More clarity with some angst

I recently bought an STP. I cannot go into a female bathroom anymore comfortably and have on a couple of occasions had to wait a ridiculously long amount of time for the stall while dining out – and drinking beer. It was difficult to wait as you can imagine if you are a beer drinker. It was novel at first, using an STP. I like the idea and ease of peeing standing up, will make camping so much easier. I got the EZP from Transthetics – a truly great product. I wore it daily for a couple weeks, using it frequently as needed. The more I wore it the more disconcerted I felt. I realize I really do not relate to having a penis. It feels wrong. I want it to feel right and keep trying. But in the end I am filled with angst. I am realizing more and more that I am gender queer and will never fit in the binary box and I am finding this to be difficult as well. Difficult because so many people do not have a clue. and even when I educate and tell them my preference for pronouns, they struggle to manage they-them-their. Some honor it by just using my name, but they report how awkward that can be; one noted she used my name nearly 20 times in a short convo. And then the few people that are stuggling with my transition, struggle in the context of me being a man. This then frustrates me because I am not that any more than I am female. I have moments of being truly pissed off at society for pigeon holing me and so many others – everyone if we really want to be honest. We must be one or the other and even transitioning carries with it the idea of transitioning form one gender to the other.  And I feel stuck… I don’t know what to do or where to go. I find myself swimming in angst filled emotional waters. Sad, angry, confused, stuck…

I find it also interesting that I am calling myself queer – gender queer and sexually queer. I am of the generation where queer was really derogatory. I get it is changing and I am finding myself really relating to its nuances. It feels even more open, spacious and undefined then non-binary, cuz non-binary still considers there is a binary to be separate from. Queer is its own thing and that does feel right. I will never be male, female, gay or straight or bi. Pan-sexual perhaps if I understand it correctly. But again, in my generation, even my gay friends (gay includes lesbians for me) are not familiar with the term pansexual and are gay, straight or bi and there is nothing else.

And then the person who accused me of enjoying people being confused about my gender. I do not enjoy it actually. What I really want is to be seen as me, as queer and for that to be ok, to be accepted and to have a place in reality.

Becoming

Work

I had two interesting experiences the other day. 1) A female client said to me “you probably won’t understand this because your not a woman…”. On the one hand, I internally smiled as you can imagine. On the other hand I wanted to say “well actually, I have lived 48 yrs as a woman so have a pretty good idea”. I chose to revel in my passing and by my response let her know that I understood what she was feeling. 2) I at times will touch a clients hand or back when they are getting emotional and it feels like an appropriate supportive response. I was working with a male client the other day and I did this. It made me realize a male therapist touching a man in a supportive manner like this is taken very differently than a woman therapist doing the same. I need to alter some habitual ways of working with certain people.

Personal

I have been having the oddest feeling of late: the desire to be a parent and the feeling like I would finally be a good one. I am hoping it is fleeting because I am not sure I would want to do it alone and I am not ready to let go of my freedom to a partnership. But it is almost a visceral craving like in my 30’s when my biological alarm clock was going off. I would be a really good dad. And I would like that experience of supporting another being grow into their unique selves. I saw a dad and son walking from the lake near my house back to their car after a morning of fishing. The son was maybe 6. Such a strong feeling, a bond unlike any other.

Spiritual

I am planning a trip to Africa sometime between January and April of 2016. I committed to myself many years ago that by the time I turn 50 I will do a trek across the Sahara. It will be a little after the 50 yr mark but that is ok.The original plan was from Mauritania to Egypt. Somewhere in Chad, there is a monastery that has been in silence for over 100 yrs. Somewhere near there is where Christ did his 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. For those unfamiliar, this was a place that many people of many faiths came together for introspection as well as exchange of spiritual thought/experience/philosophy, and greatly informed Christ’s ultimate teachings. My dream is to recreate this for myself.  Due to all the political unrest this isn’t safe to do the trek as I wanted so I am settling for an 8 day trek from Morocco. My goal is now to have my own experience as well as to connect with a guide willing to work with me in  the future. I want to recreate a shorter version of Christ’s 40 days and 40 nights where people of all spiritual backgrounds, including atheists (as my sense is they still have some sense of spirituality) come together to share and contemplate. I am feeling this deep calling – feeling like the world needs more peaceful meeting of our diverse spiritual beliefs and experiences. I have a bias too that in so doing, we will recognize the thread that runs thru each, uniting us. And hopefully help to heal some of the major rifts between the religions. I was once visiting a cousin of mine who was a monk in a Greek Orthodox monastery. I had a shaven head. One of the parishioners asked me what religion I am. I guess something about me made me appear not Christian. I responded “I am of all religions”. I still feel that.

