Labels, libelulles

I’ve been doing a bit more thinking about labels, in the last couple of days.

Libellule is French for dragonfly, by the way – and seems appropriate here, since like labels, dragonflies flit about unpredictably, and are diaphanous in places (diaphanous is a lovely word) – plus I get to pun on my own earlier title, which makes me wriggle (that’s just sad).

Mainly, I’ve been puzzling over the definition of the label Bigender, and whether it applies to me or not.

Some while ago, feeling a bit isolated on a transgender forum because I couldn’t empathise with what most people on there were experiencing, I found my way to a bigender forum, where there seemed to be more people who were more like me. I introduced myself there, described how I experience myself – as being female but neither masculine nor feminine (or possibly a mixture of both), and folk there seemed to think bigender was an appropriate label for me.

But the more I read from bigender folk, the more it seems that (a) that term is being used to describe a very, very broad range of different identities and experiences (in the same way that bisexual is, to my mind), and (b) most people’s definition of bigender seems to involve an experience of being both male and female, or in non-binary terms, being more than one gender, or more than one person within themselves. So it doesn’t feel to me like that fits me.

Then there’s Androgyne. That ought to be a better fit, but somehow it isn’t. I guess because I experience myself as a woman, though without the classic feminine characteristics – which is how I came up with Womandrogyne as a label for myself.

This is all confusing. I mean, there’s gender, and then there’s gender identity, and then there’s gender presentation. What am I, exactly?

Now there’s a ridiculous question. Why do I feel the need for a me-specific label? Heh, a couple of things come to mind, and the first is that I’m going through a new adolescence, and teens love their labels (as long as it’s them choosing them) :). But then society is not satisfied with not knowing “what you are” either, so maybe I want a label in order to have a badge to show, when people demand to see my gender identity papers?

When it comes down to it, I think this is about me feeling isolated and looking for my “tribe”. And what keeps happening on trans forums, and more recently on this bigender forum (and another genderqueer forum I briefly joined) is that I describe my experience, someone replies with “Yeah, I know exactly what you mean…” and then goes on to relate their experience which is way different from mine. I shouldn’t be surprised – the main thing people have in common is the uniqueness of each of us.

In the end, I realise I’m wasting my time, because I’m trying to define myself using terms from a framework I don’t believe in in the first place. If we didn’t see things so much through the binoculars of Man-Woman, Masculine-Feminine in all its rigidity, most of this labelling would be so unnecessary. It almost seems as though the labels are there to show people what I am not – not male, not masculine, not feminine, not heterosexual.

At one end of the scale, terms like genderqueer are too broad for me – at the other, all the apparently specific terms are not really specific at all, since each of us means something different by them. So here I am, telling folk I’m womandrogyne, I’m a trans tomboy – and still having to explain what I mean when I say that. Which is as it should be, because all this is way too subtle and complex to be summed up in a label.

And when it comes down to it, I’m still emerging from my chrysalis, wings not dry yet, I don’t know what I am yet. All I can say with any certainty is that whatever species I turn out to be, whatever colour I turn out to be, it won’t be pink.

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2 comments on “Labels, libelulles

  1. lyds01 says:

    Hi…
    I know what you mean.
    It’s so difficult for me to describe who/what I am to people, actually I’m confused about the labels myself. And I’m tired of the gender binary expectation. Most people put others into the feminine/masculine boxes – and you ‘should’ be in (only) one of them.
    It’s very rare to relate to someone – and I relate to you right now. I’m glad… Tq for telling your experience.
    I identify as a mandrogyne.
    I was born female. But I always identified with boys/guys, their way of thinking. Since I entered puberty, I wished I had a more masculine body (in terms of bone and muscle structure, and sex, too). But I also could somehow accept my own female body. I definitely don’t want to lose my breasts… (and I’d also miss the other part). In terms of sexual attraction, I’m head over heels for the male body type – as long as he’s not very masculine (more like an androgynous built).
    We are all a puzzle… but a beautiful one, I’m sure.
    It’s great that you are on that journey, to find yourself, find your happiness, live in harmony with yourself. I’m also getting brave enough to do it – I’m in the beginning…
    All the best,
    your new fan
    Lyds

    • womandrogyne says:

      Hi Lyds, and thanks! The exciting thing is that the more I explore gender identity (and, well, just identity) the more I realise it’s all up for grabs. I was brought up in a culture that assumes so many things about gender: that there are only two, that you have only one, that you stay put in your given gender. And it’s increasingly and hilariously (and relievedly) obvious that this is all bolox :). Gender seems to me these days to be just a rainbow cloud of probability, and I occupy several vague areas of it, and shift about between them, and they shift about too… But it’s all part of the same “me”. And I know people for whom gender doesn’t even make any sense at all of their experience, so they just shrug and step around it as a concept. And countless other people with countess other similar to wildly different experiences. My culture’s traditional understanding and assumptions surrounding gender just seem like a bad black & white Polaroid photo of something fluid, coloured, three-dimensional, complex, and in constant motion.
      (Sorry, I’m awake at 3 am, it’s nearly full moon, and I’m feeling lyrical about everything tonight).
      Good luck to all of us, shrugging off our conditioning and turning to meet and greet our true and fascinating selves.

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