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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