SL Letter of the Day: Gender-Neutral in a Dress

Comments

1
Personally, I think everyone in a good suit looks smashing.
2
"for fear of being told I'm wrong because I wear dresses."

How could that even be "wrong"?

Also "a youth who identifies as asexual. That isn't my question."

Is asexual the new vegan crossfit? Film at 11.
3
Requoting for reference:
I'm a youth who identifies as asexual. That isn't my question. I was born female, and I've been binding for a while and identify as gender-neutral. But I'm afraid to tell others that I'm gender-neutral for fear of being told I'm wrong because I wear dresses. Does wearing skirts and dresses mean I'm not gender-neutral? I just think I look better in dresses than flannel.

Gender-Neutral Asexual Youth
Straight dude here. I used to wear dresses occasionally as a teenager, because they feel nice on a hot summer day (and because I liked fucking with people that said dudes couldn't wear dresses). If my straight dude self could wear dresses and remain a straight dude, then your gender-neutral self can wear dresses and remain gender neutral.
4
She's got what, 4 different labels already? Da fuq?
5
I hope it stopped binding at least.
6
People should identify however they want, and I hate to criticize someone who certainly will face a lot of judgmental people in the coming years. That being said, I'm not sure I'm willing to accept "gender-neutral" as an adjective that applies to people, rather than, say, signage. Didn't we just come up with the term "agender" for this?
7
For that brief response you put behind a jump? Pfeh!
8
@ 5 - Please don't use "it" for people. That's unkind.

@ LW - It gets better! But for now, if you're out you're going to find yourself in the position of having to either education or ignore a lot of people. You may as well look good while you're doing it. =)
9
Let me get this straight... born with the biology of a female, and chooses to wear the stereotypical clothing of the female-presenting gender (with the exception of binding), and does not want to discuss this with anyone. But let me guess, anyone just going with the default assumptions about what they see is going to be an unreconstructed asshole for assigning the label "female" rather than "agender."

Snark aside, what Dan said, minus the part about "idiots." Be who you want to be, and don't waste any time worrying about what other people think you are.
10
What does "I've been binding for a while" mean?
11
@10 Binding means restricting the protrusion of one's bosoms by wrapping them tightly with bandage wrap or some such thing. It's as old as seafaring folksongs with names like "The Hamdsome Cabin Boy."
12
@10 binding means restricting the protrusion of one's bosoms with bandage wrap or somesuch thing. It's as old as seafaring folksongs with names such as "The Hamdsome Cabin Boy."
13
Oh the Children, thinking they invented androgyny and all the rules that go with it. Her tumblr nomenclature is a dead give away.

I've known several broads into binding who got sepsis due to the lack of circulation. smrt.
14
I'm sure the nuns at my school were into binding. Kinky women.
Gender neutral is not a category I grew up with, I used to love putting rags on my hair to make ringlets. I made beautiful ringlets too.
Be who you are in your identity LW, just be open to having that identity morph into whatever over time. Don't constrict your whole life with labels that might outgrow their usefulness. Stay fluid in your attitudes, to your own evolution.
15
So if you don't wear dresses you must wear flannel?
16
Our culture as a whole is not enlightened enough to "get" anything other than the binary. Fuck our culture. Be who you are. Explain to your friends, what they need to know. Dress whatever way makes you feel good about yourself. And give yourself time to explore who you are. It is a long journey.
18
regardless of what the LW ends up identifying with, this is excellent advice

"Wear whatever you like, identify however you like, and refuse to engage with idiots who think they have a right to critique, dictate, or overrule your gender identity.
"
19
<3
20
@13: "Oh the Children, thinking they invented androgyny and all the rules that go with it. Her tumblr nomenclature is a dead give away.

I've known several broads into binding who got sepsis"

Are you really trying to sound like this much of a lunkish, unsympathetic ass?
21
@8 some folks insist on "it". Yes, it sounds gross to me

but a lot of people get off on that kind of think; forcing others to adjust is classic narcissist power-trip.
22
@21: "some folks insist on "it"."

