I have this terrible “thing” that whenever I get to the point of deciding that a thing I like makes me feel “safe”, like the world maybe isn’t going to tear me apart and things might just be okay, I occasionally worry that it’s actually girly and now suddenly none of the very real pain of isolation and dysphoria I experience “counts” regardless of their realness because I liked something that’s “girly”

The weirdest part of it is that often when something is obviously aimed at/centred around women I don’t care, because I have plenty enough brain in my head to know anyone can like stuff like that and it’s not a threat to me. Nah… that’s not what “girly” means. My criteria for that often hardly even overlap with any usual usage of that word, like

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I’ll think something tried too hard to cater to men one day, and then a while after I decide I like it and that that wasn’t even true (well, besides some little detail like in this style people have a fuckton of abs or something), I’ll be like… what if I like it for the wrong reasons

What if by choosing to like this thing I fell into a trap that will reveal to the world that I can only understand things in a “girly” way and can never understand the full human experience because of the sex I was born into and assigned at birth. What if all the nastiest men in this world are right, and it’s actually true that “women” will never be able to understand what it’s like to be a man—that everything that flows out of the pens of “women” will always be “the woman version”, some kind of abstracted form of a call-in radio show about boring anecdotes or a gender studies dialectic.

I’ve got like, the worst version of Trans-Exclusionary Radical Sexism (“hey, you got sexism in my TERF bullshit!” “…delicious“) chilling out in my brain like some kind of herpesvirus just waiting to give me more cold sores every ten days. Some days I really resent that it’s there, that it’s been there for a long time, that it seems like it will never be cured, and that there’s nothing I can do to even prevent the attacks.

It gets really depressing sometimes. Sometimes it’s just me wondering ridiculously incoherent questions like ‘are unnecessarily elaborate half-mechanical dino-dragons girly‘, but sometimes in that process deeper things come out. Sometimes I just kinda sit back and wonder what the point of being alive is if I’m always going to feel dysphoric and feel like locking myself in my room forever and nobody’s going to remotely fix the climate that gave it to me in my lifetime, least of all not me even if I dedicated my life to it.

Sometimes I think about all the normal everyday things I don’t do because I’m afraid, and all the things I don’t know how I’ll ever do in the future when I can’t imagine myself doing them under a level of judgement small enough to breathe. In my mind, my life always ends the moment I try to imagine having a remotely ‘typical’ job or living situation, my timeline trailing off into mysterious blank white fog. I wonder if it’s because I died, but there are no answers in there, only the desire to peacefully float off my current plane in the present before I find out.

I think having to grow up with my brother really fucked me up. I think that he found my existence boring, and he wanted me to be tougher but he didn’t want to help. He didn’t want me to be weak first. Which, as I have learned, is the most important step.

If I described all his quirks he’d sound much cooler than he was, but one thing he had was a parrot.

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One of these, to be specific. (CyberknightMK; BY-SA 2.5)

This parrot was the one living thing I ever saw him treat with love. (Everything else only received warm tolerance. Our parents are basically the best and kindest people out of anyone I know’s parents who wouldn’t stress out a fly, and he complained about innocuous things they did behind their backs on several occasions.) He gave that parrot a lot of attention.

Me, I got the privilege of being about 13 when we brought the parrot home. A couple of times, I teased the parrot. My brother was surprised. How could I not understand that the first rule of smaller family members was to treat them with love?

He never did anything to refute my fears that he’d judge me for everything—at least, not without laughing at me and bringing up the ‘funny’ stories of my failures to learn how to be a human being later. If my mistakes weren’t weird enough to laugh at, he shouted at me.

He nudged me really strongly all the time to learn knife fighting. I actually sort of wanted to learn something like that, so I slowly went along with it but the day that man was in front of me swinging around a knife I panicked. I knew there was no risk I’d actually get cut with the knife in his hand, but that wasn’t what I was afraid of. I was so afraid of failing and getting judged that it literally would have been worse than a physical injury, and if I had gotten cut, I’d probably have thought it was some kind of divine punishment for being too weak and sucky.

Ever since I stopped ever meeting with him—no, more like from the beginning of when I started putting distance—I had a lot of insecurities.