When will you be done transitoning?

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this question. Every time I am at a loss. The word transitioning does in itself imply a process, a starting point and an end point and time to get from one poin to the next:
from Webster’s dictionary:

1 a : passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another : change
b : a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another
2 a : a musical modulation
b : a musical passage leading from one section of a piece to another
3 : an abrupt change in energy state or level (as of an atomic nucleus or a molecule) usually accompanied by loss or gain of a single quantum of energy

I relate more to the 3rd definition of an abrupt change which has more of an immediacy or nowness to it.

My feeling is the minute I chose to embody my true self, I transitioned. The rest, all that followed in learning, growing and integrating, and moving through the struggles, are just the natural unfolding evolution we all experience if we are on a path of personal growth and spiritual evolution.

A person is a person the minute they are conceived. The rest is development and growth.

I believe what people are asking around when will I be done is really about what physical changes still need to happen – surgeries, facial hair, muscle mass…. to indicate some sense of being fully formed. So when I tell people, as I do, that I am done, I wonder am I being disingenuous somehow. Again for me, I transitioned the moment I chose to fully embody my innate nature. And I am waiting for my beard to grow in and as I work out, I am waiting for my body to build muscle mass and look more like how I experience myself to be. In this sense, I am not yet done. But again these are just aspects of growth and development, they do not define the truth of being who I am – transitioning from my afab self to a trans-masculine self – is immediate upon choosing to embrace and embody who I am.

As I sit here, contemplating this writing, I reflect on myself, what has changed and what has not. I have said a million times that I am still me at my core just more so. This still holds true. I am now more at ease with myself as the stigma of being gender non-conforming has resolved as I allow myself to be the gender queer, trans-masculine self that I am. How I dress has changed a bit, as I wear more button down shirts to work. I now truly dress in business casual. (A friend once joked with me around my sense of business casual which was truly more casual, hang out clothes). I still wear the same jeans I have always worn (carhart and dicky’s). And in truth, I would likely have always dressed this way if I didn’t have those double d’s to contend with and “hide”. Now that I do not, I can comfortably dress as I am. My hair is changing – leg hair darkening and growing more on thighs, pubic and arm pits when once it was so little. That little strip of hair at the navel is starting. Sideburns and small patches under the chin.
My dysphoria is greatly relieved, my anxiety almost totally gone, my confidence stronger.

And as I write all this I continue to know the evolution does not make the person. I am right here, right now. I transitioned the minute I chose to embody my true self. Yes I want more facial hair and muscle mass, but those things do not define me, do not make me the gender queer, trans-masculine person that I am. The choice to be and fully embody and embrace my gender queer, trans-masculine self is the transition.

And I cant help but feel that when I say this, the people who are asking now believe that the changes are done. I wont visibly change anymore. I know that I don’t owe anyone an explanation. They can interpret my answer as they will. But I cannot help but think about the impact or implications on clients in particular. Should I grow a full beard and choose not to shave someday – will this be a betrayal of sorts. “But you said you were done… I thought that meant you wouldn’t change anymore” I imagine them thinking or saying. It is a double entendre of sorts. And maybe in the end it wont matter, just as a baby grows before us, we often miss some of the changes as they occur so consistently and subtly moment to moment, perhaps my continued growth will be the same to those who see me regularly and be less impactful and less taken as a betrayal.

Time will tell.

