An out-and-out scoundrel

bizarre_forest_doorI wrote this in response to a call for contributions from Butch Wonders‘ blog. You’ll know some of this already, if you’ve been reading my blog-thing, but it feels like a good update for a new year.


This is The One About Identity Interaction, I think…

So let’s see: I’m a singing, drumming, Buddhist trans woman from England, I’m 50, and I’ve now come out 8 times. Seriously. (And that number went up from 4 during the writing of this. Seriously. Self-revelation is fun.)

1) in my 20’s, as a “gay man” – in fact, I wasn’t gay (I was bi, but scared not to be part of The Gang, and it seemed simpler at the time – plus it was an excuse not to be stereotypically masculine); nor was I a man, but that took another 25 years to sort out.

2) in my 30’s, as a “bi man” – eh, it was a start. I blame/praise Almodóvar’s Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down for making me admit to myself – and others – that I liked girls too.

3) in my 40’s, as a trans woman. Okay, late 40’s, this was 2 years ago. I’d known consciously since I was 23, but it went way back further. Why did it take so long to surface? Because I was being abused at home, and I was trying to keep my girlself in a protective coma. Why did it take me so long to come out and get on with it? Because I was abused at home (and then bullied and beaten up later in life for being indefinably “different”) and needed to heal up somewhat first. Oh, and also because I was ordained into a Buddhist order that turned out to be pretty transphobic (they’ve matured since then). Oh, and because…

4) a year ago, as a trans tomboy. See, it took me a while (once I’d admitted that my gender was incongruent with my body) to feel like I was a “real trans woman”. Why? Because the Revised Standard Version of the Transgirl Bible says some variation on “Yea verily, for even before I was potty trained, I knew I was a girl, I wanted to play with dolls and dress like a princess…” and so on.

There were a lot of expectations placed on me by the local Transmatriarchy – and you’d be amazed just how binary-obsessed and homophobic and conservative many trans women can be. So I looked back, and couldn’t see my girlhood through those spectacles. It took me some time to realise that yes, I had indeed always been a woman. It was just that the women I’d always wanted to be like were not girly princesses, they were what I like to think of as The Trouser-Wearing Adventuresses. My first ever crush, at 6, was on Amelia Earhart (true story).

The world in general expects me to want to be Olympia Dukakis, when I want to be Shane McCutcheon! Basically, I’d always been a closet dyke (I leave it to you to decide whether a dyke is by definition strictly gay – to me, it’s not just an orientation thing, it’s something broader about sense of self – dykes just are the people I feel most akin to, and they seem happy to feel the same about me). I’d spent decades confused by how often I’d fall for women who turned out to be dykes. Well, duh. And yet…

5) sometime last year, as a polysexual tomboy. (Fucking labels, how do they work?) I suddenly got fed up with the label “bisexual”, because even though there’s a growing movement to have it mean something less binary than “likes both men and women”, it still pretty much means that to most people. And as I came to terms with my not-so-binary nature, I noticed with some delight that I’m attracted to certain people, and at the time of attraction, I don’t necessarily always know what gender they identify/present as (and if I’m attracted, I don’t actually care). Hence polysexual. I don’t like “pansexual” because people seem to assume that means “oh, you just fancy everybody.” Like everyone else, I have my preferences. And tomboy is handy shorthand for “I’m female but not feminine, okay? …and pretty queer.” And, so…

6) sometime later last year, as an out-loud non-binary trans woman. Somewhere in the probability field that I think gender is, I am what I call Womandrogyne. Essentially, I’m currently a very genderqueer woman with incongruent anatomy. By the end of this year, after surgery I’ll have as congruent anatomy as I can reasonably expect to have. But I’ll still be a genderqueer woman, who will even, at times, quite possibly pack (as in: Yes, I may be just pleased to see you, but there’s also a “gun” in my “pocket”). And being this, and being queer as well as genderqueer, doesn’t make me any less of a valid woman – there are billions of kinds of woman, I’m this kind. And then…

7) 2 months ago, as actually kind of asexual. This is a big deal for me. As a consequence of abuse, I’d been left thinking I was obliged to be sexual in order to get love. Then more recently, I decided that I was obliged to be non-sexual, since every time I was sexual with someone, we both got strafed by my past-shrapnel. Then I noticed neither of these were choices – so I chose instead to think of myself as Closed For Repairs until I’d finished transitioning and sorted out some of my history (I’m also living with PTSD, at least for the moment).

And in the space that created, I came to understand that I don’t like sex. I love everything that can go with it – intimacy, affection, touch, sensuality, passion, humour and so on. But actual sex leaves me scared and messed up, if that doesn’t kick in actually during the sex. So it’s kind of impossible to tell whether I ever might like sex – I have no way of knowing what causes what, but I’m now very comfortable thinking of myself as asexual, but polysensual instead. When I’m attracted to people, I may not want sex, but I really, really want to touch and be touched by them. Still figuring out the ramifications of this. And of course…

8) last but not least, as a butch trans woman. The thing is, I’d always associated butchness with a sort of stereotypical machismo that was definitely not me (you can thank the media for that “model”). But since exploring further, and amongst other things coming across the Butch Wonders blog (and a conference of very, very diverse Butch Trans Women on youtube), I’ve come to realise that butch means something way bigger than that, for many of the people who identify that way.

I’m becoming more inclined to think of myself as butch as well as a tomboy. What’s the difference? Damned if I know. But the more (loosely-speaking) masculine aspect of me is emerging, the more I transition and become myself. The more I feminise physically, the more I like dressing in jeans and boots, button-down shirts and waistcoats and skinny ties (waistcoats and skinny ties rule). The more assertive I am. That’s in no way meant to be a Definition Of Butch, but it’s a stab at saying why I’m out as butch these days. It somehow fits. Thanks for listening. I wonder what I’ll come out as next.


[images: forest-door by MirandaRose, and Amelia Earhart, from Popperfoto/Reuters]


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