Parents and Pronouns, mk I.

•December 31, 2010 • 4 Comments

(I expect there will be a lot more on these topics combined, so I’m starting the numbering now…)

I came out to my parents as genderqueer recently (after explaining to them in detail about Trans and the trans umbrella using some very handy Trans 101 workshop sheets). I ask them to call me Nat instead of Natalie* and to use ‘they’ instead of ‘she’. I am currently staying home with them for Christmas. They have got Nat about 25% of the time but the female pronouns are coming in relentlessly. Before today, I had mentioned my problem this:
– once in the car, angrily: “WRONG GENDER!” – and they replaced the world ‘girl’ with ‘individual’
– several times at Christmas: just correcting Natalie to Nat and ‘she’ to ‘they’ every time they said it – they acquiesced but didn’t usually restate
– at least one other time in conversation, when they told me that they didn’t use pronouns to someone’s face anyway because it was impolite, so I shouldn’t be worrying (along the lines of “Who’s she, the cat’s mother?”, I suppose, which my mother used to say to me a lot). This is irrelevant because I can still hear them referring to me as she/Natalie around the house, and because they DO have conversations with me involved where they use my pronouns.

That happened today – mum started gushing about “what a lovely girl” I was and how “I’m her mother so I can say this” – the sentiment of which was appreciated, but the volley of female pronouns in a few sentences really set me off. I’d decided that pronoun-wise they clearly Weren’t Getting It and I’d just leave it until after the holiday and then send them an email. But… yeah. I said “Thank you, but I’d like to remind you both that my pronoun isn’t ‘she’.” Mum snapped back, “Oh, do you really need to be so pedantic? Just leave it alone!” She looked quite offended. I said “I haven’t mentioned this for days now.” There was a bit of a silence and then mum started being unrelatedly angry about something else. I went upstairs, and a few minutes later I heard her go into her room and slam the door.

Thing is, despite how I may appear to the outside world, I do not feel like I have a lot of confidence in myself or my opinions or decisions. I have been wondering if it would be easier to grit my teeth and just put up with it, unless (until?) I end up presenting full-time male and want them to use ‘he’ and ‘Albert’. In some ways it would be far to be able to tell them something solid and binarised like that – I realise that this is a more nebulous thing for them to do, and I acknowledge they are trying and this isn’t something they’ve come across before. But at the same time, I do not want to feel (as I sometimes do) that it’s childish and demanding for me to ask for the name and pronouns with which I feel most comfortable, or that it’s a special gift and privilege if I AM addressed by said name and pronouns. So. We close with me feeling like I’ve not been listened to, and mum feeling like I’ve just… lashed out at her with no reason? (I believe that my tone was not aggressive; she may well disagree; we have a history of arguments based on this.) Not good.

So I went and knocked on her door, and the following conversation took place:

“I just want to tell you that I’m not angry at you, and I’m not being pedantic, but this is important to me. I know you don’t mean it to be, but it’s hurtful.”
“[eyerollingly] Why is it hurtful, Natalie?”
“[hesitantly] Because I’m – not female.”
“[sharply] What are you then?”
“[after a slight falter] Something else. [pause] I’m not asking you to understand it, but I am asking you to respect it.”
“[shortly] Alright then, I’ll try my best. [picks up book swiftly and keeps reading]”

I… have no idea if that went well or not. She seemed cross that I was bringing this up again – her usual modus operandi is to let things fester before seeming to drop them (but potentially bringing them up at any time in the future). I didn’t want to leave her simmering, especially since I’m going out for New Year as soon as I’ve finished writing this, and won’t be back until tomorrow, but… Gah. I feel less as though she gets it than I did after I came out, and that is not a good thing. Maybe I should ask them to call me Albert. Or Xyrenth.



*Not actual name. Anon blog is anon.

No, I Will Not Cut My Fucking Hair.

•December 25, 2010 • 1 Comment

It’s Christmas and I could be doing so many other things right now, but damn it, I’m giving myself a day off, and this is something I want to say.

(I could be writing about being home with my family – who I recently came out to as genderqueer – and how they are trying but generally failing to use my desired name and pronouns, or I could be writing about my recent intense mixed feelings about binders, but… no, this is the thing for right now.)

I do not want to cut my fucking hair.

I have very long, straight, shiny hair.

It is sometimes very difficult to take of. When it gets tangled it can take a very long time to comb out, and washing and conditioning it takes fucking ages. On several occasions I have resolved to cut it for practicality reasons, or to dye it for attitude reasons (because damn it, I’m at university and once I get out into the world of work then I won’t be able to get away with bright green/purple/blue/red hair). I know that having short hair would automatically make me more legible as queer, or as non-femme queer. I know it would be easier to take care of. But… I fucking love my hair. It is, objectively, the only part of my body that I have always liked, or felt able to like, or whatever. This may be unhealthy and due to magazine ideals of the “perfect woman” (who has a slimmer figure than me, but she sure does have long straight shiny hair) or because I like/d hiding my face behind it (definitely true) or because long hair au naturel is full of potential to do things with even if I don’t do anything with it… but you know what, it’s still how I feel. My hair is my best physical characteristic, because even when I’m not feeling overweight/ugly/dysphoric it’s still just VERY. NICE. HAIR.

