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Thoughts On Gender


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Hi everyone


Ok, I want to apologize that I have not been on the forum for a while and all. After my exams I had a month where I worked like crazy and then I went traveling for a few weeks. I am back since about a months. But all that is not the only reason I have not been on these pages anymore. I just needed a break. For the lack of words to explain why I don't try to.

Maybe one or the other has felt that way, don't know.


Now as for my journey or how you want to call it...I am at a point where I think a lot about transgender stuff. It is something I never allowed myself to think about in the way I do now. But while traveling I my mind was on something.


As a child I wished to have been born a boy. I used to pray that God would change my sex and I was serious about it...checked every time I used the bathroom. As it became obvious that God would not change anything about me I felt lost. My breasts started to show and I walked around topless as long as I could because I knew the day would come when I could not do that anymore. The thought of getting surgery to change my gender was on my mind a lot. But due to my christian upbringing I thought that God wanted me to be a girl and I had to forget about those feelings and thoughts. Because it would be interfering with God's plan and will for my life to change my gender by surgery or hormones. So I tried to forget about it and to find a way to live with myself. Back then I had a ton of other issues due to my adoption and situation and also due to my family.


There has been a long way to get to accept myself and my past and all but there was a point where I did. And I prayed to God to thank him for everything, even the bad stuff because it had formed who I was, given me special sensitivity and empathy for others etc. And like a miracle happened I started to dress more womanlike and also found peace with my body. So I took this as an example how God could heal one's soul and restore a twisted identity.

But...somehow it only got this far. I did not become the most feminin person I knew...and still in my Christian thinking I felt like there was something wrong with me, something that still needed more healing. All my life in this religion was a quest for getting whole that could never be completed...and finally when I got out of it that quest came to an end because I just stopped this insanity and decided to be good the way I am. I did not think much about gender issues for a while because there have been other things to deal with but just about a year ago it has become more prominent again.

When I started my current job four years ago I let my hair grow because I felt not really feminin with my uniform. I don't know why it bothered me because I cut my hair now after admitting that I just don't have strong enough hair to wear it long and I feel so much more myself again. Just a few weeks ago I cut them even more.


While I was traveling I thought about gender a lot. Because really, what does it mean to be a woman or a man? Is it something you feel? On a bus in Guatemala when I felt nauseas (usually I only realize I am o my own when I feel bad...) I realized that I was the only female on that bus...and the only tourist as well. It was then when I started to notice that I took more risks then other women I met traveling alone. Why? Because I just did not think about it.


So now...I can't say I am a tomboy but I am not entirely feminin either. I am comfortable with my body and I would not want surgery or so to change anything about it. I like the female sex drive, my vagina, my boobs (though I am glad they are small).

Then again I know that a lot of things I do I do very different to most women. When stereotypes come up I feel at the wrong place especially when it comes to communication between men and women.

A friend whose opinion I value told me that my thinking was more male then female.


Last week someone posted a video of a girl that has a male brain. I thought that was very interesting because so far I thought my feelings towards my gender had entirely to do with my past and the way I grew up. So the thought about it being a brain thing too is quite intriguing. I am thinking about what transgender means and also about all the shades in between. It feels good and I somehow feel free because I don't have to put myself into the female box anymore nor do I have to think about myself as weird...It is not an either or...like either I have to become more feminin or I go on treatment to become transformed into a man. I can be who I am.

There is a male part and a female part and they both belong to me.


Now, there is one concern I have. Will I find someone who is comfortable with someone like me. I am not lesbian, I like men. Will there be someone who appreciates my way of thinking, the way I am. And OK, I don't think too much about that so far because there is a lot of things I want to do, projects waiting to get done. But once in a while it pops up.


Thank you for reading and if you have any thoughts I look forward to read them.

Also I am so glad that I could let go of this religion that never allowed me to think this way and put all that stuff in the mental and psychological disorder box. Only sorry I feel...that it takes so long to free one's mind even when having left that narrow mindset almost seven years ago.

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Thanks for writing! I'm so glad you are back safe. I hope you had a fun trip in Central America. I'm very pleased to read that you are comfortable with your personality/body/sexuality -- that is the most important thing. When I hear about people wanting to perform surgery or put chemicals into their bodies, that makes me sad and makes me think they are still not to the point of self-acceptance.


