Who I Am: Walking Between Worlds

September 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm (Walking Between Worlds) (, , )

Of late, I have been processing some of the things I have written about here in the context of some recent experiences. As I grow, some aspects of my personality have become more clear to me, more understandable. Writing helps me come to terms with them. And, as my recognition leads to greater understanding, the language evolves. Sometimes I play with that, push at edges, blur lines, explore my own boundaries of self. For a few weeks now, I have had experiences that have raised some issues related to the main thing I talk about here: being a dyke, being biologically androgynous, and having a strong energy that, in the gender binary, is viewed as male energy. This is who I am. And, it brings with it some issues. Some are troublesome. Some are enjoyable. Some are…well…just interesting to me.

Like the friend of my dear Scin who thought I was in transition. Or the way children see me. That, perhaps, is the most interesting. Children, frequently, see me as I actually am. Example:  A friend of mine, with whom I am close, has a boy and a girl. The girl is now five and the boy is three. I have known them for two years and have spent a lot of time with them. Now and then, the girl will stop whatever we are doing and ask me: “Miss Li Li, are you a girl or a boy?” [They call me “Li Li” because the youngest could not pronounce my full name.] The most recent time, the boy answered his sister before I could: “You know who that is; that’s our Li Li.”

For him, it is simple. I am who I am and that is enough for him. There is no male or female. There is no boy or girl. There is simply Li. Unlike his sister, he is, as yet, untainted by the world view of gender. 

So, with that ideal in mind, this is what I will say about who I am in regard to gender identity and sexuality–at least, in my present state of being and understanding.

I am a lesbian. A dyke. I love women. And I am a Butch. As a gift of my particular gene pool, I am physically androgynous. From the time I was five or six years old, I have been assumed to be male at least as often—usually more—as I was correctly assumed to be female. Often, in fact, I have even been asked if I was a hermaphrodite. [Yes. People have actually been gauche enough to ask that to my face.] I have frequently had gay men try to pick me up which always results in hearty laughter and interesting discussion. 

I like to do things that the inadequate language of the gender binary tells us are male in essence: I like to build things; I love tools; I like to play hard and work hard; I like to box; I like to work out; I like to work on cars and motorcycles; I like to refinish furniture; I like to practice archery…and I like to fuck women. I like to watch them walk. I like the way they laugh. I like the feel of soft, smooth girl skin against my calloused hands. I like to lead when I dance with a woman. I like to romance them. I am, by nature a top—although, with Scin, I seem to be able to switch and to like it. I like to play football in the snow with other guys. I like to wrestle with guys. I love martial arts. I like the camaraderie of men.  I am a butch.

In addition, I still often feel out of place in a female body. It has always felt like…well…not what it was supposed to be. But, it was not grossly dysphoric. More and more, I think that is due to the fact that so much of my sense of self was troublesome and difficult in a global way that there was not a sense of one particular thing being the issue. 

Because of a range of factors from the influences of the women’s movement on my generation, to the negative influences of religion, to the inadequacies of the transgender technology during my formative years, I learned to find a way of being in this body which suited me. A way of being I could live with. And, as I grow, my ability to be at home in this form grows and becomes a much better place to be. The fact of a partner who truly sees, “gets” and accepts me is a large part of this growing comfort. While it would appear that people often wonder if I am in transition—or considering it—I can say that I am not. And I do not intend to do so. That may change, but I do not sense that it will. I do share a lot of experiences, feelings and issues with a lot of FTMs.  And, I do relate very strongly to many of my peers who identify as trans-masculine. I have used statements here such as: I am a non-transitioning trans-gendered male in a lesbian body. Some people have not appreciated the hyperbole. I will, no doubt, find other ways to push the language in efforts to increase the dialogue, my own understanding and sense of self, and to generally fuck with the binary ideology. That, too, is part of who I am. I will fuck with a thing until I break it or rebuild it. Either way, understanding increases.

Having said that, I also like my butch cock. I like that it feels like a part of me. I also, however, really enjoy my biological genitalia. Having a partner who understands my body has made it a much more comfortable and sexually satisfying place to be. I am biologically androgynous; it is not something I have created or cultivated. My clitoris, for example, has never reacted in ways that are typical for most females—my clit functions more like a penis. I am good with that. [So is Scin, by the way.] I also build muscle in more of a male way. And there were issues with the functioning of my internal female organs. Yet, I do not plan to transition. I am happy with my life as it is. I am a butch with things in common with many people—just like any other person.

