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how do you feel gender?

Discussion in 'Gender Identity and Expression' started by Reggie, Jul 9, 2016.

  1. Reggie

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    How do you *feel* a certain gender?

    This might not be a fair question. It might be like asking how your perceive orange. Or how do you know when it's time to breathe. Or blink. I don't know.

    My trans son said he's male 80% of the time and nothing 20%.

    I don't understand.

    I was born male. I have no idea what it means to feel female.

    How does he know what it means to feel male? What does it mean to feel agender?

    I hope I'm phrasing these questions in a way that is not offensive. It might be like trying to ask a fish what it feels like to breathe while swimming underwater.
     
    #1 Reggie, Jul 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2016
  2. vertical

    vertical Guest

    Although a lot of trans people talk about "feeling" a gender, it's not necessarily always an exact "feeling." I can only speak for myself here but...when I say that I "feel" like a guy, what I mean is that I feel dysphoria (discomfort) over having been born biologically female, feel like I should have been born male, and wish to live and be seen as male by other people...just my personal interpretation of things.
     
  3. Secrets5

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    I'm agender and having ''he'' or ''she'' pronouns makes me dysphoric, and want to be asex [if I can, not sure if this is medically possible yet.] and wish there was a way for me to have been born asex , as the sex organs I have make me dysphoric and the other sex organs would make me equally dysphoric.

    People are not oranges, and breathing/blinking are done so naturally we don't think about it. For someone who is trans or non-binary, we think about it, a lot - because we don't come out straight away, or people don't accept us when we do, and even if people do we still have to deal with the dysphoria. People who are cis don't tend to think about it a lot, since they are comfortable with their gender identity and nobody says anything different [for the most part] so he/she might have other things to deal with.

    Gender identity (male, female, non-binary) is not the same as gender expression - so your son can like dresses and/or trousers and still be a boy.

    Perhaps you could ask your son what it means to be male for him, since he's the one who can really know his own gender. Of course, ask in a nice way [that blends nicely to the conversation] and if he says he doesn't want to answer then respect it.
     
    #3 Secrets5, Jul 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2016
  4. Reggie

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    Thanks, Vertical! How long have you known?

    You're only slightly older than my son. (In fact, saying son aloud is becoming surprisingly natural now, as well.) We've been calling him by a new name for the past few weeks or so. It's getting easier.
     
  5. Invidia

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    Hey, I'm no fishy! (Just kidding. I'm the biggest cod there is.)

    A lot of trans people say they don't feel gender either. Rather they'd often describe it in terms of what they want - like, they want the body of the other sex, and want to socially be the 'other gender' (with pronouns, names, etc.)

    As for me... Hmm... Do you know what cognitive dissonance is? It's that feeling of 'wrongness' when you're faced with something that contradicts your identity or ideology or whatever. Like when you're in an argument and what the other person is saying feels so wrong to you that you get frustrated and uncomfortable, maybe even angry or despairing. Now. Assume you saw yourself as female. Forget about emotionality for a second. Imagine you saw yourself as a girl. But the (external) criteria for what a 'girl' is contradicts your own identity. That is what would make you trans. That you see yourself as a girl, but what society requires to acknowledge that is 'has a vagina' etc. etc.
    Your son would be the opposite of the above hypothetical example then.

    A therapist asked me once how I knew I wasn't male. I said it's just absurd to even try to call myself that, it's like I would think of myself as being a chair (or a cod).

    This "feeling" of gender... hmm... I think that's to a large extent the dissolution of the cognitive dissonance inherent to feeling that you are not what society defines you as. At least post-coming out to yourself. Before that it could be explained like feeling wrong, I guess.

    I don't know if I'm making sense. It's indeed something very hard to explain.
     
  6. Reggie

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    Secrets, yes I plan to talk with him more. We started having a good talk this morning, and he's off with friends this afternoon. He's not really sure how to explain feeling male/agender in a way that I can understand. "I just do."

    His gender expression matches up with identity. He usually wore more gender neutral clothes, anyway. Shirts and jeans or short. He was never into dresses. We just bought boxers for him and got rid of his feminine underwear. His hair was already short, but got an even more masculine cut. He was excited that the barber never questioned his new name or his pointing to male hair styles. :slight_smile: Measured him and ordered a binder from g2cb. He's been out to us a little over a month, and he's wanting to come out before the start of the next school year. We started attending the local trans support group as well a private counselor.

