Poem: Almost hidden rant

They, them.

The plural words used to describe all who are not

 

Me, I.

For example,

They

tell me to straighten my hair

to wear more clothing

to change my makeup as if

I

style

My

hair

get dressed

paint my face to impress

Them.

As if

I

am an object meant solely for their amusement.

They

don’t seem to realize the

harmful nature of their comments.

They

don’t know that by saying

They

don’t like my makeup

my clothes

my hair

They

don’t like

Me.

Poem: Almost hidden rant

I Cannot Tell You My Gender

I wish I could, but I can’t.

For those of you who say “just look in your pants!” it’s not that easy, I promise you. If it were, I’d have figured this thing out long ago. Part of my confusion comes from limited opportunities to express myself. Even as I write I’m praying to every known God that no one I know personally reads this. I don’t feel comfortable having them see into my mind. There must be at least some degree of separation; I’m much bolder online than I am in person. I feel like a different person offline because the people I know now have known me long enough (at least 10 months on the low end) to have formed the idea of “me.” Changing myself dramatically now means explaining myself and risking being called a poseur or a trend follower. They have already imposed their own labels upon me, so I can’t pack or bind (though I’m not very interested in binding) or wear facial hair. I can dress like a guy, but that would prompt uncomfortable questions. Perhaps I can try these alternative expressions later in life, after I’ve already completed this current chapter.

 

While I cannot definitively say “man” or “woman” or agender, I can lay down the facts as they relate to my past and my curiosity. When I was very young, around kindergarten age, I saw male genetalia in person for the first time. It was just harmless play and experimentation between the neighbor kid and I. Before that I was well aware of the difference between males and females. I was born in England and lived there for a few years before coming to the States. There, body shaming wasn’t as common as it is here, so I saw a lot. Anyway, the same year I went through an all dresses phase where I wore nothing but dresses, regardless of the weather. I even wore a velvet dress in the searing 100+degree New Mexico heat. I also pretended to be a mother a lot during this phase. At the time “boy” and “girl” were simple labels my classmates and I gave to each other based on our appearances.

 

Fast forward a bit to when I hit puberty. I was still very young. Throughout that first year I had to battle the pain of growth spurts and new breasts. By the end of fourth grade I was one of two girls who had to wear a bra. That year was perhaps the most interesting year in my gender development. While I was learning how to wear a bra, I discovered my clitoris and boy did I have fun. Still, I was aware something was missing. I shaped phalluses out of play-doh and silly putty; I used mini billiard balls to stimulate  scrotum. When I was still young I could walk around the house like that and my parents would dismiss it as harmless child’s play. As I got older, it became unacceptable. Fortunately (and unfortunately) for me, I’d discovered androgyny in a girl at school. I didn’t understand it yet, but I was exposed to it. Around the same time I realized that female bodies can be powerful. I learned to use my body attention.

 

Throughout middle and high school I ignored gender, favouring sexuality. In my ares, it was no big deal- fashionable even- to claim to be bisexual or polyamourous. I could safely explore. And while I have had many a crush on girls, I always dated cisgender guys. Up until college I’d only kissed one girl and that was in a 7th grade game of truth or dare. I never explored gender because things were cut-and-dry. I had boobds and everyone referred to me as “she” so I was female. I used female restrooms, dressed in female clothes, and at one point claimed “I could never be butch lesbian because I like wearing dresses and lipstick too much.”

 

Now things have changed again, potentially because I was exposed to labels. The introduction of labels reintroduced feelings I had as a child. I like my chest somedays and others I want nothing to do with it. Same with my VJ. I’ve naturally gravitated towards less makeup and a more stereotypically “male” appearance (when I go to the gym, I reference men as my ideal body type, especially when it comes to arms). At the same time, I still love wearing the occasional dress. I don’t feel entirely uncomfortable with the “female” label I’ve been branded with, but I do wish to expand it so for now my gender is some mix of man and woman that simply has no name.

 

I Cannot Tell You My Gender

怎么办?(What do I do?): End of the Semester Reflection

Contrary to popular belief (or at least contrary to the vibe I get from the classmates I’ve talked to) I did enjoy my first year in college. I tend to be pretty even-keel about things, and I’m more apt to point out the negative than the positive. It’s a bad habit. The discussions and debates in which I’ve engaged have been extremely productive, and I relished being able to experience so many different pieces of the world in one place. In one day I would go from a conversation with someone from Hungary, to practicing Chinese with a national. That same day I could very easily speak with someone from Uganda and someone from Poland and someone from Pakistan. Cultural and linguistic diversity, as you all know (or at least as you’ll come to know), are is one of the things I value most on this Earth.