Anything that was sappy enough he would have judged me for it, I instinctively felt guilty about. Anything that would fail a reverse Bechdel test. Anything that anyone would be surprised at because I never had the courage to do before. Anything that my x-treme cynicism would have looked down at at 16 got shoved under more x-treme things. Anything too “geeky” such that only a child could be that geeky.

Imagine a dude with a black shirt, a dark jacket, wild black hair and beard, sunglasses, one of a few owned pistols holstered at side when outdoors, chewing idly on gum in a way that weirdly suggests his time is important, plays opera music, the black shirt is actually because of a historical interest in Italian fascism, reads political commentary articles every day and complains they aren’t “incisive enough”, cool parrot, can follow a Chinese historical drama about pretty convoluted events with spotty subtitles for many hours at a time, has intelligent opinions about the figures because he read through all ~800,000 words of the (translated) 14th century novel about it. Sometimes shouts at dogs, birds, people, has shot and killed magpies for making noise even though it probably wasn’t legal

Now imagine anything that’s the opposite of that, and it was probably on my list of insecurities.

I kept feeling, even though I ran from my brother, that I had somehow failed him, and I needed to be stronger and tougher. I needed to stop being so stupid and bad so I could be less the kind of loser who would be afraid of him, and more like a real person.

It was painful, because at that moment in time I needed to open up my heart and stop being cynical and mean in order to grow as a person, but everything that would achieve that I was afraid to do. Because it was… “girly”.

I’m sorry, internalised bro.

I’m sorry that I’m small, homogametic, trying to compensate, compensating badly, constantly making mistakes, constantly trying to avoid everything I can just to make as few as possible, still in college for a fifth year, named ridiculously, a tumblr user, soft and emotional, fond of a lot of things you’re too cynical to like, hardened and hollowed by your influence, so damn serious, not serious enough, girly, not girly, a gender that doesn’t exist, only able to have internet friends, ambitious, not achieving those ambitions, quirky, original, unable to write stories without somehow making the major characters be like me, one o them diversity writers writin about them other people, enthusiastic about unimportant things, average, enviable, isolated, tense, easygoing about schoolwork, unable to beat the crap out of myself well enough to succeed at chemistry, unable to stop beating the crap out of myself, weak, tired, defeated, ageing, desperate, a coward who types up ventposts, a member of the queer alphabet, too human, not human enough, having problems, using up resources, bumbling, blathering, breathing,

alive.

I understood so little about the world that I didn’t know it was normal to want to have friends, and just kind of assumed that if people didn’t talk to you then you were destined to be a loner and only becoming an author could gain you connections. And with that level of understanding of things, I was suddenly being forced to fundamentally figure out who I was and what I stood for.

I think that when I look for heart and emotion and geek appeal in things, it’s because I really just want… love. I want reassurance that the fact that I’m trying is more important than the fact that I may not be succeeding.

I want to believe that I can be a Figurative Man, if I am not there yet, if every day pushes me back, then I can get there.

And that’s why I like things “for the wrong reason”. It’s otherwise known as inspiration, and it is not a wrong reason.

But…

When everyone tosses around gendered terms of address like advertising pencils, it sometimes becomes hard to focus.

As much as I could throw around the word “genderless” as if it represented power I held and say I didn’t care what people said a year ago, the predictability of their terms starts to make me think I’m doing something wrong*. That I’m not trying hard enough to execute the concept of my appearance I have in my head or project the identity I’m gradually trying to realise. That maybe I’m doing everything wrong, and what is a very passionate ongoing battle for conquest in my mind will look pathetic and irrelevant to the average person who can only see a messy “girl” that is none of the things the internal list they might be given would say. Battle for conquest failed, and nobody knows, wants to, or cares.

One’s not supposed to be afraid of failure. You’re supposed to just get back up and move on.

But I don’t know how to move on when you’ve fell through a pit just a little too deep to climb out of. Do you just sit in there for the rest of your life and sigh?

Is that what an “alternative lifestyle” is

I don’t know.

I want to understand people.

I want to be human.

I want to break free of what I appear to be and actualise what I really am.

I resent this.