Hey there, peoples! After going all dark with my last post, I thought I’d brighten things up by bringing up a subject I came across on The Finicky Cynic’s blog this morning. F.C. wrote a post responding to a tag that I hadn’t yet discovered myself but has made the rounds of YouTube. It’s called “The Gender Tag” and it concerns thoughts on and experiences with gender identity and gender roles.
As I noted above, I didn’t know about “The Gender Tag” previously; in fact, F.C.’s post is the first I had heard of it. So, after reading her post and before writing this one, I searched for “Gender Tag” on YouTube and came across a couple of videos on the subject, including this nicely done video by Hannah Hart. I must agree with what F.C. noted in her response, in that society has changed so rapidly that the traditional gender identification labels and roles have been broken. Still, however, there are those still unfamiliar with how others may self-identify when it comes to gender and gender roles. That’s why “Gender Tag” is a great idea, as it aims to help educate the unfamiliar with the identifications beyond cis-male or cis-female.
Before I proceed, a few things: First, I thought it would be a nice idea to present my answers in a unique way; so, since I have two sides of me (male and female), I will write out my male mode answers in green and my female side’s answers in magenta, with any answers we share in plain ol’ black. (Oh, please forgive me if you catch me writing in the 3rd person in some spots; I’m not that aloof.) Secondly, I’ll try to answer these as best as possible, so if they don’t all seem clear to you, well, that’s my failing as a writer (I’ve never been a master communicator). Finally, just as F.C. and Hannah Hart answered these questions independently of anyone else, these answers are mine and mine alone, so please don’t construe these as a cover-all for every person who falls into the cross-dresser or gender-fluid category.
Okay, with all that out of the way, here goes:
1. How do you self-identify your gender, and what does that definition mean to you?
My male side identifies and presents as, well, male. That’s not to say, however, that I agree or hold on to every trait of the average male. I like sports but was never athletically stout as a young boy. I’ve never taken up hunting, either (hunting’s a big thing in my family).
Allison identifies as female and is one to admire many feminine traits even if she does not practice them on an everyday basis. For example, Allison loves fashion but not those tawdry daytime talk shows.
And while our gender presentations are either/or, both of our sides (or should that be my sides?) blend together. We have the urge to dress up as Allison but are more prone to laying on the couch on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Also, we fear we’d be klutzes as parents, so we’ll be satisfied with being the devoted, doting uncle.
2. What pronouns honor you?
My male side accepts “he,” “him,” and “his.”
Allison prefers, “she,” “her,” and “hers” (I do look the part of a female, mind you), but won’t get too cross if someone mis-genders me, especially by accident (I’ll politely correct them without feeling upset).
3. Describe the style of clothing you most often wear.
Every day at work, you’ll find male mode me in a dress shirt, slacks, and tie. (Hey, it’s the professional in me.) On weekends, it’ll be a casual shirt and jeans.
Allison, when she gets the chance to dress up, will haul out anything from her closet, especially if she brings out the camera as well. Casual leggings are the normal around-the-house thing. When she does have the chance to go out for any reason, it’s usually something a nice skirt and comfortable top, or something as wild as faux leather pants or skirts if the mood strikes her.
4. Talk about your choices with body hair. How do you style your hair? Do you have facial hair? What do you choose to shave, or choose not to shave?
Male mode me has brown hair that he tries to keep short and neat. Well, as short and neat as possible. I mean, pull off that ski cap from my noggin during winter and my hair will stick up and go every which way. I shave my face every day before work, too; I’ve never sported a beard or moustache unless I have a few days off and want to give the electric razor a rest.
For Allison, it’s one word: Wigs. Yep, any hair style and hair color that looks flattering and appealing will be found on my head (with a wig cap keeping the male mode hair hidden). The best style on me, though, is the straight style with the ends going just past my chin and stopping on or before my shoulders. Naturally, I do shave my face before putting makeup on (that’s the next question, by the way). If I’m venturing out as Allison or if I’m showing my legs off for the camera, I do shave the legs, along with the chest and underarms.
5. Talk about cosmetics. Do you choose to wear makeup? Do you paint your nails? What types of soaps and perfumes do you use if any?
I very rarely wear makeup in male mode, but if I really wants to impress someone, I’ll haul out some acne-covering makeup to hide an annoying blemish. If I’m not running too late, I’ll shower up and wash my face with a bottle of Neutrogena facial soap (it feels real refreshing). I used to wear a little bit of cologne to work every day but haven’t done so in a long time; in fact, I haven’t bought cologne in Heaven knows how long. More often than not, I’ll just shave, get dressed, and run out the door for work in the morning, especially when I’ve been diddling around, doing things like, say…
… trying to write a blog post. Of course, Allison wears makeup if she’s going in front of the camera or going out. I’ve never been all that perfect when it comes to makeup, but I try to make an effort to make my face look presentable en femme.