As for the issue of whether or not you could find a male who will want to be your partner, I would say DEFINITELY! As you well-know, everyone is unique, and we are all spread along a spectrum. In terms of what humans find attractive and desirable, that is a bell curve stretched along a spectrum, with tails that reach into the distance on each side. There is at least a single person out there who would find you more desirable than anyone else in the world. And beyond that, there is something about YOU that is stimulating to every man that you meet. If you see a man walking hand-in-hand with his girlfriend, you should know that there is something about you that he finds more desirable than the corresponding trait of his girlfriend. We are each like diamonds with an infinite number of facets, at least a few of them flashing with light in the eyes of each person you meet.


Most importantly, if you cultivate in yourself confidence, character, perseverence, intelligence, then lots of men are going to be attracted to you, no matter how much of "an acquired taste" you will be in terms of your physcial appearance. Put yourself out there, meet men, be self-confident, assertive, and forward. Ask for what you want. Do not assume that anyone wouldn't respond positively to you. Take "rejections" in stride, putting them in proper perspective. Have courage, have fun!


Your friend says that you "think like a man" -- this is not very uncommon in women. Many women have a typically "male" personality-type. For example, my mother "thinks like a man" and has an "INTJ" personality type according to the Meyers-Briggs typology. All of us, no matter what our personalities are like, are fit for romance! But I would say that you might try to work on compensating for any limitations you might have. For example, if you have a "problem-solving" approach rather than a "nurturing" approach, you might want to be aware of this and try to show a more feminine side to children and partners who may not otherwise get the feminine treatment from anyone else than you.

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I suspect gender, like sexuality, is not a fixed "100% one or the other" state.  It's a sliding scale.


Take myself and my wife.  In some ways she thinks more like a male than I do.  Just on the standard "men are good at maths and science and women at languages" idea, our roles are reversed.  In other ways I am very much the male and her the female - she's a rather more sympathetic and caring soul than I tend to be.


Whatever you are, whatever you find out yourself to be, somewhere out there is your counterpart.

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Hey, monareina, I think that what everyone else is saying about human variability is right on-point. There's an infinite diversity of sex and personalities, naturally, and a culture's ideas of gender just puts a filter on which aspects are "in-bounds" to express for each individual. Our culture's ideas of organizing this variance along gay or straight or transgender lines are just that, our culture's. Others have very different ideas, not just of what it means to be a man or woman, but even along what lines gender is even drawn. You mentioned travelling in Guatemala, so maybe you've had some first-hand experience with it. I'm so glad you feel good, just being you, and really looking into other cultures might just help you out.


I know this is going to be long, but it might be a helpful starting place, if you do want to look at it closer. PM me if you want more detailed info, but some of this might help other people, too, so I'll write at least a rough sketch here.


Part 1 - our culture's ideas of sex and gender.


Our culture generally breaks down sex and gender along the following lines:


men = people with a Y chromosome, at any age, and with male sex organs, whether or not they're functional.


women = people with two X chromosomes, at any age, and with female sex organs, whether or not they're functional.


homosexual = attracted to the same sex as yourself.


heterosexual = attracted to the opposite sex as yourself.


bisexual = attracted to either sex.


transsexual = born male or female, but with a need to be the opposite sex.


We also have very specific expectations about the behaviour of men or women, of any gender, that also are very culturally-restricted.


(Stay tuned for Part 2. I had to break it up...)

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Part 2 - other cultures, sex, and gender.


Not all cultures, even our own past, broke down sex and gender in this way. Actually, this model we have is well under a century old. In our culture, today, we expect straight men to behave a certain way toward other men. To be emotionally in control (boys don't cry), to keep other men physically at arm's length (bro hugs), and not to, say, snuggle up to other adult men and sit on each other's laps, holding hands. This was rampantly not the case in the 19th century. A quick perusal of the massive American Civil War portraits collection at the Library of Congress will give plenty of examples of just how cuddly male performance of gender was, in the 1860s. If you find a picture of more than one man, chances are good that they're resting their arms on each other's legs or shoulders, interlacing hands or even legs, and generally being a lot more physically intimate than we'd find "normal" for "straight men" today. That's because a short 150 years ago, "heterosexuality" or "homosexuality" wasn't a gender. There were only "men" and sexual attraction wasn't a part of the definition of gender. There were only sexual acts of varying social permissibility. As for women, there was public - not necessarily private - denial of the existence of female sexuality at all. Letters between same-sex friends, especially women, were often very romantic-sounding in tone, compared to modern standards, for much the same reasons.


