We are Genderfluid!

Jul 28

Anonymous said: So like, I'm genderfluid. I'm positive about that. And I only like girls (dfab's). I'm dfab as well, so would my sexuality be lesbian? I know sexuality and gender dont go hand in hand but I'm kind of confused because there's not a way to describe liking only dfab's when I change between genders so often (you see, lesbian doesn't work because I go to male sometimes - like now. And heterosexual isn't right because of my female days.)

Okay, so: if your question was “I’m exclusively attracted to women, but my gender changes, what should I call myself?”, the answer is “some people use gynophilic or gynosexual, and others just use ‘lesbian’ sometimes and ‘heterosexual’ other times, and others choose whatever one is more common, and others altogether just say ‘attracted to women’”.

But that’s not your question. Your statement here is “I’m exclusively attracted to DFAB people”, and from what I can tell I assume that is meant to mean “I’m exclusively attracted to cis girls”, but it could just as well mean “I’m exclusively attracted to DFAB people who are not trans men”. And that is a transmisogynist statement, especially since you’re considering using the word “lesbian” (as a woman) or “heterosexual” (as a man) in a way that excludes trans women.

Trans women are women. If you use a word that implies attraction to women but then implicitly exclude trans women from that word, you’re saying they’re not really women, not to you. I’m gonna go through a pre-emptive FAQ before I get bombarded with asks about this, if that’s all right. These are all questions I’ve seen directed at other people who’ve talked about this. The below discusses genitalia and sex explicitly, be warned.

But Key, you can’t choose who you’re attracted to!

Uh. I think I’ve made it very clear on here that I don’t subscribe to “born this way” rhetoric. I don’t think that is a true statement, and I believe that attractions are often shaped by what is societally valued, and that it is our responsibility to deconstruct why we like what we like and think about whether that’s reinforcing any power imbalances. For example, I was pretty much exclusively attracted to white people in high school, and that was internalized racism on my part! Deliberately questioning that, as well as exposing myself to blogs and other media which were less white-centric (and also thin-centric) was something I had to do. 

Now, I’m not saying that liking who you like at the moment is bad. I’m not saying that makes you a bad person. I’m saying that you have the responsibility to question that and think about it and work out why you feel the way you do, and whether that’s, objectively, something you should improve on. And I’m definitely saying that conflating “attracted to women” and “attracted to DFAB people” is something that needs work.

But I’m just attracted to a particular figure, and DMAB people don’t tend to have that.

Twofold answer to this one: firstly, see above with regard to questioning your attraction. Secondly, uh, there are plenty of DFAB people who won’t have that “particular figure”. And ten bucks says there are DMAB people who do. I know at least three pretty, long-haired cis men with delicate features who would be far more likely to pass a casting call for female modelling at a pinch than I would. More to the point, it is transmisogynist to assume that all trans women “look like men” or “have male figures” or whatever the heck, and just categorically not true. I mean, Laverne Cox.

I just don’t like penises! It’s misogynist and ableist toward me as a survivor with trauma issues related to penises to say that I’m being transmisogynist!

Also a two-part answer here. First, not all trans women have penises, and some trans men have penises! There’s a thing called surgery! It exists! Secondly, I get that. And I mean “I have PTSD and viscerally understand that”, not “I guess I can see where that comes from”. And I’m still telling you that defining your attraction that way is transmisogynist. Y’know why? Because when you see somebody on the street you’re sexually attracted to, you’re not going “damn, that is sure a fine lack of peen there, it’s so sexy.” You’re looking at the person as a whole. I don’t know what in particular makes somebody sexually attractive for you, but it sure as hell isn’t, at first glance, their not having a dick. Not wanting to have penis-centred penetrative sex or not wanting to see a penis at all doesn’t mean you are never attracted to people with penises. It doesn’t even mean you can’t be in a relationship with somebody with a penis, or have sex with somebody with a penis! Oral sex exists! A wide variety of other sexual acts exist! Some people with penises don’t actually want to involve their penises in sex, just like some people with breasts like to wear binders during sex! Hell, as an asexual person who doesn’t like sex at all, I’ve found ways to be intimate with sexual partners who have penises that don’t cross my boundaries and still involve them getting off!

You’re asexual, you don’t understand!

I’m not gonna dignify this one with an answer like other people have - all I have to say about this one is “fuck off”.

