I rarely talk about gender here.
And by rarely I mean almost never.
Funny though because I think about it almost more than anything.
I think about it more than weight loss.
I think about from the moment I wake up and walk naked into the bathroom and see my breasts as I sit down to pee and wonder what it would be like to stand, to the moment I get undressed for bed and take off my bra before my t-shirt because I don’t like to be reminded that I in fact have to wear the damn thing. I think about it in the shower. When I’m getting dressed. When I’m lifting weights. When I’m driving, punching in to go to work, picking up my wife or doing the food shopping for the week.
The interesting part about thinking about gender all the time is I don’t really know what to think about my gender. For most of my life I didn’t really *think* about whether I was a boy or a girl. I just assumed the role that came with the body. Girl parts = Girl (therefore dot dot dot). Identifying as queer happened early on in my life. I remember being very young and thinking “I’m going to kiss girls”, which I did. And I like it. But then I kissed boys too…I did a lot more than kiss those boys but that’s because I thought in order to feel “loved” I needed to put out and when you’re searching to be loved for most of your life…well you know what I’m getting at here. I never thought of myself as bisexual. I just used my body to get the attention I wanted and I didn’t really care who gave it to me.
My first “relationship” was with a woman. I was very young. She wasn’t. It lasted a whopping 9 months (and when you’re in junior high school, that nine months feels like a lifetime). Throw in a mother who owns a gay bar, who vehemently disapproves of said relationship, and you can see how things got very confusing for me. Of course in hindsight I realize it wasn’t because I was queer that she was upset about…it was the age thing and her own guilt for “exposing” me to that lifestyle (but damn if I didn’t have the best Dorothy Hamill haircut from her best friend and super gay hairdresser Eddie)
(open closet door and enter)
It was in the midst of becoming a young adult, just having finished high school and aspiring to became a self supporting drug addict that I let that closet door open just a bit. Fiance on one side. Girlfriend I could get high with and bump uglies on the other. Then my mother got sick. Really sick. Really quickly. Before I could even adjust to her cancer she was gone. I didn’t get a chance to react. I was 20 and she was dead. All those years of hiding from the one person that I felt like I disappointed the most and never would there be another opportunity to say “hey mom, this is who I am…please try to love me regardless”
I buried her.
Then began the process of unburying myself.
That process has been ongoing ever since. 20+ years. Trying to find the labels that fit because let’s be honest, people need labels. Not so much as a inner acceptance but to help the outer world feel more at ease. Over the last couple of years (not surprisingly in conjunction with weight loss and shedding the emotional weight along with the physical weight) I noticed more and more how uncomfortable those, who are settled in the “correct’ gender (meaning body matches mind matches heart) are with those, that are completely unsettled with any gender (body does not match mind and may/may not match heart).
But I was excruciatingly uncomfortable too.
As my body changed, I realized there was another unburying happening. The idea of having girl parts = girl no longer made sense to me. I didn’t want to conform to the notion that I was a biologically born female (therefore dot dot dot) and the only way I could demand to be treated differently was to be a radical queer. I couldn’t demand to be called a dyke ( I loathe the “L” word”) because that identity didn’t define me any longer. I realized that my fat was not only a wall to protect me from the proverbial YOU. It was a wall to protect me from ME.
The only problem with letting that wall down is this constant battle of “So what are you?”…
I ask myself that question all the time…
Are you a boy? Are you a girl?
And the honest answer is this….Yes I’m a boy. Yes I’m a girl. I’m neither a boy. I’m neither a girl. Gender doesn’t apply to me. Pronouns of Her/Him/She/He don’t fit. Even my name right now doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to walk into the women’s bathroom nor the men’s bathroom. I don’t want these breasts and I don’t want to magically grow a penis between my legs. I detest being called “lady” but I don’t want to be addressed as “Sir” either.
If you look at my closet (now filled with clothes and NOT emotions) you’d think a man dressed there. If you look at my underwear drawer you’d know a woman dressed there. If you look at my bath products you’d think “hmmmmm, this is a fine smelling boy” showering here but if you look at my daintily painted toes you think “Jesus that is a girly flower on that big toe”…
The best way I can define my gender (or lack there of) is to look at this tree. This is my gender. When I was a kid, I loved to climb. I could climb the same tree over and over again, looking for different ways to get to the highest point before I got too scared. I could put my foot on one branch and reach for another on one day then see a completely different path the next. The point was to get as high as I bravely could. How I got there didn’t really matter. That’s sort of how it is for me now. One day I might want to hang out on the low branches and to the left of the trunk. Another day a little higher and to the right a bit. Every branch is a different “gender” and therefore (dot dot dot) never ONE gender.
I’m definitely more “boy” than “girl”. I’d rather be he’d than she’d. But truth be told; I don’t want to be he’d or she’d. I prefer to be called T rather than Tara and I’m not interested in having a boy’s name (though if I did Elliot would be a strong contender). I love being Unkie T to my new niece and I LOVE LOVE LOVE being Auntie T to my Amers. I like to wear boy’s underwear but with a matching bra. I work out not because I want to have a girly figure but because my body squares out making it easier for me to pass as a boy. I almost always look at myself in the mirror sideways so that I don’t have to be reminded that I pee sitting down. I don’t like it when men call me “dear” but find it heart pulling when little old ladies do it because it’s easier for me to imagine that they call their grandson dear. I like to shave my legs. I hate my period but love that there’s the monthly excuse for being overly emotional and crying at the drop of a hat (which I do A LOT).
There may be more unburying as time goes on.
Maybe years from now, or next year, or next month, or tomorrow.
As long as there are branches to climb.
I’ll keep climbing higher.
Until then, don’t be afraid. Maybe you know someone like me. Gender-less but in a very biologically apparent body. It’s confusing for you and for me. This biologically born girl, dressed like a trucker who usually answers the question of “are you a boy or a girl” with a resounding YES. If I say “please don’t refer to me as lady”, I’m not trying to be a dick. I’m just trying to tell you I’m not a lady. Don’t apologize if you accidentally call me sir or buddy or dude. In that moment you’re probably more right than you know. Try to not correct me when I walk into the women’s restroom. I’ve been peeing my entire life. I know I’m in the biologically correct place. If you see me go into the “family” restroom don’t get upset that I don’t have a “family” with me when I enter. It’s just easier all around for me to pee where I don’t have to give that explaining glance to someone that thinks I’ve walked into the wrong bathroom.
If you’re not sure what pronoun to use, just ask.
More than likely my response will be “Just call me Tara” or “T”
…and if you really like me call me “T-Rex”.
If you look in the mirror and know for certain your body matches your mind, matches your heart and therefore (dot dot dot) matches your gender, take a moment to wonder what it would feel like if all of sudden it didn’t. Unless you know what that feels like you’ll never know what that feels like and that’s why it’s so hard for people to grasp this idea of being of non-gender. Of being like a gnarled tree with hundreds of branches to climb, never doing it the same way twice.
And there’s a lot of me’s out there.