It’s somehow embarrassing to think about gender so late in my life, but it’s not surprising.
Gender never fazed me really, it just seemed like a made-up game, which it still do, but I never really questioned my own gender role. Probably due to my closeted environment where queers are barely mentioned let alone discussed.
I knew early on that my views on queered people were radically different from those around me, and that my surroundings are often describing me as queer, more precisely a lesbian.
I thought of them silly because I wasn’t all that attracted to women, in fact, I was rarely attracted to anyone. Term asexual wasn’t often heard and when I would hear it I would never apply it to myself.
Truth was that I wasn’t bothered by sexuality and gender, as it was all fine to me when it came to other people, it was like that when it applied to me. Monogamous was the term I would describe myself if I was feeling like it, and thought how it doesn’t really matter since I won’t go around seeking out for myself and others.
There were always more important things to think about than sexuality, gender or attraction.
More than one time in my life I described myself as more of a man than a woman, not giving it a second thought. At the same time, I was quite preoccupied with the search for a feminine expression that would suit me, in which I would feel comfortable and look normal, but everything seemed somehow off.
I tried everything. My wardrobe became so eclectic, and my hairstyles so various that people who knew me fairly well wouldn’t recognize me after a year or so. My pictures looked strange, on video, I looked stuck up and uptight, in new crowds, I would feel constricted. But I was used to being strange, I was always and in each crowd an odd one. Even compared to my gay friends I was the odd one.
That’s how my thirties found me as a new mother. I was amazed how early they had started to express their gender and preferences they didn’t have anywhere to learn from since I don’t really fit gender-boxes. That wasn’t a trigger enough for me, but I started to think that there is more to gender than I thought, that it is based on something real.
Few years down the road I started my saga about gender-challenged character and had to answer questions like why I write what I write and who am I. I stared at the page and turned out blank. I put on paper a straight, married woman with children and it felt so wrong, so far away from myself as it could be. Sure I was playing the part but it didn’t define me, it was just a task to fulfil, few years in my life, nothing more.
I thought and thought but couldn’t crack it, just couldn’t write a good cover letter to send around so I sent out few and kept on working on my novel. I already gave up resigning to the hope that the novel is good enough to sell itself without any coherent story about its author.
Because, despite being able to write and write about characters and issues, I never understood myself really, and no one around me was able to explain me either, there just weren’t mirrors that could reflect back what is so odd about me.
So I forgot about it and did what any respectable writer does when it hits the wall, I procrastinated. I browsed YouTube getting bits and pieces that will eventually help me in editing my book-world. But I also finally got to browse queer YouTubers to check my facts. Since I was writing a basically a transgender character I was suggested to make sure I wasn’t getting it wrong. (At the time I found it strange that I could get it wrong, thinking how I don’t need anyone to tell me how it feels, but not finding it strange that I feel so comfortable writing a character that should be as far removed from me as possible.)
I discovered that I’m not off target and found useful small facts, which I hope to incorporate into the story, but also found it fun to discover a whole new language. Bare in mind that I come from a country that doesn’t speak of queerness let alone develop a language to differentiate one type of queerness from another. There are gays, lesbians and some sorts of drag queens, not much more.
There I was browsing around like a happy little writer not thinking I would find something for myself, just thinking of my writing as usual. First, there was that asexual banner and I accepted it quite easily, it fitted my experience to the t. It was easy and fun and I didn’t even notice that it puts me under the queer umbrella.
Then there was that thing about the gendered mind and I easily accepted that my mind is the one you might call a male mind. I always knew that because in every set of choices mine would always resemble male one more than female one. But I never thought about it much since I had no desire whatsoever to be a man. I still don’t.
What I wanted was to find a female expression that would suit me and I spent some time trying to find it only ending up looking strange.
It took awhile for the new idea to sink in, for its repercussions to appear, and all the memories to resurface and line up in an understandable way, and for the first time I could tell my story, I could understand my own story.
Never before I sought out for labels for myself, nor did I sought out for them now, on the contrary I fought them always and despised them, but I never understood how labels can be powerful and that I do need a word for myself, that I need a language that would explain myself to me.
Now when everything settled down not much had changed. I still am a mother who wants to raise her children. I stick by my her pronoun and wearing my earrings, but I did cut my hair short because it only makes sense that way, and I did purchase a pair of jeans which I wear constantly.
I embrace labels I found for myself and I settled for a non-binary for my gender deciding to stay in the middle where I feel at home, but I still am refusing to accept gender as real. Most people might fit that boxes, but there is enough of exceptions and many of them aren’t even considering a sex-change, and there is no reason whatsoever that they, us, should be made to fit into one of those two boxes.
After all, world is quite big I think that just two options are just out of season.