The differences in sex and gender get even more obvious, when it comes to further cultural distances.

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Part 3 - distant cultures and third-sex systems.


Reading the classic Chinese novels, the Dream of the Red Chamber or Romance of the Three Kingdoms (read the public-domain translation here!) is another great exercise in cultural variance, in addition to great reads, on their own. Dream of the Red Chamber is about the slow decline of a rich noble family, and the sensitive young man at the centre of a domestic drama. A side-plot involves a bitter-sweet love affair between female opera actresses, and this isn't anything out of the usual, in the culture in which the novel is set. Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a complete sausage-fest by comparison, as it deals in the nearly all-male world of grand politics and military strategy at the fall of the Han Dynasty. There are basically three sexes, in this culture, men, women, and eunuchs (castrated men), with accordingly different social expectations. Notably, men who are too interested in women are not really "manly" by the gender definitions in place here, but a man who can cry at the drop of a hat reveals a morally upright and sensitive soul. Whether it's a sweeping epic you're after, or finely-wrought domestic drama, either one is a fantastic read.


There's modern cultures, too, with third-sex systems, and far more complex gender roles, such as Thailand (note than "effeminate gay male" or "transgender" is just our culture's way of attempting to make kathoey as a third-sex fit our two sex system, a complete third sex and separate gender is more accurate, really), India, and a ton of traditional African cultures with age-grade systems, like the Maasai and, famously, the Zulu, where the age of men or women, and who they relate to, changes gender performance of an individual, and not just in respect to eligibility for marriage.

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Thank you guys


I guess it is as with religion. There is so much definition and expectation how one should be and all that there is not much room for being different. And this is why the LGBT movement got so much attention because if there is one extreme, there needs to be a counterpart. It needs to be balanced out.


I also think it is sad when people take hormones and get surgery because it is a heavy change of your body and psyche and you still will never be completely what you wish to become. I also see it as not really accepting yourself. But when I watched this video of that girl that wanted to be a boy I really wondered. She was born deaf and became ear implants later on. As soon as she was able to talk she told her parents that she was a boy. They thought it was a phase and did not take it too serious at first. But then they realized that she was serious and started to respect her wish to be treated as a boy. I don't think they gave her hormones or so, but they dress her as a boy and treat her as one and she/he looks very happy.

While for me it certainly has to do with my upbringing or at least that plays a part in it that girl had none of that.


Yes I was traveling to the US and Guatemala and besides getting sick I had a good time of redefine a few things and thinking about what I am going to do next.

And Guatemala and latin america might be places where gender is more traditional then other countries and so it might have been more into my face there. But even at home I often feel like I don't really fit into what society expects of me as a woman.


There is so much definition about how you should behave as a man or a woman. I think if there was more openness in the first place, people would not have to get surgery or take hormones because they had the freedom to express themselves without being judged. But when you get weird looks for who you are or just feel odd because it is not the way that is portrayed you just go for the extreme.


I am glad there are people who stir up that thinking a little like Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst.

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Everyone's a bit different, and it's fine to enjoy your differences.  Decades ago when I was an older teenager, I went thru a lot of questions like you are.  I thought (not in a serious way because I knew it was a big deal with hormones and operations) I would prefer to be a man, but since I really prefer men in general, I'd get a sex change operation so I could be a gay man.  After thinking that through for a long time, and discussing it with an older female friend, I realized it had more to do with wanting to feel more "in charge" like guys do, rather than being more passive like a girl.  (This was late 70's, very early 80's, so things were better than a few decades earlier, but still not as advanced as now.  And I was a teenager, still getting used to who I was and my own sexuality, and the fear of pregnancy, and then AIDS had just come out big in 1981, which was very scary at that time.  And I was to go to college to study the arts, and working in the arts I really enjoyed being around the gay men, which I still do.)  For a few years I quit wearing makeup, and quit shaving my legs and armpits.  I met my first husband during this time and he was cool with all that.  One day I shaved and kept it up for quite a number of years.  Now that I'm 50, I try to remember to shave once or twice a year!  I'm still hairy!!  Makeup I've gone back and forth on.  I haven't worn it in some years now as it now bothers my eyes, so can't wear eye makeup.


