Therapy session numero très: What’s the difference between questioning gender expression and identity?

Today was a stressful and overwhelming day. Therapy was pretty brutal. This is the first time that we have really dived into my gender identity. To say the least, I am confused as ever! She asked me a couple of times “what does you inner voice say?” And half of the time I didn’t have a response besides saying ” something just does not feel right” “I never fully felt like a woman.” She made an astute observation and suggested that I listen to myself more. She said I have probably been ignoring that voice for years ( and yeah, hello! I have tried to silence that voice that has been whispering maybe you aren’t a girl and you are a boy) and it is now time to really dive deep and begin to question what exactly doesn’t feel right.

My main confusion that I discovered today (and felt ike a bomb going off!) lies in the question of: am I confused about my gender expression– aka, is it enough for me to dress like a man (in whatever way “men” dress) OR is the question more based around my gender identity and fact that I may have been “born in the wrong body.” When I realized that this is where the confusion really lies, it was an astonishing moment. I feel like I had made some progress despite the grueling and difficult session.

The most difficult thing about this is stripping away what society says makes a man or a woman.The challenge is, how can I begin to throw away and disregard what society says. Like the fact that “society” says it isn’t “normal” for a girl to wear boxers instead of underwear for example. Or to shop in the mens section for clothes- let alone wear a binder to flatten out a womans chest to give the appearance of a flat “male” chest.

I was very frustrated and visibly overwhelmed throughout most of the hour long session. I never realized how fucking COMPLICATED this shit is. I realized that I know myself in other areas of my life. I know who I am when it comes to how my bipolar disorder affects me. I know who I am when it comes to my eating disorder and how my ADHD have affected my life. I know that I am complicated, creative, moody and smart. But what I don’t know, but what I will continue to discover and uncover is who am I? Who is Allie? And that my dear friends- is the million dollar question that we all search for.

I find it facastign and frustrating that this is so new and almost… dare I say, uncomfortable to deal with. It’s like, I have pushed this shit away for years. I have lied to myself and confined myself that how I felt wasn’t normal or maybe even a part of me knew this was an issue but tired to play it off like it was a “phase” even though I know now, and I think I knew then- that it was not.

I was looking at pictures the other day while packing up the old house. For over an hour I sifted through picture after picture from different stages in my life- junior prom, my family trips to Mexico and Ireland, field trips for 6 flags great america and family chirtsmases. A few pictures really hit me and took me off guard. I found a picture of me when I was probably a freshman or sophomore in high school. I remember that I was a cater winter for some school function at my high school. We were required to wear black and white. In the picture I am with two other girls who were in dresses, and I- little ol Allie was clad in a white button down shirt and a black tie. When I looked at the picture- as minisucle as it may seem to others and even me a little bit- that is just one tiny example, ( that I had forgotten) about where I tried a different gender expression other than female.

Another thing that I remembered was back in 2012 ( I was 22) when I was in a production of Rent, somehow I must have been blabbing about gender and alluded to that fact that I do not fully identify as a woman. I don’t remember what I said- how much or how little I expressed my discomfort in my own skin but the next day at practice someone said they talked to the director and he agreed or supported (?) that I should play a transgender character! I remember feeling horribly exposed and vulnerable! How could he have repeated that? Why the hell did  say anything? This is too close to home- what do I do? But the, the other half of me was like Fuck yeah, man! I get to test this out! I get to have a “reason” to chop off my hair and shit! woo-hoo! I chopped off my hair by next rehearsal and when we started wearing costumes for rehearsal I cam to practice with an ace bandage wrapped around my chest. I looked flat as a board and I fucking LOVED IT! I was very very self conscious and almost.. embarrassed. Why? I’m not too sure. Maybe because I felt so at home and comfortable looking like that- with my boobs taped down, hair cut short and covered by a hat that it was scary because it didn’t feel like a character- it felt like me. it felt like my true self.

