(That was a reference to a ZZT command, not to Twitter hashtags. You kids with your insta-whatsits, back in my day, etc.)
It's been well over a month since my last gender post, in which I was clear to leave myself wiggle room since this is still an ongoing process of self-discovery and who knows if I end up being wrong or changing my mind about something. Let me start off this update with the same disclaimer. I'm probably going to be at this for a while! I reserve the right to go back and forth and back again. Gender is hard.
Anyway, I think I might have done a bit too much too soon after last time. After that post, I reveled in it, ran with it, and used it to great effect with a lot of roleplay on Tapestries and the like where it's generally written in third person and thus I regularly have to decide and include my own gender pronouns when talking about myself. Everything was great for a while, until out of nowhere I started to feel... overstimulated, I guess?
In my last post, I wrote:
"I'm not the type to be devastated over being misgendered or anything, even if I do have a preference now. It's like... it's like "she" is a treat, like giving me ice cream. If you happen to remember and are feeling generous and want to treat me to some ice cream, then that's great! Otherwise, it's not going to be the end of the world every time someone doesn't give me ice cream. I'm not _that_ spoiled."
Let's just say that after that, I went on to eat way too much ice cream and got sick.
That brought up a sort of miniature identity crisis where I started to second-guess if this is really what I wanted if it's starting to feel like too much, now, and to a certain extent I still don't really have an answer for that. All I could do was back off a bit, with the hopes of just shelving the question until I'd recovered a bit. Working on my new character description in Tapestries was like, "'Kjorteo is a tall and thin white-throated woodrat. She stands at 6'4" and...' ... hmm. I don't know.... 'He stands at 6'4" and...' ... no, that's not... bah, I'll work on it later."
I'm not sure I'll have a definitive answer to that until gender itself becomes an easier question, because of course the problem is that there are so many nuances and definitions and schools of thought in direct opposition to each other that it's hard to find a single objective answer. Especially on sites like Tumblr, the signal to HEATED SHOUTING HOW DARE YOU YOU CISHET SHITLORD ratio makes it a bit like finding a needle in a hornet's nest. I know that it's wrong to judge by an archaic "boys have a penis, girls have a vagina" mindset. Whether you can or should judge the transgender community with a "boys want to have a penis, girls want to have a vagina" definition is the subject of a very heated civil war that currently shows no signs of slowing down. I'm personally not a fan of being that hard-line and exclusionary about it, but it raises the question of where the line should be drawn if not there. The more we break down the gender barrier and pink/blue thing, the more I wonder what (if anything) we have in its place. If we're not going by clothes or hobbies/interests and we're not going by physical sex, what are we going by? So I guess figuring out whether I'm a man hinges on... well... you know.
For now (again, with the disclaimer that I can change my mind later,) I don't think I'm actually reverting or going back on anything since last time. I'm just... toning it down a bit, I guess? I still refer to Teo as "she" in RP and I still like it when my partners do the same, but it's not something I'm going to zealously enforce in standard day-to-day conversation. I still need to get her new outfit figured out at some point, but that project can go on the back burner until inspiration strikes. And so on. As for you the readers, just do whatever; I can't really correct you when I don't know either.
One thing that hasn't changed, though, is the hair removal! I'm still getting that done, and in fact I already had my first treatment a few weeks ago. I'm currently getting my chest and underarms done, and I know I'll be happy with those regardless of how the gender explorations go. I just never liked how I looked with hair there, even when I was pretty sure I was a guy, so at worst this is a convenient time-saving permanent solution to something I was always fighting with anyway. From there? Well, it takes ten months to get any particular area done. I wanted to do the back and shoulders (again, I just feel those are unsightly anyway no matter what gender I am) but couldn't quite afford to get them at the same time as the chest, so I'll do those next after the chest is done. That means I have well over a year to decide how far I want to go after that.
By the way, just for the record, laser hair removal is a hellish ordeal. I've had a root canal, a vasectomy, four DIY meatotomies, and Lasik before this, and each of those made certain viewers scream just with how horrible the description of the procedure makes them sound even though I was numb and didn't really feel anything. By contrast, laser hair removal doesn't have as much body horror in the explanation--you get zapped with a high-powered laser which removes hair by frying it, sounds painful but the very description isn't a guro fic as some of the others are--but in practice it was easily and by far the most painful of any procedure I've undergone. Some people describe it as feeling like having a rubber band snapped at you, which is actually true, if a severe understatement. It's that, plus try to imagine what it would feel like to have a drop of actual molten lava on your chest for a split-second, then vanished again like it never happened but you definitely felt it for that flash, and now here comes another one, and another....
Also, it smells a lot like burnt hair, because it is. They forget to warn you about that part.
It also leaves you looking for the next few days like you were assaulted by a waffle iron. Which is fairly accurate to how it felt during the procedure.
The interesting thing, though, is that the treatment is actually happening long after the ordeal itself. When you go in, they make it very clear to warn you ABSOLUTELY NO SUN EXPOSURE WHATSOEVER (without really really good sunscreen, anyway) for like 6 weeks after the treatment. And considering these treatments are coming 6 weeks apart, that basically means you are a vampire until they're done with you. Why? Because the radiation from the laser is still there, and any sun exposure on top of that puts you into burn territory. And I've noticed more hair loss just minding my own business after the treatment than I did during it.
This is a week removed from the treatment. (Note that I shave once a week and this was taken right before I did, so, you know, it's what one week's worth of hair growth looks like.) Spots have gone down, but it doesn't look like it actually did much, yet, right?
This is two weeks removed (again, right before the weekly shave.) I didn't do anything new this week; this is whatever was still in my system finally kicking in. This is why you can't go sunbathing even like a month later.
Also, this is why even though that first treatment almost made me confess to being a witch, I'm pretty much committed to the rest of them, now. I can't just leave it like that; it looks like I have mange. May as well see this through and get the rest, right?
And then I guess we'll see what my gender identity and pain tolerance feel like doing after that.