Anyway, fast forward a couple decades . . . . .  I've dated a lot of guys, been married twice, had some girl crushes.  I have NEVER had problem with guys when I've been more "in charge"!  They love it, and it can lead to some really fun situations!  Both my husbands enjoyed it.  And I also learned through the years, that sometimes I really enjoy being the passive, feminine girly-girl, and that can be fun, too.  It kind of depended on the guy, and the situation.  


One thing I learned when I was dating again in my 40's was that most people are rather shy, nobody really likes being rejected, and that lots of people in their 40's and 50's (my main age group I was going out with) are so busy with work and their life that they are very lonely but have little free time and energy and money to deal with it (I was dealing mainly with divorced men who had to work extra hard to have enough money and time for their kids too - life does NOT get easier as you get older).  So if I sucked it up, and was assertive with men, and started conversations and flirting, and was more sexually aggressive, I could almost always count on a good time.  And so could they!


Enjoy all your decades and all of your "you's."  I've pretty much been a bit different in every decade of my life.  It's certainly better than a predictable, staid life!

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Thank you fro your thoughts amateur.


Yes, that gay thing was an issue for me too. Like I thought if I felt more like a guy but was into men, would that mean I was gay?

The main thing though really was the religious and I never had the courage to talk about this stuff with anyone.


I never even thought about makeup until I was about 22. And even then I only used a little.

The past years till now I put it on when I feel like and when I go out. But there are phases where I feel way more comfortable without. Clothing also depends on my mood. Sometimes it is more feminin but most of the times it is just comfortable. And when I wore a skirt a few days I need to put it away for a few weeks. Usually.


So far I have not been too successful with dating. Especially when I did the first step. Maybe it was because I was trying to be that girl I never was. I am more an introvert too.

As you get older dating becomes more complicated I think. Because most guys already had several relationships or have been married and have kids. But in general I think life becomes a little bit more easy because you don't care too much anymore what others think...especially when you work at a place like me where people talk about others behind their backs all the time and you can see how they do it because they themselves are just insecure and unhappy with their own lives.


It is not easy, but I try to enjoy my life as much as I can. Unfortunately there is a companion who visits once in a while and sometimes more often...its depression.

So I will see what I do with that. Still a little afraid to see a psychologist or psychiatrist.

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I've had some similar experiences. As a child in the fundamentalist church, I "knew" I couldn't be a female, because females loved babies, wanted to be homemakers, were nurturing, weren't assertive, weren't good at math, etc. Because of the gender stereotypes of Christianity, I also had a lot of internalized misogyny - women were stupid, bad leaders, emotional, weak. When I was around 10-12, I thought I was transgender, although I didn't have the word for it, but two things made me decide that I am a woman both physically and psychologically. The first was that as I went through puberty and gained a sexual identity, I believe that I relate to sex as a straight woman, not as a gay man. The second was simply getting away from the church and meeting women who didn't fit into the fundamentalist mode. Women who were smart, logical leaders while having no problem embracing a feminine identity at the same time. Women who had careers. Women who had children but didn't only define themselves by their children.


It was and is really hard, but I gradually stopped seeing rational traits as male and nurturing, emotional traits as female. Women who are in STEM fields or are INTJs or or are problem solving aren't "women who act and think like men". Acting and thinking like a woman can include a huge range of personalities. That's not to say that no one is transgender, but I'd caution against letting Christian definitions of gender determine your gender for you. I think if in some theoretical, I had to be a fundamentalist for the rest of my life, it would be easier for me to fake being a man than live as a woman. But I don't have to live in that fucked up environment and I choose not to. So out of that environment, I can live as a woman. And I'd much rather help expand people's expectations for what a woman is and does than tell people that I'm "like a man". I have a math degree like a woman. I have a career as a programmer like a woman. I play sports like a woman. And there are thousands and thousands of women who are like me.


