Bra-Burning Brovaganza

I think I’m dealing with some pretty severe gender dysphoria.

I don’t know what to do. When I think about living as a man, my anxiety and discomfort go away. I’m 32 and married to a man. We live as husband and wife. He is annoyed, exasperated by my constant depression and anxiety, and I don’t blame him. He doesn’t know what the real cause is. He thinks it’s my childhood- and indeed my issues are largely due to that. But what he doesn’t know, and I fear won’t understand, is how it played into my understanding of what it is to be a woman.

I feel overwhelming pressure every day to play “woman.” Constant alertness of my appearance. Grating frustration at times when I have to wear makeup and pretend- weddings, family holidays, parties with feminine friends. Feigned submissive deference. Feeling coerced into patterns of behavior and speech that don’t feel natural. Being a woman feels like a cult to me- a cult I can’t leave.

Cutting my hair short helped. But I feel pressure to style it. I can’t just have clean, combed hair. I can’t just wear jeans, khakis, and polo shirts. I can’t wear boots. I have to think about these things. I am forced to bear a attractiveness mental load I don’t want. Have never wanted.

I just.. I just know if I said these things to someone else, they’d trot out the same old tired line-“You don’t have to wear makeup. You don’t have to style your hair.” Well, sure, if I wanted to guarantee social isolation. I barely play girl as it is and it isolates me. I also actively isolate myself because I know I can’t play girl well, and it shows. Someone would figure it out, I’m pretty certain friends of mine think I’m secretly gay. Which would be fine, if I was. I am attracted to men- so attracted I want their life. I know being a man has its own problems.

I don’t see a way out. My therapist is hilariously young- younger than me and fresh out of grad school. He’s not the one to talk to about this.

What’s weird is some days I do want to wear jewelry. I guess that’s okay. I don’t know. Going from one inflexible gender norm to another may not solve my issues. I just wonder what it would be like to have someone actually listen to me for once and not be intimidated and made uncomfortable by my thoughts and feelings.

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L’Enfer, C’est Les Autres

When most people reach out and touch a red hot pan, they burn themselves. They learn not to touch the red hot pan. Me, I’ve lived my life hearing people tell me to keep touching that pan. Maybe it won’t burn you this time, they say. But it’s always red hot. And it always burns me.

I rarely go out. I’m much happier coming straight home from work every day. If I must leave the house, it’s because I’m out of some essential addictive foodstuffs. I venture out late, late at night. Mainly since it takes time to work up the nerve to go out. And because the later it is, the fewer people there are.

I don’t go out because I don’t want to be around people. I don’t want to be the target of their derision. I don’t want to feel the weight of expectations on how to talk and how to look. I don’t want to speak. I don’t want to be looked at. If I could have a super power, invisibility would be the one I choose in a heartbeat. Though.. Flying is pretty cool.

The number of people I spend time around is very, very limited nowadays. I don’t spend time at all anymore with my husband’s friends. The only one I spend time with is my husband’s friend A that I watch anime with on Saturday nights. A has his own set of problems, but tolerable enough. Because people must sexualize any relationship between a male and female, I must emphasize that it’d be a cold day in hell before I’d ever think of him that way.

A is pretty much it. My husband spends a lot of time with another friend F, who.. I can borderline stand. He’s one of those guys who effortlessly talks over you and who speaks in a way that suggests you don’t know anything at all. Whenever we play the simplest games he has to explain everything to me. Even when we play games I’ve played a dozen times before. And then I’m the asshole for pointing out that I’ve played this game before.

Housemate K? I’ve given up the delusion that we could be friends, much as I have with the Couple. Now I do the minimum related to him. We live together so I can’t exactly stop talking to him. I’ve stopped hoping he’ll help out with the house. I’ve stopped hoping he’ll empathize at all. Everything is about him. He’s sad, he’s anxious, he has a bad self image, and boy howdy he’ll let you know about it. There’s no room for others to show any hurt or pain because *K* is the Sad One who everyone must feel bad for. It must be nice for him, to feel so free to air every unhappiness in his mind. I have this blog, and that’s it for me. No other outlet.

Just the other day he made some mopey comment about how he can’t make friends. It took everything in me to resist either grabbing him by the shirt and shaking him, or making a snide comment. The Couple loves K. The only times they come over now is to spend time with K. Or to borrow stuff from us. Everyone likes K, and in fact he’s made a new friend group because he’s dating a girl several years his junior. He lives with his best friend and his wife (me) who’ve let him live there rent-free for years, but cleaning his pubes off the toilet rim is toooo hard. WOE IS K. His liff sooo harrrdddd.

