An Androgynous Woman

Much to my family’s chagrin, I don’t make a very good woman. When I say I think of myself as being androgynous, I mean it literally…as in, I consider my body to be female and my mind male. Why do I think this way? Well…

To start with, let me just say I know that I am physically female, though I don’t always like it. There are still times I wish I’d been born male. However, I wouldn’t want to have surgery or take hormones to change it, especially since I think having compact genitals is easier than the alternative, and I probably wouldn’t be pleased with the outcome. When I think about it, I understand that I present the immediate image of “Woman” to people I meet. (Believe it or not, I sometimes forget.)

I have very feminine features, large hips and breasts, and a high voice…I could never succeed in making anyone believe I was male.

But if you had an audience of various people and told every woman in the room to raise their hand, I wouldn’t immediately do it. In fact, I’d probably only do so hesitantly, to avoid awkward questions later. In my mind, I’m not automatically a woman…I’m just me. Unfortunately, “me” naturally takes to more masculine roles, subconscious behaviors, and activities. This has caused issues with certain family members and others in the general public. When you are 12, it’s still acceptable to be a tomboy. Not so much at age 18, and certainly not when you’re nearly 30. By that age, society expects you to want to wear feminine clothing, know how to put on makeup, own lots of shoes, enjoy going shopping, forsake playing video games, go out on dates all the time (or be married), and have other female friends you can hang around with.

If you don’t like some of these things, it is probably fine. After all, not every woman is a girly-girl type. But if you make it known that you really don’t feel comfortable with these expectations, or worse, that you don’t plan on following any of them at all…better watch out. While most (not all) men will be fine with this, the majority of women will take it as a personal affront. They will assume you are after their husbands/boyfriends, that you are an attention-whore, or that you are trying to be “superior” by trying to “act” masculine. What so few people understand is that my behavior (and the behavior of others who experience gender dysphoria) is not, and never has been, an act.

How many times can I explain to my mother that wearing a dress and heels feels like I’m cross-dressing?

Why did I have to put up with harsh words from other girls just because I took Auto Tech instead of Home Economics?

Why did my teachers have to make such a big deal that I could run and hit as fast as the boys during gym class?

Why did it take me til age 24 to finally accept that I have breasts, and no longer wish to have them removed?

How can I tell my younger sisters that I just don’t ever want to wear makeup, and for them to stop pressuring me to learn to do it?

Why is it that I simply don’t understand how to accurately communicate with women, but talking to men is so easy and natural?

How do I look my “fellow” women in the face when they want to talk about periods, cramps, and the like…when I don’t experience it the way they do?

These are the questions that you ask yourself when you feel overwhelmingly different from what your body (and therefore, society) says you should be like. Now, I know what some of you are thinking: “Tarnished Sophia, how do you know that you’re not simply rebelling against strict gender roles? Just because you happen to like some guy activities doesn’t mean you are experiencing Gender Identity Disorder!” You are entirely correct. A man who likes things normally attributed to womenfolk or a woman who enjoys doing typical male stuff is probably not suffering from GID, since they most likely feel 100% at home in their bodies. People like myself on the other hand, are not so comfortable. I hope that by putting this out there for others to read that better conversations can be had about gender identity.

Next week I’ll be talking about the differences I’ve noticed between myself and other women (or conversely, the similarities I have to men), as well as whether they seem to be cultural or biological in origin. As always, please feel free to discuss and comment but keep it kind and polite.

Related Post
Wrong Body, Right Mind: Living with Gender Dysphoria

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40 thoughts on “An Androgynous Woman

  1. Just as there are pesticides – DDT and chemicals in plastics – that break down into estrogen like compounds that can flip the sexual orientation of a male while gestating in their mother’s womb. Sometimes a female is subjected to a higher than normal amount of testosterone in the womb which causes her mind to develop in the male mold and while her body is female she is usually stronger and thinks differently than the average female.

    Understanding how it happens is only half the battle since those affected must find a way to live with themselves as they are in a hostile society where many others see them as deviant. The hard part is finding others willing to accept you as you are that you can be close too while keeping those who only seek to condemn at arms length. πŸ™‚

  2. Thank you, David. It is great to hear such kind and educational words from a writer like yourself. I think you’ll like my post next week…has actual examples and some research links.