Somehow I doubt you know many persons that request this manner of dehumanization.
23
It puts the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again.
24
Oh oh, RE @23 is losing it. Or am I just too thick to get his post.
Gee undead, you do have the hots for Fetish. You often on his tail.
25
@LG 24
I might very well be losing it. That was a quote from Silence of the Lambs (as I remember it). The serial killer addressing his intended victim as "it" so as to dehumanize her ...
26
Tried to find some info on dangers of chest binding...there does appear to be some risk...
http://www.ftmtopsurgery.ca/blog/ftm-faq…
27
@24: To the former, enjoy in song-form.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9ToNZHG5KH…
28
@ 21 - And if you're talking to someone who identifies that way, then using "it" is fine. But "it" is not a label you should slap on other people unless they actually ask you to.

And we should all be willing to make a minor adjustment here and there for the comfort of the people we interact with. If "Anthony" would prefer that you not call him "Andy," I hope you would oblige. It's just good manners.
29
@22 at least two, go fuck off.
30
If someone asked me to use "it" do describe him or her I would not be able to bring myself to do that.
31
@29: The insulting thing is that you believe that knowing two persons is "a lot of people get off on that kind of think" and thus using "it" is okay in any sense for people who don't ask for that explicitly.
32
@30: That's where fetish's story gets weird- you wouldn't need to say "it" unless they weren't around. And people generally tell you what to use when addressing them in person, let alone there are a bazillion other gender neutral options to refer to them by that indicate human. I wouldn't have to ever call them "it" and would still not be insulting to their chosen genderqueer terminology. Unless they were some sort of ridiculous animist otherkin, but that was not the implication stated.
33
"Call me "it". "Cane me 'til I bleed." "Crap on my face."
People are a lot more "diverse" than this country boy ever imagined. Thank you, Internet(?)
34
@33: You would probably be surprised at the shenanigans that people get up to out in the country where there's less to do, those aren't just "city" activities!
35
Not surprised, Undead. Even in my day people were messing around with animals. It's just now, they're kinda PROUD of it. Let's share it with the world!
36
I'm almost surprised no enterprising person has yet designed the perfect uniform for all neutrina everywhere.
37
@36: Why, persons most certainly have!

http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/hsc/evre…
39
What I see instead is an asexual person who is trying do desexualize their body, rather than someone who is trying to degender themselves. It's kind of screwed up that our society sees women's bodies as sexual in this way, while it doesn't see men's bodies the same way, and that she has to make this attempt.

But hey, she can identify any way she chooses, regardless of what kind of mental gymnastics she deems necessary to cross whatever logical gaps exist.
40
Don't be fooled @39, there is plenty of objectification going on for both sexes...quote:
"Adds Steve O’Connell, ecd and partner at Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners: “Objectifying men doesn’t really upset anybody. You really can’t offend the white male.”
http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-b…
Huh. I'm a white male, and that attitude offends me, even if the Calvin Klein-esque sexy bodies advertising doesn't particularly...it's the "clueless, idiot male" ads that really make me grind my teeth.
41
@40: If you're observant, you'll notice that both are for the male gaze.
42
@24, that's a quote from The Silence of the Lambs.
43
@41 Not necessarily, air freshener & salad dressing not exactly "gay" products...and the article focuses mostly on female reactions. Plenty of other products use beefcake to sell. Just sayin' advertisers are equal opportunity objectifiers.
44
@41 Not necessarily, air freshener & salad dressing not exactly "gay" products...and the article focuses mostly on female reactions. Plenty of other products use beefcake to sell. Just sayin' advertisers are equal opportunity objectifiers.
45
@30 I gotta ask does this happen so often that it deserves some pushback? Because the only person I heard of requesting to be addressed as 'it' was the kid in Dan's college debacle. I find it hard to believe that term is so popular everyone is using it.

I mean maybe I'm wrong but this just reeks of focusing on the most extreme and misguided members of a minority to support prejudice.
46
@25. Ah, makes sense RE.
Calling someone " it", would be hard.
I doubt I would oblige. I'd call them by their preferred name, not talk of them like they are an object, though.
47
LG@46 Yes. MsA @45 I never met anyone who wanted to be referred to as [the equivalent in my language of] "it" and I don't think I ever will. I would guess that the preference is not found outside of radical gender studies departments.
48
This just sounds like a rather insecure but still normal teenage girl who is not yet comfortable with the changes in her new body or the attention associated with it. She should be a lot happier with it now, no matter which way she's gone with her sexuality and identification.
49
@47: I doubt it's that popular elsewhere either beyond gender-as-performance exceptions. And even in those cases I'd fall back to the respectable use of their chosen name versus "it".
50
"I mean maybe I'm wrong but this just reeks of focusing on the most extreme and misguided members of a minority to support prejudice."

