Knowing one’s self is not always easy or obvious.
Identity is a very slippery thing. It can often feel like clothing that one can put on and take off like a hat, and yet in life there are parts of one’s identity that are deeply rooted in our spirits, as essential to our beings as our hearts and minds. I can call myself an architect, because I have a degree and a state issued license. There was a point in school when I found myself riding my motorcycle down Guerrero Street in San Francisco and could not help diagramming the schematics of the building as I went by.
I can call myself a producer because I produce movies, but is my creativity an innate part of my being? I cannot say, other than to note that I often feel like I may as well be dead if I am not being creative. I wish it was easier to channel creative success into financial success in our society. Economics seems to care less about creating than it does about trading and managing money.
We call ourselves writers when we write, sleepers when we sleep, dreamers when we dream, and yet these are merely activities and not innate parts of our being.
As a child, I confused gender identity with the genitals I was born with. When this is the only way the society one is born into sees identity, as a binary system permanently assigned at birth, it is more difficult to know something is wrong. I feel encouraged that more children are feeling free to express their internal gender naturally in childhood. My childhood was rather gender neutral. I realized there were men and women, but didn’t see any other options. I felt both relieved and guilty that I was not forced to take the second class status I saw put on women. Despite this social insanity, as a child I saw that women seemed so frequently to be the better of the genders; they were more loving, compassionate, intelligent, resourceful, creative. Women were able to work together and communicate in ways I did not see among men.
Some identities are more inescapable than one’s genetics, and cannot be taken off or put on like a hat, or an occupation. When puberty hit me I felt uncomfortable and averse to being a boy. Still, I lived in a society that was as is still so hostile to unabashed femininity especially among perceived boys that I didn’t dare even talk about my gender feeling to my friends. I was horrified by my deepening voice, the hair appearing on my face, my inability to date because my personal interaction was all wrong for my gender.
When I went to college I tried harder to put on, like a hat, more masculinity. I shaved my head, wore butcher clothes. It didn’t work, and came off as an incongruous fake. Most people still though I was gay, since that was the only stereotype they had for a feminine man. I played the game, dressed like a dandy fancy lad because at least that felt more like me.
Shortly after graduation, I wore women’s clothes for the first time. I felt so at home. My friends, who I went out with that night were surprised at the transformation of my personality with a dress and some tights. Around the same time internet porn had come into force, the internet being new to the public but at work I had an early high-speed connection. This was before the days of employee monitoring software, and at night when everyone else had gone home I would search out tranny porn and dream of looking like those girls.
Within 6 months I was seeking out hormones on the internet. My need to have a woman’s body was overwhelming. I was already part-way there. In puberty, I had developed small breasts, had a narrow waist, and some natural saddlebags on my thighs.
It was clear that there was an intrinsic part of me that was female, despite having been born with a y chromosome. This gender was me, and not just a wardrobe with matching penis and testes. Sometimes we confuse identities, because there are so many kinds. Although the law of impermanence teaches us that all things are transitory, even sex and gender, there are some parts of our beings that are inescapable.