Lingerie and My Gender

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen some photos of me in lingerie. You may have enjoyed them a lot, and I hope you have. You may also have wondered to yourself, “How does all that work with being nonbinary?” and if you have, this post is for you.

My gender is complicated. I find it difficult to explain to cisgender people, and even some binary trans people, how my gender feels. I find it easiest to explain in somewhat abstract terms, with reference to fairies and princesses, but a lot of people don’t know what I mean when I say, “Today, my gender is a boy princess,” or, “I’m an ineffable, ethereal being whose gender is as intangible as the wind.” Nonbinary people often do, and I’m grateful for that, but it’s hard to put words to my gender in a way that doesn’t make me sound, um, nuts.

That said, I’m moving away from the idea that I have to justify my gender identity to anybody. Being nonbinary doesn’t necessarily mean gender neutrality; for me, it means genderfluidity, which includes moving from femme to masc to too-tired-to-have-a-gender to gender experiences I don’t yet have the words for. That means, surely, that I’m allowed to express myself in as femme or masc or tired a way as I like, and that includes lingerie.

Lingerie doesn’t make me dysphoric. Knowing that people will read me and my outfit and my body as “female” makes me dysphoric, sure, but bits of fabric on their own don’t. I wear lingerie a lot in kink spaces, where people’s approach to gender is a lot more forgiving than it is in the wider world, and I thrive on the attention that my outfits garner me. In some ways, it’s an affirming experience, and one I treasure.

Lingerie, for me, can be femme or masc. When I see a man in lingerie, I don’t see the lingerie as femme; I just see it as a way to highlight that person’s body, the curves of it, the enviable strength in testosterone-influenced thighs. When I’m feeling masc, lingerie can either feel neutral, or it can feel like a small, sexy humiliation, a vulnerability, a way of someone (or multiple someones) seeing my body, eyeing it up and evaluating it… It can feel sexy in a dangerous sort of way to be masc and in lingerie. I don’t play a lot with forced feminization, mostly because I’m not prepared for the dysphoria I imagine it would bring me, but the humiliation comes from much the same place: a little alarm bell ringing that says, People are looking at me! I have toyed with the idea of forced feminization, and even wondered whether it would make me feel more masculine, since I would be starting at a place of not-feminine, but the risk of psychological hurt and weirdness keeps it in the “Maybe” section of my Yes/No/Maybe list.

I do experience some femininity, though, and lingerie is super affirming for those days. Pulling on stockings or wriggling into a lacy bodysuit feels like suiting up into my superhero identity, Confident Morgan, who likes their body a little more than I do and who can seduce anyone, given enough time. I often do my makeup along with wearing lingerie, painting myself into the ultimate, glittery femme fatale. I think I like the performativity of it, and again, drawing eyes onto me to make me feel either empowered or vulnerable. I also think it’s very cool that lingerie gives me access to both of those emotions, depending on context (including my gender feelings for that day).

The short answer to the question at the top of this post is, “It’s complicated.” Gender is complicated, and lingerie will remain gendered in our culture whether I experience it that way or not, meaning that other people will perceive my gender in a particular way when I don my latest Lovehoney purchase. But I love playing in that space, both as a way to affirm my inner femme and as a way to subvert people’s gendered expectations of what lingerie “means”, especially when I feel like a fairy prince in my new negligee or bodysuit.


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Pride: A Complicated Experience

Stock photo of glitter laid out in stripes to form a rainbow. Glitter is present at a lot of Pride events, in case you didn't know ;)

I haven’t been to a tonne of Pride events.

I came out to myself as bi when I was about 13, and as nonbinary when I was about 17. Unusually, I think, I didn’t feel any internalised shame about my queer identity in the traditional sense. When I realised I was bisexual, I was excited about it: excited about my newfound connection to the LGBTQ+ community, excited about the possibility of kissing girls and excited that I’d found a label that fit me, after a year or two of worrying that I was simply a lesbian who was very bad at lesbianing.