If there’s any other questions, I’m happy to field them, but I might not respond immediately. I’m sorry if I’m being unkind, anon, but this does need to be addressed in general, and your question was a useful place to start. I think this was something you’ve probably never thought about, and I hope this was helpful to you too. If you want to talk to me privately about your attractions or whatever, I promise I’ll listen and be constructive and gentle - you can contact me at klutzygeek, or in a number of other ways here.

-Key

Anonymous said: Ive always identifed as female - born & raised. I know I'm bisexual tho because I'm attracted to both genders, but it feels deeper than that. Sometimes I feel like I could be a guy or a girl. I'm not sure if it's because I'm bi or not. Any idea why?

Well, as far as I know being bisexual has little or nothing to do with identifying as a guy and a girl.  So it’s probably not because of that.  But it’s possible that for you your sexuality and gender are interlinked—some people’s are and some aren’t.  

What you’re describing is generally a gender thing and not a sexuality thing.  So it would theoretically make you some sort of non-cis-type-person, and is not solely due to your bisexuality, even if it’s related.  I can’t be anymore specific that that, I’m afraid.

-Riam

flyfastlivefree said: Hi! I just wanted to say that I love this blog so much! I have a question about approaching someone new and asking which pronouns they prefer? I was at my lgbt group and someone asked another person (very androgynous in appearance, gender neutral name) in the group "hey, what's your pronoun?" She responded coldly and seemed offended as she rudely said "she". Is there a better way to ask this? I don't want to offend anyone and I'm not sure what was so upsetting about it :/

How about at the beginning of every group you go around the circle and have everyone give their name and pronoun?  That way no one feels singled out.  

The reasons I can think of that somebody might be upset by such a question are 1) they’re cis and have internalized transphobic/transmisogynist/cissexist ideas (perhaps they feel you’re implying they’re not properly embodying their gender? or not sufficiently masculine/feminine? or that they’re a trans person and they think of that as a bad thing?) 2) they’re trans and are upset that they apparently didn’t “pass”/you didn’t automatically guess the gender they’re attempting to present as.  There are probably other possible reasons.  

But it’s definitely better to ask than to just assume, because the second will do much, much more harm.  I think your best option is probably to give everybody an opportunity to state their pronouns, so that nobody feels singled out in whatever negative way, and also so you don’t inadvertently misgender someone whose gender you wrongly assume because of their appearance or presentation.

-Riam

For the genderfluid flag question (From the wiki)

" The Gender Fluid flag consists of five stripes. This flag represents the fluctuations and the flexibility of gender in gender fluid people "
pink which represents femininity, or feeling female.
white represents the lack of gender, including agender, gender neutral, or neutrois. 
purple and represents a combination of masculinity and femininity including various degrees of androgyny.
black and represents all other genders, third genders, and pangender.
blue represents masculinity or feeling male. 

> Wiki <

Jul 27

Anonymous said: If I identify as genderfluid am I part of the transgender community? And what is the difference between genderfluid and bigender?

Unpopular opinion: there is no “transgender community”. It’s not relevant, but I’ve put a little more in the *-marked section below.

I suspect the question you’re asking is more “do I call myself transgender”, though. And the answer to that is “yes, but only if you want to.” If you’re comfortable calling yourself trans, by all means do so; if you’re not, by all means don’t feel like you have to be included by that word. 

With regard to “bigender” - it’s partly definitional (some genderfluid people experience fluidity between more than two genders, and for them that forms the main reason they don’t use bigender), and partly just a matter of personal choice. There’s a lot of people who identify as both! There’s people who prefer genderfluid because the main thing about their gender to them is its fluidity, and there’s people who prefer bigender because theirs feels less fluidly transitional and more like an two-way switch, and there’s more people who have a whole lot of varied reasons for what words they do and don’t use! It’s up to you to decide which accommodates you, if any. It’s also worth noting that there’s some bigender people who aren’t fluid, or who are fluid but don’t fully swing between one gender and the other, and for them identifying as bigender is about experiencing two genders simultaneously all the time.

Followers, anything to add?

-Key

(*: We talk a lot about it like we have heaps in common, but really - I often don’t have much in common with, for example, people whose journey is pretty similar to mine except that they’re white and allosexual, or male-aligned trans people and trans men, and I have a lot of surprising shared threads with some transfeminine people, especially if they’re neurodivergent, and so on. There’s no one thing pulling all of us together, and to pretend like there is is often kinda shitty to the people who are excluded from this “community”, especially since such a “community” largely replicates other systemic inequalities (racism, misogyny, etc) that exist in cis communities as well.)

