Embodied but Free
This is my coming out letter. As a result of the Embody Project, and other circumstances, this is my experience and understanding of my gender today – 1 March 2014. I continue to learn more, remain open and hopefully help others that transcend the contemporary concepts of gender.
Erica Mueller: Why do you want to participate in The Embody Project?
Me: I guess I’ve always felt misrepresented by my body; people see me as a ‘man.’
Look at this picture closely.
What do you see?
Did the thought “He is ______” cross your mind? The first pronoun already misrepresents me as a whole person, never mind what you place in the blank. I do answer to He and His because I often identify with that gender; I also identify with the female gender and many others. I am genderfluid. I do not conform to or identify with society’s binary concept of male/masculine and female/feminine. I can switch gender identity and expression based on situation, place and time, or from one day to the next. Gender expression is given by appearance, mannerisms and voice. However, even these feminine and masculine gender descriptors are incorrect for me and rely on a binary system of gender identification; not a gender spectrum. I am both, none, and then some.
To understand myself and those like me I will discuss and relate to four topics: gender assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression and sexuality.
Gender assigned at birth is an easy topic, or is it? A baby exits a mothers womb, the doctor takes a quick glance between the legs and it’s done: male or female gender based on biological sex; two possibilities for the people of Earth. Gender is not biological sex. I was born with male genitalia, as you can see in the picture. This didn’t feel uncomfortable or awkward until I began to notice my femininity as a teenager. Most of the time I accept my male body. I am quite literally attached to my penis. I relate to it, I identify with it as my body, the body I was born with, it’s cool.
Gender identity is an individual’s personal understanding of their gender on a gender spectrum: male, female or agender are but a few options. This concept can be confusing in a society where gender is binary and correlated with biological sex. I was raised as a male. I identified as male, still do sometimes, and have masculine characteristics. When I became sexually active is when I realized I was not entirely male gendered. I would jokingly refer to myself as a lesbian in a man’s body. How awesome to be a woman that identifies as a man in a man’s body! Best of all worlds, unless I had those days, or weeks, where I was a woman that identified as a woman in a man’s body… shit. I have repressed my femininity for most of my life due to societal standards; however, perhaps due to repression or other factors my femininity has become more prevalent as I’ve aged. I have started to integrate both aspects into my identity and expression, but I still have moments where I want to express a strong masculine or feminine identity openly.
Gender expression refers to how an individual portrays their gender identity to the world. I have days when I am noticeably masculine: I want a big 4×4 truck, flannel shirts and truckers hats; but then, too, I have days where I just want to be a pretty girl with long flowy skirts and poofy blouses, I move delicately and I’m emotionally sensitive to everything. This is difficult for me in a society that enforces gender uniformity based on biological sex. I rarely wear women’s clothes out of the house, but I do take my femininity out on the road show. People ask if I am ‘gay’ or ‘bi-sexual’, they never believe me when I say no, but this may become a half-truth.
Sexuality. One definition is the sexual habits and desires of an individual. I am, for most purposes, heterosexual. I am biologically male with a fluid feminine and masculine gender expression, even though I do identify with more genders. My feminine gender is attracted to masculine form and behavior while my masculine gender is attracted to the feminine form and behavior. I’ve recently begun to incorporate my gender identities into a whole, so I’m attracted to men and women with androgynous physical characteristics. The androgyne as an ideal has become attractive to me as I’m learning to embrace and express my gender transcendence.
Look at this human form and see me for who I am, a genderfluid human being that may express theirself along the spectrum of gender possibilities.