Bowling for a Third Gender

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When I think about it, I don’t really identify as neither a man, nor a woman.

I grew up within a conservative environment. The mountain region wasn’t the most diverse place on Earth and my town was a strictly religious one. There were some things that we just didn’t talk about. Everything was kept a secret. When you’re a girl, you act like a girl, and when you’re a boy, you act accordingly. Being gender queer isn’t exactly within the accepted spectrum.

As a teenager I kept mostly to myself. I was the class introvert and that didn’t go well with the bullies. I stuck to my close group of friends and the fact that I wasn’t interested in sports nor in the shallow conversations others used to have turned me into a target.  I went straight home after school. When I was seeking answers, I did not go to my family. I had found the Internet and from there, I started leading a double life. By day, I was the average kid who went to school and lunched with the family, keeping my private life private. By night, I surfed every web resource I could get my hands on, even porn. It gave me the ability to express myself freely, in addition to giving me a vision of security.

I used to meet people online and I became sexually curious. I didn’t feel there was something wrong with that until later on when people started discussing homosexuality in schools and among my friends. That’s when I put restrictions on myself and I started bottling everything up. I disdained myself for years, as if self-hate would change me to something I’m taught to love. These are the modes of silent oppression that I adopted. I don’t see myself as victimized by oppression any more, but rather, liberated because of it. Now I feel comfortable with myself. I am always open to trying out new things and I don’t feel like I want to force myself into one direction. Breaking out of gender roles is still an ongoing process with me. I thought the more homosexual sex I had, the more liberating gender would be for me. But I discovered that to be untrue. It didn’t make me necessarily any different from any typical man.

Problems started with my family when my physical appearance started changing, when my long hair and my close-shaven face gave me a feminine appeal they disdained. They did not like it and I can’t help alienating myself from them. I’ve started seeing them less gradually ever since. I currently live alone.  I am lucky to have support from my circle of friends. I am also lucky  to study and work  in an environment that is somewhat open to diversity. Some people approach me out of curiosity to learn why I look this way, and I am mostly open to answering their questions.

I’m not comfortable saying I have no gender, or that I’m fully rid of constructed gender characteristics I’ve picked up on the way. Evaluating, defining and restructuring one’s gender, I think, is a long and difficult process. It doesn’t end at growing or cutting hair, or by the way someone looks; it’s also about the way someone acts, talks, and most importantly, thinks.

Phoenix is a self-centered and sarcastic soul incarnated, perhaps by accident, in the bodi of a woman. As a writer with a temper, she replaces her "y's with an annoying “i” for aesthetical purposes and lives to crack a joke, at the expense of others. Her paranoid nature makes her sensitive to plants, animals and people. Ironicalli, after making fun of the Meem lesbians for years, she found a warm home there and is now renowned as its veri own emotional pest. She enjoys reading the paper with a hot cup of black tea while nude, more often than not.

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