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[gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you hate
Chordal
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Post: #1
[gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you hate
Unprompted by anyone, I've been moving more into a masculine role. I still haven't come out at work yet -- that's scheduled for Monday. I should probably be getting ready for bed or studying instead of writing on identity issues -- I *did* spend pretty much all of yesterday studying, though.

I've started dressing more in mens' clothes (and jewelry) at work, and this has brought up a number of things for me...partially having to do with what I *don't* want for my body, and partially having to do with who I want to be. Over the course of a few weeks, I've realized just how high my voice is, even when I think I'm speaking in a deep tone. When I speak with a "deeper" tone, it just makes me easier to hear and understand -- it doesn't make me sound male or androgynous. This bothers me somewhat, though it doesn't totally grate, because I can't hear my own voice's pitch most of the time.

Body image: I still haven't begun to work out yet -- I've had too much to do, catching up with my studies. Given that, I probably look more like a woman than I ever have in my life. And I've already noted that I understand that, when seen as a woman, I'm not bad-looking -- but to presume that only unattractive people transition is really a stereotype. I've realized that it's possible that for me, transition -- physical transition -- might be more about what I *want* and who I want to be, than what I *hate*. I've been a bit unstable in my statements about my body as regards different social groups (particularly where the options of cross-dressing with a female fat distribution and exercise-induced muscular hypertrophy, as versus full-on medical transition with testosterone and surgery, are concerned), though I think part of that has to do with context, and part with an instability in my position...due to being unsure if I'm actually a transman-in-denial (maybe transman-in-process is a better statement) or actually a genderqueer/androgynous person. What I know is that I'm not a woman, though people, when they see me, almost universally peg me as one (until I say something different). I am not sure I have an opinion on this, or whether it's just such a constant irritant that I've blocked it out.

Since I've been dressing more male, consistently, I've been noticing my chest as unexpected (and often, annoying, when it gets in the way or I see it through my shirts, or it's painful, or I have to check for cancer). I've also been noticing that I actually can wear mens' clothes that fit -- I just have to get small sizes from places that actually *sell* small sizes. I've also noticed that I only have one set of earrings in gauges between 18 and 14, each...and so it may help to feel less trapped, to purchase more varied clothing and jewelry, suitable for a man.

Along with this, I've noticed that ...I have no plans for my reproductive organs. I don't want to get pregnant, I know about my own genetic flaws, I'm irritated at having to go through periods, and I'm not planning on ever nursing a baby. (I'd rather be a father, than a mother.) This is in addition to not wanting to take hormonal birth control to stop my periods, because I don't want to put more estrogens into my body. Combine this with the risks of ovarian, endometrial, cervical, and breast cancer (which I'd cut way down on if I didn't have a uterus, ovaries, or mammary glands). Also combine this with the fact that I've begun to realize certain things like that nearly all of my role models in life have been male or masculine (the one role model who was actually a real person whom I guessed was a woman, was a butch Physical Education teacher -- then there was Sailor Uranus from Sailormoon [Tongue], who was basically a male player in a female body). And combine this with the fact that I've wanted to be a boyfriend rather than a girlfriend (multiple times). And that going to Pride depresses me because it triggers body issues, likely stemming from invisibility. And that my first female crush was someone who I thought was straight, and a lot of my depression came from the thought that I'd continue to fall for straight girls and they would overlook me because of my sex. It doesn't seem that it would impact so much if I thought I was lesbian (which I've never really identified as, preferring the term "gay," at the time). But if it's a continuation of the trope of "I'm just like these guys, but she can't see it just because I'm female," the inherent sexism of my crush's position (and perhaps mine, in assuming that she didn't see me as a boy) is made more clear.