The effect of voice

I had an interesting check in with a client about the impact my transition is having, if any, on our work together. She said she doesn’t really think about it anymore but that in the beginning it was my voice that really was the most difficult. She was of course used to my soft feminine easily meditative voice. As it deepened and was really all over the place and not under my control at all – she said it felt harsh. She was reminded when her two boys were going thru adolescence and their voices changed. She said she often needed to remind them about their volume and tone. This was good to hear as I do believe some of the conflicts I have had personally since transitioning have been due to the change of my voice and my early inability to modulate it. That and embodying a stronger male presence which my cl struggled to find words for , but said I was more heavy energetically. As we discussed this, she compared me to another healer I sent her to who is very neutral energetically and fairy-like. Grounded and yet really light. I am more dense and always have been energetically compared to this person – more earthy groundedness. More human. Interesting as I have struggled so much with my humanity.

Anyways, the reflections are interesting. And the stuff about my voice was particularly good to hear. I am just over a year on T and feel like I finally have control over my voice. I am able to guide my clients into meditation more easily as I learn how to use the softer tones of my deeper voice. I notice the difference talking and I must admit, it is easier to listen to myself. I can also sing again which is huge. More range and easier to deepen into the more baritone sounds. And I notice when I get more emotional about something, there is once again an ease and non-edginess to my voice. The harshness is gone. It is still low but the thing that was getting me into trouble feels eased. I say it was getting me into trouble because my uncontrolled changing voice combined with T created an intensity in me that people did find harsh and hard to adjust to – particularly when I got emotional in my personal life. My voice and my energy feel more balanced.

Now if only the facial hair would grow thicker in more areas than the side burns. Cl again shared that her oldest boy was around 24 by the time he got a full beard, and her younger son’s beard is spotty (a little here a little there) at 20 or 21. So I have time. My brothers were no help in sharing with me their beard growth process. I guess when it has been 25 yrs plus the minutia of things like this are not what we remember.

Here is to unfolding balance as I settle in to the myriad changes.

I am legal

Woo whoo!! I am now legally Sky and my drivers license has M. Such a long and arduous process. And am I remembering everything?Diplomas, professional licenses, someone reminded me to tell the post master otherwise I might not get mail – would never have thought of that one. Debating on the birth certificate. I am curious what others have done. And does it matter? is this one essential for reasons I am not thinking of?

Gender marker was a tough one for me. I did decide to change it should the day come that I can actually grow a beard – or my fantasied sexy 5 o’clock shadow. It will likely make traveling easier. But I still don’t feel wholly male identified.

Its like what I told one of the psychiatrists I work with recently. We were with a client and the psych ended a sentence early something like “Sky will be your therapist so check in with….” and she faded off not finishing the sentence. She just couldn’t get “them” out. We talked after, and I said think of it this way as she struggled with the grammar – “when you say them in reference to me you are acknowledging my dual nature, as I identify as two-spirited”. Something about this seemed to have registered. We’ll see.

I just wish that there was a non-binary gender marker for all those legal documents. As male feels as false to me as female does.

Bathroom reflections

Do any of you have those moments where you go to the bathroom and have moments of realization? Its like the time in the bathroom offers a break or window of reflection. I was at a training not long ago on Trauma and MDMA and they made reference to this as well. Client goes to the bathroom and has a major breakthrough. Anyways, I was at work and went to the bathroom the other day at work, and I was just hit with this sense of normalcy. Mind you my normal is not a normal normal, like my baseline of normalcy is different than many people I know. But that isn’t the point. Transitioning has been a whirlwind in many ways of change and settling into. My internal or personal changes are subtle and some of the outward changes… I am not sure they are noticed much by others. Sometimes I miss having an intimate partner in my life to share my revelations (as in things I am reveling in) – the first time I shaved, the fuzz growing around my navel… But here I was in the bathroom and I felt normal. I have this expectation that transitioning is going to be this big deal, that people are going to react and struggle, … maybe it is my easy going nature or my gender queerness vs adamancy about being seen as male specifically. I don’t know. But it is easy. I feel normal. Other than the conflict early on with a friend and coworker people have treated me well and like this is no big deal. I am seen for who I am vs some abomination of genderness. So sitting there in the bathroom feeling the normalcy of it all I felt myself relax even deeper into me and it felt good. I felt good. In many ways this transition is just an extension of the life I have always lived as a butch lesbian. In some ways it feels easier now, better, simply because I get to be more authentic. I gave myself the permission I needed to be me and my world is honoring me in that. WOW! How odd to feel less angst about being trans than being butch.

