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remixing gender

March 12, 2014

I’m not going to call myself “genderfluid” anymore. Not because I’m not genderfluid, but because the label got me things I didn’t want, and didn’t get me what I was hoping for. I thought I wanted a community. I thought this was a place, a thing, where being part of a community, however nominally, would have to be a good thing. But it wasn’t.

I’ve met 1 non-binary-gendered person in person; everyone else I met on the Internet. Of the non-binary-gendered people I met, approximately 95% were people who transitioned from being a woman to being non-binary-gendered. And probably 90% of those people . . . seemed to really hate being a woman: they hated their body; they hated social expectations; they hated everything about the experience. And they wanted you to know that.

This 90% of 95%, when I did see photos of them, dressed in what I would call bland-androgyny style. Sort of unisex, if that was a real thing, but really boring.

People should do what they want to do, what they need to do. I’m all for that.

But nobody was having any fun with it. There was no joy in it.


I don’t feel like I’m wholly a woman. I don’t even think I want to be a man — my attraction to “performing” a masculine gender (for lack of better words) comes out of my affinity for teenage boy energy. Which I don’t know how to explain any better than that. But it’s not being an adult man, which has never ever seemed like any fun at all. (And I have been considering how fun/not-fun being an adult man might be since 1972, when I was 6.)

I truly honestly feel like I don’t have a gender, or I have an option that no one’s mentioned, or something.

I thought by calling myself “genderfluid”, that would open doors in my mind — now I have “permission” to be anything, explore in any direction! This is gonna be so great!

Instead, I felt guilty every time I did anything that was associated with being a woman. I felt like I was camouflaging my complexity, or choosing something I wasn’t supposed to want anymore, or just betraying the siblinghood.

I still didn’t feel like I could explore teenage-boy-energy.

Most surprising of all, I felt even more . . . blocked . . . about exploring the liminal gender identity that I think I actually have.


I don’t know why I have had to learn and relearn the same damn lesson 52 times in a row, but I guess that’s how many times I needed for it to sink in: communities . . . do not work for me. I’m guessing communities are how other people scratch the itch to feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves. And that’s great for them — I’m genuinely happy that it works for people.

It doesn’t work for me.

I scratch that itch — feeling like I’m part of something larger than myself — by being outside, by interacting with my nonhuman friends and neighbors. It’s not really a community, in the human sense of the word, and that’s a good thing.

Communities, in the human sense of the word, have standards of behavior that everyone has to follow. Communities are social networks, so they have that hub–inner ring–outer ring–fringe structure. And I will always be on the fringe, because that’s the only place I (can) fit. The closer you get to the hub, the more your behavior is policed. And I can’t live like that. I’m Chaotic, but more than that, I need to move. I don’t want to settle down, so that I can become predictable to everyone else, because that’s what they like and need.

I’m a conceptual artist, and my life is . . . made up of nested smaller projects where I go somewhere else, and I try stuff out.

But I don’t stay in any one place.

Out of these experiences, these projects, things happen to me that would have never happened otherwise. I live things I wouldn’t have lived otherwise. That’s the whole point! I want to have as many, and as many-diverse, experiences as possible. I can’t do that staying in one place.

I retain mementos of every project. They come with me, they remain part of me. But none of them define me.


I met some cool people. (I always do.) I enlarged my sense of self. (I always do.) I experience the world differently than I did before I started. (I always do.)

And now it’s time to move on. I always do.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2014 20:45

    *ponders what you wrote* (this is oliverdandylion by the way! hello!)

    gender and joy is a tenuous and difficult thing. I find it in sudden moments, or have a precious day of good body feels; I try to give thanks for those times.

    one day, I want to try on dresses again. now, I would be perceived as a man in a dress. I think I maybe could enjoy that. but I hated wearing a dress when people perceived me as a woman! my thoughts on this are that (a) that I prefer being perceived as male and (b) traditional *men’s* clothing is not very pretty and so (c) dresses and skirts are shiny and splendid.

    I feel guilty and unseen whenever I spend too much time wearing very traditionally masculine clothes. So I can relate to you on that score.

    I have a Superman shirt for my inner-little-boy. I used to have Buzz Lightyear too but I lost it. Do you have clothes specific to any of your inner selves?

    Hmm. re: 90% of people you met hate/d being a woman. I can’t say I enjoyed it all that much either. However, I’m dismayed by masculinity and its expectations. There is too little responsibility expected from dudes and it terrifies me.

    • March 12, 2014 23:06

      I should probably write a blog post about clothing intersecting with (my) gender identity, but in short, I agree that girls/women have much more fun options than boys/men.

      Spouse has nice legs, so I keep asking him to wear a skirt occasionally (we’ve seen men do it here, infrequently, I admit, but it’s not unheard of), but he just won’t.

      I love seeing gender-bending clothes, on anybody!

  2. Siderea permalink
    March 13, 2014 22:11

    It’s interesting that you write “I’m Chaotic, but more than that, I need to move. I don’t want to settle down, so that I can become predictable to everyone else, because that’s what they like and need” — rejecting predictability — but the major theme in the rest of the piece is “learn and relearn the same damn lesson 52 times in a row”/”I always do”, i.e. predictability!

    I think I can see why you’re trapped in this cycle, though not all the details. It looks from here like you’re confusing membership and identity, and that you go looking for a label to tell you what you should be and how you should be (should — to be accepted? to be acceptable? to be real? Don’t know.)

    You might find it helpful to try a moratorium on thinking in terms of identity at all, just to get clear of this trap.

  3. March 14, 2014 13:28

    I appreciate what you are saying. I belong to a large group of people who are parents of trans* children of every definition. My daughter is 20: she identifies as pan-sexual, and her boyfriend is gender fluid tending towards F.
    I am probably a generation older than you are, and I often wear women’s clothing. The choices are amazing and the freedom is hard to describe. Unfortunately for me, my beloved wife of 52 years has never been able to understand or encourage me in this.
    I have never been a typical male, although I have always functioned as such. My daughters are very accepting of my trans*dressing.
    You say that you no longer fit into the “gender-fluid” definition, and you are probably correct: I think it is a catch-all for confusion. I suggest that pan-sexual is a wonderful thing indeed, where it is “hearts not parts” that identifies who we fall in love with.

    • March 15, 2014 00:13

      As a child (40 yrs ago), I picked “being a girl” over being a boy partly because girls get to wear pretty clothes, and ribbons & sparkly things, and flowers in their hair. I couldn’t then and certainly can’t now imagine going through life every day having none of those options available to me.

      I’m sorry your wife is not more accepting – I am always encouraging Spouse to wear skirts, so he could find out for himself how fun twirling in a skirt is. 🙂

      I’m glad your daughters are more understanding. Good luck to you.

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