    You are entirely correct on cis people not thinking about these. I've never thought about this topic before he told me. I had never heard the terms cis, non-binary, gender fluid, or agender until he introduced them to me. I've been guilty of referring to Caitlyn Jenner as "he." Didn't realize how insensitive that was until my son pointed it out. I've just been...oblivious. So now I'm trying to understand.
     
  7. gravechild

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    Mine is a little different, considering being non-binary. You'd think something as essential as gender would be immediately obvious, but in my case, it was a sense of loneliness and being, well, different, that came in several "revelations" growing up. I should say that sexuality played a part, since I felt essentially the same around bi/gay men as I did around straight men (that is, a non-man among men... body parts be damned).

    Of course, we can never truly know what another man, woman, genderqueer feels, but with enough similarities, we can form a "bond" over common experiences, feelings, etc. I just know that I hate being seen as and referred to as male, and if I could shape my body however, I'd do so immediately.

    I don't know what it's like to live as a female, but I'd imagine many transfeminine folk come from a similar place: downplaying their true selves, trying to "prove" their manhood/masculinity for years, feeling envy towards women, experimenting with things like cross dressing, tucking, and such.

    One problem trans men have is visibility. Since women, and female-bodied folk, are more free to play with gendered norms, it might be difficult with not being seen as a man, at first. As it is, cis men are constantly being pressured to live up to certain expectations, so add being trans, and it's tough.
     
  8. vertical

    vertical Guest

    I've known since I was 14, so it's been almost 4 years now.
     
  9. Kal

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    I was assigned female at birth and have only started coming to terms with the fact I'm trans (and I'm 27). Always the masculine type, always felt different and never admitted to myself why. I tried minimally the female stuff, make up and what not but I felt like a man in women's clothing. I see it more as a state of being, rather than feeling and it can be torturous. I ignore the female body parts and favour the things that are masculine about me because it makes me aligned to the identity in my head. To be called "lady" or whatever makes me angry because it feels so reductive to who I actually am...to be called lady in recognition of my genitalia / chest rather than asked how I would like to be referred. But equally, I've got some shame issues so to hear "sir" makes me embarrassed because I feel a fraud and called out for being different. Anyway...props to you for actually seeking some advice and hearing experiences from others in the similar situation. And great that your son is expressing themselves as who he wants to be.
     
  10. Reggie

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    Invidia, cognitive dissonance helps. Thanks.

    Gravechild, that also helps understand...just wanting to reshape ones body. I've never experienced that, but I think I can wrap my mind around that idea.

    Vertical, my son is now 14 and has known since he was about 13. If you could go back in time and give your younger self advice based on your last 4 years, what would you tell yourself? What would you tell your parents?
     
    #10 Reggie, Jul 9, 2016
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  11. vertical

    vertical Guest

    Even though my parents were both accepting when I came out, I felt slightly ashamed (still do to some extent), and always avoided the topic when talking to them because I was worried about disappointing them or pushing them away. So for me personally I would try to give my younger self more courage to be assertive regarding my gender...sometimes things need to be discussed and you can't avoid uncomfortable topics forever...no idea if that applies to your son though. Would also try to give myself more patience about transitioning...wanted it done soon as possible of course but things don't always work out that way, and it was difficult feeling let down as things got pushed further back.
     
  12. Hats

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    I asked this same question over and over again during my questioning phase. It was very frustrating not being able to buy a short-term feeling of "feminine" so I had a reference point with which to compare my own feelings. And then...one day I felt this new feeling and the first thing my brain said was, "You're a girl" with absolute, total conviction, followed by a dose of emotionally painful social dysphoria.

    Over time it's become clear that for me, although there *is* a specific "I'm a girl" feeling, sometimes it's not apparent, and instead all I can detect are things which point to my gender shifting. Shifts in the feminine direction can include:

    1. I feel a core need to present as female that goes beyond a straightforward preference.

    2. I feel frustrated and hurt that my body masks my inner girl so other people can't see her.

    3. I feel increasingly that I no longer identify with males.

    4. The time last year when I suddenly had the urge to cover my bedroom walls with posters of Frozen characters and boy bands. :lol:

    5. Strong thoughts that my boy identity is a facade and that the evidence is overwhelming that I'm a trans female.


    Shifts in the masculine direction are less obvious (I'm AMAB) but can include:

    1. My dress sense becomes much more conservative with fewer bright colours.

    2. My femininity, in terms of my behaviour and my speech, decreases.

    3. I feel that I've been stupid, I'm fooling myself about being genderfluid, and that really I'm just the cis boy I always thought I was.