I am not sure how coherent this post is.. thinking out loud.

A side note, in a film I showed my class a man who was born with an unclear gender (looks male but has undeveloped male genitals) when confronted by circling M or F on a form, he circles both = MORF. Gotta love it. This is what I am going to begin doing.

Holidays and conversation

2014 s almost to an end. I am ready for a new year full of new opportunities and growth. Christmas was its usual challenge. Next year I gotta figure something different out. I was actually excited in some ways primarily because my family would be meeting my ex-girl friends new girl friend. As my sister said we have an interesting blended family. Family dynamics left me overly sensitive and I left early. Which was 8 pm and my planned departure time anyways. I left abruptly is better stated. Anyways, a couple days later I had a bite to eat with my dad. My father is a man of not many words so I am always struck when he talks. Well, he talked. It was the day before my birthday and I am guessing the struggles on Christmas and my bday motivated him. He told me he has always felt his purpose in life was to have and provide for a family and to raise kids that would make a difference in the world. He raised 5 great kids each making a mark in their own ways. He said to me that he felt the most proud of me; that I had and am making a difference in the world in a very significant way – first as a lesbian and now as a transman. He acknowledged the way that I provoke thought and expansion. He spoke about the possibility of my going back to school and what I would do with that education – again to promote change. I am not sure that in all these years my dad has ever expressed his pride for me. I took it in and still feel it swimming in me. It feels like a good place to start the new year.

I hope 2015 brings all of you joy, acceptance and love!!

Looking for some feedback

Hi all

Studies are going well. I take the exam November 21st. I feel ready to take it now. Ready to be done with it really!

For my application I need to write a 750 word essay that presents my dissertation topic. I find this interesting as I imagine as I learn more my thoughts will greatly change. However, at this point in time, this is what I am thinking:

1) Presentation on cross-cultural views on gender, including feminist theory.
2) Presentation of science that verifies the trans experience (possibly finding researchers interested in the topic and working with them to explore avenues not yet explored).
3) Thesis: Gender is complex and cannot be limited to or based on the physical attributes/genitalia of an individual. Trans people of all identities exist to heal the rifts between the sexes, restore the balance and equality among all people.

This is very rough, I know. When I talk about it – it is fuller and more fluid.

Anyway, the feedback I am looking for is “what do you think is missing?”. What would you as trans people or trans allies want to see studied and brought in to the consciousness of our culture today?

I will seriously consider all feedback and weave in whatever I connect with.

Thanks!

Why I still feel like a lesbian

I have been pondering “who am I” lately. Since returning from my trip and settling back into my life where I am just me again, normal routine, interactions etc… Not boring just life as usual where I am simply treated like a human being and not a man or woman. Or maybe I am just not as hyper aware as I was traveling. Regardless, I ask myself am I still me? Have I changed significantly? My sister says other than voice, smell and chest I am the same. According to a friend energetically I am more solid, strong. I have more firm edges than before. But everyone agrees, the core of me is the same. So this is good affirmation for what I feel inside.