ETA: And I mean this with all due respect to this site, where no one has been an ass to me, but I wouldn't depend on ex-Christian groups for good modeling of not using gender stereotypes. I know this is an issue with atheist groups as a whole, but I've found that a lot of people come out of Christianity but either haven't had the time yet or don't have the interest to explore gender. The people whom gender stereotypes benefit sometimes have no interest in changing. I dated an ex-C for a while, and I thought, naively, that we would be like-minded about leaving Christian gender roles behind, but it turns out that when you've grown up thinking that women are going to wait on you like servants, you might not be so keen to change that.

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I meet gender stereotypes in everyday life outside of christianity or ex-christian pages. I live in a country where people are pretty non religious in general. At work, wherever. It is not only a religious thing. Though everyone talks about being open minded, they still try to fit the role. When I considered to study chemistry a co worker was disappointed that I would chose such an un-female subject. WHAT? Another friend and co worker who I thought was pretty open minded told me that she thought a woman needs to wear her hair long. EM...

The last guy I dated was so filled with stereotypes that he was not even getting close to get to know me. And he was afraid I was conservative...thought of himself as open minded and modern. The only thing that was non conservative about him was that he complained when we went out and he payed for my drinks or even when we payed our drinks ourselves about me not paying for his drinks...and it was him who wanted to go out despite my low budget and knowing he probably had the better situation finance wise. I guess his open mindedness was limited to sex and what he thought about women who had had a wild sex life.


I guess it would be time to stop calling things male or female at all. If you are a mathematician you are so as a person. When I rather walk around for two more hours and trying to find a place on my own instead of asking someone for directions...I do so as a person.

In my program I was in the past two years in order to pass the exams to have my "ticket" to university I learnt in German literature history, that writing was considered male once...good writing. While today no one would think that anymore people still hold on to the stereotypes when it comes to science and math. Funny eh.


But I am thankful to live in a country where women are free to do everything men do, despite all the stereotypes.

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Gender was one thing that I thought about a lot as a Christian. I did think that I was trans for awhile, but now I know that I was just really uncomfortable with my body at the time. I also knew that I could never medically transition due to my health issues, so it was like why bother thinking of it?


I have been attracted to women for a long time. My first crush was on a female teacher in middle school. I really wanted to be myself, be out...but the area where I live is not very accepting of such things. There was a lot of shaming and when I joined the church, it was worse because my old church was really two-faced about accepting homosexuality or transgender issues.


Now that I have left God and church behind, I see that things aren't as cut and dry as we would like them to be in regards to gender and sexuality. There are many different types of women, many different types of men. Christianity is horribly limiting, IMO. Men are protectors and providers; women are caregivers and servants. Those are the only options allowed, no matter how glamorous or cool or different a variety of Christianity may be, they rarely stray from their party lines and traditional gender divisions.


I think that some people do need to transition to be comfortable in their bodies and lives. It is a big decision though. Not everyone can just be in their own skin. Not just with gender, but with weight or other things too. We are fortunate to live in a world where those things are possible for some us, I think. It's too bad that Christianity sells freedom, but only as long as you fit their molds. You are free...to conform to their standards of gender and sexuality. Wow. How amazing. NOT.

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I have some perspective on this. I am a blind man, and though I work and have raised a family, I deal daily with people's misperceptions of us: leaches off the governmnet, what can't you do, what cazn you do, and so on.

So, I empathize with the struggles of others.

But I think it's shortsighted of us cisgendered people (those of us identifying as our birth sex) to belittle transsexuals who go through surgery to get their body to match what their brain is thinking of themselves. I, too, do not really go along with gender stereotyped roles. In some ways, I am a typical male. Then others, not so much. Certainly my marriage is not the cookie-cutter male/female Venus/Mars relationship that is popularized by wealthy media. But, there is something to this dysphoria people feel, and I don't think we can claim to understand it or decide they shouldn't go through surgery if that is what will help them. If I woke up tomorrow to find I had female body parts, I would certainly feel dysphoric, to say the least.

I understand the challenge, people like many of us who have grown up through society where roles are not so constrained as they once were, cannot very well understand people wanting to strive for this. But don't think of it as striving for a stereotype: think of it as dysphoria.