    Note that I don't necessarily get all or even any of these feelings when my gender shifts; it's just that these are things I have felt in the past when the "girl" feeling hasn't been obviously present. Does that make more sense?
     
  13. anthracite

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    Gender is your character plus your perception of your body. I will just assume that you have a regular male character (which is often the case for transmen). Now imagine your chest wasn't flat. Imagine you have two giant meatballs on your chest that jump up and down if you move. That would be very strange and you would somehow know that they don't belong there. That's body dysphoria. And now imagine everybody would constantly call you "cute". Inside this is an insult to your manliness. And now paint yourself as a kid. Imagine somebody demanded, that you dress as a princess on halloween. You want to be a pirate or a knight. People insist that you should be a princess. You would probably be disgusted by the idea of wearing that and think that they are crazy. Transmen feel the same. That's social dysphoria.
     
  14. n3ko

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    it's just how I feel inside. or rather a lack of feeling. I have never felt a gender inside. I thought everyone felt this way. I always felt uncomfortable in some ways with my body or the words people use to describe me, but I didn't understand why. I just took that out on myself. it's a very subjective feeling which I can't describe.
     
  15. NoXsOrOs

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    Simple answer:
    You know it, when it happens.
    Like rolling thunder, it only strikes a select few but it is viscous.
    Glad your looking after your sons well being :slight_smile:
     
  16. Jellal

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    For me it was a gradual sense of discomfort with being treated and perceived as male. Getting the constant "hes" and "sirs" and "handsome young mans" and "boys will be boys" and my male name told at me all the time, alongside the growing dissatisfaction with what I saw in the mirror. So for me it's more of a sense of doing what I can to alleviate that discomfort, if that makes any sense.
     
  17. Eveline

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    The interesting thing is that you answered your own question: As you said, you were born male and you have no idea what it means to feel female. I can say the same thing about being male. I was born female and I have no idea what it means to feel male. The problem is that the world perceives me as male, my reflection shows someone that doesn't match how I should look and that's where the feeling of wrongness and disconnect comes from. Gender expression is meaningless to me, I was raised to wear male clothes, so I wear them, it is something that I put on my body to cover it and even though when I look in the mirror I pretty much see a stranger, I still try to make him look handsome, because it feels like I'm dressing a doll. (As creepy as that sounds)

    What does it mean to be female: Well it is a combination of multiple factors: having social expectations of myself based on lessons I learned over my life even if they happened indirectly, A sense of belonging that I only feel in context of being female, a natural empathetic understanding of women (Not everyone feels this), an internal body image of myself that coincides with that of a woman, a feeling that my very core; my soul is that of a woman. These are some ways that I experience it. The world also becomes full of color and I feel more alive during the moments when I take of the mask of being someone male. It it hurts to do so and it feels extremely wrong.

    I'm so happy that you are trying to understand your son and accept him. Thank you for that, rejection is unbelievably painful and even though I don't know your son, it does make me happy to know that you are putting him in a position to live his life as he was meant to and giving him the best chance at happiness. (*hug*)

    Eveline
     
  18. iiimee

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    I hate it when people say they just "feel" a gender. Yes, even I "feel" a gender, but I don't JUST "feel" a gender. What I feel is my brain working like a man, and I probably have a fair amount of testosterone naturally because I feel all the "drives" of one. It might have to do with a mixture of both, but regardless I am very happy with the fact I am know what I am from a biological perspective, even if what I am is very rare and strange. XD Anyway, I don't know what it's like to look at life from a non-scientific point of view: Maybe the people who just say it's a feeling are "feeling" the same things I am, but don't really analyze every piece of their brain and how they function to assess things like I do. That's fine- I don't think every trans person needs to write up a paper to prove their trans to me. Still, this was just my insight on what I guess trans people might be "feeling". Gender is complicated and I'm not a scientist though, so really you should try to look up the science behind transgender to get a better idea on what it's like.
     
  19. Glowing Eyes

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    I don't even know and I don't really like to sweat over it.
     
  20. Reggie

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    Thanks for all of your input.

    I did ask my son again. "Like I said before, I dunno."

    "even if what I am is very rare and strange" That's a great line, iiimee. Then again, anybody referencing Dr. Frank-N-Furter has good taste. :thumbsup:

    I can't get the vision of giant meatballs out of my head now, anthracite. :lol:

    You are all very brave. I can't fathom the difficulty of being true to myself when myself is so stigmatized and misunderstood in society. When I was in high school, I just wanted to blend in. I'm so proud of my son for refusing to violate the core of who he is.