Now what I ponder is what is my sexual orientation? Has it changed? I feel like I exist in the no-man’s land of gender. Neither strictly male nor female. I am primarily attracted to lesbian women with a newfound openness to exploring with men, yet my primary attraction is still to lesbian women. Why do I differentiate lesbian women from women in general? Well, I interact with many women in the course of a week, my gaydar is quite in tact, and it is not the straight women that I feel attracted to. They are either clearly lesbian or sometimes bi (tho even bi-sexual women I am less attracted to). When I feel into me, into the truth of my gender queerness and not clearly fitting into either category but encompassing both, I recognize I am both gender queer and sexual queer. Logic tells me, because I still relate to me as I am, because I am queer and because I am attracted primarily to lesbians and or bi women, I am a lesbian still. The problem with this is again in the lack of language. But hey, until there is a word for it, I can call myself whatever feels right. Now I just hope there is another lesbian woman out there who can see beyond the gender ambiguity and love me fully for who I am.

Traveling Observations and Experiences

Flying – I sat next to a retired firefighter on his was to Oregon to fight a fire. Normally I do not spend a lot of time talking to people while flying, enjoying the time to think and read. But this guy was a talker, so we talked. At some point we were talking about our families and I said something about me and my sisters all being psychotherapists. He asked how my parents were with their 2 daughters and son being therapists. My immediate reaction was to correct him and tell him I am not their son but as I am looking for words I realized I didn’t know what I would tell him I am as I also don’t feel like I am their daughter. So I stopped midsentence and let it be. This was my first experience of being gendered male so clearly. As we got off the plane, he waited for a bag and I rushed to the bathroom. My gut told me I am going to run into him outside the bathroom. So indeed as I walked out of the women’s bathroom there he was, looking at me with confusion. (Men’s bathrooms tend to be disgustingly dirty so I do avoid them and this has not been a problem for me). This was one of those interesting moments where I find myself rather enjoying the jolt I give people in my ambiguity.

Family – My sister and brother-in-law were both nervous to see me, unsure what to expect. My sister communicated this to me driving home from the airport. I believe they settled in with me pretty easily as the hours passed realizing I am still the same person. I was noticing that no one asked about my surgery or commented on my flat chest. I acknowledge this may be a bigger deal for me than others as it feels so liberating and like a huge step in self actualization. But I did notice the silence around it and finally said something to my sister – she said she wasn’t ready. This specific change was creating an angst of sorts for her. In retrospect I wish I had gotten more curious but instead I backed off and honored the discomfort. The second day of my visit, my sister and niece/god-daughter and I went paddle boarding. I was very excited having just bought a new pair of OP swim trunks (oh the fantasies I have had for years about wearing these). I also bought a top since my surgery was only 2 months ago – I didn’t want my scars to get purple from the sun. But at one point, I was paddling alone and decided to take my top off to feel it. Wow, what a feeling. I have spent time, a lot of time at beaches in France, so being topless isn’t new to me. But being topless and boobless was quite the new and wonderful experience. How to describe it? Free, yes. The feel of the wind and sun on my bare skin. The ease in my body not carrying and doing this energetic thing I do when I had double d’s. I felt open, strong, at ease. I didn’t need to protect myself, I didn’t need to worry about unwanted looks. And mainly I felt natural, like I imagined I would feel if only I had the right body. I felt good, really really good!!

As my sister paddled towards me I decided to put my shirt back on. I did this both for the scars, as it had been off about 15 minutes and I didn’t put any sun screen on. And I realized, after my sister said its ok with her to keep it off, that I felt 1/2 naked in front of her. I didn’t feel like this alone. I don’t feel like this at home walking out to the mail box with my top off (to I did when my neighbors were out and averting their eyes). So it does seem with Fern (and my neighbors) I felt an awkwardness, like I am exposing myself. My sister has always known me with DD’s, and it is weird cuz we have been to nude hot springs together a lot, so being naked in front of her isn’t a big deal, but this was somehow.

Camping – We arrived at our camp site in the late afternoon. It was really hot. By the time camp was set up and everything unloaded, I was sweating profusely and it was time for a swim in the ice cold river. So I grabbed my OP trunks and my quick dry shirt and went with Fern to the bathroom to pee and change. It was so hot I decided to keep my shirt off until I got wet. So there in the bathroom my sister got her first good look at my chest post op. It was awkward – for me for the reasons stated above. For my sister, the newness, the obviousness of surgery (I had silicone tape on the scars). My mind is blank here – I do not remember the interaction around this. I remember her averting her eyes and when my niece came in she too averted her eyes. I remember the newness and awkwardness. We walked to camp to get Jim to swim. He too averted his eyes. In retrospect – while I do not recall a dialog around this – I felt bold, like the reality of my new looks need to be acknowledged. Sometimes when I get into this bold place, I have a fuck it sort of mentality that overrides my usual sensitivity and curiosity. I am imagining that must have happened here cuz I do not remember any conversations just feelings of discomfort.