Right, this is exactly an example of attempts to justify misgendering because they once read a post on tumblr (that itself might have been some nasty satire account at the expense of trans persons.)
51
@48 - agreed. The whole "binding" thing should be unnecessary - all that's needed is high-necked, unsexy dresses if you don't want straight men looking at you for the most part. I hope she's relaxed a little by now.
52
What does the 'after the jump' phrase mean?
53
Mr Thrust - Or just consult QAF (episode 2.09 or 2.10?) for the blouse Lindsey wore when she hoped throwing a WASPy party would convince her parents (who had fully funded her sister's three OS weddings) to help out with her wedding to Melanie, only they canceled at first and only showed up after Brian had spiked the punch.
54
@52: It means the part you click to see the rest of the story.
55
Lance @51: High-necked? Those make large busts look even bustier. Which is the last thing a gender-neutral person (the most commonly accepted default pronoun is currently "they," FYI) wants.
56
@55: Right, if someone wants to blur gender lines, why wouldn't they subtract sexual characteristics? Seems a little odd to tell someone that it "should be fine" as if they're driving on a spare tire rather than choosing how they want to express themselves through careful sartorial cues.
57
Ayn @56: There's also this condescending assumption that GNAY is binding because they want to avoid the straight male gaze, not because they want to express what they feel is their inner gender. Once again making it all about the men.
58
@53 - I'm afraid I don't quite follow. Sorry, my fault I'm sure.

@55-57: first of all, there's the chance that beccoid @48 is completely right, and that this is (was) a matter of being frightened by growing up rather than a case of innate gender-neutrality. But even if that's not the case, the reason the whole 'binding' thing rings rather oddly for me is that the whole thing is about gender neutrality, not maleness. It would seem to me that if you're indifferent to your own gender identity and just want to present as human-in-the-world, then skewing male from female or vice versa seems counterintuitive. If you don't care, then you don't care. The reason that does make more sense to me is avoiding the 'male gaze' (which, as much as it grates on me to use trite feminist terminology, I will grant is a real thing).
59
Lance @58: There are certain markers of masculinity, certain markers of femininity, and certain markers of androgyny. Facial hair, for instance, signifies male. If GNAY wanted to present as male, perhaps they would wear makeup to simulate a dark shadow, or a false moustache or goatee. Similarly, breasts signify female. Absence of breasts does not signify "male," it signifies absence of female, or androgynous. If GNAY is binding their breasts but wearing dresses, they do not want to present as male. It's not that they "don't care" what gender they're seen as; it's that they don't want to be seen as either gender.
60
But yes, while Beccoid's post @48 may be accurate, it's really condescending. I really bristle at adults telling teenagers they do not know their own minds. Some do go through "phases" with regards to their gender identity, sexual orientation, music tastes; some discover who they really are and are still identifying the same way decades later. It's rude to presume we can tell which is which without benefit of hindsight. Let teenagers go through their self discovery without minimising their experience. If GNAY does later learn to love their inner woman then that's for them to discover.
61
@58: "first of all, there's the chance that beccoid @48 is completely right, and that this is (was) a matter of being frightened by growing up rather than a case of innate gender-neutrality"

How about you let them decide for themselves rather than infantilize and decide what they are most comfortable with? There's plenty enough confusion in youth, but suggesting that they are wrong about themselves due to this youth comes across as highly rude and unconstructive.

"But even if that's not the case, the reason the whole 'binding' thing rings rather oddly for me is that the whole thing is about gender neutrality, not maleness. It would seem to me that if you're indifferent to your own gender identity and just want to present as human-in-the-world, then skewing male from female or vice versa seems counterintuitive. If you don't care, then you don't care."

They do care, and they're not "skewing male", so your leap to counterintuitive is not based on the presented facts.
62
@BDF & UAR - you both raise good points - UAR a bit more abruptly, as is zers/xes/zhis wont, but good points nonetheless.

