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januarywhat the hell is a gender
19th january 2021
anyways (as if i have the right to start a sentence with anyways) i almost lost my train of thought purely from just trying to set this site up. everything i make is on the fly, impulsive, including this site no less.
i made this site by my partner's reccommendation. it will serve, much like my physical real-life diary, nothing but a spout of thoughts hastily written out, to be forgotten for a few months. but it's not like i made this for anyone else. i made this for me. here we go.
my arch enemy: gender
i've long struggled with the concept ever since i had to unfortunately become conscious of it, which was at the unfortunate age of 9. for a large part of it, i was free to experiment with it without the scrutiny of my family (that's a topic for later on) nor anyone online. i've mistakenly thought "androgyne" for a label, and so i went with that for a generous couple of years (nobody seemed to be concerned, nor bothered with the fact that it was wrongly used - and this was before the brutal discussion of micro-labels and -identities). this gender identity exclusively existed online, for reasons i can't discern (parents, perhaps? but that's not quite the reason either). for the longest time, blissfully, i thought gender labels was like putting your zodiac sign on your profile, and i treated it as such. it was trivial, and i went on with it until i was 13.
never during my journey to search for the right label was a lightbulb moment. i didn't go ding! or aha, this is me! when i've first typed "androgynous" on my poorly decorated deviantart profile. it was a gradual slope. i was happy with any pronouns. yet there was this... pride, relief, almost, when i was called the pronouns i preferred. actually, back then, it was more akin to the feeling of "hah, actually, my gender is _____ in real life!" which, looking back now, is an extremely odd form of being affirmed. as it turns out, my lack of aha! moment was something i was going to struggle with for the next half decade.
to the other extreme of the spectrum
suddenly, the feelings burst. out of nowhere. actually, i didn't want to be called nor do i want to identify what my mom calls me anymore. i don't know how it happened, but i suppose it was a gradual slope too. i picked the name caspian (well - online, at least). i was hit with "i don't want this identity anymore!" at the dawn of 13. i accordingly changed my appearance, somehow under my parents' noses. this identity no longer existed online, but in real life. actually, it happened so fast i can't even pinpoint. i moved on to the other binary spectrum. i don't actually remember having the pressure to come out - my friends just... caught on. so did my teachers. and i suppose that contributed to my lack of aha! moment. i had never let the pot boil and overflow; it just kept simmering. it changed to lacher at some point online, as i felt increasingly uncomfortable with going by an alias. i was blissfully living my true identity - or what i thought was my true identity. the only experiment i conducted was the use of it/its pronouns - but that was that. and even then, i wouldn't call it experimenting. gender, to me, as it has always been up to a certain point, was like fun. it was akin to mentioning i was capricorn. i suppose that's what you get for having overwhelmingly supportive friends, because my family was about to hit me with a brick.
the reckoning, ft. my parents
i remember this very clearly. my dad sat on the couch, and i stood at the doorframe between our kitchen and our living room in our tiny england home. he asked me, out of the blue, "are you having an identity crisis?"
i thought i was going to go under the radar forever. actually, it only clicked to me now that i was in danger. i played stupid, i asked what he meant. he spelled out my fears. idiotically enough, i told him the truth. the next morning, i elaborated. i'm 14... 15, maybe? i never knew it was going to explode. long talks ensued - and if there was anything i could not stand, it was those: long talks. it concurred along with My Dark and Honestly Traumatic Life in England, which is another story, but it went like this: the answer was no. i suppose they were so terrified at first, which was why the conversation was gentle (hint: our usual conversations were laden with extreme fear, which is why it surprised me). then i foolishly rejected their transphobia: boom, it's a mess. dad's shouting, mom's shouting, mom's crying as if it's my fault. then she continued the long talk, for days on end. anyways, i'm tired of it, so i decided (as if this was the justifiable thing to do) that i would overdose.
actually, that event was only one of the reasons i was hospitalised. i don't remember ever having such a low point in my life. i suppose that's one of the things that catalysed it. i had a long history of untreated mental illness. i supposed it was about time.
i didn't do it because i wanted to make them guilty. like i said, i was dealing with a plethora of other things.
but i'd be lying if i said that it didn't feel good when they cowered.
new country, old me
the combined circumstance of being found out, being scrutinized, and the prospect of having to come out to new people, made me shut away the identity i had lovingly forged for a good chunk of my life. actually... i didn't shut it away. it was as if a fog cleared. i'm not transgender, i was just under heavy pressure that somehow made me transgender (notice the mental gymnastics). i just had daddy issues... and mommy issues... and a lot of issues. i concluded it was just puberty's doing. actually, i didn't feel any remorse when i introduced myself to my new school of my birth name, presenting myself as i had before. i thought moving to denmark would give me a clean slate (i'll figure about the detransitioning socially with my old friends later); and it did. i was happy, too. i got myself a loving partner and thought, god, finally, i'm normal. it's all just from puberty, and being mentally ill. it went on like that. actually, i was the happiest i've ever been, returning to my "old self".
