Tuesday, 3 April 2012

What it means (for me) to be genderqueer

I have become quite fond of telling people that I am transgendered by birth, but genderqueer by circumstance. It is a statement that I feel sums up my situation quite eloquently.

In a perfect world, I would be very well acquainted with the needle’s prick of hormones and the scalpel’s plastic surgery kiss. I would not only be on a first-name basis with both my electrologist and my hairdresser, but I would have the freedom to completely indulge in their arts. I would have a membership to a women’s only fitness club, a dancersize class, and an aerobics class . . . and I would use them all regularly.

While my name would be legally altered to reflect my true identity, I am far too much of a fetishist (and one with a lust of the beauty that lies between the gender binaries) to ever fully transition my gender.

That perfect world may be somewhere in my future, or it may be lost to me forever, but I stopped worrying about it a long time ago. Instead, I have found peace in my genderqueer identity, and I can honestly say the pleasure it provides is indescribable. It is more about a feeling than a look – a discreet expression of my true self, a physical alteration of my public persona that I can see in the mirror and feel in my heart, but which is largely lost on the casual observer.

It all starts with a solid (but subtle) feminine foundation, including a feminine antiperspirant (I love Secret Powder Fresh) and a light dusting of baby powder down below. I cream myself hairless every weekend (I find Veet Sensitive burns the least in the tender areas), and then touch up any stubbly patches with a razor during the week (Shick Hydro Silk razor, paired with Skintimate Skin Therapy cream, does wonders). I do pluck my eyebrows, as much as it hurts, but only to thin them and provide a little shape – I stop shy of fashioning the kind of pencil-thin arches I so dearly love.

As for my nails, they are painted with a lovely French beige polish (always OPI - I just find it lasts longer) during the week. It’s close enough to my natural skin tone that most people never notice, but it has a gorgeous sheen to it that makes me smile every time it catches the light. Even if the colour doesn’t ‘pop’ like a pink or jump out at you like a fuck-me red, I can feel the polish ever time my fingers or toes cross, and that anchors my identity. I'll usually stick with just one coat on my fingernails, to reduce the chances of being made, but always go with two coats on the toes.

Next, of course, is lingerie. It has been nearly fifteen years since I last wore a pair of boy’s briefs, but I still luxuriate in the sensation of a nicely frilled pair of panties, and the feeling of an expensive pair of stockings caressing my legs is almost orgasmic. For those ‘casual’ days in the office, I will forego the stockings for a cute pair of ankle socks. On those days, I’ll slip on a toe-ring to help anchor myself, since I’m not so worried about snagging the material, and sometimes even match it to a pink ring if I’m feeling daring.

As for clothes, I have a creatively genderqueer (androgynous/unisex) wardrobe. Roughly half of my pants are women’s slacks, carefully selected to give me a little shape, but not to hug or tug too much in the places that would draw suspicious attention. The other half of my pants are men’s pants, all of them altered to accommodate my identity. In most cases that just means replacing the ugly brass buttons with something a bit more colourful or flashy, but I have gone so far as to have a few tailored in the hips and legs to provide a bit of flair. I always top them off with a plain women’s belt – as much as I love my pink and purple belts with the studs, it’s a plain black or (on my more daring days) a very dark violet in the office.
On those casual days I mentioned, a cute pair of capris does draw a bit of attention, but since I’ve established a long history in the office of not liking full-length pants, and since we’re only allowed to wear shorts in the summer months, they get passed off as more of an eccentricity on my part than a violation of the gender binary. I've even cheated a few times in the nice weather and worn my convertible capris, which look like full-length pants all day long (a bit tailored in the legs, perhaps), but with the cuffs that can be rolled up and tied off into capris the moment I'm ready to leave the office.

Up top, my ‘dress shirts’ are almost exclusively women’s blouses, once again carefully selected to avoid the obvious darts or suspiciously-placed seams that would give away the secret. Fortunately, the recent trend towards colourful pastels for men and women has significantly expanded my wardrobe over the past two years, and since people generally see what they expect to see, only a very small handful of coworkers have ever noticed that the buttons fasten on (to them, at least) the ‘wrong’ side.

My hair has always been an issue, which (in the grand scheme of things) actually works in my favour. People devote so much attention to the length, questioning when I’ll cut it or why I’ve let it get so long, that they fixate on it to the exclusion of everything else. I keep it trimmed to about the middle of my shoulder-blades, making it just long enough to look acceptable in an office ponytail, while providing enough wavy length to style loose and free. So long as I stay away from bright colours, I can even get away with a cute scrunchie to hold it all in place.

At the end of the day, if somebody was to look at the tags and scrutinize me up-close, they’d realise just how feminine my expression is, but casual acquaintances rarely devote that much attention to one another. I do get the occasional odd look or quizzical expression, especially if they catch me putting on flavoured Soft Lips or Chaptstick (a great substitute for the feel of lipstick)

I know you're probably thinking I must look like quite the effeminate sissy or flamboyant gay man, but you'd be surprised how much people see what they want to see. Were we to meet in line at Starbucks, you'd probably look right past me, never noticing anything unusual . . . it's what you know that makes the difference in what you allow yourself to see, and it's what I know that makes the difference in what I allow myself to feel.


1 comment:

  1. I've been doing some of the same things as you with women's blouses and ponytails. It's fun!