this story begins a week and a half ago, when i found my way to some emphatically queer porn that went a long way to resolving some issues ive been having with arousal. i needed to get away from the cishet gaze, it turns out, and get some representation in my porn. i hadnt even been aware of the cishet gaze as a thing until i found some porn that wasnt drawn for it.

with a concrete example to work from, i quickly began integrating the queer aesthetic, the philosophy behind queerness as a countercultural movement. id summarize my perspective on it as: queerness is founded on the idea that the cishet mainstream does not have a monopoly on cultural legitimacy. i can build things— create art, craft an identity, perform a gender— without regard for the mainstream, and just being on the outside doesnt make what im creating invalid. if i have to, i can build a culture of one.

ive been having a lot of body issues lately. in part this is because, you know, trans; but im 4 months post hrt, and my body is starting to change noticeably. in a way it was easier before the changes started. i was in the "wrong body", sure, but at least i fit into a box, even if it was the wrong box. as a spectrum person i have a preoccupation with categories and labels; being uncategorizable brought me more discomfort than being in the wrong category.

then i realized that i can get more comfy with my body as it changes if i can stop thinking of it as either a male body or a female body, but instead declare it a queer body. i did that, and it brought me a lot of comfort. while my dysphoria has also been at a low ebb lately for other reasons, thinking of my body as in its own category eased my troubled heart somewhat.

on sunday night, i extended this line of reasoning, and declared my independence from the male and female gender roles. ive been trying to assemble & conform to a convincing feminine presentaton for years now, and i just cant do it. the best word i have for my presentation is 'genderpunk', and im more interested in exploring this interesting mixture of gender signals than continuing my fruitless search for a feminine presentaton i actually like. my heart's not in it. when i realized in november 2013 that i wasnt cis, the first thing i knew about gender was that, having escaped from the male gender role, id never be confined to a gender role again. and here we are, i was right, i cant be.

i originally decided to identify as a woman in april of 2015, one week after deciding to transition. i thought if i wanted to transition, that meant i had to be a woman.

i know why i made the decision i did. id spent 14 months, spring 2014 through spring 2015, debating my gender identity with myself. i was identifying as nonbinary, but i couldnt pin things down any tighter than that, and cycling through one gender identity after another was driving me nuts. id lost a lot of certainty when i stopped identifying as a man, and subconsciously i wanted that back. i wanted an established and monolithic identity to belong to, like the one id "lost".

at the time, too, i didnt have the familiarity with trans discourse, the maturity of viewpoint, i needed to recognize that preferring female gender signifiers in cis society (pronouns, title, gender marker) didnt make me a woman. wanting to transition doesnt make me a woman. nothing can make me a woman if i dont have a fundamental degree of comfort with the idea, and i just dont have that.

in the cold light of morning monday, i read back over no. 5152, and recognized it as a genderqueer's manifesto. it summarizes dissatisfaction with womanhood itself that has been brewing ever since i started trying to adopt it as my gender role.

the logical conclusion i drew that morning was that my gender is queer too. though it was kindof a relief, feeling a gender identity ive held for 10 months collapse in the space of a few hours was not pleasant. i spent much of the day depressed, until i was able to trace my gloom back to fear: fear of returning to the fierce internal conflict that characterized my first period of identifying as nonbinary. but i dont have to do that to myself again.

im not where i was then. ive spent the 10 months since building a gender for myself, taking what i like from womanhood and casting the rest aside. finally the discard pile grew to where ive had to admit im not a woman: i cant fit myself into that box. but at the same time ive done a lot of identity work; quite without meaning to, ive gone a long way towards nailing down what kind of nonbinary person i am.

terms like 'transfeminine' and 'genderpunk' resonate with me. my gender is half-built already, and ill be able to develop it more fully and freely, now that im not trying to stick to a framework that doesnt work for me.

ive integrated the queer philosophy. first i used it to increase my comfort level with my body, by declaring it queer. then i used it to break away from gender roles that werent working for me, by declaring my gender role queer. then i used it to break away from mainstream genders, by declaring my gender queer. (all this, in the space of 10 days. it was time.)

queerness has become a cipher for me, a metasyntactic variable signalling a rebellion against established cultural rules and systems of identity that dont work for who i am. not only am i genderqueer, in a very real sense, my gender is "queer". i may find a better word for it someday, but until then queer will serve as a placeholder, and its a good word. it suits me.