Saturday, 16 August 2014

A very gendery day

I somewhat outed myself as at least gender non-conforming on Facebook today. I posted a happy status update about "listening to Wintersun and painting my nails". And it felt good to simply express how I was feeling.

Now of course, my gender non-conformity isn't news to anyone who sees me on a regular basis, but there are a lot of people on Facebook that I haven't seen in quite a while. Most of these are friends from the conservative Christian community I was a part of in my "previous life," before I moved to Edmonton. I can't help but think that many among that group might be close-minded about all this gendery stuff.

Wintersun, the band I mentioned, is a heavy metal group from Finland. I listen to fairly wide variety of music genres, but metal is what first got me into music as a teenager, and it will probably always hold a special place in my heart. Lately I've come to appreciate a certain defiant attitude that pervades a lot of metal music: it's the same kind of defiant attitude it takes to go out into the world as a boy with a kick-ass shade of red on your nails.
Defiantly pretty
I was at the mall today— the very big one that Edmonton is sort of famous for. (As a side note, it's kind of weird being from a town whose greatest claim to fame is having a very big mall. Two years ago, when I was in Japan, I found myself chatting chatting with a local fellow who spoke English. When I told him where I was from he said, "Oh, Edmonton! I've been to your mall. It's... very big." What else is there to say?) Even with my red nails, my cute flats, my purse and the quick dash of mascara and I'd applied, I was in boy mode. I wasn't wearing any foundation to cover my beard shadow, and I was flat-chested (as in no bra, just a t-shirt over my ordinary male torso).

When I had to pee I opted for the men's room. I figure that if I'm presenting somewhat ambiguously, the fact that I'm standing at a urinal should tip the scale toward male for anyone present who might be confused. It's always stressful though. I was glad there were lots of people around so I didn't have to worry about getting beat up. When I washed my hands the guy at the sink next to me stared at me the whole time. I was very, very glad to finish up and get out of that gendered space.

Immediately after this I went to buy some souvlaki at the food court. The cashier called me "ma'am." Like three times.

Holy shit, are you serious?

I remembered many years ago, when I was doing a very good job of suppressing my gender, that I used to get taken for female now and then because of my long hippie hair. At the time this bothered me (because, like I said, suppressing my gender), so as soon as I could I grew a hippie beard to go with it. That seemed to convince everyone I was a man. Heck, I nearly convinced myself.

Nowadays, of course, I am generally very happy to be seen as female, because I'm beginning to accept that that's who I am. But in this case it kind of freaked me out. It's stressful when you don't know whether the next person to look at you will see a man or a woman. Or at least it is to me.

What I gained today is an even deeper respect for genderqueer and other non-binary people who present androgynously on a regular basis. Navigating a binary world that doesn't have a category for you is just plain hard sometimes.

(And in case you're wondering, I spent like five minutes taking pictures of my fist and another ten messing around in GIMP to produce the illustration for this post. I am far too easily side-tracked, it seems.)


  1. The same thing happened to me, Ashley, a year before I went full-time. I wrote several posts about it; I remember being stunned when someone addressed me as "miss" or "she" when I was in what I considered "boy mode." Take it as a sign, sweetie; your true self is coming through...

    The nails looks great, btw. I've been dragging my feet on using makeup and doing my nails and so on pretty much since I started. I know, weird. Friends are amazed I go out without a bit of makeup on ever day.

    Something is going on that explains my reluctance; I plan to investigate it with my therapist. If I have learned nothing else from transitioning, it's to go at things that are bothering me straight on. Anyway, yours rock. :c)


  2. It sounds like yesterday was the day for Facebook. I was posting pictures from Emma's 19th birthday and asked Jeremy what photos he wanted me to share. His response was, "the hair ones are fine but not the nails". The hair ones were Emma putting his hair up into a fancy braid, complete with a second braid crossing his head to be attached with a rhinestone bobby pin. Ironically the nails were just plain clear polish.

    *goes back to Facebook* yep, the only person who liked those pictures was someone I met via the blog.

    The nails look great and I'm glad I'm not the only person who spends way too much time with photo editing programs. Also, I've been to that mall before too but not since the late 80's (I think 1986). I loved the waterpark.

    Cassidy, I'm cisgender and wear makeup maybe 3 or 4 times a year (if that). I put on toe polish last week and that was the first time in several years. If you like makeup then go for it but it's not mandatory.