My Gender

Hi again,

If you’re checking back to this blog for a second consecutive day thank you! Two days in and we’ve already doubled the amount of content on the site.

For those of you who followed my old blog, this kind of post won’t be a surprise; a few months ago I wrote about my sexuality and, and this is exactly the same thing, only with gender. I’ve told some of you in real life already, so for you guys think of this as more of an explanation, rather than news; for everyone else, this is, indeed, news.

I’m genderfluid. There are a million interpretations of what this actually means, but to me it’s a conceptualisation of gender identity as a spectrum, and my own place on that spectrum varying from day to day, or even hour to hour. On one extreme there is total masculinity – short hair, trousers, beards and scowls – and on the other is total femininity – makeup, dresses, sitting down to pee and actually being affectionate towards one’s friends. This scale may be problematic for some, as it operates largely off stereotypes, so I’ve refined it to involve three levels (because, as Julian of Norwich will tell you, complexity must be described in threes).

The first, most fundamental level, is biological sex. This tends to be binary, although not always, and I would describe this level with ‘male’ and ‘female’. Personally, I am biologically male – I have a penis and testes and chest hair and terrible body odour – and am not trying to change this.

The second level up is what I’d call gender identity, and can be described with ‘man’ and ‘woman’. Again, there are many other ways of looking at this – I’m neither a man nor a woman, after all – and it is a far more complex set of characteristics than biological sex. Instead of this being a set of physical features that defines the term used to refer them, this is more of a subjective, personal judgement call. So, I could identify as a woman, and I would be a woman because it’s my body and my gender is what I choose it to be. Similarly, I could call myself a man, and no-one would have the right to question it.

The final level is the most intricate, and is what I call ‘gendered characteristics’. These are individual features of behaviour or appearance that are themselves indicative of a gendered identity: having long hair, for instance, is a gendered characteristic that is indicative of femininity; meanwhile tattoos are a more masculine characteristic. You’ll notice, however, that many men and male people have long hair, and many women and female people have tattoos; this highest level is the most fluid and malleable of the three levels of gender, as people of various gender identities draw from traits all along this spectrum. For instance, a biologically male person, who identifies as a man, could have many feminine features to their behaviour; these could be as small-scale as wearing earrings, or as grand as publicly cross-dressing.

So, for the sake of clarity, here’s how I fit into these levels:
– Biological sex: male
– Gender identity: genderfluid
– Gendered characteristics: usually masculine, occasionally feminine

When these three things are considered together, suddenly the term ‘genderfluid’ makes more sense. My feminine gendered characteristics are quite dramatic – I don’t just want to wear nail paint, I want to wear a dress and heels to the Sports Ball in a few weeks – and so from that I have constructed a broader gender identity that reflects those characteristics. Sometimes I want to wear a skirt and makeup, but more often I like hoodies and NOFX shirts; my gendered characteristics vary quite wildly between very masculine and very feminine, so ‘genderfluid’ is an effective term to encapsulate them.

But at the end of the day, this is all a bit lofty. We can sit here and talk about the line between stereotyped traits and personal identity, or the hazy middle ground between being unique and just appropriating wholesale the well-established features of a different gender, and it makes no real difference. I didn’t realise those three levels of gender all at once, they’re the product of wanting to wear dresses but also trainers, and the resulting few months of rationalising and researching and thinking. I call myself genderfluid because of what I wear and who I am, not the other way around.

That’s why this has all been much harder than coming as as pan-demi; there’s a certain arbitrary, almost smug artistry to thinking about gender in this way, as if its some academic subject to be studied and probed and chatted about over cigars and coffee. Yet it’s a very real, tangible feeling, that I want to wear eyeliner but feel like I can’t because people will misinterpret my intentions, and judge me negatively.

Honestly, I’m still not totally sure what my gender is or where it goes from here. I don’t know how I’ll apply for jobs that ask for candidates to submit their applications alongside a binary gender box, and I have no idea how I would date anyone if my gender flips so often. But I’m working it out.

