Girl lessons: a girl in seventh grade trying to teach me how to swing my hips so we could lip synch to a song from Grease in our theater class. Going to the mall with the older girls in my church youth group in sixth grade, watching them try on eyeliner and lipstick and wondering how they knew what to do. A friend showing me how to tie a towel into a make-believe bra, age seven or eight.
Boy lessons: The way the boys at my high school walked, trying to see if I could master that lope. The boys in my childhood neighborhood who rode their bikes with no hands and played with lighters in the street. Trying to impress my brother’s Boy Scout troop, showing that I could hike all day and build fires like them.
I have always liked living in the in-between. Is that just a failure to commit? Is my fear of exposure so overwhelming that I would even try to hide something like my gender from prying strangers?
Is it a sickness or an identity?
All I know is that I feel most comfortable in my own skin when I’m spared the labels. That it was exhilarating to discover that genderfucking and drag and genderqueer identities are things that exist. It felt like finding some hidden passageway, a crack in a system that had never worked for me.
My blog is still “diary of an avoidant woman,” right up there. For the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about changing it, but I feel like it’s still a relevant detail. I was raised and socialized as a girl and a woman. It’s still how I’m usually read by strangers. It’s a pretty big part of my life’s story, albeit a problematic one.
Is this just too much navel gazing? I know it’s not just a fashion choice or political statement. I’d rather politics could stay out of my gender identity, in some fantasy world where people are allowed to just be what they want to be and talk about it however they want, or not at all.
I know I don’t want to talk about it. I mean, I wish I could. But identifying as androgynous or choosing a new pronoun preference turns a private understanding into a political act in a way that I don’t feel ready for. I don’t want to debate this shit. It’s just who I am.
I don’t feel ready to join some revolution. I do feel ready to understand what I am – androgynous, genderfluid, whatever. I don’t care about the lingo. I care about finding a little corner of my mind that is suddenly at peace, that is finally acknowledged.