Words and Identity

March is kind of an interesting time for me, transition history wise.  It’s the month I got my legal name change (both times), the month I started T, the month I switched to injections, and the month I brought up my gender issues to my therapist.  Because of that I end up thinking about transition this time of year even though I’ve hit a point where it’s mostly not a day to day issue.

At the moment that means thinking about an exercise my therapist had me do when I first started looking at transitioning.  She had me write down every ‘female-gendered’ term I could think of and then whether or not I identified with it.  A fairly easy sounding task, but surprisingly difficult when you’re still a bit confused and unsure of yourself.

Looking back, not too much has changed.  It is interesting, though, which words caused a larger response.  Girl wasn’t a word I could place either way.  Still don’t, really.  I just don’t care.  Woman was a definite “no way” and now is more of an “eh, whatever”.  Tomboy I detested and realised I didn’t identify with at all even though that’s what I’d resigned myself to years earlier.  Wife will likely never be a word I’m comfortable with.  Mija and mijita to this day cause larger dysphoria issues than anything else.  I have more problems being called that than I do with not having a penis most days.  Ma’am I hated then, but now has lost most all meaning.  Miss I cannot stand, but it has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with it not being a word I’m accustomed to being used for anyone over twelve at the absolute oldest.  Lady I didn’t identify with then and identify with even less now.  Princess I think I will always hate.  Diva I considered too feminine then, but now I take a certain amount of pride in it.  Mother did and still does send “DO NOT WANT!” shivers down my spine.  (Interestingly, I can’t identify with Father either, though it at least comes closer.)  Mum/Mummy I surprisingly don’t have too much of an issue with other than thinking it’d be a bit weird, but Mom/Mommy and Dad/Daddy make me want to run away screaming.  Daughter didn’t bother me then, but does now.  (I’m not too comfortable with Son either.)  Girlfriend has never been a word I particularly wanted associated with me.  Aunt made me uncomfortable then, but now doesn’t cause much of a response outside of “WTF”.  Sister I was 100% ok with then while now it feels…wrong.

Most of the changes I can attribute to simply becoming more secure in my identity.  I still get misread about a quarter of the time and likely will for the foreseeable future.  The men in my family simply don’t have very masculine features, I’ve gotten used to it.  I had to learn to deal with being called “ma’am”, otherwise I’d spend a good portion of my life being angry at the world.

Other ones shifted in the opposite direction for much the same reason.  I spent my entire life before transition with my main identity being “big sister”.  I come from a large family and because my parents both worked long hours to ensure we lived in a neighbourhood with good schools (mostly for my benefit) I did a significant portion of the child rearing.  Every time I was praised or punished by my parents some variation of “setting a good example” was mixed in.  It wasn’t a gendered term to me when I was first coming out, just something I was.  Now that I’m removed from that setting I have a much harder time with it.

I’m curious to know how much these will change as more time passes.  I don’t know, for instance, how much of my objection to the parental terms is gender and how much is simply not having much of a desire to be a parent.  I don’t really feel comfortable with any of them so I suspect it’s more to do with the role than the gender.

2 Replies to “Words and Identity”

  1. I get “miss” and “ma’am” a lot and it makes me crazy. I hate it.

    Girl used to feel fine and now catches in my throat. Woman? Yuck.

    “Mom” I’m iffy on … I’d rather be “Dad”.

    “Lady” – I am ok with this as long as I’m the one saying it and I’m using it as a joke

    “Princess” – barf.

    I’m pre-everything an closeted so this is a daily struggle at the moment

  2. This post really resonated with me. I’m exploring who I am and seeing a therapist about my gender identity. Interestingly, what finally drove me crazy about living as a female was when someone called me a ‘woman’ about 5 times within the space of half an hour. I’ve become accustomed to ‘girl’ but being young this was the first time anyone ever really called me a ‘woman’ and boy did it drive me crazy! Cue 3 hours of solid crying that evening!
    ‘Tom boy’ just reminds me of being a kid but I feel it’s more of societies way to hetronormalise all young and gender non-conforming female bodied people.
    ‘Wife’ just feels weird and uncomfortable, a bit of a WTF type feeling, but ‘Aunty’ I’m cool with, but that’s because if I transitioned I’d be happy to be called that as a joke!
    Both ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’ feel equally weird, yet I’d love kids that are genetically mine when older – just I don’t want to give birth to them, ever, at all! Ever!
    I have no siblings so I’ve never really had a family forced gender role and for that I’m truly grateful.
    What’s interesting is that in the UK, ‘lady’ is a term more to do with social class than gender, many women never get called ‘lady’, and some are actually titled ‘Lady XYZ’.
    As for ‘diva’, damn bitch, I’d be proud to take that title. Well, as long as it was jokey and non-gendered, more to do with being cheeky and fabulous!

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