At the same time, though, I fear that if I take testosterone, I'll end up looking more "manly" than my father, due to my genetics...particularly where facial and body hair are concerned. This has led to me trying to find role models who would actually look more like I imagine I'd look, after testosterone -- I'm thinking that I'd likely have stubble like Adam Levine. Extrapolating from family's appearances, it's going to be there all the time, regardless of if I just shaved or not. I already have to shave my face every two days max (to avoid looking unkempt), so this is rather a serious commitment -- there's no going back from growing facial and body hair, it just grows in lighter and more slowly if one goes off of testosterone. If I want it permanently removed or reduced after testosterone, that is, I'll need something like laser hair ablation.

The biggest draw to testosterone, though, is likely wanting to have a common experience with a gender that I've been disincluded from on the basis of my hormone profile and appearance. And the desire to be referred to as a man, and to be seen as a man, and have my name and pronouns and identity respected; and to feel myself that I can fill and am filling the station, so to speak. I suppose it is possible to feel more comfortable living as male, when one was assigned female at birth, and still be third-gendered...as someone I know can attest to. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

There's also the low-hormone route, which may end up being what I eventually try. I hate not knowing all the information that I'd gain through an experiential process, prior to the experience, though. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> The thing that scares me about the low-hormone route is that I feel I might end up liking it so much that I go for a full dosage, and right there we hit the "singularity" point at this moment in my life. I can't know what lies beyond that moment, right now.

I realized last night that what I had been perceiving as peer pressure to transition from within the transgender community wasn't exactly what I thought it had been. I tried looking at this through the eyes of people who have been trying to help me, and who have helped me. I think that what's going on is that people who are further along in the process see me, and in me they see themselves at a younger stage, and they want to let me know that it's all right to move forward in transition, like they would have needed to know it was all right, themselves. This is mentoring, not pressuring; and much different than what I'd thought, before.
2012-09-20 5:35
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Chordal
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Post: #2
Re: [gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you ha
This is about to turn into the thread where I store all my transition ramblings, I'm thinking. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> I don't want to inundate the forum.

Well, today...holy--it's midnight?! Well, yesterday--I was reading some materials on the impacts of hormonal and surgical transition on peoples' lives, given the fact that I recently gained access to a pretty good library. Seriously, it's not something that you want to go through if you can avoid it. The idea I'm getting is that in practicality, people's mental health is improved by transition, but there are a lot of factors that go into making their lives difficult which come from outside -- primarily discrimination by one's peers, government, medicine, potential landlords, family, and place of employment.

This -- THIS -- is what I've been doing instead of studying, after dinner. But I suppose I do have to prepare a third coming-out draft for Monday, to give to my management, so context is good. Especially if my future employment depends on how skillfully I get this across. I just need to know that other people know what's going on, even if they don't say anything to my co-workers. So that next time someone thinks it's a good idea to call me a "lady," or "woman," or "girl," someone else present might actually understand that in my case, it's not right, and that it makes me uncomfortable. As it is, no one's aware that anything's different about me except the fact that I might possibly be homosexual (which I'm not -- being trans isn't the same thing as being gay, even though they can look very similar). I've brought up the "snickering teens" issue before (if you've been there, you know what I'm talking about), and there was no fallout around it. But that was because of my looking pretty freakin' butch...though I can't remember the length of my hair at the time, I was dressed very obviously in mens' clothing.

Anyhow, it seems that the serious mess comes up when someone makes the move to physically transition -- not beforehand. In my case...it is a viable option to work out to the point where my body is masculinized (body-building *YAAA*)...meaning that I'll again be at the point where others may see me as a man until I talk...without taking testosterone. Even though I know that testosterone is probably the one thing that will get me seen as a man, full-time, and not in an in-between zone as, "a woman who wants to be a man." Testosterone will also, though, likely irreversibly make me look like a man, meaning that girl drag is out, permanently. That's kind of a big thing, when you've been living in girl drag to get by, for years...and trying to convince yourself that you like it.

