexicon that means the same thing, as a coalitional term between and among gender and sexual minorities. The fact is that we’re targeted by (mostly) the same people, regardless of our internal differences.
So anyway. I’ve been working on…trying to recover my mental, “level,” over the last couple of days…seriously getting into the mental nurturing part of self-care. That does mean that I’ve gravitated away from most writing, and it means that I haven’t been pushing myself to progress in my self-paced courses.
This has partially precipitated because of the pressure I’ve felt recently to either get a job (I do want to work, but I’m not sure at this point, how I’d interface with other people — particularly straight men), go back to my Vocational program (which I’m really not sure about, given that they allowed me to think I was suited to Librarianship because of my values alone, for a decade), or declare myself as officially unable to work.
I find myself to be in a relatively…well, it’s a coherent place, right now. That’s why I’m writing this now, instead of getting ready for bed. Socially…well, to be honest, there’s not a lot. There’s family, my nonbinary community, my online life, and the women in my life who are neither friends nor family, who have been supportive in one way or another.
I make jewelry and write, as hobbies. I have spent…about a decade and a half, trying to make life work, as someone who is assumed to be a woman. Obviously, it hasn’t been greatly successful, if the large part of my communicating with other people has to be through text, where my embodiment is not apparent.
I’ve been resisting the desire to transition for a little over 20 years, now. I’ve gotten out of transgender meetings because of having a hard time retaining my own concept of self. I knew I was different from the other people there. How was I different? My life is female-centric, even though I am, in practicality, not a woman.
When I compared myself to people in Queer Women’s groups, I recognized that in certain respects (like knowing I was different since early high school; and knowing that not all people who are categorized as female, see themselves as women) these people did not share my experience. When I was in mixed Transgender groups, I realized that I was not yet ready to transition, and maybe took too seriously the comments from (one) trans* man that he could not connect with my experience. Then there was the rampant hate on one online FtM support group. Then I tried out Nonbinary groups, and found — surprise — a fit.
My largest problem is my temper. I learned early on that no one would take me seriously as a boy, unless I exhibited behavior beyond the ken of “girls’ behavior”, such as anger or rage. Because of this…that bad behavior became reinforced. I don’t suggest this: I did know one person who claimed a male identity and would consistently display threats towards random, conveniently absent people, as though their violence in itself, made them masculine or a man. It didn’t lend itself to believability; it lent itself to the idea that they had serious unaddressed psychological problems.
My drive to transition, at this point, if I have one…is to winnow out the root of this rage, and get it out of my life. The main reason I even began identifying as transgender in the first place, was to quiet my own rage at my own gender situation. My trans* joy at finding myself embodied in such a way that I appeared as a man even when pushed to try on a ball gown, was to see that I had proactively and intentionally altered something about myself in such a way that I could not be erased.
There is more to it than just rage. The rage is simply a cue to examine what I might not need to tolerate anymore. And the rage is also often paired with a quieter, clearer, calmer sense of identity. It is not always destructive, that is. I don’t know how to…explain having a clearer sense of self, when painfully confronted with what you are not (despite trying), or what you need to change.
I can say that I got into Librarianship partially because I hoped that I wouldn’t encounter people saying I shouldn’t be there because I wasn’t a man. Instead, I encountered degradation and disrespect, largely from male patrons, because they perceived me to be a woman. (Simply: there does not seem to be an escape from sexism.) On top of not being able to talk honestly to anybody outside of family and therapy, and crushing in my own opinions for the duration of my contact with anyone outside of family and therapy, the situation required medication to tolerate.
There’s this outer case. Then there is the fact that I have not transitioned so far, specifically because I did not want to deal with anti-transgender stigmatization. But being closeted to most of the people I’ve known, and being stuck in one place in my life, and not really living a full life…that can only continue for so long.
This does remind me of some of the trans* women I’ve known who tried, intensely, for decades, to be men. I don’t know how old I was when I heard some of these stories, but I empathized at the time. (Maybe there was a reason for that.) It also reminds me of the years I allowed my hair to grow out on the job, because I didn’t want to deal with harassment from idiots who thought that because I looked like I had ovaries, I should never cut my hair. Even if I haven’t desired to keep it long since before I was 16, and the only reason to keep it long, was for the sake of not jarring men’s sensibilities.
But that dynamic is avoiding targeting from other people who most likely have serious psychological scrambling, themselves. I really shouldn’t be living to please (or cloak myself from) the lowest common denominator.
That’s regardless of what I end up doing with my body, or my life.