As I round the corner on another year of life and move into my, dare I say, mid-thirties. No, let’s stick to early thirties, I’m still closer to thirty than forty after all. In any case this time of year, I always ponder my evolution both physically and intellectually and thought that I would share some of that with all of you.
Disclaimer: When I refer to “masculinity” and “femininity” in this post, it is as defined by society’s view of the gender binary. This is for ease of language only and does not reflect my view of the gender spectrum.
Gender Presentation: Tomboy; Relationship to Gender: Aggressive rejection of femininity; Life Goals: Become President of the US, astronaut or an orthopedic surgeon
As a child I was very much influenced by my parents, as one is, as well as by society. Even though my gender presentation was mostly accepted as there is a place for masculine FAAB (female assigned at birth) children, known as “tomboy”, there were still some expectations placed on me to be more feminine in certain situations. For example, family gatherings or events where one should be more formal, then I should wear a dress. This resulted in many fights with my parents over what I would wear and was even used as a bribery tool that when I behaved well I could earn points towards wearing pants to an upcoming event. My rejection of femininity went so far as a child that I remember one time my mother took me to the toy store to buy my cousin a present, she had wished for a barbie. I was so embarrassed to walk around with my mother carrying a barbie, lest someone think that it was meant for me, that I made her put it in her bag. She nearly left the store with it still in her bag, luckily, she remember it at the last second so I didn’t inadvertently make my mother into a petty criminal.
Gender Presentation: Tomboy transition to pre-dykeling; Relationship to Gender: Outward adoption of some femininity accompanied by internal struggle with ongoing rejection of femininity; Life Goals: Pursue a career in the sciences
In my teen years, as I felt the pressure of society and more expectations around physically presenting as my assigned gender, I tried to conform. However, as is evidenced by pictures, growing my hair out was not enough to hide my masculinity which not only became stronger in my mannerisms but also in my choice of clothing when I wasn’t made to conform to gender binary standards. I can remember being appalled by the fact that at band concerts there was a dress code which was defined along the gender binary and I was not allowed to wear pants but must wear a skirt or dress, otherwise, I would not be allowed to perform. However, as a teenager, not yet strong in my identity, I gave in instead of standing up for myself.
Gender Presentation: Lesbionic; Relationship to Gender: Aggressive rejection of femininity, developing masculine identity; Life Goals: Work hard, play hard, prove adult status by making money
My gender presentation developed together with my lesbian identity and for a long time I associated the two – i.e. masculinity and being a lesbian. After all, there seemed to be a strong correlation between becoming comfortable in my sexual orientation as a lesbian and transitioning my gender presentation to be more and more masculine, phasing out clothes from the “women’s side” of the store and replacing them with “men’s clothes”. It is also worth mentioning that the last time I let someone guilt me into wearing a dress to an event was when I was 25.
Gender Presentation: Androgynous / Masculine; Relationship to Gender: Rejection of femininity, more solidified sense of masculinity; Life Goals: Reduce stress of work and emphasize personal life more, make a positive difference in the world
My developing identity was continuing toward the masculine in my late twenties, not only in mannerisms and way of dress but also in mentality as I inadvertently took on some misogynistic traits without being aware of it. The preference of society for masculine oriented people is evident and I reaped the benefits of this across my life from being taken more seriously at work by colleagues to feeling safe walking home alone on a dark Chicago street, simply by exuding masculinity.
Gender Presentation: Androgynous / Gay boy; Relationship to Gender: Start of acceptance of femininity within, solid sense of masculinity; Life Goals: Make a positive difference in the world, find happiness in the things I choose to focus on, nurture a healthy mind and body
Oh, how far I’ve come, now we are up to “present day” and I am so glad I have gotten over myself. First, I have finally come to start to embrace the femininity within and instead of rejecting it and being disgusted by it, realizing that it completes me. I don’t mind showing feminine traits and I’ve begun to pay more attention to society and sexism around me to try to stand up against the ridiculousness of the gender binary and break the stereotypes. Additionally, ever since I started contemplating my top surgery (and especially after) I have also been able to tease out the difference between my gender identity and sexual orientation which as many of us know, have nothing to do with each other.
I have also included my “life goals” in the different sections in order to give a small insight into how my mindset has evolved along with my gender identity. You can see the shift from alignment with other’s expectations to creating my own expectations which I think is also mirrored in my gender evolution. During this process of reflection and seeing how I have evolved through the years, I can only look forward to continued growth along with exciting new experiences.
Finally, while I’m being entirely egotistical and patting myself on the back for my evolution until now, I’d like to throw in that even though I’m turning 34, my physical shape is better than it was when I was 24 so boo-ya mothaf*ckas.