The problem seems to be, in my case, how to come across as genuine (genuinely myself, released of others' misgendering [AS THOUGH THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN]), without taking measures drastic enough to incite the ire of society. Or, if I do take those measures, how to cope with the increased demands on my own functioning (especially as it's hard enough for me to function, as it is. View me querying databases for articles on transgendered men instead of studying, ya). It seems like it's trading one form of stress for another -- so I won't be torturing myself anymore, it's just that other people will be trying to torture *me.*

Granted, the study on discrimination that I just read only had one respondent from the West Coast, and it's likely that things are a lot worse in other parts of the country. But maybe because pressure from discrimination is less, there is paradoxically less need to transition?

I mean, if I could work out and become a hot butch person -- who people might actually, you know, welcome approaching them, like, in an interested way -- and not totally go for the hormones, thus I wouldn't have to deal with the legal barriers and the medical discrimination and the housing discrimination...? That might be able to work. Things aren't so bad for butch people, where I live. And maybe, it would be a good outlet for me, since a key part of butch identity -- as I understand it -- is taking up a male social role. Which is one of the things I'm currently missing. People complain that all the butches are transitioning, but wouldn't you think that there would be some people coming from the female-to-male transgender community who would opt not to physically transition? It would seem that if the lesbian community opened up a little bit, they would find people who were female and masculine...just, not necessarily self-defining by lesbian scales, or working within a separatist framework.

Anyhow, I should get some sleep. If anyone has questions or comments or anything (that are respectful, you know), write them down. Chances are it's an easy answer from me.
2012-09-22 7:54
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Post: #3
Re: [gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you ha
If I may say, it seems more as though you dislike being seen as a woman far more than you wish to be seen as a man. You keep mentioning how others misattribute your gender, but your lamentations are in how they keep viewing and treating you as a woman, *not* in how they are not viewing you or treating you as a man. The latter simply seems a means to put the former to an end, not as the end in itself.

If I were to focus primarily on this, then going "Butch" is what I would be most like to recommend. It may not put to ease all of your hassles, but the number of hassles it would cause in turn sounds to be fairly limited compared to full-blown transitioning. Furthermore, if you decide that this path is too little or even too much, you can always change your course. Should you decide to go the "Butch" route, it may also become a good deal easier to simply tell people that you prefer to see yourself as a man, putting an end to most misattributions.


I do believe you should grow more tolerant of the behavior of your peers, however. Short hair and masculine clothing alone does not invalidate society's perception of you as a woman, especially if you hold a female societal position; your peers are only acting naturally according to the situation they have presented to them. I know you're working on changing that perception, but try not to hold it against anybody in the meantime.


