Monday, September 22, 2008

Coming Out Headaches

I'm thinking about being "out" and what the hell I should be out as. I realize that on campus, people from last fall know I am asexual because I lead a discussion on it (which was only attended by 2 people, btu which provoked consistent individual inquiries). Now that I am back, many people notice that I display a lot of interest in transgender topics and I am open about being involved in several related projects. However, newbies (especially freshmen who met me at pride) have incessantly felt the need to refer to me as a dyke, carpet-muncher, and bulldagger (in a jestful, accepting way but in a none the less something-I-don't think-of-myself-as-kind-of-way ).

I'm thinking about coming out to my mother and father, though its been months since I talked to either of them, and I have no idea what to come out as. I feel gender is more important to who I am than any kind of identity based on romantic relationships. I think about gender in every interaction I have, whereas I've has three crushes in the last three years. The catch is that I do have a girlfriend now, and I feel like I have to choose between acknowledging how much I care about her and anyone thinking of me in any of the ways I think of myself. I feel like her existence makes dyke trump trans in the public eye. I feel like our relationship undermines my claim to asexuality. It's as if she is everyone's confirmation that everything they assume about me has always been right. Now, how much are people really thinking about my sexual identity and gender identity? It's not that I think they are, it's more that there are a lot of unspoken assumptions that are coming into play more directly as I'm being more open. I feel like I'm on the defensive with this whole coming out process, doing damage control, dispelling myths, and disarming rumors. As I sit down to script out another conversation with a friend about it all, I can't escape the nagging condemnation that I make things this complicated on purpose...


Dane said...

"It's as if she is everyone's confirmation that everything they assume about me has always been right."

Shit. This is exactly what was going through my head the entire time I was dating that (straight) boy. Only spaces that are truly queer(ed) can accommodate this kind of shift/ambiguity/duality.

On the other hand, if you'd rather not be dating me while you sort this all out - if that would make it simpler - well, we're technically broken up, remember?


I don't mean to make light of this, you know. Invisibility - especially at the hands of other queers - sucks.

Also, to remind you of something you already know: you don't HAVE to come out until you're ready. You do have the choice to tell people to shut up and/or you'll get back to them later.

Love you.

Monica said...

This may be off base. I know I'm on the outside looking in here. But it seems like the genderqueer community is very caught up in labels.

Is this urge a reaction of tryin to clarify yourself to nongenderqueers? To other genderqueers? And thus an effort to "fit in"? Or to clarify things to yourself?

It is obviously causing you a good deal of stress. Why does it matter so much? This is not a rhetorical question. The whole issue is just so outside my experience I have difficulty wrapping my head around it.


Caitlynn said...

It's not going to stop, ever, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the struggle.

That sounds way less comforting than I mean for it to.

I guess I've been thinking about my presentations of myself more since I've been on the road. So far being petite and feminine has absolutely worked to my advantage, and in some ways I feel like I don't have the luxury to fight against this the way I did back home in my lovely bubble. It's easier to try to decipher the subtle nuances of someone when they're not pulled over on the side of a highway, and the things about myself that I work against on a daily basis are blessings here. Not that "here" is bad, or scary, or anything but beautiful, but I'm aware that my gender presentation is making people want to help me. And I have mixed feelings about what that means, and I'm very aware of how things could go much differently.

The nuances and labels we claim for ourselves become almost irrelevant in some settings, and that's unnerving to me, since I spend so much of my time and energy thinking about these things.

On the other hand, I'm very thankful to anyone who decides, for whatever reason, to help me when I need it.

Jake said...

Have I talked to you about being both a dyke and ftm? If not, we should.

Chlirissa said...

Thanks all for your comments.

It's not that other people are "labeling" me parsay; I am generlly spending more time thinking about how what I do and the ways that I talk about or describe myself impact the way people think about and treat me. With an increased understanding of my role in it all, there is a corresponding increase in confusion of how I want people to think about and treat me as well as the things I can do in order to achieve them. All in all, it's just growing pains.