(a)gender challenges

It has again been quite a while between posts on my blog,  mostly because I’ve really been struggling with my gender identity and associated disphoria recently. This post will just be an update of where I’m at with my gender identity and presentation at this point in time~

1. My gender identity
I have been actively trying to figure out my gender identity for about six months now, and it’s proving a real challenge because gender is really not clear cut at all. Like you can’t just tick some boxes, or do a quiz and huzzah! You’re a girl/boy/other. When I first started trying to put a label to how I feel, I would just get really confused and frustrated a lot. I tried looking at others and how they defined and expressed their femininity or masculinity, and I looked at which things I considered to be masculine and feminine things, and what masculine and feminine even meant to me. I “tried out” feeling entirely male, or entirely female for days at a time. Both left me feeling miserable, inadequate and intensely disphoric. I was definitely not comfortable being completely female (by my definition), and yet I really couldn’t associate with feeling male much at all.

I picked out agender as a placeholder label that seemed to fit how I was feeling, but it turned out I’m actually pretty happy with this identity and it only needed a bit of tweaking before it felt almost 100% right. After a few months wearing the agender label (online and in my head. I’m not really comfortable coming out as anything more specific than genderqueer/non-binary if at all, at least until I’m 100% sure of my identity) I realised that while I do very ocassionally feel vaguely feminine (demigirl), I never feel masculine. What I assumed for so long was a masculine side was really just me being drawn to masculine things as a desperate bid for neutrality and escape from the feminine. As I only really knew things as either masculine or feminine, when I was feeling particularly genderless I gravitated toward anything I could find that was just not female.

So I realised that my gender was continuously fluctuating between completely (desperately, painfully) genderless and very slightly feminine (see genderflux).

In summary, I currently identify strongly with three labels:

  • Agender
  • Demigirl
  • Genderflux
genderflux

(from top to bottom) Agender, Demigirl, Genderflux pride flags. Combined symbol of agender, demigirl, and genderfluid.

2. My gender presentation

Presentation is difficult because I’m not really out to anyone as genderqueer/non-binary. I work as an engineer, so I can get away with quite a lot of androgyny but even so, I feel like I need to dress at least vaguely feminine to make a good impression (I’m new to the workforce) and to avoid any uncomfortable questions or judgements that could affect my job prospects. I don’t wear makeup or skirts or anything, but I do wear tight fitting tops.

After a week of presenting as female at work, I usually go all out on androgenous presentation on the weekend for as long as I can. I have a chest binder and a dedicated section of my wardrobe just for clothes I got from the men’s/boys’ sections.

-Most- of the time this arrangement works out okay-ish. But I do get really intensely agender days on work days where I just can’t face being feminine at all, and so I have a few guy shirts/jumpers and a high-compression sports bra for these days. But I do get a few weird looks from people in the office when I do this so I try to avoid this as much as I can…

I’ve had days like that for as long as I can remember, so since I was old enough to dress myself, I’ve always had a small selection of masculine clothes for “feminine relief days”. I didn’t used to get them often though – maybe once every few months. Now that I’ve been focussing on exploring my gender, I’ve been getting a lot. Which leads nicely into my next topic:

3. My disphoria

With my feminine body, my demigirl days are pretty comfortable. I always feel a little awkward whenever I’m around super girly girls (I feel kind of dirty and untamed next to their perfect hair, nails and makeup) but I feel fairly okay just being me.
Then I have days where I am kind of apathetically agender. I think most of my days are like this (maybe 70%) and these days are fine because I’m just like ‘meh.’ I don’t really match how I present but it doesn’t really bother me.

Then there’s the intensely agender days and these days are really really hard. Suddenly, I’m horrified that I have breasts, and I want to completely hide my hips, and when I look in the mirror, I’m horrified by everything that marks me as female. Sometimes I even feel physically sick and my head starts to spin and its like my actual sense of self is just oscillating at high speed inside my head and I think I’ll explode or go crazy. Masculine or gender-neutral clothing on these days really helps, but what I really want to do is just curl up in my bed and sleep/hide/cry/drink. These days are the reason I feel the need to explore my gender identity and label myself as genderqueer, because trying to pretend to myself that I am female on these days would be… really dangerous and scary.

But yeah, I think I’ve come a really long way in terms of better understanding myself and my gender. While it seems like the frequency of my disphoria days is increasing, I feel like my overall self-acceptance is improving and I’m becoming more comfortable with who I am.

Q

Have you had any challenges while exploring your gender identity? Do you experience disphoria or have any advice for managing it? Any other questions or comments welcome~

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