[Side -- would it be acceptable to place my own "ramblings" in this thread?]

~~~
2012-09-24 20:22
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Chordal
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Post: #4
Re: [gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you ha
Hey,

I just woke up and checked this thread -- I'm still a bit too dazed to respond thoughtfully now, but regarding this:

Rain Wrote:[Side -- would it be acceptable to place my own "ramblings" in this thread?]
...feel welcome to do so!
2012-09-25 20:50
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Chordal
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Post: #5
Re: [gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you ha
Rain Wrote:If I may say, it seems more as though you dislike being seen as a woman far more than you wish to be seen as a man. You keep mentioning how others misattribute your gender, but your lamentations are in how they keep viewing and treating you as a woman, *not* in how they are not viewing you or treating you as a man. The latter simply seems a means to put the former to an end, not as the end in itself.
I have fairly limited experience in actually being treated as a man. It's happened at times, but often being in that intermediate zone where people are uncertain of my gender, I tend to get a lot of sexual harassment (in the form of, "IS THAT A BOY OR A GIRL," spoken loudly, within earshot). This is in addition to the "gorilla" or "knuckle dragger" comments I get when I appear as a muscular female. Rarer, is the experience of passing for male, which often leaves me questioning whether the person couldn't see clearly (as at dusk), accepted me as a pre-pubescent boy (in the Boys' Department), wasn't paying attention (as in "thanks, man," for holding the door open for another guy), or was just sensitive enough to actually understand the situation. Being identified by others as a man, outside of the queer community, always seems tenuous and short-lived with me...I'm always afraid I'll say or do something to make it disappear, or that they'll come to see me as a manly woman and then be angry at me for "deceiving" them.

When I was in early college -- about a decade ago, now -- I did for about a year, live in a pretty masculine social role. This was with strong contacts from within the queer community, though, and a group of peers who seem to have basically respected my position, even if they didn't fully understand it. (*I* didn't even fully understand it...) Basically I began to identify as male, because taking on that identity relieved my irrational anger at (and jealousy of) males (which in turn, probably stemmed -- on a deep level -- from ongoing sexual harassment and faulty expectations from others as to who I should be, in my high-school life).

In high school, I was largely unaware of whatever gender issues I had, rather feeling that I was surrounded by sexist bigots who wanted to call themselves "men" and didn't respect anyone who was female and didn't conform to their expectations. That is, I didn't know that I *could* (!) identify as male or that it was a possibility that I could be psychologically male. Instead I universalized, internalized, and politicized my own experience as the result of a terrible and hostile world, and didn't recognize that this treatment (and the concomitant conformity to expectations by girls) was -- or could have been -- acceptable to educated female peers. So I was pretty much a hard-line rebellious angry feminist, even though I didn't realize that -- I only figured this out years later -- some of the lesbians and bisexual girls I was dealing with, saw me as trans. At the time, I didn't even know what "transgender" meant.

In early college, I was able to present as male and be seen as such, until I began to speak. What happened when others I didn't know, heard my voice, is that they quickly switched back to treating me like a woman, and occasionally fell all over themselves to apologize for seeing me as a man (because apparently they felt they were wrong [no], and that of course I'd want to be seen as a woman, because not being a woman was a bad thing [no, and no]). This especially happened when I bound my chest, didn't shave my face, had buzzed hair, and was pretty bulked-up in the muscle department. (Binding is not fun -- I tend to try and ignore the fact that I have breasts [except when contemplating whether I want them, or their removal], and wearing bras or binders draws my attention to the fact that I'm female, and can't go bare-chested in public without threat of arrest, sexual assault, or rape; and can't go without a bra or binder in shirts without a double-front panel without feeling sexualized.)

I'd like to be able to be seen as a man without having to go to such extreme and stereotypical lengths. With testosterone, I may well eventually lose a lot of the hair on my head, but in between now and then, I would gain so many secondary-sexual characteristics (beard, musculature, voice drop, body hair, cartilage growth, genital growth, hairline change, change in body fat percentage and distribution, libido spike, decreased displayed emotionality, etc.) that it wouldn't be necessary to emulate extreme masculinity to be recognized as a man. Testosterone would bring me closer to actually *being* a man, and living as a man. Being butch signifies that I want to be *treated* as a man, maybe that I *want* to be a man, but not that I *am* one.

The choice seems to be between expressing extremely hard femaleness, or a softer kind of maleness. It's tough to have my guard up, all the time -- as when presenting butch -- for one thing because I have to be constantly alert to threats for appearing visibly homosexual. I'm not actually homosexual, by the way (when measured either as a man or a woman), but I avoid straight non-trans men because they tend to want me to be a woman for them. I don't want to have to be giving cues that are shouting "MAN MAN MAN MAN" all the time in order to get basic recognition and respect, which in turn is only part of what I want.