There were, of course, negative moments. Most of these negative moments are related to academic affairs. While it would be easy for me to lay out all of the problems I’ve seen with the academics so far, I would be remiss if I did not take at least a little responsibility for my educational experiences. I tried and failed to completely remove my biases against traditional education. It could be that I have been in the “system” for too long, and long for something new, but at any rate my opinions have colored my freshman year.

I also made poor course choices. I realize I had interest in some subjects solely because I was interested in impressing some unknown strangers in my future. Now, as the succulent taste of dropping out and doing my own thing so titillatingly plays across my tongue, the taste of shaping myself to fill someone else’s mold is more bitter than ancient Chinese medicine. I feel myself growing weaker. My sense of identity, as weak as it was before, is wavering harder that it ever has. But what can I possibly do? As little faith as I have in the education system, I have even less faith in society (sorry not sorry for being a downer today). It does not look favorably upon girls of my disposition. I’m a black female-bodied person with little credentials. My high school diploma is the only thing that documents my efforts in life thus far. Unfortunately, my diploma and its contents say little about my character. My grade point average reflects how highly (or how low) someone else appraised my work. It speaks of my ability to pass a few tests. It ignores the fact that some educators grade more harshly than others. It ignores the fact that some educators are highly subjective, grading based on how much they like a student. It does not necessarily reflect the amount of time I put into a subject, nor does it necessarily reflect the things that went on in my life outside of school (and believe me, there was a LOT that went on).

So I’m left with this essentially useless piece of paper that’s supposed to speak for me, that’s supposed to speak louder than my appearance. In the five seconds before I open my mouth to introduce myself, my potential employer has already –consciously or not– judged me negatively. He, or sometimes she, has already decided that because I appear to be female, he (or she) will pay me about 7% less than someone with the credentials who happens to appear to be male (just ask Forbes). If the trend continues, I’ll have a wonderful time trying to pay off my college loans in three and a half years. The glass ceiling is real, and these days it’s made of new-age bulletproofing material. It will flex under the force or a deadly projectile, but it will ultimately revert back to it’s previous shape, unscathed and colored by the weaponry now trapped inside it.

Add these social realities to the fact that I’m “nonconforming” –whatever that means– and I’ve got a cocktail of problems to drink. When I grow up, I want to be able to feed myself. I want to be able to attain shelter and clothing. I don’t need anything fancy, just enough to survive in relatively good health. Sure, I could straighten my hair, cover my current tattoo, refrain from getting news ones, and hide my piercings, but these body modifications all hold great spiritual significance to me, and hiding them would essentially hiding who I am. I dislike being a pawn in the system. I know I can’t expect to “have my cake and eat it too” as some would say, but I do ask for a little leeway, some breathing room.

Currently, I’m looking for a career path that allows me to be me in as much away as possible, and all the signs point to housewifery. It’s sad, but being a housewife to a husband who can provide me with my means of survival allows me to have the room to explore the other tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which I will explain in a later post. I want to move towards self-actualization, which I will also write about. Self-actualization,to me, seems to be like the Buddhist notion of Nirvana and the Abrahamic notion of Heaven. I just don’t see why I have to die to live in eternal piece. I feel as though I can reach that state while I’m still living.

I want to learn, explore, love, find. I want to be able to spend my days reading and making music and helping people, but I don’t want to have to sacrifice the elements that constitute my being. Last summer,  during my school’s orientation program, I attended several lectures where the lecturers stressed the importance of NOT worrying about the future. They assured us everything would fall into place, and that nothing mattered as long as we were happy. This is all good advice, but it’s difficult not to worry when you can see where the economy has been and when you’re not optimistic about where it’s going. It’s hard to believe that all I need is happiness for things to happen as they should when I have no concrete proof of it working in the past. All I have are the stories of my elders. Perhaps I should listen to them. People have been following the advice of those older than them for quite some time, there must be some efficacy in that tactic. I guess the only thing I can do right now is make decisions and wait for the upshot.

怎么办?(What do I do?): End of the Semester Reflection