Monday, 13 October 2008

Just a thought

We drove down to Washington this past weekend... well, I drove, and T. tried to get homework done. Something about a long ride makes for talking, I think. On the way down, after dark, as we passed through Delaware and then Baltimore, the discussion turned to gender. (You're shocked, I know.)

And maybe it was the dark, maybe it was the keeping my eyes on the road, maybe it was being alone in the car with her, just the two of us passing through a strange city. But I found able to say how I feel so much more simply and clearly than before.

I feel like I was born just fine. I was born with a masculine soul and a female body, but this seemed natural and comfortable to me. And then at some point, round about age 4, the terrible fact was revealed that this combination was not fine at all. It was labeled shame in the world I was born into.

I made an analogy to being left-handed (which I also am): it's the most natural, comfortable thing in the world, but after a while it is impossible to miss the fact that everything around you is backwards, designed for the right-handed people. Except that being left-handed is no longer shameful in our society.

Like the title says, this post is just for this thought, which somehow made clear to me why I don't feel like a balance of feminine and masculine but I also don't feel a desire to transition. It's because this masculine soul in this female body seems ok to me.

(This post started out as a comment over on Honey's recent post on gender, which is definitely worth a read if you haven't read it yet.)

Addendum to Thought: which is in no way to underplay how differently I live in this body, the way I walk, the way I dress, what I want and don't want in bed. And which is never, god forbid, to imply that there are neat categories, male/female bodies, masculine/feminine souls, that go without saying, that exist only as binaries, that are useful for more than strategic rhetorical aims. Indeed I realize even the soul/body distinction is suspect, and that my sense of self is perhaps worrying in its echoes of soul-culture-male/body-nature-female. And yet, and yet. How else to describe this sense of being, this embodiment?


QueerRose said...

Hi Leo. Seems to me that sometimes there's a lot of pressure to justify one's gender, when thinking in simple terms brings us back to describing ourselves for ourselves. Great post.
PS Thanks for the link to Honey

Jess said...

Leo, my buddy, it's great to see how comfortable you've become with your masculinity.

I'm so looking forward to our butch bonding time coming up. Even if you're freakishly left-handed ;)

Kyle said...

This is brilliant: masculine soul in a female body. I've been doing a lot of private journaling in an effort to come up with the right way to describe how I feel, and you've handed it to me (don't mind if I borrow it, do ya?)

I also don't feel the desire to reformat my body to match my feelings of masculinity. I want to be masculine in my female body, to enjoy this body and not feel like I have to justify or apologize for this body. I have friends who have chosen to transition their bodies and I celebrate their choice and strength in following their hearts. I just don't feel that need myself.

I'm glad you're blogging this.

Leo MacCool said...

queerrose, thanks.

jess: me too!

kyle: i'd be honored. and that's exactly how i feel about transmen, too.

Anonymous said...

What a mystery is my gender. I go round and round in circles, ever closer to a center point, only to finally discover that the point represents one dimension in a million, and so I start again.

I am overjoyed that there are others, like you and Jess and an Internet full of folks who are thinking about these same things. You bring me closer to understanding by sharing your experience and I appreciate this immensely.

I never thought about placing gender on my soul. For being a society so strictly attached to the binary gender system, we are so lacking, in comparison to other countries, when it comes to applying gender to the material and immaterial worlds. I wonder sometimes how my perspective of my own gender would be different if everything around me was assigned one gender or the other. How odd.

Anyway, I'm going to have to say that my soul has no gender at all, which would reflect my feeling that I am genderless. This may seem uneventful, but in fact there is a sense of "coming out" for me to admit that my soul may be genderless, because of an intense spiritual upbringing that revolved around the feminine in general. I'm realizing just through writing this now that some of the cord that ties me to my woman gendered existence is associated with my spiritual experience of the world. I think I'll probably have to mull that around in my brain and write about it someday.

So yeah, thanks for talking about this stuff. It's awesome to read your experience and relate it to my own and appreciate the differences between us.

Holden said...

It's a great thought Leo. I've been trying it on for size since I read your post yesterday.

I spend so much time walking in the grey area between recognized genders and trying to fathom out where I "fit" that a simple explanation like this feels like a breath of fresh air. Thanks

LL Cool Joe said...

I hope you don't mind me adding this as a complete stranger? Maybe that's what makes it easier?

As a transman, and I can only speak for myself, I hated (still do) every aspect of being female. I was (and am) repulsed by my body. The idea of even being touched in an area that would remind I was a woman, repulses me. Basically anything that was female about me I wanted to destroy, the emotions, the name, the voice, the body, EVERYTHING. Yes I am a masculine soul but totally trapped in a female body.

I thought I add another perspective so that maybe it helps you to feel even more comfortable with who you are? :)

Ps. But, I'm very happy now living with the label of being trans, and proud of making people question gender norms, which I wouldn't do if I were a transexual.

Now I'll shut up.

tongue-tied said...

well, you may know i'm not big on gender theory stuff. i'm not against it, it's just not a passion of mine. i wonder how much philosophizing about it all has to do with being younger, not having loads of other things beating out the space in your head for such self-analysis. i mean, before i had kids (only used as an example of a life-changing event that sucks up every free brain cell), i had time to read the paper and worry about what people thought about me. now, in my 40s, i realize more than ever, people aren't thinking about me anyway. they're too busy thinking about themselves. that's one part of it. i think another part of it is seeking peace within yourself, and using whatever you feel uncomfortable about with yourself as the proving ground for that. whether that's gender or god or career or marital status or your relationship with your mother or your body or your car, your house, etc. we're all seeking to prove our significance and to be accepted unconditionally for it. first, we look only outside ourselves for it, and finally we begin to look within. which, imho, is the only place to find it anyway.

jeez, if i've gone on too much, please feel free to delete the comment.

Leo MacCool said...

honey: you're right, we do have a sort of neuter option--like objects are neuter in english, not gendered like in other languages. and honestly i'm not even sure exactly what i mean by masculine soul except that that is how it feels. it's a gut feeling and obviously something i should think more about...

holden: hiya, glad to be of help. ;)

ll cool joe: welcome! i've been reading your comments & posts around the blogosphere for a while, so glad you stopped by here. your explanation makes a lot of sense. thanks.

JR said...

I really like your analogy about being left handed in world that is designed for being right handed.

Sounds like you had a good car ride down to Washington!

Kyle said...

I agree with tongue-tied that childbirth and rearing do take a toll on brain cells, time, sleep... and at 40+ myself, I agree that I give much less of a shit what others think and find that they mostly don't think about what I'm doing nearly as much as I might have believed.

I find these discussions to be enjoyable and enlightening. The exploration of myself is one of my favorite activities, and I don't have as much time for it as I'd like. I'm very happy to find a group of people interested in doing this kind of exploring, and in sharing their findings.

Sublimefemme said...

I *love* the discussion happening here!

I agree with Jess, you do seem to be in a really good place. I'm happy for you. In a similiar vein, I love how you described your story in your comment on my blog today, thanks.

FYI I've tagged you! Check out my new post, "Hidden Truths..." for the details!


Alexandra said...

Indeed, I have to echo my thanks to you for sharing. I feel like I'm learning more and more about myself, through other people blogging about their own personal experiences.

Again, thanks. :)

Butch Boo said...

We live in a matrix. Some of us have chosen to take the right pill and can see it for what it is. I'm so glad that you have all taken the right pill too!