In my somewhat simple thinking, it seems to me that being butch is like any other aspect of being human. It still involves being an individual. The human condition being what it is—universal—I have much in common with many people. There is also much that sets me apart, individualizes me, makes me who I am versus being someone other than who I am. Most importantly, being butch is only part of who I am. I am, like all of us, much more—many things that work to make a whole. So, I am who I am. Like my friend’s little boy says: “you know who that is; that’s our Li.”

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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Coming Out In A Different Way: Mid-week Musings

May 26, 2010 at 11:49 pm (Hump Day: Mid-week Musings) (, , , , )

There are some things I have not, as yet, talked about here. I have decided that perhaps it is as good a time as any to put it all here and start talking about some significant things in my life. I came to this decision for a few reasons. One is that I need to be true to the venture, here on this forum, that Scin was so encouraging of and which has been such an affirming and validating experience for me. Another reason is that recent events have caused me to contemplate some things differently than I have been [this will be clear shortly].  And, finally, I have already begun to talk here about some of the related issues, such as my experiences with how the world at large relates to my androgynous appearance, and my gender identification issues. So, why not start talking even more openly about the big stuff?

So, there is kind of a story to tell here about some ongoing issues and why I am writing this. This week, I made an appointment to see my GYN because…well…I was feeling a little out of balance, so to speak. And, with a visit to Scin coming up I wanted to be all well and perky. But, there were other things I wanted to talk to him about–things Scin and I have talked about and we wanted to see what his take was on the issue. It is important to know that my GYN is a very cool guy. Very hip to certain things and just a hell of a good doctor. He also meets me where I am, as I am, and, interestingly, treats me like one of the guys in many ways. I wanted to talk to him about some issues I have never really discussed with anyone but Scin. Which led to my talking about them some here.  I wanted to talk to him about the gender identification issues I had growing up, how I feel about them now, and the possible roles of testosterone in some health issues I have not divulged to you here.  

Had it not been for these health concerns, I would not have raised the issue I was now bringing to him because, until my reunion with Scin, I never felt a desire to talk about it. It was one of the many things in my life that I had worked out on my own, adjusted to, made peace with and accepted.  I am a fairly well-adjusted person and I am OK with myself and my world. I actually like myself, just as I am.  Nothing to talk about really. Until, that is, it occurred to me there might be some bearing on my health. You see, there are some existing issues that only a short list of people know about and about which I have been silent.

Let me give you the back story here, if I may. About 10 years ago now, I began to develop some kind of quirky medical symptoms. Nothing serious at the time, but stuff that was annoying and needed to be treated. So, in my mid-30s, I was diagnosed with IBS, early full-onset menopause, chronic fatigue syndrome and ADHD. Well, hell…oh, look; a bunny…I could have told them about the ADHD!  Over time, things got worse. I began having symptoms that were musculoskeletal and neuromuscular. I started having serious fatigue. They tested me for MS. No lesions. I changed my diet, started working out more regularly, and got better for a while.  Then, about 4 years ago, those symptoms returned and I started getting worse. More checks for MS. Then, I got even worse. They began to suspect ALS. However, later, when I started to have seizure-like episodes and cardiac symptoms, they began to look at other things. Turns out, I was about to kick the bucket from a life-threatening but highly treatable thing no one had bothered to look for. We discovered I suffered, severely at that point, from pernicious anemia–lack of ability to manufacture or effectively process B12. Good news, as far as I was concerned. So, I started the shots of monthly B12 I will take for the rest of my life–so that I can have a rest of my life. No big deal. Most of the symptoms have gotten better. Some remain.

In the meantime, in 2008, I had an incident that caused me to need a chest x-ray. There were some incidental findings in my thyroid. We kept up with the little solid-nodule-bastards. They doubled in a year. Last year, about this time, they decided to do the biopsy. This revealed early stage cancer. As we know, I have been underemployed for some time and I have no insurance. I have been the last six months trying to get assistance to have the surgery and treatment I need. Because I am not disabled, I do not qualify for Medicaid. I have been fooling around with an assistance program in my county for several months. Over this period, I have not been feeling so great. I work out daily. I eat right. I take care of myself. Still, after a year and a half of B12, I cannot build stamina past a certain point. And, I am still working to regain the weight I lost over the period of a few months 4 years ago. I am making progress, but it is slow and is not great progress.

What has this to do with the gynecologist, you might ask. Well, there is a story to that too. As I have discussed, I never felt like a girl, never felt quite like this was the gender I was supposed to be. Like being gay, it was one of those things I came to terms with on my own. And, I have been able to be in this body, make friends with it, and be fairly happy. My reunion with Scin has made some of the finer points of my gender issues more accessible and understandable for me simply because, for the first time, I really had a place to talk about it.  For example, I have never very much enjoyed the way most of my lovers performed oral sex. It was like foreplay. Or, it was downright annoying.  I prefered attention to my shaft, rather than the head of my clitoris. Most of the time, it wasn’t worth trying to explain. So, I developed methods, as we all do, for getting my needs met and moving on. Scin and I have rectified this, thankfully.  I am very happy, indeed, with the treatment my man-clit now receives, thank you very much.