GNAY's free to do as she wants to, certainly, and far be it from me to do any more than muse about her internal state or motivations from a distance. I guess my final thought is just that there is no completely "internal" gender identity, because all identity only makes sense in a social context. If GNAY had somehow grown up in isolation on a desert island, for instance, I doubt she would feel any great compulsion to bind her breasts.

This ends up being a kind of constructed-gender vs. essential-gender (or, more classically, nature vs. nurture) argument, and it would kind of seem as if you two end up on the essentialist side of this one - only instead of defending an essentialist view of femininity, you are defending an essential third gender, the neuter. And who's to say you're wrong?

Cheers.
63
@62: "If GNAY had somehow grown up in isolation on a desert island, for instance, I doubt she would feel any great compulsion to bind her breasts."

But they didn't, and that is not who they are, I honestly don't know what asexual gender neutrality is like, I appreciate androgyny and genderqueer-y glam but all I have to work with is respecting desires and letting them figure herself out on their own.

"This ends up being a kind of constructed-gender vs. essential-gender (or, more classically, nature vs. nurture) argument, and it would kind of seem as if you two end up on the essentialist side of this one - only instead of defending an essentialist view of femininity, you are defending an essential third gender, the neuter. And who's to say you're wrong?"

I'm reflecting their desires and sure, justifying them and championing the desire to be... whatever they want to be. Now and in the future. Seeing as they can pick and choose what elements make them comfortable and happy, how is this not nurture?

One is not born into clothing, and gendered clothing meets no physical need beyond exposure to the elements. They downplay the more prominent sex characteristics, and it feels rather odd to need to assign gender to their attempts to de-gender and move towards a more neutral state.
64
Why do you consider that the move towards a less gender-essentialist presentation is itself somehow essentialist in its embrace of commonalities between us?
65
@8, the problem is, there really is no third-person singular pronoun that is gender neutral, except for "it". (In Spanish, the singular third-person pronoun "su" can be used to refer to objects or people.) Some of the alternatives ("ze" comes to mind) just sound silly, and using "they" in the singular makes my inner grammar snob twitch uncontrollably.

As for you, LW, wear whatever the hell you want.
66
This letter is from two years ago, so I hope the LW has discovered by now the benefits of a utilitarian garment called a sports bra. Those designed for the more strenuous activities will hold the breasts flat against the chest and get rid of any last bit of "jiggle" without cutting off circulation or cracking ribs. If LW does not object to female-identified garments like skirts or dresses, LW should not object to a sports bra, which will do the job without the danger of getting a bandage too tight.
67
@66: Sports bras aren't nearly as effective as binding, though. They're not a substitute for what the LW is looking for.
68
Danielle @65: I agree it feels unnatural to use a third person plural pronoun "they" for a single person. But it's not unprecedented. We use "they" when the person's gender is unknown: "Did you call customer service? What did they say?" or to mean "his or her" in situations where plurals are being made singular: "Everyone should bring their own lunch." I'm a grammar pedant as well, but I respect people more than words, and if agender/genderqueer people say they want to be called "they" then, dammit, I'll do my best to relearn.
69
@32 Hey, Dumbshit: Some people ask to be referred to as 'it'. Do I want to call someone it? No, I think it's dehumanizing. I also think that anyone who is aggressively interested in how you refer to them is very likely to be extremely narcissistic and enjoys forcing others to adapt around them. No different than pretentious people that insist on being called "Dr." rather than professor, or who put their professional certifications and/or sports number after their name on personal e-mails. Ie, dipshits.

Personally, I have an unusual, unique name. People can't pronounce it properly, spell it properly, or determine if it's my first or last name. Even in e-mails, when it's spelled out for them, literally, they can't get it right. I don't bother correcting them, because it's simply not that important what my name is, 9/10ths of the time.
70
My signature block just says

You're welcome,

ChairmanOfTheBored ESQ, PhD, GGG
71
@69: And where you go nasty is where you imply that the LW and people who haven't made the same demands are all the same.
72
@65: "They" is also used in the singular.
73
@gromm, I totally agree with you. There's a difference between having gender dysphoria and being uncomfortable with your body and sexuality during puberty. I see so many young girls (almost never boys for some reason...) claiming to be asexual and some sort of neogender when it's really just them being uncomfortable with their feelings and the fact that women are treated as lesser than men in this society.
74
Perhaps claiming to be asexual is the next step after horseriding and boybands.