I was taking a shower earlier -the place where I do all of my hard thinking what was I thinking about? I was thinking about the anxiety that I feel when I send my resume to potential employers. Should I put a footnote in that I am a gender non conforming person? Should my cover letter also include something about my gender representation? Do employers here in NYC really still fucking care about things like that? (I’m not personally speaking about the corporate world think restaurants, art galleries, small media firms etc). I was thinking about what my gender meant to me. I was thinking how everyone in New York knows that to succeed you have to play the game. You play it well, expect success but if you don’t learn the rules well, this city will eat you up.
One of my friends is going under the knife for what is known conversationally as “peck surgery”. They do not wish to transition through T and do not wish to change their name. They like me, and many others see themselves in more of a grey area as far as gender is concerned. I get that, because I live that, but society has yet to catch up.
It got me thinking: Would life be easier if I were to change my sex from M to F; legally I mean. I present myself in mens clothes, am tall, and am seen by strangers and often by casual acquaintances as a man. Over the course of the past year I have started to only go by Ryley as opposed to my extremely feminine name Nina. But legally I am still a woman. And the reason for that is because I do not feel like I was born in the wrong body. I do not wish to make any adjustments to my physique, I just know mentally that I am neither sex.
It is not only when sending out resumes that I feel the pressures of being gender queer. Before I leave the house I make sure I use the bathroom. I rarely use public restrooms. I can not use women’s bathrooms in spaces that are largely hetero. In theory yes, I should be allowed to, but in practice it just isn’t happening. Women take one look at me and assume I’m a man, men are not allowed in women’s spaces. The end. Lambda Legal has an awesome FAQ sheet for trans people which you can read http://data.lambdalegal.org/publications/downloads/trt_equal-access-to-public-restrooms.pdf. But see, I’m not trans. I don’t want to be a man. And yes while Lambda Legal describes being transgender as an umbrella term I don’t see myself as trans. I also know that in practice no matter how many laws I pull out of my ass, both pedestrians and law enforcement are not exactly kind to gender varient people.
So again I come to this point in my brain, where I question whether or not I should legally change my pronouns.
When may I change my gender on my driver’s license?
You may change your gender on your NY driver’s license by providing a statement from a physician, psychologist or psychiatrist on their letterhead certifying that one gender predominates over the other and that you are either a male or female. (see sample letter at post titled “gender change on New York driver’s license”). There may be a fee imposed by the DMV. – transgenderlegalchangesnys.com
I don’t personally care that a bouncer at a club will forevermore think that I am a guy because my license says M. I do not mind continuing to search for non gender exclusive bathrooms, or frequenting bars/spaces where I know that I won’t be told where to pee. What I do care about is having to use mens lockerooms, because well, I do not have a penis, and I do not want to be in a space with a bunch of naked dudes. Sorry. I’m. Not. Sorry. I have thought about binding my breasts when I go to certain clubs, just in case someone rubs against me and starts to ask questions. I have thought about getting pack to pee devices so that I can pee in urinals. The problem is I do not feel comfortable around men in bar bathrooms. I do what I have to do, but I do it with fear.
Should I have to change my gender? Or should I have constant battles with security and society? I changed my name so that I didn’t have to come out of the closet every time I met someone new. People are allowed to assume whatever they want is or isn’t in my pants. But my anxieties about day to day life have not up and disappeared. It is easier for me to pass as a male then to be known as girl that dresses like a guy. I have brainstormed why that is the case for countless hours, maybe it is different for other people but for me it has proven to be true. When people think I am a straight man, or a gay man, or just an effeminate hipster writer everything is good and gravy. But when I come out as a female bodied person underneath my male ensemble, well all bets are off. Sometimes people are more then ok with it, they shrug it off, or start off with conversations about people in their lives or people they have meet similar to me. But other times conversations abruptly end. Looks that could kill are given; because after all people don’t like being deceived. But am I deceiving? Or am I just living my life the way I want to? Without the restrictions that gender roles have put on so many?
If someone asks about my religious background I will proudly tell about my Jewish parents and grandparents, about my personal experience as Quaker. I won’t hide from my African American background or my white parents. But what I do have a hard time explaining to those who I know are outside of the LGBTQA spectrum is explaining who I was born as and who I am now. Coming out of the closet to strangers can be endlessly frustrating, sexuality is one thing, but it seems gender is on entirely different grounds.
Do not get my wrong, I am extremely happy with who I am. And more importantly I know who I am and who I am not. I am someone who falls somewhere in between when it comes to gender. I am not a man and I am not a woman. We have made huge strides in gay acceptance and gay rights under President Obama, but it was vice president Joe Biden who called for better rights for transgender people. What about those of us who do not want a gender? Where do we fit into the puzzle?
It is a weird place to get to, when one realizes that they are different. That there isn’t an easy way to explain who they are. I cringe when people say she in reference to me, I feel more comfort with he, but I do not want to be a Mr. I just want to be a Ryley.