I am gender fluid.
Gender fluidity is the state of not having a fixed gender identity. At any given time, I may identify as male, female, both or neither.
Gender fluidity falls under the broad definition of transgender, the one that encompasses any person misaligned with the gender assigned to them at birth.
I didn’t decide to be gender fluid. I was born this way. Back then, I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe myself. Other kids did. I was a sissy, a pansy, a wuss… well, the list gets nastier from there. Never mind that you could drop me naked in the middle of the Alaskan bush and I would have food, water, shelter, a roaring fire, and clean undies by sunset. What mattered to them was that I never fit in with the other boys. I could survive the schoolyard well enough by the skill of being silent and invisible, but I was different. The girls knew it too, but they generally were happy enough to have somebody to relate to.
And I didn’t want to be a girl. Except I did. And then I didn’t. I would dress as a girl whenever the opportunity presented itself, but I wasn’t unduly distressed by dressing as a boy. I was both. I was neither.
As I got older, I became aware of cross-dressing, men wearing women’s clothing for a sexual thrill. I thought that was what I was. It was certainly thrilling for me to dress as a woman, though never exclusively in a sexual sense. So I accepted that I had a shameful secret that needed to be carefully hidden, and schooled myself to be a man, changing my walk, my speech, my gestures to conform to my assigned role.
And I tried to approach women. I had no confusion about my orientation; I was a devoted fan of femininity in all its aspects. But my efforts to be a smooth operator were a humiliating disaster. It just never felt natural to occupy the male role in the eternal mating dance. It wasn’t until I finally stopped trying to pick up girls, secure in the belief that I had nothing to offer them, that girls started to take an interest in me. I stopped pushing, they started pulling. It seemed I was much more attractive when I stopped trying to attract.
So it went. I graduated, went to work, got married, got divorced, got married again. I shared my secret with the women in my life. They accepted it with good grace. I was just kinky. There was a lot of that going around.
I discovered the Internet and virtual worlds. I found I could create female characters and relate to people as a woman, and they would accept me as such.
And finally, after half a century of keeping half my psyche carefully locked in the closet, I came to terms with myself. I just got tired of hiding. I am who I am. Who I’ve always been.
I think some of my friends and family already knew, or suspected. They may have thought I was gay. In a sense I guess I am – I don’t identify as lesbian, because that seriously irritates some other lesbians, but my female aspect loves other females as much as my male side.
Part of the reason I’m writing this is just to clarify for people who’ve been a bit confused. Another part is that there are a lot of young people in similar situations, who didn’t make it. One stepped in front of a truck not too long ago. Maybe by writing this, by refusing to be silent and invisible any longer, maybe somebody will feel a little less alone and hold on one more day and find some help and support. Don’t give up. Despair is a much more subtle and lethal enemy than hate.