  3. Hey TarnZs,

    I really enjoyed this post because you shed light on something I have no knowledge about or experience. You’re happy being yourself, I like you and the thoughts you share…for some reason it cannot be that simple.

    Perhaps you may find this odd but I tire of facts esp working in science. I feel that there is a natural propensity to just break everything down and find out for example: Why does this happen? What are the biological or reactive causes for it ? What hormone levels are present during x,y, z stage of embryonic development What genes play a role etc
    While that information is important, and there is a time and place for that, there are time when it creates an unnecessary separation all of a sudden we again and us and them mentality.

    Either way I am glad you posted this, and I will be letting it marinate in my head a little bit before saying anything else .

    Hi Fives

  4. Lol @ TarnZs. Is it bad that my mind immediately said “I, TarnZ. You, Poppins.” ?

    I think I get what you mean, but I’ll wait for you to post more before commenting. Don’t want to muddy the waters, right?

    At any rate, I’m glad that you enjoyed this post. It was very difficult to write…and I even debated on whether this was something “worthy” of being shared. But I think that if it helps someone else to know they’re not alone, then it’s worth it.

    Fist Bump

  5. Hey TarnZs

    It’s all good lol, its not bad at all lol

    When I read this a lot of thoughts ran through my cabesa. Sometimes I wonder what makes it a disorder ya know. I know the DSM whatever number its on now, lists criteria on what constitutes GID, etc,

    But there is a kind of attitude behind the scientific talk that is very subtle and sometimes hard to detect that upsets me, the attitude that everything is supposed to be either black or white and all the shades of grey are aberrations to be studied, and dissected. That is what I was looking for the best words to say but I dont know if you get me ?

    I can imagine that it was a difficult post to write. but you’re a bad ass. I think the more people are exposed to things which are not what they typically see the less polarized reactions they may have.

    My lady’s best friend is a gay guy who has the same bday as me. He is one of the coolest guys I met. It was cool to get to chill and talk with him and just ask him questions. That was eye opening as was this

  6. It really is a pity that our society is so scared of difference. Our accepted gender roles are still so narrow despite the good work of numerous groups over the past decades.

    I guess the main thing is to just accept and be content with yourself first, no matter what anyone else says. And keep an eye out for those people who will love you and accept you for exactly who you are!

    Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    Rohan.

    ps. Having a dick and balls can be a bit of a drag as well, itchiness, regular adjustment, and the indescribable pain of a kick to the nuts lol >.< OUCH!

  7. Yeah, there seems to be a bell curve as to how masculine or feminine we think we are. Most of us, despite how much we veer from the center, still feel pretty comfortable thinking of ourselves as fitting whatever our body indicates. Others fall at the more extreme ends, and feel that their personalities don’t quite match their bodies.

    But it’s also interesting that cultures can vary as to what is considered masculine or feminine. So I’ll person with a feminine personality might “fit in” just fine in one culture, but not in another. I’ll write on this more, but here’s one post that’s slightly off-topic, but also relevant:

    My Son Likes Girl-Things. Is He Gay?
    http://broadblogs.com/2011/03/11/my-son-likes-girl-things-is-he-gay/

  8. I am generally content with myself, it’s honestly just more hurtful when people make assumptions and automatic judgements about me because I am physically female. It doesn’t mesh with how I feel mentally…

    Oh, and I know that being kicked/kneed in the groin causes breath-taking, gut-churning pain that makes you crumple to the floor. It’s happened to me twice. Worst pain I ever felt, even more so than breaking my fingers.

  9. Unfortunately, yes. And if I judge from how often I get asked out, a fairly attractive one. I have waist length blonde hair, blue-gray eyes, nearly translucent white skin, curvy hips/butt, large breasts, small/dainty hands, naturally pink lips, am 5’7″ and 145lbs. My ribcage is kinda large for a woman, and if you look closely I have a small Adam’s apple…but other than that, I’m definitely female. I haven’t ever tried to look like a man because I really don’t believe it could work.