Maybe once or twice a year I spend time with my high school friends. About 2-3 months ago I went over to Q’s house for a game night. She was the first friend I outed my short hair to. Because of all of them, she’s the one I feel closest to, she’s the one I met first of all my high school friends. But as I have learned the hard way, feeling close to someone doesn’t mean they feel close to you, or even that they have your back. There’s been several instances with Q that on reflection, indicate she’s not a very good friend sometimes. At the game night, in front of two new people and one friend I hadn’t seen in 15 years, she made the comment “Queen Legbeard cries before having sex.” Like she thought it was the funniest thing ever. She has no clue about my sex life. Unlike her, I don’t talk about mine. It was just a mean, spur of the moment comment.

I laughed it off. But it hurt that she could make a comment like that. Especially when she knows I’m struggling emotionally. She’s done it before. And she can’t keep secrets, it’s just too satisfying for her to blab everything I tell her.

I guess the only person I can really stand is Husband. And.. for his flaws, he does love me. Though he cannot comfort me, though he is a sponge for comfort himself, he keeps coming to me. He doesn’t stay away, even when I push him away.

One person. One person is enough.

Self-Indulgent Prattling

Tomorrow is my first shrink appointment. Well, with a nurse practitioner. I don’t think I’ll bring up the gender stuff, just bring up the symptoms of the depression and anxiety I suffer and how they’re affecting my ability to function.

I think a course of meds may help me. I’ll request wellbutrin to start. No good taking something that’s just going to help me put more weight on. I tend to do very well on stimulants, nearly approaching normal in terms of ability to do things. I was diagnosed with ADD as a child, taking ritalin for a while until they thought I was “better.” I certainly still have executive functioning problems as an adult.

God, I hope they care. I really hope they do. I’m paying them, you know? I’d hope they care. I don’t know if I could take yet another doctor just kind of.. waiting for the appointment to be done.

I feel a discontent when I think about how according to society’s measuring stick, I’ll never measure up. I understand why masculine-leaning females transition to male. The gender binary, so entrenched. You’re a man or a woman, nothing in between. People think they need to be able to visually classify you at a single glance, and god help you if you’re not easy on the eyes. That brief and minor delay of “what are they” is too inconvenient for most.”How do I treat them,” because all interactions must be gendered and appropriate, just treating people neutrally until you know doesn’t seem to cross most people’s minds.

This may sound.. self-congratulatory or dumb, but I am proud of how I treated Noah back in the day. This was a good 8-10 years ago, before I even knew trans was a thing; I grew up in a conservative Midwestern town. I had no idea he was a transman, just that he was ambiguous in his appearance. I never forced the issue. I waited for him to bring it up, and treated him neutrally (non-gendered) until he did. If only I hadn’t had an anxiety attack while hanging out with him once; after that, we weren’t as close, until the temp job ended and I never saw him again.

I need to find like-minded friends. Some form of connection. If I rely on cis people, they may always be baffled by me. The mismatch between their gendered expectations and my NB/masculine-leaning personality leads to discomfort and eventually alienation. “Why is she so weird? Why doesn’t she pretty herself up?” These thoughts (probably) cross their minds. I’m so glad I’ve finally identified the disconnect between my efforts and other people. The revelations of the last few months have helped, considerably. I’ve noticed I have had fewer mentally ill vent posts. The hole is not as deep, and when I fall into it, I climb back out more quickly.

Perhaps I will post somewhere looking for a trans/NB-leaning-masculine penpal. Penpals still are a thing, there’s a subreddit for it I’ve been perusing. If anything else, sign up for a forum somewhere. Though, I’m not about to write letters on *paper*, how droll. Emailpal is better. There’s other options as well. Though I may be too old (31) maybe I could go to my local university’s LGBTQ events. I am an alumnus, so maybe that’s an in. Meetup might have some things too, as well as Craigslist. Craiglist could be.. dodgy though. Even creepers respond to platonic friend postings. They don’t read your posts.

 

Title, Schmitle

When I was about 12, my middle school hosted a “medieval” event, which was a graded project for the students of my year. Dressing appropriately was required. I learned about the event, and dread immediately rose up in me. I knew I’d have to talk to my stepmother about acquiring a dress for a peasant girl. Such was my fear of her weeks flew by. And before I knew it, the day before the event came, and I had no dress.

In a panic, I tore through my wardrobe. Nothing I had was suitable for the event. Except… I pulled out a pair of capri pants, some long cream socks, and a loose white long sleeved shirt. Paired with some black flats and my hair tied back in a loose ponytail, I was the spitting image of a 1700s-1800s boy. Problem solved!

The event came and went. I felt a little awkward walking around dressed as a boy. Not because it bothered me in the slightest, but because I was worried about the reactions of others. Only one other student that I knew approached me, who commented on my outfit and said that I really looked like a medieval boy. No one said anything else, not a peep. And my grade was secured, my stepmother unaware, crisis averted.

Looking back, that could have gone so badly. I’m kind of thrilled it didn’t.