I have actually compiled a plan, which parallels your suggestion: as a first step back into this, I'm trying to move into a situation where I'll be displaying more masculine signals, through clothing and my bodily musculature. I'm also moving my status as gender-variant out into the offline world and into my working environment, instead of having it confined to just being online, or just being online and with a small network of friends (and acquaintances whom I know understand).

Basically, I'd be moving back more closely to the presentation I had in early college, which I abandoned on coming home because it was too extremely painful, angering, and frustrating not to feel validated as male by family. (It felt easier to try and move my own self-perception back closer to what it was before I'd left [before I knew what "transgender" meant], so family didn't feel disappointed that I left and came back as a different person.)

This should give me a sense as to whether I need to go further, whether I can be comfortable with just muscular hypertrophy, cross-dressing, and others' awareness of my situation (which will likely [hopefully?] lead into a more male social role...which is one step I can stop at or surpass), or whether in some way I need to vary my gender cues so as to express certain small amounts of femininity. The last might be easier to express as someone seen as a man (testosterone does rather extreme things to one's gender cues, analogous to going through a second puberty), because my identity and efforts wouldn't be automatically invalidated on the basis of wearing the wrong earrings. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->

Anyhow -- I should get up and stretch. But thanks for writing in, and like I said before, feel free to talk about your own situation here, too. I've probably been logged off already <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> but I will be back.
2012-09-26 0:44
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Micah
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Post: #6
Re: [gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you ha
Chordal Wrote:It's happened at times, but often being in that intermediate zone where people are uncertain of my gender, I tend to get a lot of sexual harassment (in the form of, "IS THAT A BOY OR A GIRL," spoken loudly, within earshot).

I get that quite often as well. I transitioned about eight years ago - not fully, as I went on testosterone and had top surgery, but didn't do anything below the belt. I definitely looked female before, and can look definitely male if I need to for sensitive situations and such, but most of the time I just don't even give a crap and get the whole "Yes maamsir?" thing from everyone. But hey, I live in the south, and if people here don't hate you for one thing, they will almost always definitely find something else to hate you for <!-- s:roll: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_rolleyes.gif" alt=":roll:" title="Rolling Eyes" /><!-- s:roll: --> But I don't like traditional gender roles, or gender at all really, so that's the lot I've chosen for myself <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> I've found that it's all about my hair style when it comes to wanting to be perceived as a specific gender, since I've got a very weird Einstein-esque style going on right now it's kinda hard to pinpoint me, but if i slick it back I don't get a second look.

I do like it when the little kids come up to me and ask if I'm a boy or girl though, I always tell them neither <!-- s8-) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8-)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8-) --> Let their parents awkwardly try to explain that one to them.

Testosterone doesn't necessarily make you SUPER masculine. You can take smaller doses. I told my doctor I did not under any circumstances want to look TOO masculine, and he gave me the lowest dosage possible (I'm taking the gel stuff rather than the shots, it's one gel packet a day) and I don't do much strength training, mostly cardio, so I stay lean-looking and don't get all muscle-y.

I don't want to say I feel completely male, but since I have to choose between male or female, I go for the former. It is an easier gender to deal with overall and I find myself fitting more into that niche than the other, even though I still have my guilty girl-likes - Monster High dolls and stuffed animals and Sailor Moon (but don't tell anyone! ...wait. <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: --> )
2012-09-30 12:55
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Post: #7
Re: [gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you ha
Micah Wrote:Testosterone doesn't necessarily make you SUPER masculine. You can take smaller doses. I told my doctor I did not under any circumstances want to look TOO masculine, and he gave me the lowest dosage possible (I'm taking the gel stuff rather than the shots, it's one gel packet a day) and I don't do much strength training, mostly cardio, so I stay lean-looking and don't get all muscle-y.
You're talking to someone who had Vegeta as a role model as a kid. <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->

Yes, though -- if I do use testosterone, I'm at least going to begin at tiny doses. But what I've heard (online, and I'm about at the place where I'm not accepting information online as factual anymore, regardless of if it came up in a trans group or not) is that the effects of testosterone are cumulative. I should be seeing a gender specialist very very soon, though, and that would be a good thing to ask her.
