There have been years I knew I wasn’t going to date anyone unless I felt like wearing the dresses in my closet. If the desire to wear them never came and my dresses remained untouched, I’d think, “welp, missed the boat again.”
Somehow the me that enjoys wearing the right dress or skirt is melded with the part of me that experiences romantic and sexual attraction. That me flirts and shimmies with a wink and laughter. That me occasionally wears lingerie instead of tight Adidas sports bras and sparks at teasing lovers.
That me hasn’t been around much in years.
For the past two and a half years, more of my time has been spent in a different state of being: agender. I always identify outside the gender binary of woman and man—dress-wearing me is also queer and nonbinary—but agender me feels distant from gender and attraction altogether. With a passport, I can get as close as looking through a window. I can see other people date, identify with “butch,” “femme,” girl, “boi,” and other names, and I can scroll through online dating profiles, but I usually feel removed from it all.
Agender’s not new for me. More of my time just seems to be spent this way now.
Two years ago, I composed a poem, Shapeshifter, about my gender changing with the seasons, as well as a poem called Tea Hour about the ignored dresses in my closet. I was accustomed to wearing heavier, more gender-neutral clothing in fall and winter, and more “feminine” clothing like dresses and skirts in spring, but my dysphoria at wearing the latter articles of clothing was lasting much longer. I’d sometimes wonder if I should remove the chiffon, velvet, and soft cottons from their hangers, fold them carefully, and donate them. Maybe a part of me was gone.
While I’m agender, I feel somewhat blank and invisible. Asexual, aromantic, and incapable of attracting others.* Not attracting others isn’t a bad thing if I don’t experience crushes myself; I wouldn’t want anyone to experience any painful unrequited affection toward me.
But I do sometimes stress about feeling blank and invisible. I strain against the a’s of my gender and sexuality when they don’t seem completely natural. I want to experience attraction and know some part of me is capable regardless of my gender identity or expression. But in my gender fluidity between agender and a more feminine nonbinary, I get anxious someone will want to trap me in one. I worry someone I may fall for will only want one version of me and I’ll be stuck in clothes and behavior that don’t fit when the seasons switch. Or someone who could like me one way (dress-wearing me, even if I’m not wearing dresses), will never do so if I’m stuck in agender. I realize these anxieties may sound ridiculous. Perhaps they are.
Does this happen to anyone else? Does your sexuality (regularly) fluctuate with your gender? Do you worry about dating as a genderfluid person? Did yours change when you lived as a man, Les?
*What we take for our realities often aren’t so true. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded how limited our perceptions are, even if we don’t connect with what others tell us. Once, I told my coworker and friend at my university’s pride center that I felt invisible to others when it came to dating. I stated this as a matter of fact in passing, coupling it with my gender dysphoria and asexuality. He disrupted the conversation to wind things back and tell me that multiple people had approached him about me. I was just surprised. A confused block of ice.