The major city we’re a county away from is having Pride tomorrow. I’ve been pondering meeting people who are trans or non-binary, maybe I could meet some if I attend. Make friends. Maybe not with cis-women; in southwestern Ohio, the likelihood that explaining I don’t really like anything they expect to have in common is extremely high. The chances of an inability to relate is very high. This is, I think, a big chunk of why I cast away The Couple. Figuring out that they needed to relate in proper, gender-specific ways meant that they were never going to really like or relate to me. It just wasn’t ever going to happen, no matter how much I tried. I get it, now.

Pride, though, sounds like a thing. I could at the very least get great photos with my newish DSLR.

I seriously need to get out of SW Ohio, though. Too close to the bible belt.

Reals Over Feels

I’ve realized lately I’ve been giving too much credit to people in my life.

I assume that anyone I become friends with will understand me. That isn’t the case. Most people assume compliance with social norms when they interact with you. For someone like myself, it is a constant comedy-tragedy of people struggling with just how unusual I am in my thinking. When it comes to comprehending my motivations, most people assume more feminine feels-over-reals-type thinking because I am female.

This is a real sticking point with me and other people. I value science highly. I know that life would be vastly improved for all people if we made important decisions based on science-based information. I apply the information I discover to my own life when I can. It is why I chose the ketogenic diet to lose 100 pounds in ten months. According to the newer data out there, and not the out-dated anti-dietary-fat nutritional science from the 70s that so many people still fixate on, low carbohydrate diets are more beneficial and in-line with our body’s metabolism. Yet if I try to explain this to anyone, the sheer mind-boggling “that’s not what my mom/the news/my teacher told me” attitude just dismays me.

This is what people don’t get about me. That I base many decisions and some of my perceptions of myself on scientific data.

The two close friends I have mentioned are thoroughly normal people. They are comfortable in their skins. They are at peace with the gender they have been given, they easily traverse the grooved and well-worn track. That is fine. They are like many, many other people and while I have inner conflict on whether that’s good or bad, they are excellent people.

But I’ve been shooting myself in the foot for many years now, thinking that they can understand how I came to a certain perception or belief, or why I did something a certain way. They really do not. Over and over, I have had incredulity and disbelief when I attempted to explain something interesting and new to them. Mainly because I did not want to lose hope in their ability to understand. But I know that their primary decision making process relies on emotion, so they can’t comprehend why I am interested and excited about the studies I discover that apply to me and others. If I sigh and say the exact same thing again, but from a feeling-type angle, then they can process it. They simply do not get it.

I certainly cannot explain to them about hormone exposure in the womb. About how testosterone can shape the brain to be wired more masculine. And that the easiest way to tell this is the ratio of the ring finger to the index finger. And that my own ratio points towards heavy exposure.

The only thing I can say to them is,”I don’t feel like a woman inside. But I don’t feel like a man either. I am in between. I am non-binary.”

That would work. Probably.

I feel very isolated at times. These two friends are warm and accommodating people, and I have ignored their inability to understand me for many years because of it. But I am coming to understand that they cannot essentially grok me. And that’s it okay, I can still be close to them. I just have to accept their limitations.

It’s just kind of disappointing.

Man Hands, Man Brain.

I’ve had issues with feeling like I didn’t belong for most of my life. As a woman, I felt a disconnect between the things I was supposed to like and the things that I did like.
I was a tomboy growing up. I played rough and tumble games, and felt no particular preference for either boy or girl’s toys. I never wanted to be a princess, I never wanted pink clothes. Hell, clothes are something I still feel no real interest in.
As the years went by, this difference really began to show. My stepmother thought I was gay because I liked books more than flirting and wearing makeup. I was one of two girls in the IT career class at my vocational high school. I majored in Computer Science in university. I am a career programmer currently. And still I feel like I don’t fit.

Therefore, I feel both comfort and panic when I find out about things like the digit ratio. Essentially, the length of the ring finger versus the length of the index finger is a well-accepted measure on how much testosterone a developing child is exposed to in the womb. Men typically have longer ring fingers and shorter index fingers, and women have either equal length ring and index fingers, or slightly shorter ring fingers.

My ring finger is a good half-inch longer than my index finger. According to this ratio, I almost certainly received a big dose of testosterone in the womb. There’s a reason I was a wild tomboy. There’s a reason why I’ve always been predisposed to traditionally male interests.

The lower the ratio, the greater the prenatal testosterone received and, therefore, the more ‘masculine’ the cerebral disposition, regardless of the person’s gender.”

So, it’s comforting because there is a biological reason for me to not feel that drawn to feminine interests. On the other hand, it makes me panic that I will never be the feminine woman my husband wants.

