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Maybe I'm thinking about this only because many of the people I've met through my writing workshop are trans or gender-fluid, and I'm a copycat. Maybe I'm thinking about it because I never had the framework to question before. I still don't, really; I'm not sure how to ask the questions I want to ask — especially of friends who've never questioned their gender — and have them understand what I'm asking. I had an IM conversation with a friend, and it was hard to explain that no, I don't mean the question you are answering, but I don't know how to explain what it is I -do- mean.

My main questions is: how often does an average person think about their own gender? What percentage of your time are you aware, as you go about your daily grind, of being male, or female? When I asked my friend, she said, well, whenever I go to the bathroom and sit down, but I said, that's just your body's sex, which is another question I want answered, but not the question I'm talking about. She said, I guess when I'm horny; but again, that's not gender, that's just the body's response to stimuli. What I'm trying to figure out is, aside from when your genitals remind you of their existence, is there a baseline, constant hum in your brain of "I am female/I am male"? Is that part of the sense-of-self most people have coursing through them all the time? Because I don't think it is for me. Even when I am doing something physical, when I am aware of my body working or not working, when I am aware of it being my body, and either feeling like it belongs to me or that I am mismatched, I don't think about it as being female, so the feeling of belong in it, or alternately the dysphoria, doesn't seem to have anything to do with its sex. I often don't like my body, but I often love it; which one I feel at a given moment has more to do with whether it's doing what I want it to.

For the most part, though, I don't think about my body's sex one way or the other, let alone whether it matches my mind's gender. And I think that's why it's hard to separate that from the question of gender, because I don't have -that- underlying awareness, either.

I am female. If you ask, that's what I answer. But most of my security in that answer seems to come from outside, from other people treating me as female. I don't feel female when I'm alone, or when I'm with people who don't call attention to my sex. I don't feel -male-, either. I wear long skirts, and my hair is long, and I like how I look in long hair and skirts. I feels right, to the extent that I ever feel right looking in the mirror. But it also feels like a costume. And: I like how I look in hiking boots, with a skirt or not, and how I look in loose jeans and a unisex t-shirt. I like both, because both are dress-up. I look in the mirror and smile because I'm wearing a cool costume; today I'm impersonating a boy, tomorrow I'm impersonating a girl. I feel comfortable either way, but mainly because either one hides what I am equally well. Or hides what I'm not, hides that, in just another of several ways, there's a part of me that isn't there. But in this case, I don't really miss the absence, any more than I wish a felt sexual attraction; it isn't a hole I search to fill. The difference between having an arm amputated and having been born without it.

Or maybe it isn't something that other people have. But it seems like they do. Women, most women, seem to primp or adjust in an unconscious way, stand in such a way to accentuate the feminine parts of their body. Men stand or sit in a certain way that takes up space; they touch their facial hair, especially, if they have it; adjust the waist of the pants, move a leg a certain way that isn't the way most women stand. But I don't know if it's just that most male bodies feel comfortable a certain way, and most female bodies feel comfortable a certain different way, or if it's an unconscious hum, a voice saying, "I am a man, and this is how men stand or sit," or, "I am a woman, and turning this way indicates that."

I don't know how to explain better. I feel strange asking the questions, even, because it feels like I think too much. But I'd be interested in my friends' responses, whether publicly, or anonymously on the blog post, or via Facebook private message.




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Violet Wilson

October 2016

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