Friday, June 10, 2011

Oldies: Gender Dysphoria

This poem is from 2006, when I was about 15, I think. I had just started to mess around with poetry and felt pretty incompetent with it; I tried to figure out how to make it poetic by making my thoughts feel more rhythmic, in a beat poet sense. God knows I didn't attempt meter or rhymes. Commentary to follow.


Not without gender,
But with an excess of it.

I am the Yin and Yang
United and coalesced to the milky gray
Of Wholeness;

I am the contents of the balance
Of the Universe and Man and Life

I am Mother, Father and Child
United as the entity of
Humanity Complete;

Not the snake biting its own tail,
But the snake eternally fucking itself
From within the womb;

And yet, I am also the truthless Mime
Whose gender is but a performance
Containing no trace of meaningful subtext.

My cock is red and virile,
thicker and slicker than that of Oscar Wilde's beau
and from its pneumatic insistence springs both the seed of life
and the thousand little deaths of Shakespeare.

My breasts are full and heavy
with the sweet nectar of sustenance,
pillows awaiting the mouths of babes
and offering the greatest comfort known
to heads weary of life and toil.

There is within me an open womb
and outside the member to fill it.
I am at once the penetrator
and the penetrated,
At once the heterosexual
and the homosexual,
Always the transvestite
in the rags of my other half,
Never quite sure what to tuck and what to bind.

The best and worst of both worlds.
A marriage in myself.
Without designation,
The unclassified embodiment of sexuality as a whole.

I fuck myself
into creation.



First off, for anyone who doesn't understand this distinction fully, this poem and what I'm about to discuss is entirely separate from my sexual orientation. I am bisexual, and have a similar combination of male and female INTEREST, but what I'm talking about here is a combination of male and female IDENTITY inside me. I understand if this is confusing, but there ya go.

As far back as I can remember, I felt a little odd about my gender. I enjoyed being girly when I was little but if I did it too much, I got very uncomfortable. I liked the option of being a tomboy often, but not often enough to BE one. It kind of evened out to something normal. But as I started going through puberty, I started moving in more extreme directions in terms of my gender expression and how I felt about it inside. For a while - late elementary school and most of middle school - I felt the need to go as far to the masculine pole as I could. I was interested in seeing what was happening to my body as I developed, but I started to hate the parts of me that were still feminine and wanted to come off as male. Maybe not as passing for male, but still I refused to wear dresses or skirts, and often behaved in the way I thought a man should. I spent time with girls but didn't like being around feminine girls; I might even describe some of my feelings toward them as misogynistic.

As I got older, I started to feel a little more comfortable with looking and sometimes acting female. I needed to go back and forth a lot, and both felt like a performance. I began to think that I was either somehow both genders, or devoid of gender at all. I would switch back and forth so often and so dramatically that occasionally I would be convinced I needed a sex change to be comfortable with my body, and if I needed to be female, I would be a transvestite, which I enjoyed anyway. Then the next day or week I would feel the exact opposite: I needed to be physically female, and be a male transvestite on occasion. The most comforting thing I encountered in relation to this gender discomfort came on a day in health class when a trans-male came to discuss gender expression, and he introduced the term "genderqueer" to me. It seemed so very appropriate at the time, and kind of does now as well, but I still felt frustrated with my gender regularly.

At the end of my high school tenure and shortly after college began, I began to realize that I could get away with my current gender. I didn't need a sex change and I didn't need to feel like I was lying if I stayed physically female. I could switch back and forth, be masculine or entirely male one day and female the next, sometimes even in the course of the day. It could be a performance, specific to context and environment, or it could be for my own comfort. And I wasn't just being a provocateur to do so: I was being myself without fear of breaking gender norms or fear of being too afraid to be entirely trans, if that was what I was hiding from. It helped that I no longer felt such discomfort with my female body (how curvy it often was) and especially with my sexual organs - I could find pleasure in them and not feel the need to have a hysterectomy to feel comfortable. I'm still struggling a little with embracing the fact that I am physically female and can be genuinely female without feeling gross or silly. I can even be romantic and submissive and wistful and like makeup without feeling like a stupid stereotype, because I know within me is the perfect mix of both gender types for me.

This poem seems to express where I was at the time in terms of how I viewed my gender, and the start of my acceptance of it and knowing how to live with it.

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