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anisotrophic

Non-binariness: additive vs subtractive?

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anisotrophic

This is a random reflection – but I wonder how others think about it!

It feels to me like many NB folks experience their non-binariness in a subtractive way: they feel dysphoria around gendered aspects of themselves and their body, but neither do they want to adopt gendered features of the other (binary) gender. For example, an AMAB NB friend is averse to hormone therapy because they don't want to have breasts.

But personally I think I've experienced it more like an additive way. (Although some things can't add, they can only displace/replace, like voice changes and fat distribution.) I want to experience masculine features, but don't mind the ones I'm born with. I think I don't experience dysphoria, or experience it differently, as an incompleteness – a desire for more.

I feel like an outlier in this, like there aren't many that experience a "have all the things" version of non-binary? The stereotypical NB seems to erase characteristics like breasts and beard towards a genderless ideal, not combine them. I wonder how others think about their ideal – what are you interested in adding, subtracting, or replacing?

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Galactic Turtle

While not non-binary, I do have a strong desire to be sex-less as in no genitalia, no breasts, and the rest of my body shape completely ambiguous.

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Akita-

While I don't identify as nonbinary, I do fall under the umbrella term, and I agree that it feels more like I want to add things- deepening my voice, having broader shoulders, a more masculine jaw, etc.. Though there are also some things I wish I could subtract, so for me it's definitely not all additive.

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anisotrophic

Whoops. This was meant for the gender forum! I hope an admin can move it. 😅

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Internetlionboy

I think I'd love to have a flat chest, that's it. I actually like how I look now and like passing off as a guy that's pretty or when people can't even tell what gender I am! Also my voice is a little androgynous sounding so that's 👌

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ColeHW34

For me I'm fluctuating between different voices, hairstyles, clothing colors (and sizes), and even soaps.

I need to practice on my voice a little to get it to a stable pitch,  and maybe make my hair a bit more "poofy" .

 

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daveb
18 hours ago, anisotrophic said:

** please move to the gender discussion form! Sorry & thank you! 🙏 **

Done

No worries :) 

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DuranDuranfan

I guess I’m a stereotypical enby. I want smaller breasts. To me a smaller size is not to masculine but also not too feminine. And I wish my hips weren’t as wide.

 

I guess it’s part and partial with being bigender. Even though I have a masculine side, I still want to retain aspects of femininity, just to a lesser degree. For example, smaller breasts are easier to look flatter in a binder than bigger ones.

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Janus DarkFox

Definitely subtractive to remove masculine traits to me, also additive adding feminine traits that overtake the masculines ones to achieve a sense of Agender/non binary identity.

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AM42

I agree with @Galactic Turtle I would really like to have

On 10/19/2019 at 12:29 AM, Galactic Turtle said:

no genitalia, no breasts, and the rest of my body shape completely ambiguous.

but since that is not an option I do what I can to minimize the female traits of my body, mainly using sports bras 'cause nothing can hide the curves of waist, hips and bum 🙄Sometimes though I would rather wear a potato sack than clothes but here we are. I am over the moon happy of having next to no periods (on the pill due to severe menstrual cramps). First I thought it was just because I didn't need to have the cramps but discovered later it also helps to think of myself as less female and more human(?) I don't really have word for what I see myself as, I'm me.

 

I don't have dysphoria due to identifying as agender but have struggled with my body image for many many years so am trying to be as kind as I possibly can toward myself.

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Lonemathsytoothbrushthief
On 10/18/2019 at 11:09 PM, anisotrophic said:

This is a random reflection – but I wonder how others think about it!

It feels to me like many NB folks experience their non-binariness in a subtractive way: they feel dysphoria around gendered aspects of themselves and their body, but neither do they want to adopt gendered features of the other (binary) gender. For example, an AMAB NB friend is averse to hormone therapy because they don't want to have breasts.

But personally I think I've experienced it more like an additive way. (Although some things can't add, they can only displace/replace, like voice changes and fat distribution.) I want to experience masculine features, but don't mind the ones I'm born with. I think I don't experience dysphoria, or experience it differently, as an incompleteness – a desire for more.

I feel like an outlier in this, like there aren't many that experience a "have all the things" version of non-binary? The stereotypical NB seems to erase characteristics like breasts and beard towards a genderless ideal, not combine them. I wonder how others think about their ideal – what are you interested in adding, subtracting, or replacing?

The non binary community isn't just for people who have neutral genders though, it includes bigender, polygender, genderfluid, genderqueer, demigender etc people and the fact people focus so much on those with a neutral gender is kinda annoying to me. I get you, you feel like an outlier and probably are, but we've got to start expanding the recognition of non binary identities to everyone in the umbrella.

 

Personally I need top surgery, HRT, facial hair, would love a squarer jawline, different fat/muscle distribution, and that convinces people I'm trans masc or something. But my gender isn't the same as what I have physical dysphoria about, I'm fluid and I don't always identify as male aligned, I want they/them pronouns from people who know me it's just that in this binary world I need strangers who are gonna gender me male or female to choose male instead. From strangers being gendered as male is awesome, from close friends it feels hurtful to have to lie and call myself a man just because I'm not a woman.