We swam and again oh what a feeling. The ice cold water on my bare skin. There were other campers at the beach by the river and they didn’t give me a second look – I had removed the surgical tape at some point, so I had some small scars that were visible but not pronounced. The water was so cold one doesn’t really want to linger. So we plunged and then quickly got out. I got my shirt wet and put it on, again not wanting my scars to turn purple. I really am going to have to check with my sister for her reactions as I don’t recall anything beyond the awkwardness.

Male Bonding – Later, my brother in law asked me to go with him to get some fire wood. This gave us an opportunity to talk about my transition as we have not spoken directly since I started. He told me he is supportive and that it is an adjustment having known me for 20 years as a masculine female. As we located wood, at some point he looked at me with a grin on his face and said “this is what we men do” as we threw large trunks of wood into the back of the van. (This hit me two-fold – one I will talk about after this parenthetical blurb – I was struck by the sense again of what is gender really. Being a lesbian all my life, I have always gotten the firewood. I own a chainsaw and splitting maul and know how to use both quite well, thank you very much!! So the idea that this is what men do, was just odd from my perspective. But from his, this is his role in the family system. So really what is gender?) I was also struck by a sense of male bonding and being welcomed into some brotherhood I have not shared with Jim previously. At some point he cracked a ice cold beer to share which also just added to the whole male bonding thing. Made my heart quite happy in truth. I felt good in my skin too lifting and throwing wood. When we got back to camp and unloaded everything, it was time for another swim. Jim and I went together this time. I remember walking with him in some new way, a little cocky maybe, but like a young man being taken under the wing of an older man (tho Jim isn’t that much older than me). Touched me in an unfamiliar and good way.

Walking and Talking – My sister and I spent a couple hours each day hiking and talking. I have asked her to write something for me to post here about her experience of my transition as I do not think I will do it justice. I hope she does. I am not sure what happens but I do not remember much about what she told me of how this is for her. I remember the letting go of ideas and identifications of what is feminine and what is masculine. Her grief. Her process of letting go. And my mind goes blank… I need to explore this more for me. I get so perplexed. I am genuinely curious of the impact this has on people especially those close to me. And I feel so much like me, just more so, that it is hard for me to wrap my head around anything needing to be grieved. Because of this I apparently do not retain any information shared. Or maybe it is something else entirely that I have not yet identified. We talked for at least 4 hours in total about this in one way or another and this is all I remember. Odd. I do remember being left with a feeling of love and being loved. A sense of being seen and the challenge I present for Fern to expand her sense of gender and humanity. I felt accepted. I felt my heart expanding in our connection. And still I cannot recall the content of her process. So sad as I know how essential this is and I imagine for readers of the blog it would be valuable to get a siblings perspective. I do remember at some point talking about cultural ideas of gender and Fern wondering if there was an accepted gender that matched mine in our culture, a gender in which I felt a sense of belonging, if I would have been more accepting of my body presentation and gender identification. I remember pondering the lifelong angst around my boobs – me being the first of my peers to get them and not being happy. The leers of older men. The need to hide them. The postures of protection and don’t fuck with me. I do wonder would I feel differently if my body wasn’t so completely sexualized all my life. I do not have an answer for that but find it to be an interesting question as I consider gender and what is it really?! And the reality is I live in the gendered culture that I do and I am reveling in the reality of a guys flat chest.