What’s really troubling is the attitude my husband and close friends have about these types of revelations. If my husband were to bring up the digit ratio, the friends would fall all over themselves to be curious and eventually agree. If I were to bring it up, I would be immediately doubted. And I wouldn’t be allowed to prove what I said.

It frustrates me, that I can’t correct their views. That I can’t tell them,”hormones in the womb can shape your brain into being more masculine or feminine.” That they will always look down on me for not being very feminine, even though my fate was largely written in stone inside my mother.

But there’s a reason I’m different. There’s a clear cut reason why. Even if none of them will accept it.

Evil Stepmother, Uncaring Father, Incompetent Mother.

I’ve been meaning to do a more fully fleshed-out post on one of the people in my life who’s had the largest effect it. Of course, speaking about her means also speaking about others as well.
I’m sure anyone that comes across this blog will be completely surprised to know that I have problems interacting with women who completely immerse themselves in their feminine side. /s
This was partially triggered by my upbringing, and the loving care of the woman who oversaw eight years of my childhood: my stepmother.
Going back, I’m about eight years old. This is maybe a year or two after I stopped being “babysat” by the Meyers, the Pentecostal spoil-the-rod types. My mother is still attempting to care for me and her and is still doing a very poor job. My father takes custody of me then, and introduces me to his new wife.

Suzanne was tall, blonde, blue eyed, and in her early twenties. Roughly 11 years my father’s junior. She loved god and men in uniforms and makeup and partying!1! And now she had reluctantly accepted helping to raise her new husband’s daughter.
Oh, she tried at first. I’ll give her that. Her anger at first was mainly at my being a child completely unprepared to live in a structured environment. But as time went by, Suzanne began to see I did not care about the things she thought a girl-child should care about. And that was way, way worse.

The bursts of anger began. Prolonged screaming fits, where I would stand before her absolutely still, staring at the floor, going away inside while she told me what a bad, selfish person I was. A spineless worm for not screaming back. When I went through puberty and did not instantly become addicted to hair, nails, clothes, shoes, and omgboys, and continued to read books quietly in my room and play in the woods out back, it got real.
In addition to being a bad, selfish person, I was told I’d never have a boyfriend or a relationship. In middle school she became convinced I was gay and took me out of the only class I shared with my only friend. She repeatedly told me that I was just renting a room at their house, how loved and welcomed I felt.

It escalated. It always does. I was dragged down the hallway by my hair. Lamps and other convenient objects at hand were thrown at me. I was forced to humiliate myself by pulling down my pants and standing at the end of the driveway while the neighbors were outside. Dinnertime, which should be sacred, never was. I would sit quietly at the table with my food cold, head bowed, while she screamed and dumped drinks on my head.
Her rages were sudden and severe, and I never knew when they would come. I walked on eggshells whenever I was in the house. When I came back to the house from school every day I took upwards of twenty minutes to walk up a 15 foot driveway, slowly creeping, dread building awfully in my stomach at being confronted at whatever outrage she had discovered while I was away.
I was always afraid. Very soon I didn’t see her as a person anymore – just an awful rage machine that could fly off the handle for any reason.

And gee, they couldn’t understand why I always looked forward to going to my mother’s on the weekend. My mother is a failure in most things, but giving me unconditional love wasn’t one of them. It didn’t matter to her that I loved the outdoors and comic books, not makeup and pink clothing. But she could never get her shiz together enough to support herself and me, to take me out of that awful place. But even now, I would be happy to live in tatters living on macaroni, as long I wasn’t physically, verbally, and emotionally torn down on a daily basis. No nice clothes, houses, and food in the world would make that worthwhile. My father never understood that and he still doesn’t.

And where was he during this? Oh, just watching. He only cared that his pretty, blonde young wife was happy, and if his weird child from his first marriage was pissing her off, she could deal with it as she liked. He was doing the bare minimum of feeding and clothing me, and assisting my emotional and personal development was beyond the minimum he was required to do. It really wasn’t anyone’s concern.

The only reason I have become as functional and successful as I have in life was due to my own initiative and hard work. I don’t have parents. I don’t have people that care about and support me. Or, at least in the case of my mother, cares but is incapable of doing or unwilling to do anything to ensure it. I don’t have support, I have people to support. But the pillar of my dependability continues to crumble every day, as I find I can give less and less, diverting all inner resources to the struggle to function, and just barely at that. There is no one and nothing for me to fall back on. There is no safety and there is no comfort. There is only the void of my loneliness.

Maybe that’s why I have problems relating to people who were given love and support from people who really cared. I don’t really receive support even now – trying to talk about the troubles I have just makes the few people around me feel uncomfortable.
This is why, in the end, I really just need to find a psychiatrist. Someone who I can pay to listen to my sadness. That, and to blog and to vent online to no one. These words travel into the ether of the internet, unread by none but me, but who knows. Even the hope that someone might eventually read these words buoys my spirit a little.