Which is where like I said- SHIT GETS CONFUSING! My gender expression may be male- I like to wear boxers and looser pants that I can shove my wallet into instead of carrying a purse, I like that my hair is short and I can throw on a beanie, I like that I have a semi athletic style of clothes and I love that I don’t feel the need or desire to wear makeup…And all of these attributes begs the question–Just because I don’t like those things does NOT mean I am a boy. If I wear a hat, that doesn’t make me a boy. if I wear mens shoes that doesn’t make me a boy. So it raises ANOTHER important question- well, if my gender expression is that of a man, does that automatically exclude the fact that I might be transgender based on the fact that sometimes I do feel betrayed by my body and I feel like I am a man deep down,

I find myself wondering- what are the “right” answers? And by “right answers” I mean, what do “actual” transgender people say about themselves? What do they seem to inherently know about themselves that I don’t? Am I not transgender because I am confused and I don’t feel this  immense sense and feeling that I am “born in the wrong body?” Or, perhaps, do I fit on the wider scale of fluidity? Gender isn’t a dichotomy, it is fluid and changes all the time. So maybe, on the scale of things I am more fluid. I don’t feel 100% without-a-doubt-God-made-a-fucking-mistake-get-me-out-of-here urgency to be a man. I am not asking anyone to call me Charles or Randolph tomorrow and strictly call me by male pronouns- NO! Right now I am floating around, going with the tides as they seem to change frequently.

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1 MONTH

Well, one month ago today I finally “came out” to myself.

I ditched the purse, chopped off my hair and began the lifelong, never ending journey to discovering my gender and beginning to process to define myself but MY standards- NOT societies.

Poke the bear

So, as I discussed in an earlier entry, I stated that I tried to casually ask my dad ( which, was made immediately clear was a bad time) what he would think if I changed my name. Basically, he rolled his eyes and shook his head and proceed to turn me out. I tried to back pedal a few seconds later by stating “I mean not legally or anything… (awkward silence…) Just like, a nickname that has nothing to do with my real name?” Silence. At that point he was nt listening.

So, just now ( like 5 seconds ago) yielded the perfect opportunity to poke and prod while casually getting a gauge on what my dad thought about transgendered persons- because Bitch, I might be! I proceeded to makeup some heinous lie about how some bitch at Physical Therapy today was talking about “about how gross and disgusting it is that Bruce Jenner is apparently beginning to transition” And how she proceed to talk about how he “was sinning and going to hell!” ( for the record none said that because if they did I would have punched a bitch IN.THE.FACE!) He found my story funny and entertaining, slighty appealed that someone would say something that stupid out loud. So then, like a fox I went in for the kill. I mean, what do you think? Do you think thats gross?

His response ” It’s his choice.”

Me: (trying to poke and prod and see what my dad thinks about people who are Transgender using Bruce Jenner as an example) So, do you think that is gross or weird that he is doing that?

Dad: It’s his choice.

WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

So if I were to come to you and be like, hey guess what I’m your son, not your daughter, you would say “It’s your choice” and still support me?

Just call me Ri.

January 31, 9:48 PM

He will never understand. They will never understand. Nobody will ever understand.

I set myself up for fucking failure by asking a stupid question at a dumb time. I cautiously took a deep breath, and let the question explode out of my lips. “So, what do you think about me changing my name?” Huff. Eye roll. “For acting you know. I want something more original…” silence. A few minutes pass. “ I mean, not legally or anything. Just like, a nickname that has nothing to do with my birth name?” After my first question he tuned me out. Allie is on some stupid whim and wants to change her name. blah, blah, blah. 

I can’t remember a time in recent history that I have felt so crushed and denied as a person. I feel like I was just thrown away into the trash and ignored while I took a tiny step into baring my soul. I understand that he does not know what I am going though. The confusion, anger, sadness and curiosity that I am feeling. For the past 2 weeks I have been voraciously reading, checking out books, scouring Tumblr and Youtube for people like me. For people that feel the same way I do. For people that are confused as fuck as to what their gender is…I spent over 3 hours today making 7 lists about gender. I forced myself to begin to map out what it means (or rather what society says ) to “be” a man, or “be” a woman. I listed what characteristics and stereotypes are associated with each gender, in hopes that I will be able to define myself more clearly to see where I measure up within these norms.

