Disrupting Gender: A Cisgender Experience

Published November 23, 2012 by auddity

Let me paint a scene for you. It was April or maybe even May, but the night was still a little cold so my friend and I were walking rather briskly from one engagement to another. It was dark and the city was coming to life around us and we were headed to a drag party. She’d gone all out, her recently shaved head completing her exquisitely dapper look.  I was dressed in a friend’s button-down, jeans, and tie, all of which were too big on me. I was literally playing dress up. Much of what we talked about escapes me now, but we started talking about gender fluidity and I finally expressed to her what had been floating around in my subconscious for months:

“I have explored my sexual orientation and feel like I really know who I am in that respect; I have begun to explore my sexuality and even though it’s definitely still a work in progress, I’m feeling more and more comfortable. But how can I really know myself if I have never dared to question my gender as a woman? I know I am a woman, but how can I disrupt and analyze that part of myself if I stay within the confines of that label?”

Sexual orientation was (relatively) easy to disrupt. When I felt a shift in my orientation, I went with it. I followed my own internal tide and let it take me where it would – from straight to gay to pansexual to queer and beyond. Each new chapter brought new growth and self-awareness that could not have been achieved with a static orientation.

Sexuality was harder. Becoming a sexual being required shedding my wallflower tendencies and putting my money where my mouth was, so to speak. I have a long way to go for sure, but this bird’s got to fly eventually and all the false starts in the world won’t stop me from trying.

But gender identity, man that’s a hard one. I was fortunate enough to witness several of my friends’ transitions from female to male, and the way they blossomed into happier, more confident, truer versions of themselves is truly inspirational. I feel almost blasphemous for saying this, but I am a little jealous. I remember walking home one night and looking at the stars (I do that a lot when I am contemplating something big), and I thought, What if I am trans? How do I know I am a woman and it’s not just something I do out of habit because that’s what I’ve always been told I am? It was just a passing thought which I immediately dismissed and didn’t speak of out loud until that conversation just before a drag party. But really, how can I achieve that transition into a happier, truer version of myself without the actual act of transitioning my gender?

Let me tell you how.

I didn’t think of this as applying to my gender identity crisis until much later, but I secretly had already begun to push the boundaries of my gender identity. I used to wear B-cup bras with a little padding in high school, but I switched to A-cups with zero padding around the same time I came out as gay, so around freshman/ sophomore year of college. I initially considered this a side effect of my changing orientation, but I think it can also be viewed through a gender lens. As I’ve already said somewhere in another post, sometimes queers want to express their queerness by appearing more androgynous. I specifically remember explaining to a friend once that, “No I do not need a bra with this top because it’s different when you’re queer and sometimes you want to look more flat-chested.”

But it wasn’t just that one time when I was going out, I made a choice to diminish the size of my boobs because I was no longer comfortable with the way they looked, felt, and what they communicated in a B-cup. While previously the fact that I had the biggest boobs in my family with a B-cup (I’m serious) was a source of pride and envy amongst my mother and sisters, I slowly began to hate the way they protruded grotesquely from my body, like flashing neon lights saying, LOOK AT ME I AM A WOMAN AND I HAVE BOOBS AND THEY ARE ON DISPLAY FOR ALL OF YOU TO LOOK AT. Breast size may be a superficial judge of femininity and this may not seem as significant to anyone as it does to me, but I intentionally changed the definition of my own femininity. I followed the shift in my gender identity and it led me to an unpadded A-cup and subsequently a more androgynous figure. I am 100% okay with that, but do you know how difficult it is to find an unpadded A-cup bra these days?? #queer problems

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3 comments on “Disrupting Gender: A Cisgender Experience

  • Totes! I went through a similar experience of drawn-out questioning of all my identities after coming out and feeling self-conscious about the visibility of my physique, and how to reconcile that with my gender identity and my sexual orientation.

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