Sunday, 3 January 2016

I Identify as Ambivalent

I always swore that if I took Testosterone I would never be someone who constantly talks about it and posts about every little hair growth online complete with photos, blogs and vlogs. Three months on T, here I am doing exactly that. Well, sort of.

The main thing I have learnt so far from being on testosterone is that I am definitely not a man, or not just a man at least. I don’t know why T has taught me this but as soon as I started looking and sounding somewhat more masculine I realised that this is only a part of me.

I spoke in my last post about how when I was a teenager/in my early twenties I felt like a boy but didn’t give a shit about pronouns or what gender people thought I was, I was just me. I often got read as male and was happy about this but didn’t mind. I guess I feel that again now, in a weird way T has made me come back to that, and even when I stop T I think (hope) I can still retain those feelings.

I don’t think my identity has changed that much from when I was younger if I'm honest with myself. In the queer/trans scene I have at times felt pressure to put a rigid label on myself and who I am, but I still feel like a boy and a fag and a dyke, all of it. Everything I have ever been is still a part of me. To deny that would be to deny myself.

It hit home that I was not a man in an uncomfortable encounter with an older relative recently who asked me what I was, and, he said, sounding somewhat relieved, ‘You’re not a lesbian, I know that’ and then asked me why I didn’t just do things properly and have ‘the operation’ (he is one of the many who believe there is one mystical operation where you go in a woman and come out a man). To be fair to this relative, he was 90 and actually trying to be supportive and acknowledge who I was. Unfortunately the idea that me being a ‘normal man’ was preferable to me being a lesbian/queer twisted in my guts as wrong because (aside from the implication that being a lesbian was somehow bad) I knew, think I’ve always known, it’s more complex for me.

I am 32 year old teenage gay boy who also likes girls and has the same posters on my bedroom wall since sixteen years ago. I am a trans boy who likes being called 'he' but is still partly female and if anything I’ve said sounds contradictory then so what? We are all a walking mass of contradictions, I’ve never been very good at being at peace with mine, whether it be about gender or politics or anything else, there’s always been so much push and pull within me, often causing catharsis and slumps of depression and anxiety. All I’ve ever wanted was to render myself easily legible both to myself and others but I’ve realised these past few months I probably can’t. I don’t believe in any kind of essentialism, if you are trans and say you are purely a man or a woman then you are, but that isn’t me.

I relate to Mykki Blanco’s unwillingness to take on a gender narrative that doesn’t fit them, just because it would make things easier for everyone if they categorically stated a preferred pronoun, identity, etc. I relate to Justin Vivian Bond — their genderqueerness with a foot still firmly in queer fag culture, their playfulness, irreverence in performance and writing. I relate to something that is always on the outside.

TLDR: I identify as ambivalent.

Now here's a dark and twisted but also beautiful video from the indefinable courageous genius that is Mykki Blanco. Surely one of the best music videos from last year.

Side Notes

Since my voice got deeper on the T, Beat Happening are one of the few bands I can comfortably sing along to because of their, ahem, lo-fi style of singing and Calvin Johnson's deep voice. I mean, it's comfortable for me, possibly not for anyone listening. I have learnt to play Angel Gone on the ukulele and do so daily — my poor housemates. But I couldn't sing before T either — as long as my ability to shout tunelessly is intact I am happy.

Hormones affected me really quickly and I think my experience proves how little some of the psychiatrists who actually prescribe this stuff really understand. I’m happy with my changes so far but they did come about very fast and for most of the time I’ve been on the T (three months) I have taken half a sachet (ie half my daily prescribed dose) of testosterone gel. The ‘gender specialist’ psychiatrist I saw was pretty adamant that I should go on injections as gel ‘didn’t really do much’ but he grudgingly agreed to prescribe it at my insistence. Shows what he knew.

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