I stand in front of the full length mirror my Daddy has opposite his spare bedroom. He’s in his office, only a couple of feet away from me, working on something important and grown-up. Sensing me in his periphery, he twirls in his spinny chair and sees me poking at the squishier bits of my body, frowning intently at my reflection.
“Hey,” he says, stern but caring. “Stop that. You’re beautiful.”
Pouting, I ask, “Am I handsome?”
Understanding, he gets out of his chair and moves to stand behind me, putting his big hands over mine – helping me to squash down my chest. “You’re Daddy’s handsome little boy,” he murmurs, kissing my hair. “You’re so cute.”
It doesn’t make the dysphoria go away, but it helps.
Being genderfluid is weird, because sometimes I love my curves. Sometimes I wear things with plunging necklines to highlight my cleavage, or I find the tiniest skirts my local charity shops have to offer, so my butt catches people’s eyes everywhere I go.
Sometimes, though, I hate them.
On those days, it’s hard not to feel hopeless. I know that in a week, or a day, or even a few hours, I’ll swing back around to feeling femme – which means that I don’t consider HRT or top surgery as options for me. I’m even reluctant to bind, worried about harming my breast tissue, making my boobs saggier (as though saggy boobs matter – of course gravity is acting upon them, when they each weigh the same as a small melon). On my masculine-of-centre days, I hate my body, and I hate my changeable identity that leaves altering anything permanently off the table.
I only found the vocabulary for my Gender Feelings™ two or three years ago. Before then, I didn’t feel that I had permission use words like ‘dysphoria’, because I believed myself to be cis – just kinda butch, and only engaging selectively with femininity. Being autistic complicated things further – lots of autistic people struggle to perform their assigned gender, or are simply uninterested in it, because performing gender involves understanding a lot of unwritten rules and having half a clue how other people might perceive you. Plus, performing femininity in particular involves a lot of sensory inputs – tight clothing makes me itch like fuck-knows-what, and foundation and concealer make me wish I didn’t have a face at all.
When I came across a definition of the term ‘genderfluid’ after seeing someone identify as such on Tumblr, my first thought was, Wow, I wish I was genderfluid, so I didn’t have to be a girl all the time! It took me an embarrassingly long time to register that that thought alone probably indicated I was genderfluid. If you passionately hate performing your assigned gender and you’re desperately searching for reasons to opt out of it, you might not be cis.
Having a host of sensory sensitivities and a very complex relationship with food and its effects on my body, I had shrugged off the panicky discomfort and bewilderment I felt when I looked in the mirror while presenting femininely. Nobody tells you how dysphoria is supposed to feel, just that it’s bad. Lots of media seems to portray it simply as a longing to look different, but having an eating disorder meant that I couldn’t find the source of my desire to be flat-chested and without hips.
It took me maybe a year to piece together my Gender Feelings™ into a coherent identity. I tagged my selfies on Tumblr as ‘they/them’ to see how it felt; it turns out I liked it a great deal more than ‘she/her’, which felt clunky, like a pair of shoes the wrong size. I borrowed clothes from my boyfriend at the time; he was six foot something, so they all swamped me, and I found I loved the invisibility it granted my boobs, with my little arms sticking out of sleeves and fabric draped over my arse.
At some point, I came across Bex (of the Dildorks, whose work I link to a lot in my posts), who was transmasculine and who was just starting to take testosterone as I was discovering their online presence. Looking at (and crushing on) people like Bex, who were wearing shorts and didn’t have enormous bushy beards and six-packs, I realised that I’d been buying into the same narrow, cis and heterocentric, and outright damaging ideals of masculinity that I would so vocally denounce when other people were harmed by them. I insisted on my tumblr that boys were allowed to cry and wear makeup, but I wouldn’t let myself do those things – because, I suppose, I didn’t really believe I ‘counted’ as a boy. Finding role models, especially transmasculine ones, expanded my understanding of gender expression and of masculinity.
Realising that I didn’t have to look like a PhotoShopped cis dude on my masculine days was liberating.
I Googled words like “twink”, looking for boys who looked like me. I found that there were ways to express my masculinity without trying to be a clone of my boyfriend, or of Vin Diesel, or Buck Angel.
I could be me.
I kept dating straight dudes for a while.
They insisted they respected, believed in my nonbinary identity. And they insisted that they were attracted to me – sexually and romantically. And they insisted they were 100% heterosexual.
It hurt a bit.
Actually, it hurt a fuckin’ lot, but I didn’t want to admit that at the time. They still touched me like I was a girl, no matter what they said about my gender. They cupped my breasts in their hands, kissed my neck softly, held me by my waist or my hips. They caressed me.
It’s difficult to explain this to cis people, especially straight ones. There’s just a very different vibe when someone thinks you’re a girl. Even if you’re having rough, kinky sex – the places people touch you are different. The language they use is different. The aftercare they give you is different.
Even when straight dudes are excellent at interacting with my front hole, they call it my ‘pussy’. They do deliciously evil things to my nipples, but I’m distracted when they compliment my ‘tits’. I know that when they call me a slut, whilst I like it, they mean a girl slut. There’s something in the way they say it. I spend the whole interaction a little sad, a little distant, feeling disconnected from myself and from my partner.
Sex with people who know I’m not a girl is just better. It’s not nauseating, and it doesn’t leave me feeling miserable, confused, hurt and unseen, and it’s so good because I’m actually in my body, enjoying everything that’s being done to it.
My Daddy slides his hand down the boxers I’m wearing, pulling me closer with the arm that’s around my neck. His fingers brush the thing a medical professional would label my ‘clitoris’.
“Look how hard your little cock is,” he teases me, as I squirm against him. “Does Daddy choking you turn you on, little one?”
I nod against his arm, whimpering. “I – um, I don’t think I want, um, PIV today.”
“That’s okay.” My Daddy’s hand comes out of my boxers, and he pushes his wet fingers into my willing mouth. “You have a vibrator, and you have other holes Daddy can use.”
I watch myself sucking on his fingers in the long mirror in front of us. My scrawny, pale legs are shaking a little from the strangling. My curvy body is dwarfed by my Daddy’s, but I’m focused on my face.
I look like a twink.
I look boyish.
And I look fuckin’ hot.