Not the Person I Thought I Was; Nor the Body
I’m not the person anyone thought I was. I’m not the person I thought I was. I’m not any kind of person anyone has thought of before, perhaps. An internal shift, wholly mental, frightening and thrilling. The ground beneath my feet was moving, but it was all safely metaphorical.
Livejournal entry of 11:26pm 09/10/2007
very quietly freaked out when I saw a preview of a show about transsexuals in
America at the beginning of freshman year - I happened to be wearing a skirt,
and I really wanted to get *out* of the skirt. And now I'm plowing through
readings on trans/intersex issues in recent American history and googling all
kinds of things, and I'm very quietly freaking out again. And I don't know why.
My hypothesis is because I lack a vocabulary to describe my own gender
identity, and this sort of thing gets it all stirred up. I suppose the best
term is genderqueer, but ... I guess I don't know what I mean by that.
Thinking about actually posting this - even f[riends-]locked - reminds me of how I felt when I first started coming out (two years now) as ... not-straight. Yeah, I don't like to pin myself down. And I fucking hate dichotomies. And I like ambiguities and complexities and in-betweens and neither-one-nor-the-others and difficult-to-defines: intellectually and personally. Well, that's how I like construct my self; I really do think of myself as a Libra.
I need to find places to talk about this, people to talk about this with.
Feeling better for writing about it, even if I don't post this.
I'm not transsexual. I don't feel like my body is wrong, or that ... I mean, I don't think of myself as a woman, and I don't like the word woman, but I certainly don't think of myself as a man, either. If it's a stand-and-be-counted situation, I'm a woman. I hate checking off the 'female' box on forms, and unless it's something official I'll often check off the 'male' box ... out of irritation, for kicks, to make up for all the times I have to check off 'female'. Which is what I am. But. And, I mean, I just - I really am confused, heh. But I lack models. Not transsexual. Not butch, though not femme. Not androgynous in appearance, if only because of my short statue and slight build. The way I dress can be ... boyish, I suppose. I may admire my appearance when I dress up, but I don't feel comfortable, it's not my style, or something. I ... don't want to be seen as ... 'girl', 'woman' ??? and how much of that is social anxiety joined with the knowledge of how women are seen, the way I evaluate my behavior, my tone of voice, to see if I'm being girly, godforbid. I seem to remember when I was younger, I equated femininity with weakness. But this was also when I didn't like blonds because of the Nazis. I do despise certain speech habits which are characteristically female, I do despise feminine lack of confidence, or I'm impatient with it ... but I think I feel the same when it's a male as when it's a female, difficult to say, since I've spent so much time in near-single-sex environments. I set high standards for myself; is one of my standards to be not-feminine? To, in fact, be masculine in ... how I communicate? How much is it about communication, and how much of it is about my body? I want to be judged for what I say, not for my appearance. How much of that is social anxiety? No, social anxiety is not behind my desire to be judged for what I say. And I don't want to be judged as feminine for what I say, I don't want what I say to be feminine, I don't want ... It's more negatives, than positives. I'm neither this nor that, I don't want that, I don't want to be seen this way, labeled like that. I can't seem to carve out a space with what I want. I am more comfortable desiring people who are androgynous than desiring that I be androgynous. And how much of that is social anxiety? How much of that is not wanting to be stared at? I feel ... self-centered for going on like this, like I'm looking for another way to be different, to be outside. But I felt this way about having a queer sexual orientation, as well. Still haven't found a satisfactory term for *that* either, heh, closest I've come is saying that sex and gender aren't my first criteria (blue eyes LOL). Possibly my problem is that I didn't realize that I'm a postmodernist first and foremost, and that's only half a joke. Just like putting 'postmodern' as my religion in my facebook profile earlier today is only kind of a joke. The Crying of Lot 49 was a kind of revelation, and everything that has contributed to my postmodern perspective (please don't ask me to articulate what I mean by that just yet) has felt like that, and why do I have to put these in JudeoChristian terms? Or maybe I'm just a sophomoric intellectual much taken with a bit of theory. (Judaism is receding. Memory. I'm finding new things to be.) A post-modern sexuality and a post-modern gender identity. That's ... actually the closest to clarity I've come so far. I'm not going across categories, trans-ing, I'm trying to make some room in between the ones that exist, even the new ones. I suppose. For me, it's not so much the personal and the political (I never grok that phrase) as the personal and the intellectual. If I can't be an academic, I don't know what I'll do with myself. Looking back at the beginning of this paragraph, I was confused because I was thinking about my body, and body and gender identity are not the same thing. My body is a related issue, though. Look how much I talked about presentation, about how I seem to others. A post-modern body? That's stickier.
