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I have severely scaled back participation in Pride and LGBTQ community activism over the last year or so because I have reached a major crossroads in my life during this time. I openly have lived as a bi-sexual woman for approximately a decade. I have also added a slight addendum to that and expanded my bi-sexuality to include those who are also genderqueer, gender fluid, and trans, as I have really found I am attracted to pretty much anyone. I have come to realize I will love and be sexually attracted to just about anyone out there. There is no specific type that I look for. I do not know if this is being worded correctly, as trying to explain my emotions do not always come out as a clear message on paper or blog pages. With all this rehashed, this past year I have been trying to figure out how to describe a larger elephant in my closet that I have not truly addressed head on, nor have I even attempted to just kind of word salad it out in mildly veiled inquiry. Usually I like to crowd source my perceptions so others can help me verbalize better what I am thinking. I literally struggle with this. There are days I would describe my feelings as brown, or my attitude as a number. I can't make it translate into intelligible words when leaving my brain where others can actually understand what the hell is going on up there. I am kind of reaching a breaking point, and maybe I have the correct letters and punctuation to make it all present itself in an understandable dialog. Somehow, I doubt it, but here goes. For the first time today, I used the word dysphoria. This is a big deal for me. I have thought about this word for the past couple of years or so thanks to so many of my friends out there being able to put a word to what they are feeling when having trouble accepting their physical selves. This word they used gave me a starting point to discuss with my own therapist, and of course research it, in order to see if it somehow applied to my own emotional state about my personal self. There has been a lot of personal conflict and nights of quiet contemplation for hours on the subject of what I am. I use the word what, because I know who I am. I am Kate. I am funny, have a bit of dry with, a need to be right, an avid lover of all things robots and scifi, and I have goals in life for my later years where I will be so happy with my family that all the past years of struggle will be eclipsed by the few I will have left of joy. I know who I am. And this is where I might be using all the wrong language, so I am so very sorry if I offend anyone with my words to describe my journey to find the what of who I am. Little thing about me most don't know. I consider my gender the what of me. What are you? Male, female? Gender has always been a what for me. It has never been a part of the definition of me, as if I have always treated it as optional. I really do not know where I got this from. My parents never exposed me to the LGBTQ communities growing up. Some have said it is probably from me disassociating myself from childhood sexual abuse, and for awhile I bought into that a little since I had no other explanation. My therapist and I discussed this finally, and he seems to think my doubts are well founded and this has zero to do with the sexual abuse I went through as a child. We have looked back on my childhood, and I shared equal enjoyment in things that would be considered predominantly male and activities seen more as female related. The same was true of dress, hair style, and everything else you can think of. One thing is very clear. I never really latched on to the idea of gender roles at all, let alone worried about being perceived as male or female. I only worried if people got my name wrong. And I always corrected them and got offended if they insisted on not calling me correctly. On a side note, it still deeply hurts me today when people butcher my name, and keep on insisting on it. I have a boss that does this now, and while I actually love her dearly, it hurts she insists on calling me what she does despite my protest. Relationships. Public image versus my personal image. My general attitudes. Anyone that follows my public work, sees my secret group postings, or has dated me, will undoubtedly say,"You obviously do not have a problem with being female. You use your feminine wiles, you try to appear attractive as a female, and you certainly enjoy sex toys designed for females. So, obviously, you don't hate your vagina or breasts." I'm not saying any of this. Again, my female body is part of the what I am. And after being abused as a child, and trying to survive abusive relationships, one tends to use their body as a tool. It got me through some pretty tough times, and it has given me plenty of pleasure. What can I say, orgasms are amazing. I love sexual intimacy. Yes, some days, I adore my curves and the little button I was born with, and other days it disgusts me, and I wish I could trade out for other experiences. My body is a what. It's like a canvas that I get to decorate and find innovative ways to create fun visuals and sensations with. The past year I have come to realize that more often than not, the pretty images I share on profiles, the extra effort I put into looking nice on a podcast, it isn't for my benefit. It is something I've been in denial of for awhile, and I just need to admit this isn't me being too poor to afford taking care of my look. I have been in a steady, and rebellious, direction of no longer doing this to myself. It has been depressing me. No amount of make up will make me happy with who I am when it isn't a visual that I want to wear to begin with. This is my dysphoria. This is where my elephant in the closet comes bursting out. I have come to finally put the words together for something that has been in my everyday life for too long. I would say I am on the fluid spectrum of gender identity. I don't want to wear the pretty eyelashes, mascara, or any of that. Or at least, not for the reasons I have been doing so. The pressure to look appealing is hard enough, but to do it in a manner that doesn't fit what you are seems to make it worse. My clothing wardrobe is experiencing a similar deal. I had to go shopping for an outfit for an important job interview, and while I told my lover that the store just didn't have any complete suit sets available, the reality was that I was revolting against the idea I have to present myself in a strong, feminine, power outfit. I just didn't want to do it. I got overwhelmed walking around that store looking at all these clothes and thinking how I would rather have a nice shaved cut, some gel, and a flat chest with a fit shirt and slacks. Little touch of lipstick would be good, and just some foundation to even out my face. I didn't want to be feminine at all for my interview. And then there is a festival coming up and there is a sundress I would love to wear with a floppy hat and some sandals, and my painted toes to boot. Welcome to my struggle. Hopefully I can get this in a more understandable format at some point. If I could offer a plug into my head and you feel it all, I would gladly share. Anyway, thanks for reading. <3