Oh, the fingernail question… Neither of us wears fingernail polish on an everyday basis, and we tend to keep our nails plain, presentable, and (somewhat) trim. And if you take a close look at my photos, I don’t often wear polish or fake nails as Allison either. Long fingernails (real or fake) can be so cumbersome to me. However, I do have a set of fake nails in my bathroom cabinet that I’ll occasionally wear, along with some nail polish, in case I want to make a big splash.
6. Have you experienced being misgendered? If so, how often?
Believe it or not, in the few times when I’ve been out in public as Allison, I don’t recall being misgendered as male. Of course, it helped that I’ve been with groups most of those few times, and when we had a bite to eat, the wait staff would usually address us in all-encompassing honorifics (e.g. “Would any of you like something to drink?”). And when I’ve been out solo, such as my day at the Willy Street Fair in September, I was never greeted by any gender-specific terms.
7. Do you experience dysphoria? How does that affect you?
Both of us can say that no situations with gender dysphoria have ever come up. Well, Male Mode Me has had some moments where Allison wants to come out and speak, which makes me wish I were en femme at those moments. I think dressing up has allowed me to have some empathy not just to fellow crossdressers but to anyone else who chooses to share something with me. It’s times like those where Allison just wants to give them a hug and say, “It’s okay, sweetie; I understand completely.”
8. Talk about children. Are you interested in having children? Would you want to carry a child if that were an option for you? Do you want to be the primary caretaker for any children you may have?
Both of us can safely say that we’re not considering being a parent any time soon. And as a 46-year-old person, that’s sort of tough for me to admit. Had my early adulthood gone this way or that instead of the way it did, perhaps I would have become a parent (or perhaps even a grandparent by now). While I’m sure parenthood would have been amazing, it has also scared me a bit. I would’ve made a point of being a caring and responsible parent, trying to be there for my child and being a guiding force. But I don’t know if I would’ve been the best of parents. So, I’m satisfied at the moment being a doting uncle (and aunt in training?) to my 4 wonderful nieces. Watching my nieces grow has been an amazing and powerful thing in of itself.
9. Talk about money. Is it important to you to provide for a family financially if you choose to have one? Is it important to you that you earn more than any partner you may have? Do you prefer to pay for things like dates? Are you uncomfortable when others pay for you or offer to pay for you?
Oh, this isn’t entirely about the parenting thing? Well, just as I’m not planning to have any children, I’m also settling into the realization that I may be single and unattached for the rest of my life. That’s admission is kind of tough for me as well, if not tougher than not planning for children. Which is why I haven’t thought too much about the whole “sharing the load monetarily” thing. But if I did have a significant other to share my life with (boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, whatever), I would do my best to help them out and keep things equal, at least monetarily speaking. If they were to make more money and were able to financially support the two of us more than I would, that would be okay, although I would still aim to provide my share of the load.
But if we’re talking about nothing more than a date, the gentleman in me would want to be willing to cover the full cost of the date, or at least share. However, I would never put my foot down and insist on paying in full; if they want to cover their share, I won’t stop them. True story: Many moons ago, I went out on a first date with a girl at a pizza place. When it came time to pay for the check, I offered to cover the whole cost, but she said, “No, that’s okay, I can pay for my share.” She held firm on that even after I asked, “Are you sure?” It was a sure sign that she was a strong person, that’s for sure. (Our date was pretty much a dud, though; it was the only time I ever saw or talked to her. *sigh* Oh well.)
Emotionally speaking, however, I would make sure that the two of us are 50/50 in the relationship. I know being aloof and walling myself off from my partner is not the best thing for the both of us. So, I would make an effort to share my stories, thoughts, worries, concerns, etc., as well as provide support for them. Just the same, I hope they would also give me their own stories, thoughts, etc. Simply put, the two of us would need to be there for each other. That’s what a relationship is about, isn’t it?
10. Anything else you want to share about your experience with gender?
I think that’s pretty much it… although I will say that it’s been so enlightening being Allison if only on a sometimes basis. As I hinted above, having a feminine side and being able to express it at least online has made me a well-rounded, ever-evolving person. I still don’t consider myself the most perfect person, but I know that if my male side gets a little too male, Allison will be there to straighten him out. (Gee, I hope that makes sense to you.)
*whew* I hope you like these answers to The Gender Tag. Feel free to answer these if you’d like. These were as enlightening to think about as they were challenging to answer.