My Gender Hasn’t Changed– Language Is Just Playing Catch-Up

[ March 2016 note: I’m no longer in the same place as I was when I wrote this. I no longer identify with the term “epicene” either, as I’ve come to find that any word that attempts to approximate a gender, either as a goal, space, flavor of embodiment, or social role, is insufficient and irrelevant to me. Even words like “genderless” are too much like soundbites to me and encapsulate nothing about my lived experience, which I actually do get into a bit here otherwise. Also, now that I’ve had my hysterectomy, and am off medications, I no longer want any more surgeries, let alone colpocleisis. ]

I’ve always had a pretty decent understanding of what the “inert nothingness” feels like within the context of myself; it’s just finding words to describe that experience that’s always been sucky. It’s made engaging with trans* spaces sucky.

But a word caught my eye the other day (two, actually, from different places, and they are related in a way): epicene. You can google it to get the jist of how it’s generally used. But it has this quality to it that really interests me. For one, it doesn’t have the word “gender” or “sexual” in it. And that is a HUGE bonus, seeing as how I’ve recently referred to myself as being not quite transgender, not quite transsexual, and not quite cis; over the course of about a month those words suddenly ceased to have any meaning for me, like a house of cards come tumbling quietly down. It wasn’t an identity crisis at all; I’d just become allergic to that sort of language almost overnight without having gone through anaphylactic shock. It was time for me to move on.

I’ve been on anti-depressants for about 6 months now, and it’s had this curious effect on how I identify. I’ve read some trans* folks confess to being hesitant to go on medication that they need because they’re worried about it affecting their gender. I can safely say that the intersection between queerness, the concept of transition, and depression is a messy one that I don’t really want to get into, suffice to say that yes, SSRIs have changed how I perceive myself and my place in society. That makes it sound much grander than it really is, but that’s the best I can really explain it. It was like being covered in layers of old, chipping paint, dirt, grime, and then having it stripped away to reveal the bare material underneath so I could have a fresh start.

 

The medication helped me to realize that deliberate, blanket androgyny – commonly perceived by the LGBTQ+ community as being basically short-haired, baby-faced, soft butch – wasn’t going to save me. It gave me room to breathe and ask what it was that I was rejecting, exactly, and what I was trying to get away from. How did I feel that I was lacking?

Honestly, I could have told you 6 months ago, but I can’t fathom what my logic was now. I can’t remember. All I know is that binding is more trouble than it’s worth for me anymore.

Funnily enough, though, my hair has gotten shorter since then, and the makeup still sits unused the vast majority of the time. It’s just that, when I do put makeup on now, I don’t feel the acute anxiety of betraying some prescribed ideal I thought I was trying to live up to.

Epicene.

Even agender feels too political and too aggressive for me now. My identity is inertness; not a vacuum, but dead air. Elemental gold.

Both, neither, whatever, who cares?

I don’t aim to satisfy anything right now, other than my own whims and fancy. No identity, no politic, no stereotype, no gender expression. I feel no anxiety putting on a dress or butching it up, sitting with my legs open because that’s what’s comfortable right then. I find that I’m starting to project both “naive child” and “old woman” in how I dress and carry myself. And that’s satisfying; after all, I’ve stopped dyeing my hair so that I could cultivate my grays.

The second word I’ve learned recently is colpocleisis. It’s a surgical procedure that closes up most of the vaginal opening in response to pelvic prolapse. It’s simple, and perhaps most importantly, western doctors are happy to perform it under conditions they consider suitable. And it’s a surgery I want.

Genital nullification surgery is, it seems, extremely difficult for any surgeon to perform on a female genital configuration, and outright impossible to seek out without pursuing some seriously shady medical practitioners. It’s a depressing picture for those of us who are interested in attaining sexless bodies, and it previously seemed to me that even taking the smallest step is fraught with impenetrable roadblocks if you’re AFAB. I guess I could just go the rest of my life pretending that I had no vagina? Obviously, it’s far from an ideal scenario.

Fortunately for me, I plan on getting a hysterectomy this year. And until I’d heard about the above procedure, I’d grudgingly accepted the reality of a partial hysto because dramatically increasing my risk of pelvic prolapse from removing the cervix was not something that I wanted to risk at all. But if this is the fix that I can get should that happen? Sign me up. Bring on the prolapse.

Surgery consultation is booked for May 7th, so wish me luck in playing up the endometriosis card (and by California law I’m allowed to be voluntarily sterilized for whatever reason anyway). I’ll update then!

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  1. Gender Perspectives, Vol. 3 | Valprehension - May 21, 2014

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