There has not been a day since 2 weeks ago that I have been not been obsessed about gender. I am scared. I am scared of these labels that are big and seem so final. Petrified of what lies ahead for me. Nervous that in order for me to be happy or feel whole is to change my name, the way I dress, the way I walk, and the way I talk. If he dismisses me for bringing up the idea that I might want to be called a different name— a name that I didn’t even disclose to him,how could be possibly understand that deep down—way down, a part of me identifies as male?

This is uncharted territory. I don’t know how much more freaking research I can do into these topics until I can just say; accept it kid! Accept that you are different and deal with it. You are transgender. Sure you don’t want to have surgery but face it; you are queer in every sense of the word. I am longing to just talk to someone who gets it. I don’t want to explain, I don’t want to defend— I just want to talk, and be me. He will never understand. They, will never understand.

So for now on, Just call me, Rilen. Or Ri for short.

Non-Binary Bliss!

January 28,2015

Well, these past 2 weeks have been a whirlwind.

I ditched the purse and went with a wallet, I chopped my hair off into a more androgynous style and I ordered my first binder today!!

Never in my life have I felt so confused, conflicted and confident. After I cut my hair, I felt beautiful, sexy and confident. I like that while my hair is still somewhat feminine, I have found ways to style it to be more androgynous and that is when I feel my best. I am obsessed with hats- thank you Wal-Mart for selling winter hat beanies for only $2! I proudly sport a hat with my new short hair cut which frames my round face accented by my millions of freckles.
I did have a bit of of a talk with one of my friends about this whole gender confusion thing. I ended up crying eventually because I didn’t necessarily feel that they understood how confused and out of place I feel.

I think I can officially identify as being gender fluid. I always thought this label loosely fit me. But within these past 2 weeks I feel like it DEFINETLY fits me. These past 2 weeks I have felt masculine 90% of the time and I LOVE it! I have finally chilled out and just realized and gave myself permission to just be. I still have some discovering to do in terms of my gender identity but I feel like these past weeks have been in hyperdrive and I have to remind myself that maybe I won’t figure it out tomorrow or the next day…Maybe it won’t just fall into my lap. Perhaps I won’t wake up next week and be able to declare, yes I am trans and I need to start thinking about transitioning and what that would mean for my future. I have to remind myself to calm down and wait and hope that things will fall into place, eventually. Right now I think I just need to keep doing what I am doing. I need to keep feeling what I am feeling instead of pushing it away and thinking that how I feel is “Wrong” or “unnatural” or just simply deny that this could be where my life is headed.

I am jazzed that I bought my first binder today! I just ordered it about an hour ago and I am SUUUUPER GIDDY! I want to jump around and shout- which isn’t exactly a possibility because of my knee, but whatever–the intention is there. I am excited and curious to see where this takes me! Perhaps this will open new doors of discovery for me and I will delve deeper into my gender expression and what feels comfortable for me. The only thing that really blows about this is I don’t feel I can talk to anyone about this because they won’t understand. I tried talking to my friend the other night when I had a mini breakdown, and like I said, I don’t think they really understood how I felt. I kept saying that something doesn’t feel right and something is off but they kept telling me to stop putting myself into a box and stop feeling the need to “define” myself. Yes, labels are what others use to define us. But I have found that, at least for me, I need to have some sort of label for myself. I don’t give a shit what anyone else wants to label me as, whether thats being confused, trans, gay, gross, immoral or whatever! I want to know what I am so I can feel comfortable with me.

Peace and Love!

(GENDER) Identity Crisis.. I put the Q in LGBTQ!

January 23,2015

I have never fully felt like a woman. To some that won’t make any sense at all, and to others it makes perfect sense. I don’t know exactly how to describe it but I just have never felt like I neatly fit into the gender binary and only now, at 24 am I beginning to allow myself to explore this part of myself.

I have asked myself many times, Do you actually want to be a boy? Do you feel that you were born in the wrong body? Do you want facial hair, a penis and everything else that comes with being a man? Do you want to transition? Do you want to do HRT? Do you want to be able to pass as a man? To all of these questions I respond with a firm and confident “No” except for the last question posed. The question, would I want to be able to pass as a man and if so, would that make me happy? That question trips me up simply because yes, on some days ( not everyday) I would like to go about my life under the radar as a dude. No tight jeans, no purse- just me, some sexy man pants, a hoodie and a “I- dont-give-a-fuck” attitude. I feel like it would be easier and less stressful to be a man.