i didn't think it was strange that i was still going by the identity my 14-year-old self had worked so hard to create, online. the dissonance didn't come to me. actually, it didn't hit me for a long time.
still, when i did actually feel as if something's wrong, that aha! moment did not come to me.
what the hell is a gender?
my realisation about gender was, as i mentioned, had always been a gradual slope. this time was no different.
there's no notable points in my life where i can say that i "realised" something about myself. it was like a growing plant - i could only tell you what was there in the beginning, and what was there in the end. i pondered about this for a few times, then realised that it was strange. why didn't i have my aha! moment, like so many others do? i've read countless posts online of how one had this realisation! about their gender identity, then felt overwhelmed. i was never overwhelmed. i felt, constantly, like a fraud. in fact, i began feeling like a fraud two years into being - haha - "normal". if this was "normal", why was i so happy when i identified at the other end of the spectrum? why did it go on for years?
it wasn't long before i crawled back into questioning what the hell my gender was. i crawled back, except this time, closer to my previous "androgyne" label (closer to nonbinary, i suppose). i went boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, nonbinary, boy, nonbinary, boy, and it was (frankly) hell. only this time, unlike my tween and younger teen years where the labels didn't matter, the label really mattered. no label under the sun fit what i felt, and nobody else seemed to have felt this way. i ceased to putting labels anywhere on any profile and only specified my preferred pronouns.
unfortunately, it was only a temporary fix. i was growing antsy without a label.
here's what i knew: physical transition was not a need. it was - is - a want. and if you'd been around any sort of online tumblr discourse, you'd know that this type of statement would make you a fraud, or some sort of trender. i wasn't a trender - i felt like this since i was 9, even when i'd identified at the extreme binary! yet it felt more like a mental condition - a problem - than a realisation. my dysphoria was linked to how i was perceived - not what body parts i have. in short, it was more social than physical. what's worse was that no label could describe me: transgender, though i was technically under it, was not it. nonbinary? i was under it too, but it felt as if i was being shoved into a gender trinary. agender? i do have a gender - not a lack of one! any variation of bigender? no! that's not it either!
it's only recently that i learnt what xenogenders were. i didn't fit with a single one either. it's troublesome because i'd start imploding when i try to describe it. it was simply easier to come out to my current friends that i was nonbinary... then they stopped giving a fuck about labels and just called me the name i wanted: lach.
here's the thing: i don't mind describing myself as male. i don't mind being perceived as male. hell, i don't even mind if someone called me a male. the thing is, it's just not what i am. do you see the problem? i use the word "gay" to describe myself, which was inherently masculine, and i was fine. mister, he/him pronouns, fine to me. but it is not what i am. but i'm far from being a woman. and it took me so long to put it into words, it took me so long to realise that i wasn't a fraud, it took me ten years to write this damn paragraph that by the time i realised it... i don't know why why it ever mattered in the first place.
i found this realisation in the most arbitrary of places. last night, i strumbled through people's characters out of boredom. i happened to find a character - a janitor - that linked to a page that listed janitorial keywords. strangely, that site also doubled as the author's blog. i clicked on that blog's resources, into another blog, and found... me. me, but someone else. reading through that blog, my feelings of being a fraud dissolved. every word i read, it was me, me, me. the blog had collected others who identified exactly as they did. me, me, me, me, every single one of them.
that was it. it was my aha! moment, and i found it through a fucking character page.
i had never cried out of relief before. nor had i cried out of happiness. but reading through that blog, i did those two things. i found me, i found the words to describe me. i cried twice, then again the next day (today) telling my partner, who has seen me go boy-girl-boy-girl-boy-girl-boy-nonbinary-boy for the last three years. it clicked, it dinged, it was like a lightbulb. it was me, it was who i was. and these people were in their 20s, 30s, 40s. this wasn't because my hormones weren't stable. it was because it was real. and i've denied it for way too long.
as for the label? i did find one: it's called neutrois. it was the blog author's old label, before trading it for genderqueer. genderqueer was... too laden with semiotics. neutrois was precise, yet it represented my ambiguity. i can't tell you how relieved or how happy i am to finally find myself the very thing i've been denied for so long. and you know who denied it?
it was me. i spent too long trying to fit my gender into easy-to-understand stories and boxing it with some imaginary transitional criterias. i spent too long thinking i was a fraud for identifying this way. i spent too long thinking my experience should look like others, and if it was not, it was fake.
i wrote this entry to discern my feelings. would it be useful to others? i don't know. and i'm bad at takeaways, but i suppose here's one for you: your crisis doesn't have to look like someone else's. whether it's about identity or otherwise. if you felt a certain way and felt like a fraud, then why would you be having those feelings in the first place? take it. accept it. is it not the same as you've read on other people's stories? it's okay. just know that, even if it'll take you a long time - mine took 10 years - you'll find that aha! moment soon. wait for it.
my crisis ends here. at least, for now. but god, after 10 years of it? what a fucking relief.