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.
Wrong Body, Right Mind: Living with Gender Dysphoria