Imagine you’re given an Orb to take care of. It’s orange when it’s handed to you, and everyone else sees it as orange. Later, the Orb stays in your room, it stops glowing when someone else is around. When you visit it, the Orb changes colour. One day it’s purple, one day it’s orange, and one day it’s blue. You tell everyone the colour it is that day, but all everyone knows is orange.
I like to think of my gender and the labels I use in a similar manner. People know me from my past, when I had no understanding of my gender and the different kinds of labels I could use for it. Now, it changes every day—it can change in a matter of minutes, and I have no control over this. The Orb does what it does, and I have to accept it.
Being a person whose gender fluctuates a lot is exactly like that. It stirs up trouble internally and from the world.
The first obvious trouble is the jarring difference of feelings it brings. I buy something pretty, a pretty lipstick because I like it, and the next day I regret buying it—because I don’t want to be pretty. I want to be handsome. I want people to look at me and think, “Huh. That’s a guy if I’ve ever seen one.” And the next day, I don’t want to be handsome, I don’t want to be pretty; it’s inconvenient sometimes.
Gender and body dysphoria hits me out of nowhere. During festivals, one moment I feel extremely pretty wearing something, and the next moment I’m in tears because my clothing doesn’t match what I’m feeling. And my body feels foreign to me, like I rented a terrible body for the evening. It goes the other way around as well. I’m forced to wear clothes I loathe, but suddenly I want to make it look better on me, I want all the people in the house to ask me to show off my clothes.
I went to therapy and in one session, I confessed something to my therapist I didn’t know was a problem. We started out by talking about something else, and suddenly I said, “I don’t feel like I belong, because my gender changes so much. I feel like I’m taking up space that’s not mine.” That’s another thing this fluctuation causes. Imposter syndrome. I don’t know what space I should claim, I don’t know if I’m allowed to claim any space because of the constant changes. Am I allowed to talk about my experiences as a Cis person? Am I allowed to contribute my thoughts when Trans people are also sharing?
Because of this, I’m afraid to come out to people in my life. Online or otherwise. I even made up different online accounts—one for when I felt like a girl, one for when I felt like a boy. That worked for a while, but how long could I go on pretending like those two weren’t me? 3 months and 4 days is the answer. Then I caved because keeping it a secret wasn’t fun anymore. It made me sad knowing I was talking to the same people but switching accounts because I didn’t feel a particular way. All this fuss, just to avoid telling them.
After 5 years of journaling and some months of therapy, I’ve learnt to embrace my fluctuations. I try my best not to hate myself for feeling this way. After all, this is out of my control. I can’t control how I feel that day, I can’t control my gender for the day. I can only regulate the way I process it.
The solution for me has been to have a couple of gender-euphoric things in my daily life. My dysphoria was never bad to begin with, just here and there, once a while it would hit me. So I focused on things which made me happy every day.
My name is one of them. I loved the name “Shreyas” since I understood names also define people. The first time I heard the name “Shreyas” I was baffled. Someone else had a name similar to mine but his was so much cooler.
Wearing kajal gives me gender euphoria. Any outfit, no matter how ‘girly’ it is, makes me happy if it has pants.
Now I come out to people with less guilt of being “a burden” to them. I tell them, Look, here’s the deal: It changes every day. Every moment. All I ask for is: you call me Shreyas, use the right pronouns. This way, I don’t feel like I’m burdening them, I have something euphoric which helps when other people misgender me.
I know I should never feel like I’m tough to deal with, just because of an Orb out of my control, but that part is still a work in progress. So until then, this works for me.
I highly encourage everyone to research more. Internally and externally, figure yourself out and learn to be kinder to yourself. Find out what fits better, what makes you feel horrible and stay away from it. Don’t actively seek out off-putting things, but rather keep a note of it when it happens. It’s okay if your label (or gender, or sexuality, or anything) fluctuates. It doesn’t mean anything bad, it just means exactly one thing: your label fluctuates. You’re not taking someone else’s space. Everyone has their own space made for them. You’re claiming the space meant for you, you’re not cheating anyone by taking it.
When that fear strikes up I remind myself this: if you’re not purposefully hurting people using this space, you’re good.
It’ll take some effort to be kind to yourself and your Orb. But the effort will be worth it in the future.FAEV Product: Buildable Matte Lipstick in Too Nude
Author BIO: D. Shreya(s) is a queer undergrad student, pursuing Psychology, Literature, and Journalism. He writes several queer flash fiction and poems, and has an agenda to be gay every day. You can find the agenda on the handle @mecherryboy
That's all for now!
Stay curious. Stay #freequal