Making the body…fitting the mind.

he sheI 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.

Maintenance.

Working out.

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”…

No gender.

All genders.

photo credit: Etsy shop JonathanKingston

photo credit: Etsy shop JonathanKingston

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.

That’s me.

And there’s a lot of me’s out there.

<3

11 comments to Making the body…fitting the mind.

  • You’ve taught me so many things since I’ve gotten to know you. I’m one of those people who hadn’t really given the idea of gender identity a lot of thought before I met you. But now I’m conscious of how powerful a hold it can have over someone, and I think less in categories and more in loose definitions. I’m more careful of when and how I use pronouns because even when things seem obvious, they aren’t.

    Most of all I’ve learned that you really don’t ever know someone’s story. You don’t know what someone has been through when you meet them, you don’t know their life experience and making assumptions about anyone is always a bad plan. I know life here in North America teaches most of us from a very young age how to categorize, colors, genders, sizes. Turns out those categories have a whole lot of fluidity to them. I wish they taught us that part more as kids and I’m really really glad that the kids in our family will learn that from us.

    I love all of you. I love whatever gender it is that feels most like you on whatever day of the week it finds us. I love that despite not being able to fit squarely in one gender or the other I’m attracted to the T package and the rest doesn’t matter. So for anyone who does wrestle with the gender identity issues and wonders how or if they’ll ever find a person to love them, those questions cross all of the issues and we all wonder who will love us with all of our stuff along for the ride. You can and you will find your person. We did. And it works no matter what day of the week or what percentages feel right.

    #LAWN
    Your Mimi

  • While my body, mind and heart do match…there are so many people I love in my life whose do not. I truly appreciate you opening up and writing this post. I feel like while I’m accepting, caring and try to be as helpful as possible with the ones I care for, I won’t ever truly “understand.” Your sharing has given me a little more..thank you for that.

    I know we don’t talk or see each other very often (One Fitbloggin’ is about it), but I’m an avid reader of your blog, follower on FB and lover of your mantra for strength and power. I am in awe of the love between you and Meegan and try to model my love for my husband after how awesome yours is.

    Who cares if you are a boy and a girl or neither, you are T and you are a wonderful human being!

    <3 Mer

  • Colleen D

    Hey T, I nearly choked when I saw this post. You’re going to find this funny. After the last time you & Mimi & B & I got together (Which was far too long ago!), I was having this internal debate. I was trying to put a label on you, Mimi and your relationship. I thought you identified mostly as a boy but then sometimes as a girl. And then I was wondering if you were a boy then Mimi would be the “L” word? I was confused ;-) , I certainly didn’t want to offend either of you by using an inappropriate label or pronoun. And then I though to myself, what the hell difference does it make, why do I have to label them at all. I just like you both, enjoy your company and very happy for the both that you found each other and “fit”. So I will do my best not to use any pronoun at all. Maybe it’s time we got rid of gender specific pronouns and created one for all. Any suggestions?

  • Your writing and story telling are amazing I feel like I could sit and listen to you for hours
    I hope someday soon I get to meet you and M.

  • Michelle Reis

    Seems like a good opportunity to tell you that I started going by Eli/Elias about a year and a half ago. Planning on a legal name change as soon as I find my lucky future employer, but not planning on switching gender markers. Cheers!

    Eli

  • sharla

    I love you so and I think it’s wonderful that you’re addressing gender identity. Just like when this blog started as a weight loss chronicle, you never know whose life you will change for the better by sharing your story. <3 you always.

  • Natali

    I have always loved you T for who you are. I loved you when you were morbidly obese and I love you fit. I love you if you are a dyke, boy, girl, both, or neither. Thank you for sharing yourself. Please know that I love YOU, no matter what label is attached or how deeply you are hidden.

  • Cathy H-S

    T-Rex (if I may) – Thank you for all that you shared with this post! I have a little trouble myself sometimes reconciling what all is in my head but no issues with my biology; so I’ve got nowhere near the difficulties of your journey. I am reminded of hearing Kate Bornstein speak sometime back around 1996 and her saying (paraphrased) yes, she picked “F” but only because the way her body was, was wrong before, and yet neither male nor female really fit her fully. I hear something of the same for you, if I understand you correctly. I am in awe of your bravery in your climb, in your time. And Mimi – my very best to you, from one spouse to another.

  • [...] A gorgeous post about embodying gender :: Making the body… fitting the mind. [...]

  • [...] 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…. Even my name right now doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to walk into the women’s bathroom [...]

  • Leah

    Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story.

    As a biological female who thoroughly enjoys the performance of the female gender, I spent most of my young life completely ignorant of gender “issues”. In college I started hearing comments that despite my high heels and lipstick, I was much more of a dude than a lady. Years later I’ve decided I’m just a drag queen in a biologically female body! Of course I also realize that since my presentation matches my biology (at least before I open my mouth), I enjoy a huge amount of privilege in this arena. Your story is a beautiful addition to my attempt to understand how binary gender ideas mess with all of us, no matter how well we seem to conform or not.

    And sometimes that strange look you get in the bathroom? It might just be me trying to figure out how to strike up a conversation with someone who is obviously so awesome! In a public bathroom. Without being creepy. You see my dilemma? I’ll try just smiling next time?

    Leah

    PS my two sons call me ‘sir’ and I LOVE it!

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