I don't know if this is anything of an accurate comparison at all, but I remember as a boy romping about in the snow and getting my feet so cold they were numb. When I came inside, before they were warmed up at all, I had taken the boots off. And I couldn't feel my feet on the ground. But I knew they were there, or supposed to be there.

I have heard this from transgendered people, apparently even young children, who felt like a penis should be there, or shouldn't be there, as the case may be.


There's nothing that will challenge one's politic, be she womyn-born-womyn or conservative, by recognizing the dysphoria for what it is. Only result then is to extend the necessary human compassion. I've had a few transsexual coworkers and acquaintances over the years. And they always describe the same things. It's dysphoric, and if they can have an opportunity to make it right for themselves, I say more power to them.

If there are incompletions in it now, that is not a strike against them or their decision. That is a technological problem. After all, if you're old enough, you used a 386 computer, or even older. Technologically limited, yes. But nobody stopped using it because it wasn't done yet.

Of course, we can easily support those who identify otherwise, and don't want to change anything physical. They simply look for acceptance. Don't we all. I take the path of give a little to get a little: we can accept things we don't fully understand. But there's room for people in any number of these situations, needing surgery or not.

I'm a software engineer by trade, not a medical or social professional, so I am probably bumbling a bit here. But I wanted to respond on account of people who are experiencing dysphoria and need a techological solution -- surgery -- to help make it right for them. Also admitting, this straight, white, middle-aged, cisgendered male can't really claim to understand what it's like to be them. My own experience with people's attitude towards blindness does give me a unique window into general human understanding, though. Not mystically: it's experiential and totally explainable.

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I identify as either non-gendered or 3rd gendered, though everyone assumes I'm a woman and I don't correct them. I know a few trans and intersex people who accept me as "genderqueer", but since it's easy for me to play along with the gender binary I don't quite feel right claiming a minority label.


I grew up with strong gender roles, and I always knew that I wasn't a girl because the definition didn't fit. Never wanted to be a boy, though. Most of my friends from elementary school through high school were male. Hated puberty, was very angry that my body grew tumors on my chest without my permission. I've gotten used to it though, and have no interest in having a male body (well, I am jealous of testosterone because I have very little upper body strength, even compared to other females). I don't even really "feel like a woman" when I'm feeling comfortable in my skin and sexual, but since I am attracted to women I do have to admit that I'd do my clone. So my secondary sex characterists are a useful display when I'm in the mood. I wish I could hide them when I'm not though. My body's way too curvy (hips and shoulders as much as anything) for me to even pull off androgenous. I do, however, horrify people by shaving only about twice a year. I really don't get the point.


As an adult human who happens to have a female body and works in a STEM field, I end up with lots of invites to women's events. At least in STEM that doesn't mean too girly, but I still feel uncomfortable and out of place. It's nice to see other female-bodied humans not playing out the stereotypical gender roles, but I still feel like a bit of an imposter. In non-STEM women's settings... *shudder*. I'm not girly, I'm not interested, and no, I don't suddenly feel "free" to act out the girly impulses that many feminine women assume I must be supressing. Just... no.

I don't get gender. I don't get why the shape of anyone's body matters until you're considering sleeping with them. But then again, I don't get gender so to me it's all sexual, when people try to demand I act more feminine. I especially hate the men-identified-males who are so insecure in their masculinity that they define themselves in contrast to me and get angry and combative when I'm too strong or capable or even just mildly useful. Feminine-identified women can be pretty awful too, but I don't spend a lot of time with them so it's been less of an issue. I'd like to identify as non-gendered, but then I'm afraid that people would treat it like I'm missing out on something, so I'd rather society have a 3rd gender category for me to claim, so that I can claim a right to exist as I am. Calling myself genderless just makes me feel invisible, even though it's a bit more accurate.

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Fascinating thread, thank you all for posting.  I'm cis and bi, and do not fit into the gender role that xianity assigns to women.  As I've gotten older it's become easier to be the person I want to be.  The 40s are a good time for a woman.  Where I live is more secular than the US, and generally more tolerant in terms of gender, LGBTQ, ability, and race.  I'm grateful for that.

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Hi, moanareina. I would not be concerned about finding a boyfriend. My sister is similar. She went to one of the best science universities in the US. She never wears makeup and is very analytical.


Anyway, she married a nice guy.

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