I know that keeping my hair long will make it very very difficult to pass as male outside of explicitly queer-/trans-friendly environments. This, in itself, angers me. My partner has long, shiny, straight hair of exactly the same colour of mine, and is near-uniformly read as male. In fairness, this is probably helped by height, broad shoulders, facial hair, etc… but still. Long hair as a marker of feminity IS UNFAIR. C.f. partner, Lucius Malfoy, bloody Sephiroth, generally the whole crop of dapper dandies that I wish I could look like.

I honestly have no idea where to go with this line of thought. I have short coloured wigs I sometimes wear. But I like my hair how it is. Is this internalised “you need to be a GIRL!”-ness or a desire to look “respectable” so people don’t stare at me in public (because oh god, social anxiety, sometimes I panic when I’m out of the house and wearing anything even slightly “different”, I feel like everyone is staring and judging) or just plain aesthetic appreciation? I really don’t know. As I have just been told, I am always second-guessing my motives and looking for the worst possible one. It makes things quite hard.

I sort-of want to write more about hair-angst, but I am sleepy and tipsy and doubt anyone is interested. But then, this is a blog, not a fucking newspaper column, so… I can write whatever I like? No, no, signing off now. Goodnight and happy Winter Thing.

It’s been a while.

•November 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hello again.

A year and a half later, and I’m returning to this blog. I made it a hell of a long time ago, during a strange moment of self-awareness and identity-fragmentation. I made four or five new online identities, compartmentalising my interests and hiding my secrets in plain sight under new names. They all fizzled out very quickly (even my original, oldest, been-there-since-2004 one has been nearly dead for a while) due to… well, life.

So, what happened to Xyrenth in a year and a half? They repressed their trans identity until things reached crisis point, and eventually seperated from their long-term partner (cisgendered, straight, vanilla, and the ‘opposite’ sex). Xyrenth was lucky enough to be catapulted straight from the breakup into an environment full of lovely queers, who have given them a great deal of information, advice, and support about their gender identity. Since then, Xyrenth’s intense, desperate desire to biologically transition quietened down rather a lot, since it no longer seemed like the only way to escape from an unhappy ‘straight’ relationship. They’re still thinking about it, but they’re also thinking about trying to work with the body they have. They’re also now going to stop trying to write this in the third person.

In the past three or four months, I’ve outed myself as trans/genderqueer to more friends than I ever thought I could, including some who I didn’t expect to ever tell. I’ve asked some of my close friends to start using gender-neutral pronouns when referring to me, and this week (Reading Week – no university lectures) I’ve asked them to use my ‘opposite’ sex name and pronouns. It’s… exciting.

(I’m not sure whether or not to discuss my ‘biological’ sex or not here. It’s tricky. I want to successfully present as gender-neutral, and the textual medium here makes that a lot easier. But I don’t think I’ll be able to talk about my gender identity in any sort of detail without discussing where I’m coming from, as it were. So… Fine. I have a body which has been female-assigned and has near-uniformly been read as female. My relationship to this is a difficult one, and perhaps one for discussion in a later post.)

Being accepted and supported has made such a difference. I am happier than I have been in a long time, because now I’m finding out so much about myself, who I am, who I want to be, who I can be. Queer (pansexual? polysexual?), genderqueer, polyamorous, kinky, and happy with this instead of racked by guilt at not being the perfect femme-ciswoman for my boyfriend. So thanks to him for knowing when to let go, because my new life is fabulous. And thanks, all my queer and queer-loving friends, for being here, and listening and talking and offering hugs and tea and chocolate every time I’m all trangsty. And last but very much not least, thanks to my new partner (although ‘new’ is a bit of strange word here, because this is a person I’ve known and been close to for a very long time) for the humbling love and respect for me in all my forms, genders, and personas.

Wow, that got a little sappy. I think I need to work on my writing style, if this is going to be Serious Trans Blog about Serious Trans Things. (And already the part of me that wants to compartmentalise everything is wondering if I should a Personal Trans Blog and a Serious Political Trans Blog… *headdesk*) Since that first entry, I’ve been becoming more involved in activism and the LGBTQ community. And I would like to write about serious things. But right now I guess this is just to say… hello, I am back.

Who am I?

•March 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I am Xyrenth.

Xyrenth is an aesthetically pleasing but ultimately meaningless set of sounds which fell into my head one morning just as I woke up, which nonetheless can easily be attributed meaning retroactively. I can make quite a nice backronym for it that explains me to myself, but I’m not going to post it on here – some things are best left mysterious. (‘Xyrenth’ also appears to be the name of a dragon in a very old Pern RPG, and a character in an Elfwood story – but hey, only 4 Google results is pretty good going, considering how many name-inventing internet users there are out there…)

So Xyrenth is (almost) unique. And Xyrenth is gender-neutral. Xyrenth is gendered everywhere else, but pretty damn sick of it. Xyrenth’s physical gender will probably be discussed on this blog at some point, mostly in relation to Xyrenth’s fierce desire to remove (or at least transcend, or easily trangress but be able to return to) it.

I am learning to be happy with who I am. I think this is going quite well. In most other spheres of my life, including my online life (in which I exist under a great variety of names), I love to debate. Exchange of ideas is awesome, and usually I don’t mind throwing myself open to the various insults that get chucked at me for speaking my mind. But not here. This is my safe space, where I can talk about things I wouldn’t feel secure discussing with the majority of people I know. Friendly, civil debate is fine, but ultimately, if I think someone is threatening my safe space, I will not hesitate to delete/block/ban the hell out of them.

Wow, my little introduction became a manifesto. Oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes. Anyway, a big welcome to all friendly strangers. 🙂