Since my relationship with Scin, I have come to understand my body a bit more…it is true that there is a second sexual prime in your 40s! Having such a hot and interested partner helps too. At any rate, due to Scin’s unique experience with those of us true-from-birth-butches, she and I began to put some things together. Our discoveries about the nature of my genitals and their preferences, our awareness of my body structure and the way I build muscle, as well as the obvious factors like my butchness and androgyny, led us to consider the possibility that my free testosterone levels might be, perhaps, a little elevated from the norm and always have been.  Given my professional training and my particular areas of study, I began to contemplate the possible affects that higher than usual levels of T might have on the health issues I am facing. I began to wonder if it might play a role in the continued fatigue, failure to build stamina efficiently, and continued difficulty gaining weight. I also considered the reverse: that I may have had higher than normal levels and that this was normal for my body; but that they may now be decreased due to the wonkiness of my thyroid. So, given the benevolent universe provided me a reason to go to the doctor and spend money, I decided to get my money’s worth and discuss some of these issues with him.

We talked about my postulations and questions about the role of testosterone. We discussed the fact that there just isn’t enough research to determine how it might impact my particular health issues, but that common sense understanding of T would suggest there might be some interplay. And, he agreed that it is highly possible I have, by nature, elevated levels. He pointed out there is no point, right now, in checking levels since the cancer is still in my thyroid–it would be difficult to know what is or is not doing what at this point. We had a bit of fun too. He validated for me the likely role of T levels in regard to the particular form and functions of my manly clit. [To avoid some significant TMI, I’m keeping that between me, Scin and my doctor…] And, he validated the likely affects upon the gender identity issues I have had and to which I have adapted over time. He was, as I expected, highly informed on the issue, supportive, and not surprised at all. We discussed the possibility that it too would likely affect my fairly significant sex drive and…well…the fact that I am kind a male pig of sorts. We laughed a lot. And, we discussed all sorts of factors in genetic [as in, of or to do with cellular decisions made in the genomes of cells] predispositions to lesbianism, butchness, and the like. So, although my GYN has been aware of my sexual preference and my androgynous appearance, he had not known about the gender identification struggles I had growing up. He knows now. That is one thing I came out about this week. The important outcome is that he agreed I need to raise these questions to my primary doctor in order to improve my ongoing case for increasing my replacement B12.

So, to sum all of this up, I am coming out here, in this place with you, about a few things. Firstly, I have a nasty little autoimmune disorder called pernicious anemia that I have to deal with daily. It forces me to accept that I cannot do some things I used to…or that, at the least, I cannot do them the way I used to do them. It is, however, OK. I prefer it to the other disorders I might have had. And, I give myself my own shots. It really is no big deal. I’m just not quite as perky for quite as long as I used to be.  But who is? Especially, at 46.

Secondly, I have cancer. There. I said it. In black and white. In public. Having said that, I should say that I do really believe it will all work out and will be resolved. And, I am all right. At least for now. If you are going to have cancer, thyroid is the best to have. And, it is early stage. My thyroid still basically works. But getting it taken care of, locating and accessing resources to do so, and developing a plan for getting it done, are intensely frustrating ventures. And, as the whole thing drags on, it does create some stress. It is particularly hard on my family. It is hard for them to watch me fight for resources and wait for help. It is very hard, too, on Scin. She worries. I remind her to have faith. I reassure her. And, I trust. I trust the God of my understanding is taking care of me…as has always been the case. [Example: perncious anemia vs. ALS.]

And, finally, I am coming out fully on the whole gender identity thing. No more baby steps. No more dancing around the issue.  As Scin has helped me to describe it, I am a non-transitioning, transgendered male–and happy in my own skin. [You can call me Li, by the way.] I have come to like and appreciate this phraseology. It feels more positive than saying I have never felt female. It is an affirmative designation. Rather than a negative statement of what is not the case, it is a positive statement of what is a state of being for me. And, I am happy as I am. I am happy in my skin–especially as since I have the gift of love from a woman who gets me and gets my body. It is so refreshing. And, liberating. [And, the many ways in which she gets my body and very hot, very satisfying…but that is another story.]

So, there it is. I’m out in all the ways I possibly can be. Oh, wait; I forgot one. I am a closet Elvis fan. There. All neat and tidy and out in the open.

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