When I came out to myself as nonbinary, I felt a degree of anxiety that I wasn’t not-cis enough (I didn’t experience all the dysphoria that mainstream media promised me, and I’d only put the pieces together as a young adult), but mostly I was, again, excited to find a word that fit my experience of gender. I understood, in theory, that a lot of people needed the Pride movement to allay their feelings of internalised shame, fear and grossness about being anything other than cishet, but whether it was the autism or my mum’s accepting and loving influence, I never felt bad about being queer.

This didn’t mean that I was uninterested in Pride events, but I didn’t feel any desperate pull towards them. I could experience the joy of being part of the LGBTQ+ community online, in the comfort of my own home, and that felt like enough for me. The first time I went to Pride, it was for an unconventional reason: I was deeply, deeply depressed, and it was a reason to leave the house.

My hometown’s Pride event was, and still is, mercifully grassroots in nature, held in a spacious park and never too crowded. But this didn’t stop me from feeling overwhelmed, especially when I found that there was nowhere for me to sit down and rest my disabled little legs, and nothing was signposted, leading to me getting turned around and confused at least twice an hour. I loved spotting other people’s flags, starting conversations with people about their dogs or their outfits, and talking to the people who ran stalls relevant to my interests, but I left the event exhausted and overstimulated and had to spend at least a couple of days in bed or otherwise in my pajamas, recharging my limited energy.

Bigger Pride events, as you can imagine, intimidate me. I went to one in my university city and found it so challenging that I slipped away on more than one occasion to the outskirts of the event, taking deep breaths and chewing on free sweets obtained from various stalls and booths. I know lots of other people find Pride inaccessible, and this year, I stuck to my hometown’s event – but still needed to be babysat by my girlfriends and metamour, reminded to eat, and encouraged to leave earlier than most people might because I was ready to lie down on the grass and give up.

This is why I feel conflicted about Pride. I already felt like it might not be for me, since I didn’t experience the internalised shame that so many LGBTQ+ people talked about, and after having found so many Pride events to be lacking in the accessibility department, I felt that even more strongly. Couple that with a police presence which makes my autistic nerves run higher than the volume on the main stage’s speakers and the ongoing online discussions about who “belongs” at Pride, I’ve often wondered what Pride does have to offer me.

The thing is, Pride as a concept is great. I enjoy rainbow paraphernalia and I even enjoy watching corporations desperately try to cater to me (only to drop the facade on the 1st of July) and then watching other LGBTQ+ people mock them for it. Pride month is fun, it reminds me of the importance of community and visibility, and it gives me an excuse to respond melodramatically to every minor inconvenience (“It’s raining? During this, Pride Month?”). But I’m starting to acknowledge that I pressure myself into attending events that I don’t really need to be at. I already know my community exists, I have created safe spaces of my own to be queer in, and I don’t feel gross or ashamed or anything other than pleased about my queer identity.

I know Pride does a lot for a lot of people. I love seeing people at Pride events blossoming with confidence they might not feel anywhere else, and I appreciate that there exists a space where everyone can just… be their authentic selves, without fear of repercussion. But with gatekeeping, corporate involvement, inaccessibility and the rest of it, it’s a movement and a series of events that I feel somewhat disconnected from.

I will continue to defend my LGBTQ+ siblings’ right to attend Pride events, obviously. I want to speak up in defense of asexual and aromantic people’s place at Pride and about the ways that a police presence can make POC and neurodivergent people feel deeply uncomfortable, but I might not need to push myself into events to achieve that. I suppose it’s a result of internalised ableism, something I do experience a lot of, that I feel like I need to do what my abled friends are doing whether I actually want to or not. And I suppose it’s important for me as an activist to confront my internalised ableism, and that might mean staying home from crowded, noisy, police-infested Pride events when I need to.

I’m still going to buy shit with rainbows on it, though. I’m always going to buy shit with rainbows on.

Putting The Men In Menstruation

Stock image showing the moon in all her phases through some sort of long-exposure photography, including a normal full moon on the left hand side and a reddish full moon on the right. The moons are displayed over a city with many lit-up buildings, but the sky itself is pitch black.