Visit with an old friend – after a week with my sister and her family I went to the Seattle area to visit an old college friend. I met a lot of her friends on this journey and have no idea how I was gendered except by two guys. There is this very specific feeling I get with a man when he sees me as a man. They look at me differently, an openness, an acceptance, a welcome. Energetically they kind of reach out and embrace me. It is subtle. (As I write this, I realize in the moment I just experience the goodness of it, didn’t spend much time analyzing. So now I am analyzing it a bit. Why did I not feel this as the butch lesbian that I was? What is it that makes men and women relate to each other differently. Or rather that makes men relate to women differently than they relate to other men – because all the women I met, it felt like they treat me as most women have always treated me, regardless of how they gendered me. How much energy we put into gender roles and even sexual orientation roles – as I am sure both these things affected men’s ability to simply relate to me as another human being. Hmmm, more to ponder.) I recognize I like how men treat me when they see me as another man. I like the respect. The sense of belonging. The welcome.

As Leslie drove me to the airport and we are waiting for the ferry we were talking about smell. This is another thing I am now remembering my sister said – my scent has changed and there is a way Fern has related to me through smell. The unfamiliarness of my new smell was off putting. Leslie took this further and wondered about the pheromones that come with scent and that effect a certain response on a very subtle level. Leslie was noticing ways that she was behaving differently with me. At one point we went to an outdoor Ariel performance. We made a salad to share with some friends we were meeting there and packed a cooler. With the ice and water, the cooler was heavy. Leslie let me carry it. Historically, she would have carried it. Historically, I would have let her – she picked it up and I offered to carry it (even tho I was starting to get a head ache and I knew this would make it worse). So I behaved differently and she responded differently as well. She gave other examples that are not in my recall as well that made her feel like perhaps the change in pheromones has a sublte effect… Interesting to consider. Oh yeah, another gender thing. Leslie is bi-sexual. At some point she asked me how something she was wearing looked. I said Leslie you are always cute. She recognized that gendering me as a man this landed differently than it would have when she considered me her female lesbian friend. It felt really good to her, indicating some way she values a man’s perspective on her cuteness differently from a woman’s view. (I have also asked Leslie to write something for my blog – so hopefully if I missed anything here from my memory issues around this stuff she can clarify and correct).

Reflecting about my experiences traveling, I shared with Leslie that I do not relate to myself from a gendered perspective. Tis trip has been interesting because I experience the reality of being gendered as a man numerous times. I experienced being confusing to people around my gender – they look at my face, my chest, my face… trying to figure it out. And with others who I didn’t feel like they were relating to a gender specific person but were simply relating to my humanity. The latter is how I relate to myself and usually people I meet. Leslie asked do I feel genderless or gender neutral – which I thought was an interesting question. I struggle to get my head around what it would feel like to be genderless so I am thinking I feel gender neutral. And I get curious about that – is it because we are so oriented around gender that I cannot imagine genderlessness or am I gender neutral? Which then makes me wonder about gender fluidity. Am I fluid? I have certain qualities that have been deemed feminine (sensitivity, receptivity…) and I have a serious aversion to many other things that are deemed feminine (dresses, frill, …). There is little that I can think of in this moment on the masculine side of things that I am adverse to save the egotism and arrogance that many men can have but isn’t just a man thing really. More to ponder.

Home again, reflecting – one thing that was difficult bout this trip was not having the vocabulary for me. So meeting people, especially Ferns friends. Am I sister or brother, aunt or uncle, or he or she? I don’t feel like any of these words work for me. With Leslie she can easily keep it Sky this or that without gendering me, tho she uses he when talking about me in present tense. No matter what gender term is used I feel a little tweeked inside. Until recently, I have let people go with what is easiest, so they refer to me as male present tense and female past tense. Now I am coming to a place where I need to honor that this doesn’t feel right as it doesn’t feel like a true and accurate reflection. What an unfolding process of self understanding and expanding consciousness.

I recently read an interview about this woman from University of Arizona who is creating a transgender studies program. Inspired me to research getting my PhD in Gender studies with a focus on transgender. Found 2 programs that interest me. This one in Arizona and another at Central European University in Hungary. If anyone knows of other great Gender studies PhD programs please let me know.