  10. Sorry, EK. It’s not just you, I changed it so I have to approve ALL comments. One reason is because of a YouTube stalker issue I have, the other is to prevent inappropriate/harmful/derogatory comments from coming through. After all, this is a “safe-for-everyone” blog I’m running here. I don’t want to have to argue with people who say misandric or misogynistic things, or have to put trigger warnings on my comment section.

    So far, my stalker hasn’t shown up…but I have had to unapprove 2 comments due to how rude/hateful they were. Rest assured that I try to approve each and every comment as soon as I see it.

  11. Thanks for stopping by. It’s nice to see you.

    Yeah, next week I will be talking about the differences I see in myself, some of which I’ve commented on at your blog. It’s always interesting to me to learn about other cultures that are opposite our own. If you’re doing a post on that, I’d love to see the research links!

    And gracias for the other link. I shall certainly read it when I have time.

  12. Apparently the APA agreed with you about the “disorder” complaint, Dave. I just checked the DSM 5, and Gender Identity Disorder has been fully replaced with Gender Dysphoria. See here if you want:

    http://psychcentral.com/disorders/gender-dysphoria-symptoms/

    Okay, I see what you mean now. I agree and disagree at the same time. Scientifically, I think that some generalizations are good, especially in areas of medical treatment/prevention. If we know that a certain group suffers from, say, anemia more than any others, we can try to help them control it using tried and true technological and medicinal advancements.

    On the other hand, a little bit of information is a supremely dangerous thing. It is by using select pieces of evidence, articles from non peer-reviewed journals, obviously unscientific experiments, and partial “quotes” from experts of the field that propaganda has been allowed into mainstream public “knowledge”. Remember, it was “well-known” that black people were immoral…that education would shrivel a woman’s uterus…that masturbation caused early death. So on, so forth through the stupidity of people who refused to create truly unbiased experiments.

    Like my college Bio professor always said;

    “If you create an experiment EXPECTING a result, you are a fool. If you keep getting a different result than you expected and REFUSE to accept the findings, you are a dumbass. If you ALTER your evidence to support your proven-wrong hypothesis…then you are a charlatan, and have no place in the sciences.”

    She was not one to mince words. πŸ™‚

    Also, cool about meeting an awesome person! Eye opening conversations are the best kind.

  13. Yeah I see what you’re saying. And yes, I had a girlfriend who was walking on a wooden log, slipped and landed full force on her crotch. It didn’t look like it was any less painful than if a man had done it!

    Rohan.

  14. πŸ™‚ Contrary to popular belief ignorance is not bliss and its consequences can be quite deadly. On the other hand knowledge is power and a little knowledge is only dangerous if it is the wrong information or applied improperly. My knowledge on this issue has been progressive and it is that knowledge that both fuels and justifies my compassion in spite of my religious convictions and beliefs. . πŸ™‚

  15. πŸ™‚ BTW I don’t see it so much as a disorder but a state of being that one has to learn to live with as best as they can in accordance with their own chosen convictions and beliefs or lack thereof. My beef is with those who use what I call dishonest arguments to bolster the ideal that it is natural and normal. πŸ™‚

  16. Well, I would say that it is “natural” in a way. After all, I did not choose to think/feel differently and I didn’t consciously take chemicals to make me how I am. But you are correct that being one sex and feeling like the other is not “normal”.

    I would still rather be true to myself than to unnecessarily conform to what others think I should be though. I’m of the belief that living a lie is not good for the practitioner.

  17. πŸ™‚ What I meant by natural was in how nature – goddess – creator etc. intended for men and women to be which to me would be the norm or natural.

    I myself suffer from chronic severe depression and when I was 29 I had a hyper thyroid that had to be destroyed for which I now take a daily pill to replace the hormone my thyroid used to make. Both conditions can be considered natural and normal but not what mother nature necessarily intended. πŸ™‚

  18. RE: Our accepted gender roles are still so narrow despite the good work of numerous groups over the past decades.
    ____________________________

    Those groups you speak so highly of have – over the last 50 to 60 years – done tremendous damage to our society as well as families; and are increasingly creating for the male {straight} gender the very same conditions that existed in regards to the Jews in Nazi Germany.

