Portland Confidential: Coming Out as Genderfluid

Portland Confidential: Coming Out as Genderfluid

Still pretty femme here.

This post first appeared on Medium on January 3, 2017. It has been edited from the original version.

 

Gender nonconforming while a Scorpio

by Rose C.

I went to a queer support group here in Portland and, for the first time ever, asked the people in the group to call me Jack.

And they did!

And I was blown away. It kind of made my night. I was inwardly beaming. Having trouble paying attention to others’ heart-rending stories, I was so inwardly thrilled to be recognized as Jack.

Me, a large-breasted girl with painted fingernails, longish hair, full lips, and a sweet, heart-shaped face. I was Jack! I had claimed some essence of my masculine self, and people had listened.

Not sure what to do about pronouns and the rest of it. Genderfluid and trans. “They/them” works nicely, for those that bother to ask. I’m not getting tied up in knots about this. I mean, I still carry a purse.

Where this goes next, I have no idea. But here is a bit of backstory.

Last Monday night I decided to try an experiment. There was this young dude (30, great body, worked out all the time) who had expressed an interest in me that was more than purely professional. About a month and a half ago we ended up making out past 2 AM in some downtown bar whose name I don’t even remember. We took an Uber to his place but stopped just short of having sex.

I wanted to think through my current relationship, long distance and already polyamorous in theory, and decide whether I really wanted to open it up to somebody new. I also figured I should get re-tested for STDs, just to be safe.

The answer I came to was emphatically, yes. So last week I sent Young Dude a text to see if he wanted to catch the Warhol exhibit in town. Four hours later, we ended up eating vegan mozzarella at a punk rock dive bar, then singing karaoke (my performance was unimaginably bad), then back to my place. The night was comically ill-timed (the smell of burning rubber alerted us that the tea lights were melting the blinds, even though not directly in contact) and a cold shower almost gave my date hypothermia.

The interesting part of the experience was that even though I knew I might be getting laid that night, I made no special effort to femme it up. Legs remained unshaven. I wore out the same bulky black hoodie that I wear everywhere. This was intentional (even though I did clean up the apartment some, with the thought that somebody might be coming back).

I decided, just that once, to act like a man — which is to say, just be me.

No special outfit, very little makeup.

This is me at 40, folks. I wanted to not apologize for it or cover it up. I wanted to see what would happen. No regrets.

Face it: my body will probably never look the same in lingerie as it did five years ago. I lost a lot of weight after my divorce — got to experience about seven years of having pretty much my ideal body. But then one day, metabolism and time catches up with you. You start to wonder, what exactly does the future hold in store for average looking women in their forties and fifties who don’t have kids?

I am viewing this unavoidable process of aging as an excuse to explore my more masculine side. Which is weird, because I really love my body. I can’t imagine having chest surgery. I could fantasize about a deeper voice, chest hair, all the other effects of “T”. (And yes, I’ve done the research about transitioning in midlife.)

I have no idea how other people experience gender. I just know that I almost never feel like a girl. Even when I did femme it up, it felt like a costume, or a video game avatar. A really fun and sexy costume, but something contrived and separate from the essence of who I was.

I know that I’m also a very nurturing and empathic person, and that those traits put me in the bucket of “feminine.”

But then… this is also me. Leader. Builder of things. Entrepreneur. Somebody who prefers to call shit like it is and isn’t afraid of conflict. Somebody with an unflagging code of loyalty to my peeps, even when they don’t return the same. Somebody whose idea of a perfect evening is just having two beers with a buddy. Really. That’s it.

Interests: comics, rock and roll music, computers, science fiction.

I think about why I have so many more guy friends than female friends, and it’s easy to just chalk it up to women being busy with children and partners, or women’s internalized jealousy and mistrust of other women.

But sometimes I wonder. Maybe something is clicking for me on a deeper level. I’ve never been a tomboy, never been super butch although I did shave my head in my early 20s. I’ve only ever been with two women in my life.

I feel dorky for embarking on this “voyage of self discovery” at the cusp of middle age. But I also feel like to try and fit a mold I outgrew sometime in the last few years might be literally dangerous to my health.