 

This stuff is generally confusing for everyone.

 

Also I would rather just describe my transition goals than talk about them using the language which the gender and sex binaries have given us. It's better to reinforce that mindset while you can because eventually the cis dominated medical field's gonna give us toxic ideas about it all anyway.

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PoeciMeta

Ooooh boyyyy, I'm definitely a substractive one. I'm agender, and I want ZERO sexual characteristic, none, nope, take that off me. I want my body to be as neutral as a child's (a child which wouldn't even have genitalia). I wish there were hormones, or a hormones/blockers/other stuff cocktail that doesn't bring you secondary sexual characteristics. The day something like this is available, trust me on chopping off my gonads. 

Sure, some things can't be quite 'nullified', like voice. Without sex hormones (i.e. in children) the voice is high-pitched, and thus feminine. Maybe I should train mine to sound in-between, at least. 

I don't know how much is achievable, but if I could at least confuse people a little bit, that would be great. 

Then, for expression, like clothes, I would like to not see them as gendered and wear whatever I like, although I generally dress masculine for practicality. I wish my body was neutral enough to confuse people even with a gendered piece of clothing on. 

(And yeah. The whole thing is pretty dysphoric.)

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Laurann

Yep, I'm subtractive too. Agender. Dysphoria, the whole shebang. 'None of the gender things' please. 

 

(Please forgive my spitballing and ranting in this post, I don't really know what to think yet, but I am intrigued, because I think you're on to something, and I think there's a lot more to it. This post got out of hand. It's a mess.)

 

I think maybe there is an ace bias here though. I've noticed a lot of aces are agender and subtractive. I wonder if that's different in non-ace genderqueer spaces.

There definitely are people who feel bigender, genderfluid, whatever. And there's the 'genderfuck/gender confusion' gender expression, which is basically glitterbeards and make-up. I don't think it's rare. There just aren't many here on AVEN. But I could be wrong about that. I wish research on nonbinary identities would just hurry up already, because we really don't have a lot of statistics available right now.

Do you think there are any genderqueer/nonbinary/trans annual surveys, like we have the annual Ace Community Survey? https://asexualcensus.wordpress.com/

 

... So, right after I asked this^ question, I was like "Well shit, that's something I can google too." And look at what I found! https://gendercensus.com/results Even though it's done by only one person who says it's a casual thing, and it's mainly a tumblr thing, there are still over 10,000 participants!

Subtractive is more popular in that one as well, so it's not just aces.

 

Oh and here's a more professional one, except they stopped collecting data on October 1st, so they don't have results yet. It might be worth it to keep an eye on it if you're interested though. https://transpulsecanada.ca/

 

So, second question, what if 'subtractive' is more common among afab enbies, and 'additive' is more common among amab enbies? If you google 'genderfuck' on google images, you get a lot of glitterbeards, is what I'm saying.

 

Maybe this has something to do with masculinity being the standard/default/unmarked (as in linguistics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markedness)? Basically, masculinity is the default, and femininity the deviation from that default (which is not a good thing, but it is definitely a Thing). There are astronauts, and then there are 'female astronauts.' There is the world cup in soccer, and then there's the 'women's world cup.' (I don't actually know shit about soccer, don't crucify me if there's no such thing as a soccer world cup, you get the point. This works with almost all sports anyways.)

Spoiler

 

 

If you type in 'androgynous' on google images, you get a whole lot of afab people with masculine gender expressions, as if masculinity is androgyny. Here's an NB with smart things to say about that phenomenon:

Spoiler

 

So basically, if you're amab and you want to express 'genderqueerness', you are already the culture's 'default,' so you can't subtract to become more neutral. You have to add a little bit of femininity. Removing facial hair won't make you be perceived as androgynous, but putting on make-up, growing out a ponytail and dying it pink will.

 

And if you're afab, the femininity is what makes your gender 'marked', and that is probably what causes a bunch of dysphoria, so subtracting femininity probably helps alleviate that. By subtracting femininity, you become more masculine, because you become more default. Removing the long hair, boobs and make-up is all it takes to be perceived as 'performing androgyny'.

 

It would also partially explain why amab people expressing femininity get so much more aggression leveled at them than afab people expressing masculinity. Expressing masculinity isn't as marked, doesn't draw as much attention.

 

Eh, I don't know, I'm just throwing thoughts at the wall and seeing what sticks. That's the end of my stream of consciousness. And yeah obviously I'm generalizing, and everyone is different, bla bla. Duh. I'm just noticing trends. Obviously there are tons of people who don't fit into those trends.

 

Does anyone have comments, constructive criticism?

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anisotrophic
23 hours ago, Lonemathsytoothbrushthief said:

Personally I need top surgery, HRT, facial hair, would love a squarer jawline, different fat/muscle distribution, and that convinces people I'm trans masc or something.

Gosh, I don't have so much confidence about what I want!