    Gender roles are rooted in our biology and are not as flexible as most would like to believe since our sexual identity is already written in stone so to speak before we are ever born. Nature intended for men to be fathers and women to be mothers – this is the norm. While those who oppose or set themselves against nature always end up losing in the end.

    What is needed is for our society to actually practice what it preaches in regards to individual freedom by allowing those who through no fault of their own are born differently to live the lifestyle they choose.

  19. “How do I look my β€œfellow” women in the face when they want to talk about periods, cramps, and the like…when I don’t experience it the way they do?

    Hi Tarn,
    the bit that I highlighted is interesting to me, I’m about to explore your other recommended post, so sorry if you’ve already addressed it…but, what did you mean there? is there any clarification that you could make?

    It seems remarkable to me that so many people insist on everyone being the same apart from the products of nurturing, or allow only two boxes for how one must be. The world is more interesting than that, and you seem capable of describing an interesting aspect of that.

    Be well, be happy as you are, and cheers

  20. Glad to see you, Swithunus!

    Surprisingly you are the first person to catch this. Essentially, I’ve found that a frequent topic of conversation among women is their periods. Don’t know why…to me that would be like men gossiping about erectile disorder. But, it is what it is, and they talk about cramps…what medicines work best…how much bloating they have…how they feel angry/sad/mean the entire week, etc.

    I started menstruating at age 10, and in my 19 years of dealing with it so far, I’ve never experienced ANY of this. I don’t feel different, get bloated, bite people’s heads off, vomit, need medicine or heating pads, and have never felt a cramp. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact I bleed 3 days a month, I’d assume I was infertile.

    It has led to many women telling me I’m lying, that there’s something wrong with me, or that I am “missing out” on a painful but necessary bonding experience. So…normally I just repeat things I’ve heard other women say, rather than talk about my lack of “woman troubles”.

  21. Hi Tarn,

    This must be one of those real pieces of patriarchal privilege ™ – not having in depth discussion of said issues. Another one seems to be the lack of having to conform to the norm on every issue, though it may be that that gap is closing. I have cousins only 5 years younger than me that got caught up in ‘labels’ and brands being cool. I was never much for conformity, but really? I don’t think that it was that much of an issue when I were little.

    I suspect that the equivalent male issue would be covered by the phrase, “you jammy bastard” (I say, you are indeed fortunate, old bean). Rather than being a cause for othering.

    Thanks for sharing some insight. I always felt that if some genuine inter-sex conversation were possible, both men and women would benefit.

    There’re a couple of sci-fi books (old) by T.J.Bass (Thomas J. Bassler) set in (sic) a world of four toe’d nebbishes (sp?) Computers have been instructed to maintain the maximum number of human beings, so they breed a small in stature homogenous humanity (four toes due to a side effect of the genetic manipulation). Everybody the same, same life, same accomodation etc etc Sounds like hell to me, I like the differences.

    The Godwhale – http://www.amazon.com/Godwhale-T-J-Bass/dp/B000R4P42I
    Half past human – http://www.amazon.com/Half-Past-Human-T-J-Bass/dp/0345311159

    Sexy, predatory, luteal phase feral women – it’s all in there. The amazon reviews are on the links provided. Been a while since I read them, but they’re back on my list.

  22. I haven’t looked at the comments much. so forgive me if it has already been covered. I wonder if you are heterosexual? Well I do recall in your other post that you were seeing a man whom you had a higher sex drive than him. Now I’m interested as higher sex drives usually are related to androgens, specifically testosterone. If you have hips, tits and female attributes that are procured from estrogen and it’s derivatives, that is quite fascinating. You are aware that the average man has about 10 to 15 times the testosterone as the average women.

    Now I have heard that, I think it is, if I recall, the second trimester of pregnancy, a male who has less and a woman who has more testosterone in vitiro is likely to have a female or male brain respectively. it has also been an attempt to explain homosexuality (quite the political interest so nature over nurture, as such is a hot topic).

