Body Love: I is for Identity
I have talked about my gender identity a few times on this blog and I generally go with that I am a cis-female. And yes, that is true. But also, not always. And if you think of all the different expectations for a cis-gender woman, it becomes quite clear, why I could also decide to be more on the gender-fluid side of things. I am not especially feminine in most of my behaviour, and in general, the goth style is often classed as androgynous.
When I was younger, I definitely played with gender more than I do today. I loved wearing baggy clothes, and often wore Manchester-style cord pants, and a hat. You could even see me sport a tie here and there. I didn’t feel comfortable with that my boobs showed already at quite an early age (and the unwanted attention for them was scary). So wearing clothes that would hide them, felt like a safe options. I also avoided make-up as much as possible, and behaved more like a tough boy than a girlish girl. I didn’t even think much about gender, I just wanted to be me and be comfortable with who I was.
The older I got, the more goth I started to dress, and that often meant short skirts and dresses, and ripped stockings. Still, I never was one to flaunt my assets, mostly because I really don’t have a good cleavage. In the goth subculture, everyone kind of dresses in similar clothes, no matter gender. And a lot of trans* people feel an affinity to the goth scene exactly for that reason. Gender was fluid for most of my friends at that time: the way they behaved, the way they dressed. Skirts, make-up, nail-polish, corsets, long hair. Boots and pants, mohawks and tattoos. It didn’t matter what gender you identified with, you could dress however you wanted, and no one would question it.
And I played that game too. Some days, I was very feminine, other days I looked more like a metalhead dude. I still felt like I was cis-female. but I didn’t want to accept the expectations coming with that gender role, at all. And for many years, it amused me when people asked me if I was a man or a woman. See, especially if you are overweight and wearing baggy clothes, no make up, a band shirt and boots, it is hard to tell. And I usually just answered: neither.
I didn’t connect much to my body during those years. I didn’t feel sexual or sexy. Even when I had one of those more feminine days with the make-up and the skirts and the corsets, I still didn’t feel connected to my body. I know now that it has a lot to do with dissociation. But back then, in my 20s and early 30s, it felt confusing. It got to the point where I felt like my boobs needed to be removed because they were in the way and didn’t feel like mine at all. But most of the time, if someone had asked me, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say that I am a cis-woman.
I have PCOS, which makes it all a bit more complicated. I have a bit of a darker voice because of it, and I also have more hairgrowth on my skin than your typical cis-woman. My hormones are a bit of a mess, and some of the symptoms of the illness, make it hard to appear like a cis-woman meeting all the expectations that come along with it.
But the weirdest thing of it all is the Dissociative Identity Disorder. Now, I have explained the disorder a few times on my blog, so feel free to follow this link if you don’t know what it is. In short, it is a disorder caused by childhood trauma with the consequence of an inability to form one single self. Instead, the mind stays fragmented in parts which all hold different memories, traumas, and have totally different personalities, ages, behaviour, and needs. Those parts are called alters and together they make out a system. Each alter in the system has a specific role to help the body and the system to survive or to ease emotional or physical pain. I am part of a system of about 30 alters. And not all of those alters in the system are female or identify with being cis.
I know it sounds weird, but it is just the way it is. There are alters in my system who identify as male. They generally have protective roles, or roles that are about taking charge. I’d say they are the “no bullshit”-group. They behave masculine, they talk like cis-men and they either don’t connect to the body at all, or they are appalled by it. The few times one of them decided what to wear, I was wearing a binder and baggy clothing.
But it is not only that. There are some alters that are more genderfluid, most of them are teenagers or young adults and they go by female names. They sort of respect that the sex of the body is female, but they don’t really connect to it, or female behaviour. So when they are fronting (=engaging with the world), they display more masculine than feminine behaviour.
I can imagine that reading about Dissociative Identity Disorder, and about different alters identifying with different genders, to be quite confusing. But imagine for a moment actually having to live with it! So when I say that I am a cis-woman, I mean that in general, yes, I am. But there are times, when I might come across as genderfluid or would even deny to have any female traits. I am really just going with the flow with it. My body’s sex is female, but it might not always be the gender identity of the alter fronting.
I am doing the A to Z challenge during the month of April. My theme is Body Love. So you will get 26 posts from me, following the alphabet, related to the topic body love. You can check out more about the to A to Z challenge by clicking on the banner. You can find a list of sexbloggers participating in the challenge on Mrs Fever’s site.