I think I'm genderqueer / agendered. Now what?
posted by Vatican Cameos to human relations (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I'm engaged to a heterosexual, cis-gendered man, and I'm biologically a woman. I'm 29, he's 34, and we've been together for eight years & living together for six years. I have identified as bisexual for most of my life, with varying degrees of comfort with my sexuality, and I've had long-term relationships with both women and men. I've always had a lot of vaguely dysphoric feelings about my body, but until recently I thought it was just the standard discomfort that everyone (certainly most women) seems to have about their appearances - low self-esteem, some mild weight issues, normal body issue stuff. Only recently have I realized that those feelings are stronger for me than for most people, that it's getting worse instead of better with age, and that there's a lot more to it than just not feeling pretty.
Recently, I realized that I experience unusually intense feelings of self-loathing and erasure when my fiance is attracted to other women, and it finally clicked for me that when he's attracted to other women, it triggers my latent gender dysphoria and it makes me feel like I'm not successfully "passing", like he knows I'm not really a woman at all and has to look elsewhere to satisfy his heterosexuality to some degree. This makes me feel awful, like I'm a fraud and that I'm coercing him into being a relationship with me because if he knew I wasn't "really a real woman" he would leave me for somebody who was prettier and better at being a woman than I am. Obviously this is silly - he's stuck around for eight years and proposed marriage so clearly he finds me attractive enough as a woman - but I guess that's just it, I just feel like it's not entirely honest somehow and that he only finds me sexually attractive insofar as I am able to "pass" as a woman, and I feel like I'm only halfway satisfying him in that way.
This tension and discomfort (really one of the only sources of tension in our whole relationship, which is otherwise great) has made me think a lot harder about my gender identity lately, and I finally realized that I would feel a lot better if I could just accept myself as a non-gendered individual somehow. Fundamentally, I don't feel like a woman or a man at all, though of course I'm more comfortable expressing femininity because that's what I've been socialized to do. My skills and interests are almost all more "masculine" - I'm in a hard science field, I'm great with math and computers, I do all the mechanical/construction/wiring work in our household, etc. I like wearing makeup and dresses sometimes, for special occasions, but it always feels like I'm cross-dressing and like everyone can tell how unconvincing I am, even when I know I look totally normal and all I did was put some lip gloss on or something. Somewhat paradoxically, my body is very feminine, though - broad hips & breasts, voluptuous hourglass figure, long hair (which I want to keep because I like it outside of its gender connotations). This contrast between my hyper-feminine body and my agendered identity seems to heighten my impostor feelings about my gender identity and makes me feel like even more of a fraud.
Are there any good resources out there for people who feel like me? I don't really even know where to start in accepting this about myself, or how to go about finding a more comfortable way for me to "express my gender" (or lack thereof) in a way that doesn't feel inauthentic and false. I've heard about a million different terms for this gender orientation: agendered, genderqueer, gender-agnostic, gender-anonymous, third gender, etc. The proliferation of terminology makes it hard to find other people who have had similar experiences (a forum, some advice, a community, etc).
I also need some advice about how to talk to my fiance about this. He loves me and he's a fantastic, open-minded, big-hearted guy, and our relationship & communication are generally very solid. However, he comes from a very straight background, went to a religious university (though he isn't religious himself anymore), his friend group is fairly conformist and they all follow very traditional gender roles, he has a bunch of lapsed-Catholic sexual guilt & shame issues, and he's pretty uncomfortable talking about sex at all. He's admitted being occasionally bicurious, but has never acted on it and it makes him really uncomfortable when I ask about it. We have a decent sex life, although sex tends to be more infrequent and vanilla than either of us would prefer.
I'm posting this through a sock puppet instead of anonymously so that people can share their thoughts via memail if they're uncomfortable posting. Thanks in advance for any advice and help you might have - I'm profoundly grateful to have access to such a fantastic community here at MeFi and I couldn't ask for a better resource for a question like this.