Reflection by Akiko Asano, 23 July 2017
First, I would like to thank the summer services team for asking me to present again in front of all you awesome people.
Little did I know that when I first presented a “family coming out” speech at the Guelph Sexuality conference in 2013, that it would lead me to present it again many times. Each time it got easier and each time the “introduction” phrase of who I am started to shift and to change as I became aware of other aspects my own gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. I started to construct the new, improved, better version of “me”. Not only was I advocating for my trans child, I started to advocate for me.
At Guelph, as soon as I spoke the words, to over 100 people that “I am a gender queer, polyamourous, pansexual mother of a transgender MTF child of 15”. Everyone applauded. Since I was not expecting that, I broke out in a sweat, started shaking and had difficulty continuing. However, at the end of the conference many people came to me to thank and encouraged me to continue to come out publicly as a way to own who I am, as I way to educate and to a way to advocate for others like us.
As I am about to share with you some very intimate aspects of my own self discovery of my gender and sexual orientation, there are several reactions possible coming from the listener. When hearing new information, information that sort of contradicts with everything you know or thought you know. Information that seems to shake your very belief systems and even your core values, one will react.
Some, as soon as they that you are talking about gender or sexuality - the hot topics, like politics, will be angry and walk away - let it go and keep on going.
One way, is that the listener, as they are trying to listen to you, all of a sudden, it will seem like they are hearing another language. Soon your voice will start to sound like the adults in Charlie Brown - wahwah wa wahha wah (mumbled voice). Let it go and move on.
Another way, is that the person will suddenly appear in shock. Their eyes will have the look of disbelief, of betrayal, of hurt of “why did people lie to me”. Its the same look the appears when you tell a young person that the iconic holiday figures of their childhood don’t really exist. I won’t name who they are, out of confidentiality and out of respect as we shouldn’t “out” someone without their consent. The most amazing reaction I have had is when, as you are sharing your story with someone, you can perceive it in their eyes. They are taking in every bit of information. You can see them deconstruct the age old limiting beliefs. You continue..and then... there it is, the eyes go wide and (hands explosion) woosh - brain explosion.
Any of these reactions are possible. No worries. Later, I have a short interactive meditative activity that we may do to work at letting go, releasing and accepting.
Here is my new “coming out” elevator speech.
I was assigned female at birth. I identify as gender queer and have a female gender expression which encompasses my masculine traits.
I am a polyamourous kinky demisexual pansexual on the asexual spectrum who is also part of the BDSM community.
I am a proud single parent of a 21-year-old cisgender heterosexual young man and a 19 year old transgender gender fluid asexual young human.
I became who I am today through the deconstruction of preconceived limiting age old beliefs on gender and sexuality. Through new knowledge and experience I constructed the new me. I am like your house which needs fix-er-uppers and changes to fit the new life you have. I, too, am an evolving renovation project.
As soon as one knows that someone is expecting a new baby, we start to prepare for the arrival. In order to do so, we want to know “what sex is the child” - Is it a boy or is it a girl”? After all….there aren’t any other options. OR are there?
With this knowledge of the “sex” of the baby we can then choose the clothes, paint the nursery, buy the toys. After all we wouldn’t want the baby to be confused about their gender. Before you know it, based solely on the child’s genitals, we have also assigned a gender to that baby. After all we are taught that such and such a genital go with such and such a gender. Two choices - easy peasy!
This may become a pressure to be something you are not.
A great example of that is a xmas present that I requested. So being a tomboy, I wanted a lego set. After all, the LEGO philosophy was “‘good quality play’ enriches a child’s life – and lays the foundation for later adult life.”
So, when I opened my present, there it was a lego set - created for “girls”. The pieces where pastel colours - ehhh - and the set was a to build a kitchen. There was the stove, the fridge, even the female character with an apron on...okay so yah we were in the 70’S so I guess this was expected. So as an assigned female the message was - you may grow up one day to spend your life in a kitchen. There weren't even enough pieces to create anything else but a kitchen. I guess “girls” weren’t supposed to express their creative side except if it was to cook or bake in the kitchen.
At my first ultrasound, I was told I was having a girl, at the second, a month before giving birth, I was told I was having a boy. At the age of two, I found out the boy I had was a girl and later, I actually have an awesome human being with a gender fluid identity.
From the youngest age, I wanted to be a boy. I played and behaved like a young boy. Boys did so much more cooler things and I didn’t feel like or act like what society wanted me to. So when, Mathieu, declared affirmatively, at the age of 2, that he was a “girl” and not a boy. It seemed “normal”. I figured my child was just a feminine boy like I had been a masculine girl. As time went on, I knew that this was something totally different.
The pediatrician, who met Mathieu at 2, told me that he may be intersex. Meaning that he was born with more than two chromosomes or may have a medical condition that is both male and female.
Deconstruction number one….I had to let go that there are only two sexes but three. Male, female and intersex.
When Mathieu was three, a specialized child psychiatrist who had worked with transgender adults, told me that my child may be a transsexual. That his assigned sex didn’t match his gender identity and that It was most likely that Mathieu will want surgery to become a female in his adult life. After all there were just two choices of gender - male and female.
Deconstruction number 2...my son may become my daughter and have gender reassignment surgery to make his body into a female body.