Now, if there was like, a temporary way to transition instead of a permanent transition( AKA top surgery) I would probably consider it.  Because of this, I don’t identify as being trans, per se. I have done A LOT of research and there is a label ( because thats what it is right? Just a label.) for something called gender fluid which describes someone who, like me, does not feel like they fit into either the category of male or female. Some people who are gender fluid will vary how they dress day to day based on whether they “feel” or identify as a male or female on that particular day. For example, “Maggie” might feel very feminine on Tuesday and wear a dress with cute ballet flats and do her makeup, while Sunday she might feel more masculine and sport a pair of loose fitting mens jeans, a T-shirt and a hoodie. Like I said— confusing to some but understood by others.

I think in my perfect world, and what I am looking for is to be androgynous. For example, one of my favorite people in the world is Erika Linder. She is the epitome of sexy both as a male AND female. She was the first model to be hired as a male and female model. If you don’t know who she is, look her up and I guarantee whatever  sexual orientation you are you will have a crush with in seconds of viewing her beauty.

Androgyny is SEXY. Its mysterious! It’s everything I want to be. However, I feel that since I am a bit on the chubby side and I have a somewhat feminine face that wouldn’t be easy to play off. Mostly for me it’s the weight thing I am hung up on. In my eyes, Erika Linder is able to be androgynous is BECAUSE she is thin enough that her body is able to easily transition to male and female. She is thin enough to fit into cute boy clothes have striking cheekbones, great hair and she does not have large boobs that get in the way of the illusion of her being masculine. I have boobs and my hips/ love handles are quite visible. I don’t know how anyone could ever mistake me for being a man because of these traits,  which is disheartening.

So, I will try, little by little to experiment and see when I feel most comfortable. If that means wearing mens clothing all the time, or some of the time then so be it. I am sick of feeling like I have to dress a certain way to be acceptable. Why do I have to be feminine? Can’t I be just as sexy in a beanie, track jacket and jeans?

So basically world, I am shouting: I don’t need your gender expectations anymore world! SUCK IT!

No more purse: A Gender Social Experiment

January 23,2015

So I’ve decided to do a social experiment of sorts. In the past few weeks I have been getting really sick of being a girl. I hate having a period, I hate heels and skirts, makeup, my boobs, doing my hair and shopping, pretty much all things society says women “should” like. Even though we may not like to admit it or acknowledge it, gender roles are real and expected.

So besides hating all of these things, most of all, I have been FED UP with carrying a purse. Now, my purse may be a bit bigger than some other ladies because I prefer to use a shoulder purse so I have little pockets for my phone and different zippers to hold anything from gum, lotion, hand sanitizer, a portable phone charger, toothbrush and of course my lanyard with my keys. That is a lot of shit to carry around! (See the picture of all of the stuff crammed into my gigantic purse? Totally unnecessary.)

It makes me angry that women don’t really have the opportunities to NOT carry some type of purse. I mean what are we supposed to do when we have our periods and shit? Carry tampons and pads in our back pockets? Now, whether or not most women carry as much shit as I do that is a different issue because maybe they have smaller purses. And at this points it’s not about size- I don’t want to carry anything. I would like to know why the hell are all women’s pants so freaking tight and don’t even have practical pockets? When it comes to my American Eagle jeans, I have a hard enough time trying to fit my iPhone into a pocket let alone my keys and a wallet. I think it’s unfair that men have large pockets to keep their shit in and women aren’t as fortunate to do so.

I have taken an interest in the tomboy lifestyle and want to immerse myself in it! I hate being a girl, so why not try to be a boy for a bit- delve into my more masculine side?  (Random side note: I find myself wondering what tomboys do if they don’t wears men’s clothing- where do they stash their shit…?)

So, though my angst ridden anger, I decided to buy a small little wallet similar to a mens wallet and ditch the purse for a bit. It’s an experiment to see how difficult it is to just carry the essentials: phone, keys and wallet. If I can manage to do this over the next few days then adios purses forever! Its time to define myself in the way I want to, and not allow society to influence how I dress.

Purse Edit after wallet EDIT