So, getting late. Should get to bed soon. I'm not going to finish the reading, but I've been producing a little piece of genderfuck history, which should make up for it.
I don't feel comfortable posting this, but I will anyway. This is the sound of me laughing in a stone ear. I guess. I just can't stop second-guessing myself, can I?
I'm glad I wrote this. Probably (that was a joke. Maybe. And once I start, I can't stop, can I? Don't answer that).
Crikey, I do and do not want to see comments to this thing. ohsweetmotherofgod
Then it spread out from my head to my whole body. My body is not the body of the person who I am. My body is not … right for me. It belongs to someone who never existed. It has been mine, and living in it has shaped me, but it is not me.
Livejournal entry, 01:41pm 19/10/2007
getting to me is that I'm feeling a little distressed by my body. Before my attitude toward it was like,
'It's my body, and it's a nice body and ... yeah' and it turns out that the
'yeah' stands for 'but it's not quite ... something'. I don't know exactly what
that ... something is, well, ok I kind of do I just don't really want to say it
for some reason. Gah. Maybe I'm more transgender (by which I mean someone who
identifies more as a man than as a woman) than I thought. But I don't want to be a man any more than
I want to be a woman. But whatever I am, my anatomy isn't ... quite ...
whatever. I don't want to be FtM, I don't want to transition. Ohgod. I like being an invisible minority
damnit. And I wouldn't pass as a man, damnit, because I'm short and
small-boned, and I don't want to be a man anyway which means that I ... want my
body to be queer or something, I don't even know.
[...] I don't want to be a woman or a man. I don't even know any more. Ohlord have I got my work cut out for me. I don't want to be like this.This is not something I am taking joy in; it won't be private, I will be visibly, well ... freakish. I don't want to be visible, I want to be heard.
I don't know what the fuck I am. And my body, I don't know, I just don't know, I don't want to, I don't know ...
So this is what I’ve been writing. This is my raw experience in words. That’s my self, written as a necessity. How do I start on the ethnography?
Perhaps here is a point of entry: What bothers me about changing my presentation is that then my gender identity is no longer solely personal/intellectual (for me, the two seem to be very nearly one and the same), but PUBLIC. (And perhaps my discomfort is just the social anxiety talking. But even if my disease is not me, I would not be me without the disease, so.) A genderqueer gender identity, fine. A queer body? A post-modern body? What the hell does that mean? (And what will people think when they see me?) This is not an easy project, and not an easy project to be made relatively public. I wrote those two LJ entries out of necessity, but I posted them for the sake of my principles (I didn’t know I was that principled). And I am posting them here not because this feels like a safe or comfortable space. It is not. It is far less safe than my LJ, even though I have seen many of your faces. I am posting this here because I am not a coward and because I have a certain intellectual boldness and because outing myself and talking about myself is the best way I know of to counteract the gender constructions which fit me so poorly. Something like that anyway.
So, when I talked with Anne last Friday, I/we decided that I would write an autoethnography, using Cixous and Stryker as models. An ethnography of gender and gender identities and all that through my own experience.
Ok, ethnography. Ethnography, ethnography, ethnography.
First grade, gym class, a hot day. A couple of the boys take their shirts off. I want to, too, because it’s hot. One of my male classmates tells me that girls can’t take their shirts off. I still remember this as a humiliating experience. I remember the … worried? looks on the faces of a couple male classmates and the male teacher. Even though our chests all looked the same at that age …
Is that ethnography? But I can’t think how to do that for a whole long piece.
The body, the post-modern body. What is the modern body, then? What is it that I am and what is it that I am not?
I’ve run dry. I’m upset and confused.
Bodies. Bodies, bodies, bodies. An ethnography of bodies.
This is as far as I can go right now. I’m still trying to find language, never mind processing it into an autoethnography.
I don’t really want to post this, any of this. But what else am I supposed to do? There’s this assignment … and I’d be lying if I did something else for the final project, because then I would be telling myself and everyone else that there is something more important to me (as a feminist, as a scholar) than THIS right now. As a feminist, as a scholar, to grapple with bodies …
And having written this, how can I not post it? I'm not going to hide or run away. But ohlord, it certainly is making my anxiety act up.