Anonymous said: Sort of the reverse of anon worried about 'they'. I am thinking I might be genderqueer, but am at least for now comfortable with 'she' (I'm AFAB). I don't want to change my body to read as male/masculine. But I don't feel cis, in the unquestioning way described in your answer at least. Thing IS, I have trans* friends (and gf) and I am scared of talking about this and being offensive/seeming to try to sickly 'join in'. Is it ok for me to feel not-cis and want to come out as such to close ppl?

I think a lot of the stuff I said to the “they” anon (linking for other people’s reference) is relevant to you as well, for similar reasons. Long story short, the journey from cis to trans is across some kind of weird no man’s land where things are weird and your pronouns or aspirations for your body or whatever may not all line up in the way expected of your “typical trans person”, and you shouldn’t feel bad for trying to cross that land, or for deciding that you’re happy to never be like the “typical trans person”.

On a more personal level, I want to talk about me for a little bit, because I don’t know of any other way to explain this. Gender is an incredibly weird thing, and it was actually identifying as trans which took me from the little kid who bit people if she was put into a dress and wore nothing but cargo pants for years to the still-pretty-short kid who’s suddenly discovered a love for floral prints and showing off their fantastic legs in tights.

I totally didn’t expect that. I came to exploring gender consciously as a teenager because I knew that girlhood wasn’t for me, but I thought that was about clothing, about the way I was wired, about the way it was impossible for me to intuitively understand what the other girls were always on about. That’s not at all what it’s about for me now - I’ve sussed out a fashion/presentation space that I quite like at the moment, and it’s pretty feminine; the brain stuff I’ve mostly worked out to being autistic and otherwise non-neurotypical in a world that’s not exactly kind to girls who aren’t.

I’m still not a girl, and I’m on my way to starting testosterone in a way I never thought I would want, and I’m dressing in pastel colors I never thought I’d wear, ever, and I started off being uncomfortable with anything but “she” pronouns and now I flinch at them (and that may change again in the future - my relationship with womanhood is constantly changing), and… well, basically, literally everything about the nuances of how and why I identify as trans has flipped around except that I still, obviously, identify as trans.

What I’m saying here is: transness is weird as hell, and whatever you feel or do is probably something somebody else has done at some point! I can’t guarantee your friends will understand that and will accept your exploration of yourself, but one of the greatest things in my recent life is watching people I used to know as cis queer people explore gender and come out and become totally different people in the way they interact with gender, even though the steps along the way might not be the exact same ones I took. For me and many of my friends, being a trans person who’s friends with people new to not being cis is a joy. It’s an honour to be part of that process, one of the people trusted with that, and I try to live up to it and be the best “trans big sibling” I can be, and I really do hope your friends are the same.

-Key

Anonymous said: Can you tell me what the colors of the genderfluid flag represent?

Well, I didn’t make it, but my guess would be: pink represents girl, blue represents boy, purple represents both/in between, white represents no gender, black represents genders that don’t have to do with male or female.  So the idea would be genderfluid people shift between genders like those.  If anyone knows better, do tell.

-Riam

Jul 26

Anonymous said: I'm really unsure about my gender or what I want for myself, so I thought here on tumblr I'd ask for they pronouns for now to see how it feels... But today I saw a post that said it's not ok for cis people to use they, and as i don't really id as trans (yet?) that upset me a lot. I guess i get it somehow... but on the other hand when "they" is used as a default for any unknown person it's also used on cis ppl and i'd just like to keep the default because i'm not sure myself? is that problematic?

Anon, I was about to go to bed, and I haven’t been answering messages on here for a bit because my workload and mental health are both ridiculous at the moment, but I feel like you need this answer now, and that I can give it.

The short answer is this: you’re not cis. You’re not trans, not if you don’t ID as trans, but you can just be “not-cis”. You don’t read as cis to me, at least, and I’d encourage you to go ahead with your exploration. Have you considered the word “agender” as a potential label? My agender partner’s expressed a lot of the same sentiment you do here about your gender.

The longer answer is this: these posts are targeted at cis people in the sense of “people who have no desire to question their cisness or gender”, in general. Most of us went from cis to trans at some point. We had to have switched (names/pronouns/presentation/any or none or all of the above) at some point, but we most likely wouldn’t have changed all those things at once right at the moment we “jump” from cis to trans. There’s no magical switch to be flipped, anon. It’s a gradual process, and sometimes some of the pieces take longer than the others, and sometimes some pieces come in an order which might seem conventionally poorly-advised. That’s all okay.