All that I ask is that you refer to my as ‘Casey’, and by the pronouns ‘they’, ‘them’ and ‘their’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’. Language both shapes and is shaped by our thoughts, so thinking about and referring to me in these terms would be a big help. Beyond that, I guess be prepared in case I wear an atrocious dress to a social event sometime? I’m still not very good at picking feminine clothes.

So if you have any advice, I’d be all ears – I like full skirts, skater skirts and heavy eye makeup, for the sake of style – and if not, thank you for listening. It’s good to talk about this stuff.

Speak again soon,
Casey

Hello again

Hey you,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, a while for some of you maybe; others of you might be totally new to this whole experience, in which case welcome! I hope you enjoy what you see.

This first post, however, is directed mainly at the people who followed my last blog, and my real-life friends, because I’ve been seeing you guys for months, after all. As some of you will know, a lot has, and a lot hasn’t, happened in the last few months, and I’ve been personally and mentally all over the place.

And that’s not really cleared up, nor do I expect it to ever fully resolve itself; I’m stressed and afraid and upset as byproducts of my more colourful, varied and wonderful life, and I think it’s worth taking a few afternoons of sadness for the longer periods of joy and great company. So I’m not too beat up about it; my life has changed, and my old blog wasn’t really an appropriate platform any more.

It was too bitchy, too full of knee-jerk reaction posts, and instances of me exaggerating a particular pet peeve into an unnecessary assault on groups of people or, in some cases, poor individuals I was too afraid to name, and too afraid to confront in real life. I started that blog to have a daily creative outlet, but as I took on other, more enjoyable creative projects, that blog shifted to be a daily spiteful outlet, a platform for me to rattle my sabre against all the things that I was too afraid, or too weak, to take on personally. And that’s not a very healthy use of an artistic platform, and it’s certainly not a very healthy use of my mind.

So this blog will be different. And not just cosmetically different – the selfies and white background aren’t just the ‘good’ to the snide grins and black borders that made up the ‘evil’ old blog – but different in a more fundamental way. I realise now – after eighteen months of almost daily oversharing on the Internet – that human beings are built to be social creatures, but social creatures with boundaries. And opening up some of my deepest fears and most harmful gut reactions to the world, as I did on that last blog, can be a very destructive thing; I’d write a post about how medics are bastards, then wonder why my medic friends hadn’t spoken to me in a week; I’d not said anything to them in person, but they’d all seen the post where I called them awful things, and I didn’t even realise.

Eventually, this took its toll; I ended up being stretched between people I engaged with in real life, and online. I wasn’t sure who I’d complimented or offended, and on what platform, and what my current conversation partner did or didn’t know about me. I almost had to juggle two identities – a raw online persona and a restrained personal one – that left me socially paralysed and generally afraid of human contact, all while pouring more and more personal details into people’s minds through that blog. It was a weird disconnect of oversharing, yet feeling like I had no-one to talk to; and it has been a factor, though not the only factor, in my recent bouts of feeling awful for nothing in particular.

So this blog will be different. Cleaner. More professional. Yet still personal. Think a poet who puts slightly more personal details into their work than their colleagues, rather than a random person who starts describing their preferred sexual techniques in limericks, and bellows them to the world.

On this site I intend to tell you who I am, and what I think, but not how I think, and why I think that. Obviously, these are related terms, and I’ll probably overstep the line somewhere, but that’s the plan at least.

And, just to make it explicit, I’d like to apologise to anyone I’ve offended, annoyed or spoken about when inappropriate in the last eighteen months. It was wrong of me – I could kinda tell that at the time – but it took me three months away from WordPress and a lot of reflection to start acting on it. If you were one of those people, and you’re still reading my stuff, thank you for the second, or third, fourth, fifth, chance.

And to everyone else, welcome.

Hope we get on,
Casey