or, What Do I Put Under "Gender"?
I'll start with the amusing part. Before I was into manga or anime, I was into TV Tropes. (That's what led me there.) I also found this:rachelmanija.livejournal.com/4…
Every time I identified the source of one of these weird ideas, I wanted to see it myself.
This post particularly gave some interesting ideas:rachelmanija.livejournal.com/4…
When I started reading manga in 2009, Kashimashi became one of the first on account of this.
Now, the serious part.
Reading Kashimashi alone didn't change my life. But then I saw a blog post by another reader who asked some friends how they'd react to being genderswapped by aliens. (I wish I could relocate that post.) I was surprised that one (the poster's son, I believe) said he'd be suicidally depressed. From my reaction to his reaction, I was able to articulate something about myself. What I wrote several years ago (more on this in a moment):
I'd react to genderswapping with little more than an "Oh". Okay, it would be weird to have that just happen, but it wouldn't affect my sense of identity. Yes, I recognize I have a gender, but I don't see that as defining who I am and what I care about.
I'd already begun to realize this when I read this thread:forums.spacebattles.com/thread…
Judging by the dates, this can't have been more than a few months before I read Kashimashi.
Much more recently, I was able to articulate something else. Something had seemed weird to me in references to transgender people. It bothered me, and I now realized why. The phrase "assigned a gender"... my reaction (never voiced) had been, "But that's what gender is
! It's something assigned
Then it hit me that "gender" must mean something different to most other people than it did to me. I was able to put my reaction to Kashimashi together with something I'd noticed about myself. Though I have never had reason to dispute anyone else referring to me with male terms, I have never liked using those terms for myself. I had chalked this up to disliking the words themselves. There are a lot of words I hate using for various reasons, often unknown to me. But maybe it's something more.
If asked to define myself, I might give my personality, my philosophy and politics, my interests. These are things I demand the right to express. Gender expression? What's that?
It's not like I haven't seen people who care about gender, but mostly that's gender roles. I thought, "There's physical gender, which I can see, but don't care about except in the context of sex and sexuality. There are gender roles or expectations, but those are strictly external (and something I've bleached from my own mind)." And that's it, as far as I've ever seen.
I was raised in an intensely homophobic, transphobic environment. Gender and sexuality were taken for granted. Male and female were a matter of what
, not why
. And I'm autistic, so not being aware what others are thinking is normal to me.
Gay is comprehensible; swap the target gender and keep the feelings the same. But trans? That entails reversing something I don't have.
(I hope this isn't construed as a transphobic statement. Uncomprehending =/= afraid or angry.)
Does this mean I'm agender? Do I even care?
It was coming across this stamp that got me to post this
(but including this stamp here doesn't definitively state anything)