The thing about reading things on the Internet is that sometimes you end up just quickly categorizing things into “good” and “bad”, where there’s a lot of other pieces to the puzzle? In this case, the piece that the short pithy text posts don’t have room to contain is this: how did the people who currently use “they” get to where they are? It’s the same reason I sometimes get a bit uncomfortable about people talking about drag queens as a group completely separate from trans women and with no shared experience like there’s nobody who’s both, or who was a drag queen and became a trans woman. Gender is complicated, and the way we get to who we are at any given point is complicated, and every step on that journey is one that we can’t possibly appropriate from our later selves.

"What if I decide ‘they’ wasn’t for me? Am I being appropriative by having used it?" Well - no, not really. If you were a cis person - if you were a cis person, as in, you were sure of your gender and that you were cis when you tried those pronouns - then yes, that would’ve been kind of messed up. But, I mean, somebody who eventually comes out as a trans woman hasn’t appropriated anything by having once identified as a femme gay man, and similar. Who you become is the sum of all the people you’ve been, and the identity-related choices your past selves have made at any given point are all valid for that person. If future-you is cis, then future-you’s use of “they” pronouns would be poorly-advised, but surely that doesn’t affect current-you’s use. 

Don’t be a jerk, basically: if you’re sure you’re cis, pronouns aren’t a cool thing to just try separate of the way they’re fundamental to gender discourse and identity in this current world. If you’re not sure you’re cis, welcome to the club. Cisness is such a harsh, gender-policing thing - transness doesn’t need to be the same. Surely we have room for people who just aren’t sure yet to see if being trans, or a particular name, or a particular pronoun, feels like home.

-Key

Anonymous said: So I've been researching genderfluidity a bit and while it seems to fit me there's one part that confuses me: gender-selfs(ves?), your masculine self versus your feminine self. Do you need to have different selfs to be genderfluid or can you just always present as feminine an be uncomfortable some of the time?

You do not have to have different selves.  You do not need to change your presentation.  You just need to sometimes identify as one gender and sometimes identify as another gender.  Hope that helps.

-RIam

Anonymous said: Hi there! I'm Jay/Jaye (depending on wether I'm feeling male or female) and do you have any idea on how I could explain to my teachers that no I am not "young lady" today or I'm sorry today I'm "young man" when they always seem to say that "no you have to chose one gender,right now, choose"that's not the exact quote but it's what they tend to imply (most of them have been really accepting, that gym teacher though...)

Maybe you could ask them to avoid using gendered phrases like that for you entirely?  Or you could go up to them before class and let them know which you’d like them to use that day, or wear some sort accessory or badge that would let them know.  If they’re unwilling to even try to avoid misgendering you, though, I don’t know what you could do…you could try setting aside some time to explain why it’s important to you and what it all means, or send them an email, but how effective that would be depends on the person.

-Riam

Jul 25

Anonymous said: I know binding while working out is bad, but is binding while weight lifting bad?

Well, that still counts as working out, so probably the same rules apply.  I think the issue has something to do with the expansion of your chest being restricted when combined with the heavier breathing caused by exercise.  it’s probably more about how much you exercise, not what type of exercise you’re doing.  the severity of the problem will vary.  to be honest, when i wore a binder i still bound while exercising, and I never had a problem.  i don’t want to encourage anyone to do anything that might be detrimental to their health though.  i’m not a doctor, i really don’t know how bad the risks are, but it’s a personal choice, weighing what the pros and cons are and how important they are to you.  whether weight lifting is more or less bad just probably has to do with how much it affects your breathing, plus range of motion, issues with ribs or back.

-Riam

Anonymous said: i have a question! ive been using male pronouns since last year, and they feel comfortable to me, but sometimes i dont feel male. if im in an unfamiliar place or around many other male friends, i feel more male (which comes with a bad feeling since i havent been able to come out in real life.) but when im in a familiar place or around female friends, i feel fine with my given name and female pronouns; i dont even feel like it's a compromise, i prefer it. what does this mean?

Sounds like you’re sort of situation-dependent genderfluid, and that you’ve figured out what works for you, or what will if you come out.  Good luck with everything.

-Riam