Sunday, 7 April 2013

30 Day Genderqueer Challenge Day 5

5) Dysphoria and how you manage it  (this post may be triggering for incest/sexual abuse)

 I don't have a lot of dysphoria and most of the dysphoria i do have is social rather than physical. Bra buying makes me cry every single time for reasons I haven't really unpicked yet

 I hate the reaction I get when I grow my hair. People make comments that think are really positive but are actually a form of gender policing. comments such as:
  • Oh you look so feminine
  • Oh doesn't your hair suit you
  • Oh you look so much more grown up (there's a really weird correlation in peoples minds between lack of femininity an immaturity)
  • oh your hair has grown out at last
And there is always this deafening subtext that is actually going "Congratulations you are at least trying to look like a girl, you are at least trying to be feminine"
And people give me all these tips on how to make it suit me better and by "suit me better" they actually mean make me look more feminine, or rather make me look like I'm at least attempting femininity

For me having long hair is dangerous, it sends me into a panicked tailspin, in ways that are not directly but kind of are about gender.

My father loved my hair, he fetshized it, in the actual literal sense of the word, he used it to get himself off. I wanted to get my hair cut short pretty much all the way through my adolescence but he forbade it then when I was seventeen he finally grudgingly relented (after he'd stopped fucking me, which is probably not incidental) He took a lock of my cut hair and placed it in an envelope which he kept, the idea of that always really skeeves me out.

 Having short hair is both about rejecting femininity because of what my hair meant to my father, because of what he did with it, but it's also a way of refusing his image, his idea, his concept of me, of being a person who is not part of him, a symbolic way of cutting the connections between us

In my adult life the worst dysphoria I ever experienced was  the period leading up to my friends wedding. It was an orgy of hetero-patriarchal consumerist lamp post pissing anyway so I was already deeply uncomfortable and I had to spend long periods of time with her crashingly middle class straightly mcstraighterson friends. I was a bridesmaid and there was a really big deal made by almost everyone about the fact the bride was "allowing" me to wear trousers, a shirt and a waistcoat. but even then I was expected to wear drop earnings, painted nails, a waistcoat with freaking ruffles "as a surprise, to make it more feminine" and get my hair cut much more femininely than I was comfortable with (which triggered the shit out of me)

and there was this really weird reaction of "well she could have asked person x who would have worn a dress" as if somehow there was some rivalry between  person X and I when actually I know person X reasonably well and really like her and know she would have made a much better bridesmaid than me and had a whole lot more fun doing it!

 It was like I was supposed to feel guilty for fucking up the perfect traditional wedding with my gender non normativity. The whole experience made me feel really sick, triggered me, and bought me to tears


Anonymous said...

Difficult stuff, but important. You make some really interesting points in this post. I hadn't thought much about the femininity/maturity link before now, but yes, you're right.

I had long hair for a few years when I was in my early 20s, and I noticed then how much men fetishized it. It was extremely creepy, but they didn't see anything wrong with it.

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