Three people have pointed out to me in the last few weeks that I have issues with accepting the feminine aspects of myself. The first person simply mentioned that I have feminine aspects, and then promptly started to defend their statement, which made me realise that my reaction to being told that I have “feminine aspects” must have been quite negative. The second person said “You and I, we’re not very butch butch lesbians”, which I agree with – we’re both as gay as Christmas. The third person is my gender identity clinic psychiatrist, who said that I seem to have difficulty accepting any feminine characteristics in myself.
This got me thinking. Why do I push away the more feminine side of myself? I was watching back over some of Fox Fisher‘s old YouTube videos in which he talks about feeling more comfortable expressing the more feminine side of himself since coming out as trans and taking T. There’s something in this for me, too. Although I haven’t really come out to everyone in my life, as I’m still not really sure what to tell them (how do I tell people that I’m genderqueer?), and I don’t intend on taking testosterone anytime soon, the idea of being more masculine in order to express femininity is something that struck a chord with me.
A lot of my fear around femininity in myself is rooted in my attempts, in the past, to fit in with other women around me, to wear dresses and make-up and high-heels, to be heterosexual and ultimately to live a lie. I associate femininity with weakness not because I think the two are implicitly linked, but because those times when I have expressed my femininity are when I have been weakest in myself, afraid to stand up and be true to myself, to my sexuality and to my gender expression.
It’s hard to explain how terrifying it is, the fear of “slipping up” of “going back to the way I was before.” Although I knew I was gay since age 8/9, and I knew I preferred dressing like a boy, I was afraid of this knowledge and hid it, not only from others, but also from myself. I hid it so effectively that no-one knew until I could keep the knowledge in no longer and it came bursting out of me. I’ve always had this in-built shame in being myself. I don’t know where it comes from and I can’t explain it. I suppose I must have picked it up subliminally along the way somewhere, but I can’t pin-point it. My parents were always great about letting me dress as androgynously as I liked – I often chose to wear dresses. I like the idea of the dress, but I always felt horrible when I was wearing it, which was always a disappointment.
That being said, I spent much of my teenage years and early twenties wearing dresses, high-heels and make-up. I would feel good for a while, and then I’d feel ten times worse than the last time I’d felt worse. I believe this was what lead to my depression getting as bad as it did in the last two years. I eventually couldn’t keep up with my own lies to myself, and broke down.
I don’t know if anyone else has gone through an experience like this. I know that a lot of my issues are rooted in my own lack of self-acceptance and self-love. I’m trying to work on this, but it’s a conscious effort right now. As to accepting the feminine aspects of myself, I think I do express them sometimes. I have a “camp-ness” about me that comes out in front of certain people and in some situations. I’m trying to learn how to be myself all the time, but so many years of building up barriers to keep the world out, and myself out, means that there are a lot of walls to be broken down. I don’t trust others, and I don’t trust myself. How can I not trust myself? But I don’t.
I had a tough day this week in which I spent a few hours going through all my old clothes – dresses, high-heels, bags, skirts, women’s trousers, women’s tops and jewellery – just writing this makes me reel and feel dizzy. It made me feel physically ill, but it had to be done. In the end I had 33 items to sell on eBay. Even if I only get a tenner for each item, I’ll have made over £300, which is why I’ve chosen to sell, rather than give away, these particular items. And once they’re gone, they’re gone. I’m planning on using the money on some new clothes and shoes – menswear only! – that make me feel good in myself.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to embrace the feminine aspects of myself in the way that others might do, because it’s linked to a very painful time in my past. It’s linked to a time when I struggled to see through the fog to the person who lay underneath all the lies and stories, told to hide myself from discovery by myself and by others. I cannot imagine that I will ever put myself through that again. Once the truth has been uncovered it cannot be buried again. And the truth set me free. I’ll hold onto the truth.