I had plenty of years to play the “cute girlfriend.” Am I now going to be the “less cute girlfriend?”

I guess for me the essence of masculinity is being perceived for my talent, strength, and ability rather than for how I look or my relationship to others. It has very little to do with having a penis or chest hair. And yet, projecting this self while outwardly feminine can be threatening to some.

I have thought about this shit for years, but never expressed it publicly before. I don’t know where it will lead. At this point in my life I am used to feeling like an outcast, even while deftly maneuvering professional and social situations and keeping casual acquaintances at arm’s length. Adapting a less traditional gender presentation might change that. It might make me, finally, a bit less closeted in my multifaceted “otherness.”

And honestly, that might be a change I am looking for.

Crisis Resources

Crisis Resources

We’ve put together a list of helpful national and local Portland, OR and Seattle, WA resources for mental health and suicide prevention, updated for COVID-19. Please let us know if any of these links are broken, or if you have new ones to suggest. Thank you, and be well.

Helplines

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Telephone and online chat available.

https://calltosafety.org A Call to Safety advocate can connect you with resources through the crisis line, or you can explore some Portland Metro resources below. Learn more about domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and sex work on our site.

https://oregonyouthline.org For teens, they can call, text, chat and during certain hours can talk to peer support.

https://www.crisistextline.org Crisis Text Line, text HOME to 741741.

http://communitycounselingsolutions.org/warmline  A peer-run program of Community Counseling Solutions.

https://www.translifeline.org – Peer support, hotline, and resources for the trans community.

https://www.thetrevorproject.org – A national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth.

503-575-3764Crisis Line for Racial Equity Support – Answered by BIPOC counselors M-F from 8:30 AM -5:00 PM.

877-226-3111 – Addiction Hotline

1-855-227-3640 – Caregiver Help Desk Hotline

503-300-1633 – Clackamas Senior Loneliness Line

844-228-2962 – Eating Disorder Hotline

877-455-0628 – Self Harm Hotline

888-640-5174 – Depression Hotline

Clackamas County Mental Health Crisis Line (503) 655-8585


Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis Line (503) 988-4888


Washington County Mental Health Crisis Line (503) 291-9111


Thero Directory

Seattle Mental Health Crisis Line (866) 427-4747

Suicide Prevention Cards - PDX Local

Community Resources

https://www.nami.org NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Oregon NAMI Chapter: https://namior.org/

http://gettrainedtohelp.com – Suicide First Aid. Free trainings in suicide prevention for the general public, youth workers, and more. Includes the ASIST curriculum. Trainings temporarily suspended.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/stjohnssuicideprevention – St. John’s Suicide Prevention Team. A community group helping reduce the incidence of suicides in Portland, Oregon and the St. John’s neighborhood.

https://multco.us/mhas/mental-health-crisis-intervention – Multnomah Crisis Intervention Resources (includes walk-in clinic).

https://www.co.washington.or.us/hawthorn – Walk-in trauma intervention program in Washington County.

http://www.seattlecrisis.org/counseling.html – Counseling and mental health resources for Seattle, WA.

https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org – Nationwide organization providing training to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a crisis.

https://mesotheliomahub.com/mesothelioma/patient-resources/suicide  – Suicide Prevention & Cancer Patients

Substance Abuse

https://www.samhsa.gov/ebp-resource-center/ – Federally funded Evidence Based Practices Resource Center for mental and substance abuse disorders.

https://www.drugrehab.com/guides/suicide-risks/ – A guide to understanding the connection between Substance Abuse & Suicide.

https://www.detoxrehabs.net/ – This site helps you find centers in your home state or out of state. We also provide information for different community needs, such as help for our veterans, LGBTQ+ friendly programs, free or Medicaid accepting treatment, and pet-friendly facilities.

www.AlcoholRehabGuide.org – This guide doesn’t promote any specific clinic or service, but it does provide valuable information to help people understand the effects of alcoholism and the variety of ways to find help.

www.alcoholhelp.com – Browse resources and get connected to treatment that is right for you.

Suicide Prevention Cards - PDX Local

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