This post is my contribution to the Menstruation Matters meme, an excellent project started by Sub-Bee with the intention of encouraging frank discussions about all sorts of periods from all sorts of people. Naturally, it contains references to menstruation and blood, and also discusses my experiences of dysphoria as a nonbinary human with a womb. If that’s hard for you, come back next week, for a post I haven’t planned yet more scintillating content!


I have infuriatingly textbook periods.

They were a touch erratic throughout puberty (especially when I wasn’t eating), but as soon as I started using hormonal birth control at age 17 they became so regular you could set your watch by them. Every fourth week, on a Sunday evening or (if I’m stressed or run down) Monday morning, I start to bleed. I have annoying-but-not-debilitating cramps for the first two days, when my flow is heaviest, which vanish by a Thursday morning at the latest, and then the bleeding tapers off and ends on the Friday afternoon.

I don’t bleed spectacular amounts, I don’t have life-ruining PMS, I don’t even break out unless I’m also stressed and not caring for my skin.

And yet I still fucking hate my periods.

Actually, it’s not that simple. My periods themselves are fine. I like the tangible evidence that I’m not pregnant or experiencing organ failure, they’re so predictable and chill that they’re not even a nuisance, and I find menstrual blood fascinating, rather than gross, so it doesn’t even unnerve me in that regard. By all accounts, I’m one of the luckiest period-havers I know.

But I’m also nonbinary.

Leading up to a period, the body retains water and its weight increases. You might find that your breasts feel heavier and more tender, appear larger and spill out of your bra. You might also find that 99% of all period products are marketed in such an aggressively gendered manner that walking down the “feminine hygiene” aisle makes you want to cry. Additionally, PMS-related hypersensitivity means you’re more likely to notice gendered terminology like “womanhood”, “Aunt Flo” and other instances of menstruation being conflated unequivocally with femininity. This might make you feel somewhat murderous.

My periods would be fine if they didn’t bloat me and gender me and force me into the feminine hygiene aisle of Tesco. The latter issue is one I’ve mostly mitigated by investing in an armful of menstrual cups (an armful because if I have just one, I can and will misplace it every single month). Even the ones whose websites are pink and flowery are more comfortable than using pads and tampons, since the cups themselves aren’t big enough to display any patriarchal bullshit on them; they just have 7 and 15 millilitre markings on them, to encourage my fascination with the blood and gunk that they collect. (They’re also a blessing because, unlike pads and tampons, they aren’t scented and they don’t produce any plastic crinkling sounds, which means that they don’t set off any Autistic Rage™ inside my hormonal soul.)

Menstrual cups can’t fix our cisnormative society, though. (Even if you throw them at people.)

Once a month, a nagging pain in my abdomen reminds me that people think I’m a woman. Washing blood from under my fingernails after emptying a menstrual cup reminds me that people think I’m celebrating a feminine, womanly experience when in reality, it’s just another bodily inconvenience, like my knee hurting, or needing to pee in the middle of an important video game boss battle that I don’t want to pause. My boobs being fuller and more sensitive makes me convinced other people are looking at them, and if they’re looking at them, I know they’re assuming that they’re girl boobs. And to top it all off, my moderate flow and easily-ignored cramps make feel guilty for hating my periods with the passion that I do. I’ve read in depth about PCOS, endometriosis and diagnosis-less nightmare periods and I know full well how lucky I am, but I also know full well that dysphoria is a hideous experience that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

And I know that other nonbinary and transmasculine folks will benefit from hearing about my very ordinary, very detestable menstrual cycle. They don’t have to be the typical Periods From Hell to make you feel hellish. I want other transmasculine people to feel seen and to have space for their anguish even if it doesn’t look like typical menstrual anguish. I also want to point out that there can be something deeply masculine and primal about tipping the contents of a menstrual cup slowly into a toilet bowl and admiring the crimson aftermath, and few things sound more manly than walking around, continuing your day whilst one of your organs sheds half its contents into your clothing and nobody is any the wiser.

Menstruation Matters