As my own birth name, Nancy, would send me shivers and anxiety every time someone said it, so did Mathieu’s. When someone called me Nancy or called me a girl it felt like they were stabbing me. It hit home hard as how it is paramount to have a name and use the pronouns that fit your gender, when Mathieu came home and threw himself to the floor crying out that he would rather die than continue to be thought of as a boy.
Mathieu had socially transitioned while in daycare from the age of 3, meaning his gender expression was female. We used Mat as a name and as much as possible we used female pronouns. Mat didn’t really pass, meaning that although he/she was dressed like a girl, acting like a girl, he/she looked like a boy wearing girls’ clothing, with a “boys name”. Quickly after, Mathieu’s name was legally changed to Mathéa. The more my child entered their new legal identity the more they blossomed.
Later on, when Mathéa was 14, struggling with their gender dysphoria, she declared that she could not continue with societal expectations of what a female should look like, act like and be like. Her name and pronouns no longer matched who she felt to be. The name was changed to Fox and the pronouns to gender neutral which are “they, them and themselves”.
Surprisingly, I sort of understood. All of my life I never felt like a woman but did not feel I identify as a man. Within the trans community, I discovered that there was more than two choices for gender. For Fox, it was agender (having no gender), or non-binary (neither female nor male) or gender fluid (a ‘whatever I feel like, when I feel like). For me, it was being gender queer which google simply defines as : a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.
Raising a trans child you learn that genitals don’t make your gender, nor your gender expression and nor does it define your sexuality. There no longer are “female” or “male” genitals. Especially since 2016, in Québec, where we are able to change the sex designation/gender marker on a birth certificate at any age, without surgery, to best fit the gender of that person.
Growing up I believed there were two choices left out to me regarding relationships – marry into a monogamous relationship or grow old and be a spinster. Sure I heard of polygamy - where a man takes on multiple wives for religious reasons but that just was weird to me. The thought of having to reserve my love for only one person for the rest of my life didn’t seem to work either. Through the community I discovered the word polyamory. The term for a non-monogamous relationship that could include many loves. I was like - wow! There was a whole world out there of people living consensual multiple relationships where each individual is aware of the other significant others in the relationship.
Also, in regard to my sexuality, I had two choices well actually three. One was to be a heterosexual and have sex with the opposite sex, be a homosexual and have sex with the same sex or be celibate. To my knowledge celibacy was reserved for nuns, priest, and eunuchs and of course spinsters.
At 15, I discovered what I might be bisexual - attracted to both males and females. As an adult and raising a trans-child with the realization that there are more than two genders and two sexes, I discovered the term pansexual. No it doesn't mean that I am attracted to kitchen ware. Which, if I was, I would blame I it on the person who got me the kitchen Lego set. Pansexual, for me means that I can be attracted to someone no matter what gender or assigned sex they were. I am attracted to their energy not their body. In reality it wasn’t even sexual. I never felt sexual attraction as my fella students did. They would look at someone and go “wow, would I love to have sex with that person” I would look and say...mehh.. I am interested in the energy of a person. People judged me in disbelief, taking what I said to be some new age mumbo jumbo.
I felt like something was wrong with me either medically or mentally. What was confusing, is that I found the longer I spent time with a friend and the deeper our relationship grew, I started to, ever so slightly, feel a sexual attraction to them. That would just weird me out and I would end the relationship - after all friends don’t have sex.
At a polyamory group, last year, I heard the terms “asexual” and “demi sexual”. The definitions of homosexual and heterosexual didn’t make sense in this new world of multiple sexualities and genders. Even the terms homo sexual and hetero sexual don’t really go with the actually genitals of someone - they go with the gender of the individual. Otherwise it would be vaginasexuality and peniisexuality. (By the way - don’t try googling these terms – I just made them up). In this new way of being, since there are multiple genders and men can have vaginas and women can have penis being homo or hetero sexual means you are attracted to the gender of the individual not their “genital sex”.
As I started to read what asexuality and demi sexuality was. It was as if I discovered another planet. An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who they are.
Demisexuality is one of the many shades of asexuality where one does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. Bingo -that was me. I fall more on the asexual spectrum as I am more interested in the sensual and romantic parts of a relationship versus the actual act of sex. Don’t get me wrong, when I do find someone who I have developed a strong emotional attraction to, I do enjoy the “sex” part. It just doesn't have to be the end goal for either one of us. Being able to just cuddle and enjoy one's company beats that any day.
In the past year through my community, I started to learn and become part of the world of BDSM. I had to deconstruct my previous judgments, perceptions of what I thought was a dark part of society. What I found instead, like in polyamorous relationships, was the beauty of the communication that existed within these relationships. I found also a space I felt so safe in. In polyamory we need to talk about our fears, expectations, desires and concerns as we include more and more partners within a relationship. In BDSM, a safe space is created for play and intimacy. There is a call for honesty, disclosure, consent and negotiation. The hard limits and the soft limits as well as safe words are spoken. Plus best of all there is a period of After care – a time when we can talk about the experience or just hold on to each other in a warm embrace. Wow…if only our regular intimate relationship would include time for all this. I would
like to talk more about the communication found in these communities however this is a reflection on gender and sexualtiy so I will leave this for next summer – that is if I am invited again. Think of it as the opening trailer for the next part of my beautiful saga.
My name is Akiko and I am….who I am!
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