    However, most women and most men are quite distinct in behaviour, to the point that I can personally (yes anecdotal) reliably predict it. If I come across a masculine woman, I can predict her behaviour to be towards the masculine and as such she will accept me treating her like a man and a feminine man to react in the feminine, apprechiating me treating him like a woman. . So the irony is that if ‘gender is a social construct’ why do some women want to be masculine and some men want to be feminine.. Sometimes the exception proves the norm. Or the the deviation proves the rule,

  23. By the way I’m not trying to be adversarial or against you (I’m actually with you), I’m just responding to your interest in replying to your posts is all.

  24. I have only ever had 1 partner, and he is male. However, I am also sexually attracted to women (my first real kiss was with a female classmate in 10th grade who was a very open lesbian). I simply have never pursued women, as I have a lot of trouble talking/relating to them.

    My lover and I have sex drives that are both high, but as he’s 10+ years older and works weird hours…well, let’s just say I’ve never been the one to say “no”.

    I have a very feminine body; hips, ass, 36DD breasts, long blonde hair…it would definitely take a lot of work to make me look like a man. I *do* test as having slightly high levels of testosterone, but apparently not enough to really affect my body, although I seem to be stronger/faster than most other women I know. I sometimes wonder if my brain is how it is due to my mother being domestically abused while carrying me? Could the rushes of adrenaline/testosterone affected me? That’s my theory, anyway.

    I think gender is a social construct simply in that there are masculine women and feminine men who buck the system. However, I still think the majority of women are happy being treated as women and likewise for men.

  25. Hello Betule. Thank you for stopping by.

    As for your question, of course you can! I’ll answer just about anything, so long as it’s asked in a respectful manner. Unfortunately, I have no idea *why* I don’t experience menstruation the way most women do. If my mother, younger sisters, aunts, and grandmothers were any indication…then I should have major PMS issues, severe cramping, intense nausea, horrible bloating, and it should last for an entire week. And yet, I’m 29 and other than my first 2 periods when I was 10, I’ve *never* experienced any symptoms remotely like this. In fact, other than the 3-4 days of light bleeding, I may as well not even have a period. I wish I knew why…I’d share it with every woman in the world!

    It could be that my vegetarian diet plays a part, or that I don’t really like salt in my food. It could be due to my slightly-high-for-a-woman levels of testosterone, or my high pain threshold. Heck, I’ve even wondered if my gender dysphoria just blocks the symptoms in a psychosomatic way and doesn’t “allow” me to have them.

    Like I said…wish I could tell you. All I know is that it’s something I don’t have to deal with, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

  26. Well, lucky you! It could definitely be your psychosomatic reasoning, I like that one a lot… or a combination of that and diet and lifestyle. Are you an active person?

    I recently got this Fitbit thing, a pedometer and app that encourages you to take at least 10,000 steps per day. Once I started doing that, I noticed a decrease in period pain! … which I now realize is exactly what you don’t want to talk about. Sorry.

    It could even be a completely normal thing, I mean, I’m sure that their badassery ranges from 0-10 and you just happen to be on 0.

    My GOD I have spoken entirely too much about periods.

  27. I’m fairly active, yes, and I decided to become an ovo-lacto vegetarian when I was 13. I work in retail, and am on my feet about 50 hours a week…no desk job here! I also have one of those pedometers, and I walk 3,000 steps every morning before work (when weather allows).

    I actually don’t mind talking about feminine stuff, although I don’t understand much of it. For example, it seems like women talk about periods/breastfeeding/pregnancy/menopause/breast tenderness as a type of bonding. Since I either don’t experience or have no interest in doing these things, I have difficulty relating to other women when they discuss it. When I still tried to have female friends, I’d be shunned/told I was lying when I attempted to speak about my experiences…or lack thereof.

    I remember one time, in 8th grade Health class, when my (female) teacher was having all us girls openly ask questions about “the problems of puberty”. When she noticed that I was staying very quiet, she asked me what my issues were. I said I didn’t have any, and that I was a little uncomfortable hearing about all this (as I’d begun to really understand that I was different). She sneered, and said “well, aren’t you just a lucky ball of sunshine” and turned back to the lesson plan. So yeah…I don’t mind talking about feminine things, so long as I’m not chastised for my lack of them.

  28. It’s nice to know there are some like minded people out there. If everywhere where you use the word masculine you were to substitute feminine and vice versa, then you would have a great description of me…

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