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August 22nd, 2003


Gender identification will always be one of my life's big bugaboos, I suppose. For many years now I've been open about the fact that I don't identify as female, but that I've chosen not to undergo physical transition, attempt to pass as male, or even present myself as particularly "masculine." Kate Bornstein would call me a "nonoperative transsexual," but even though I love Kate, I don't have the stomach to go around insisting on some pedantic-sounding label. I'm just me, and my gender issues really only affect the most private aspects of my life. Sometimes I feel like a wuss because I don't have the courage to present myself as openly (with the attendant risks and pains) as some of my transsexual friends and acquaintances do. However, I know that this is purely and absolutely a personal choice, that I've never felt physical transition was right for me, and that I would have the courage to live that way if it was what I needed.

So what's the problem?

Well, I just seem to be very, very sensitive to gender-signifying language lately. Yesterday a friend asked me if I wanted/expected to be referred to as "he," and I said no, I don't expect that or feel that I've earned it; besides, the only person who has ever done it on a regular basis is a highly annoying ex of mine, so it actually kinda raises my hackles. Pronouns aren't a problem, but on my Phorum lately, there seems to be a veritable epidemic of referring to me with cutesy girly signifiers such as Queen, Lady, Empress, Chiquita, etc. I know no one is trying to be an asshole and I shouldn't let it bother me; even though I've asked them not to do it, I don't look like a man, most of them don't think of me as a man, and it is natural for them to forget that I don't like to be addressed in such ways. But I can't seem to get around the fact that it does cause me pain. Not huge wrenching pain, but definite pangs.

I'm not going to explain this further here or go into a big tapdance about how I don't hate women. If you think the fact that I don't identify as a woman means I hate them, that is your problem, not mine. Curious parties are invited to read my essay on the subject, "Enough Rope". It is several years old and I no longer agree with everything I said in it, but it delineates the basic structure of my life, which hasn't changed a great deal.

I realize that this sort of thing can come across as the worst kind of self-dramatizing claptrap to people who haven't experienced gender dysphoria, and all I can say is that you are very fortunate to have been born in the "right" body. There are ways of coming to terms with being in the "wrong" one, but it's sufficiently confusing and painful that I don't think many people would keep it up over the long haul just for the sake of a little drama.

Brown Thumb

The only thing I really care about in my yard is a huge 60-year-old bird of paradise, and luckily it's pretty self-sufficient. Everything else is root, hog, or die. I wish I would make the yard beautiful and plant a vegetable garden. I like watching things grow, but I just can't get very interested in actually taking care of plants. There was a little gem of Divine Stupidity in the Times-Picayune gardening Q&A column today: "I would like to know if you could tell me how to make a three-foot pineapple plant in a five-gallon pot make a pineapple, and how to make my sweet corn get larger than a pencil and have more than one ear."

Do me a favor

Go and vote NO, just for the hell of it:

Should marriage be limited to a man and a woman?

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