Dear Cute Guy on the bus, Today's ride home seemed like it would be the usual fare of crowded seats, faux fur hood linings tickling my shoulders, coughing behind my left ear, a man preaching about this holiday's "real" reason, and a driver frustrated more and more with every time he had to slam on his brakes. And this expectation held true all the way until the Kroger stop, when half the bus unloaded. Then with the sudden opening of empty spots, everyone reshuffled and there you were across from me in the aisle giving me an oddly familiar smile. To your defense, it might not have been as odd a smile as it seemed. After all, you ride the same route all the time, and I'm usually oblivious and writing by the time we hit the next stop after boarding. But I digress. You lean over to me, and wave a hand to get my attention to remove my headphones. You have a very genuine and disarming smile. Your hair is dark, matted down, and a mild ring around your crown can be seen from a hard hat you probably wore all day at your job. But nonetheless, your interest and inviting smile puts your whole approach together perfectly. As you are tilting forward to talk over the noise of the bus roaring off from that fateful Kroger stop, you playfully pulled at the gray edges of your work shirt collar, casually looking side to side for a moment as if you don't want to be overheard revealing some interesting tid bit of news. When you do this, I notice the lightly bristled edge of your jaw squaring up for a second, and your dark brows and green flecked hazel eyes focus right into mine, and I'm completely entranced with amused curiosity in this social spectacle that lasts all of five seconds. And you speak; a deeper baritone escaping from your throat than I could've imagined coming from such a treat to watch, but it works for you. A complete picture of a man with intent, and I like it a lot. Your lip pulls away from teeth whiter than I could ever hope to scrub my bathroom tiles, and you introduce yourself. And with the utterance of your name follows a monstrosity of a conversation starter that riled every red flag in my mind. Three words shattered my ballooned anticipation of experiencing a possible kindredness on an average Thursday bus ride. I heard these words and I immediately damned my pensive mind. I cursed my hyper active reasoning. I loathed my damaged experiences and the wisdom they lent me. A perfect five seconds demolished by the quick firing response of my synapses and protein transfers thanks to three poorly timed words. All because of three lousy words that conveyed an intent that means the shallow acquaintance at a bar before a drunken fuck at two in the morning. Words that don't mean "I want to know you", but "I want permission to justify expectation". Consonants and vowels that are arranged in a manner to dictate whether I have an owner or not. Yes, my flirtatious man about town, I am single. Why does that matter right now, in this moment of everyday meetings and conversation? Is it really that necessary to clarify I am worth talking to based on whether I have a current lover or not? In what world do we live that even in America people see it as disrespectful to possibly befriend a stranger who has a lover? Some would blame women and the "games" we play, but asking a person's relationship status as a qualifier for even engaging in conversation isn't just consent to converse. It's affirmation of sexual availability before ever even considering sharing what music I like! I find it absolutely detestable the need to clarify ahead of time whether my vagina is already an assigned sperm catcher. Even worse, is one determining I am not worth further conversation unless my vagina is unclaimed. Whenever I am asked if I am single before even engaging in casual conversation, it feels like I am being asked for some type of consent. Consent to be approached sexually. A mutually understood agreement of having "a fair chance" at dating me. Consenting to a societal standard that I don't even want to be subjected to. "Are you single?" My stomach knotted up when you asked me this. It's an uncomfortable question that I see many people treat others with suspicion if the woman doesn't want to answer, or hesitates before answering. As if this anxiety to respond is something to be ashamed of. I realize that it is important to know if someone is in a relationship if your intent is to date that person, or just offer a flirtatious greeting. I understand that there are some out there who become highly offended at even being simply approached in conversation by the opposite sex. But there are many women, like myself for instance, who understand asking me my relationship status immediately upon approach is code for,"Am I allowed to approach you sexually." Handsome man, I am never going to fault you for the social construct you are programmed with, but I will fault you for refusing to consider my side of the equation when being approached. I certainly do understand yours so show me the same grace. Honestly, those three words immediately told me I probably didn't want to even answer you and just disengage from the moment. There is a time and place for wanting to know if someone is available for dating, sex, and whatever else. The opening greeting is certainly not the right time. Yes, I'm single. No, I'm not constantly looking and wanting to try on every guy or gal that approaches me with interest. My being single NEVER equates to consent of anything, and it doesn't commit me to your expectations of availability. Cute Guy on the bus, you spoke to me briefly on the bus and had asked me if I were single. And as soon as I answered yes, you told me how attractive I was, said I should have a "guy that wants to treat me out", and then asked me out on a date, which I politely declined. I don't know you, and I'm not comfortable with this initial approach towards me. I even suggested that maybe we can talk more during the commute tomorrow, but you wouldn't hear it. "But you said you are single," you whined, an annoyed grimace deepening the shallow laugh lines around your cheeks. Your eyes went from open and inviting to incredulous and suspicious. You wondered aloud if I were really even single, or if I was just flirting with you to get my kicks. You felt that I was indebted to you since I had, in your mind, given consent to be pursued by stating my relationship status. You are sick of women leading you on you tell the guy behind us, which confirmed my identifying was giving you the unspoken nod of sexual intent. So, of course I just laid my head back against the window I was sitting next to, pulled my earphones back over my ears and went back to the monotonous bumps, coughs, and brake slamming that I had grown accustomed to expecting on my evening commute. I know I am going to see you on the bus again Monday morning. Maybe I will explain to you that looking for women to date is different than shopping for a coat. You can't seriously believe women want to try men on and off like a coat at a department store until we find one that fits. Some coats are just not my style, and I wouldn't even bother to try them on. Kind of like you. .