2012-10-01 1:40
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Post: #8
Re: [gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you ha
I had a very long and probably over-sharey post written up a few days ago, but I hit the wrong button. And then I gave up. But I'm back! <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue -->

I definitely can relate to feeling "nonfemale." I'm not necessarily male, but...definitely not female.
2012-10-02 9:30
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Post: #9
Re: [gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you ha
Wolfsnake Wrote:I definitely can relate to feeling "nonfemale." I'm not necessarily male, but...definitely not female.

Hiii. <3

I'm guessing I can write, some more. <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue --> (I've been asleep most of the day, so...I'm not really jumping into the studies, at this point.)

My mind's kind of only partially here, so I hope you'll forgive me if this starts spilling over into the career thing -- which is related, and is what my life has been circling around fairly recently.

Feeling "nonfemale" -- this is kind of a complicated topic for me, because I actually have been female-identified in the past. Not woman-identified; but female-identified, which to me is a separate thing. Of course this gets all messed up and complicated when dealing with identifying with assigned-female-at-birth transgender and genderqueer people, who may themselves identify as nonfemale...though some do still identify as female. So it kind of gets into this zone where it's like "does this mean anything anymore?" <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> But I strongly disidentify with the terms: woman, girl, and lady; even though I accept that people who don't know me, and who have no contact with any transgender or non-straight community, don't know any better than to call anything that looks female by those names, as that's seen as being "respectful." (*vomits*)

This could have to do with growing up in a feminist household, but I haven't had too much shame or anything (not to say anyone here does) about being female...what I don't like is being *sexualized* as female. It's a reason why I don't like my chest -- because I really dislike having to wear bras (which carry the meaning for me that femininity has to be restrained), and I really dislike going without bras (because my chest is very obvious without multiple layers of clothing); and I really dislike not being able to go shirtless; and I really dislike having to do cancer screenings; and my heredity says that these things may some day sag. What I like to do is basically ignore that area, but that's not a good survival tactic. (What I wish had happened: that my buds had been cut out at 14 when I first brought this up.)

It's simpler to just get rid of that tissue so I don't have to think about it anymore (especially as I'm not planning on ever nursing a baby -- hence the tissue is useless or a needless burden), even though then my form may look a bit unbalanced, if I'm still carrying weight in my belly, hips and thighs. Once the chest is out of the way, I'm thinking things would be easier for me...it's not that it would make further transition easier (though it would, exponentially), more than it would be a significant *part* of transition. And then the rest of transition could be either regular exercise, or exercise with hormones...especially as I don't like having the tiny belly I have now (thank you, cortisol), and because that will stand out more if I don't have the top to distract attention from it. It's not having a fullish chest itself that I don't like, it's having a fullish chest that reads "look at me, I'm a female in my fertile years" that I don't like -- because that attracts men, and it usually attracts men who want me to be a woman, and who want to use my uterus, which leads to rage in myself.

Well, maybe I do have issues about being seen as female. <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: --> I don't think I'd have a problem with being a fertile *male*, but I'm not carrying a baby if I have any choice about it. (I'm intentionally avoiding the discussion of one of the current Presidential candidates, here, just because it will make me rage more, and I don't need that right now.)

What came up about this for me, very recently, is that I've been told that the key part of this is to find my center first and then operate from there as to what I do with my presentation and body. Of course, though, this brings in how I view myself (even if it's not the way anyone else views me), and that brings in the personal mythos that I've gone over here, before. So the spiritual things, the self-explanations, they do factor in; and if I'm being honest with myself I've got to include that, even if I am being critical about it (as gently as I possibly can). But rational criticism doesn't hold a lot of weight against direct experience, you know?

Okay, I think I've typed myself out, for now...
2012-10-26 2:08
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Re: [gender] focusing on what you want as versus what you ha
Hey, look what I found in my archives. <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue -->

Not much to say at this moment except for the fact that I'm thinking about physical transition now (despite having tried to hold to a different position before), and am feeling much better about the potential consequences.

Likely, more to come later.

[EDIT -- 11:15 PM]: I'm also allowing for the fact that my identity seems to be somewhat fluid but preferring a specific shape. Thing is that I haven't been totally femme for a really long time now, and I'm not missing it so much. But more, later.
2013-01-28 7:10
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