I'm two months into T and trying to work out what's next – whether to go to full dose or ask to stick to lower dose. (Which is where one often starts, to check tolerance.) Some dark fuzz mustache started to come in, and I shaved it. Some of this post was inspired by introspection, trying to decide what I want and don't want, and I don't know what to think about top surgery at this point.

 

18 hours ago, Laurann said:

I think maybe there is an ace bias here though. I've noticed a lot of aces are agender and subtractive.

I think this may be true. I'm not asexual; my partner IDs as asexual now (previously bisexual), and that's what brought me to AVEN. But I really like that the forums also have gender & trans discussions. The AMAB NB I mentioned doesn't ID as ace, but I think discomfort with sexuality as their AGAB may be entangled with their gender dysphoria.

 

Contrary to standard warnings, it doesn't feel like it's increased my interest in sex. I might feel more disconnected and uninterested in sex, actually. (It used to feel like how I communicate love, now it just feels like a thing nobody wants to do with me… why bother, it just makes me feel like a reject.)

 

18 hours ago, Laurann said:

what if 'subtractive' is more common among afab enbies, and 'additive' is more common among amab enbies? If you google 'genderfuck' on google images, you get a lot of glitterbeards, is what I'm saying.

Well... I'm AFAB, as is @Lonemathsytoothbrushthief. While @Janus DarkFox is AMAB, as is the non-binary person I mentioned in the OP.

 

I think I'd enjoy being a bit genderfuck. I love the photoshoot for gc2b's pride binder https://www.gc2b.co/collections/rainbow-pride/products/rainbow-half-binder – see image below.

 

Spoiler

Reb_Proud_2b_here_1024x1024.jpg


I think feminine expression with masculine physiology isn't just for AMABs? Personally I'm finding myself more comfortable & interested in expressing myself femininely the more physiologically masculine I become. At the moment, I'm considering getting my ears re-pierced.

 

For me, an additional aspect is that I've lived a full female experience without discomfort with what I had – including sexuality, childbirth, breastfeeding. I don't feel antipathy towards those aspects of my body, I just want something different now. I use binders all the time but feel ambivalent about top surgery. It's possible I'll be more inclined to do that if/when it feels more incongruous with the rest of my body.

 

19 hours ago, Laurann said:

Expressing masculinity isn't as marked, doesn't draw as much attention.

I do strongly agree with this, though – that masculine expression is default, and nobody noticed that I was wearing men's clothes. It's not until I started HRT that I started catching shit (or sometimes improved recognition & pronouns) from people that basically ignored it, hadn't taken it seriously.
 

Thanks all for your responses so far! It's really interesting and helpful to learn from everyone's experiences.

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Lonemathsytoothbrushthief
1 hour ago, anisotrophic said:

Gosh, I don't have so much confidence about what I want!

I'm two months into T and trying to work out what's next – whether to go to full dose or ask to stick to lower dose. (Which is where one often starts, to check tolerance.) Some dark fuzz mustache started to come in, and I shaved it. Some of this post was inspired by introspection, trying to decide what I want and don't want, and I don't know what to think about top surgery at this point.

I'm really not confident lol, just very dysphoric. Good for you btw ❤️ Yeah what's been really important for me has been separating body goals I guess, goals with presentation(in which I am more masculine right now mostly because I wouldn't risk it for increased physical dysphoria), goals with being gendered by others, which for me is different with strangers compared to after I've known someone a while, because coming out as enby is really uncomfortable with complete strangers and tends to drown out literally anything else you want out of social interactions...and gender identity itself.

 

I think part of the problem with this conversation has been the lack of separation between masculinity/femininity as a social construct applied to the presentations and behaviours of all genders, and traits categorised as male or female in bodies because of the cissexism especially in western societies with medicalised ideas of trans people.

1 hour ago, anisotrophic said:
20 hours ago, Laurann said:

I think maybe there is an ace bias here though. I've noticed a lot of aces are agender and subtractive.

I think this may be true. I'm not asexual; my partner IDs as asexual now (previously bisexual), and that's what brought me to AVEN. But I really like that the forums also have gender & trans discussions. The AMAB NB I mentioned doesn't ID as ace, but I think discomfort with sexuality as their AGAB may be entangled with their gender dysphoria.

 

Contrary to standard warnings, it doesn't feel like it's increased my interest in sex. I might feel more disconnected and uninterested in sex, actually. (It used to feel like how I communicate love, now it just feels like a thing nobody wants to do with me… why bother, it just makes me feel like a reject.)

 

I think there is an ace bias in terms of how sexuality  is affected by dysphoria(whether the social aspects of relationships where certain behaviours, activities and roles are extremely gendered, or the physical dysphoria involved). I mean the ace community is where I first learned of non binary genders and trans stuff(and to be honest the whole of the LGBT+ community, my family made it hard to learn because essentially I have a gay uncle who members of the family would refuse to acknowledge as gay, it was not great). But in terms of how this links with the concept of "subtractive" dysphoria, I doubt that's the main thing at play: this type of dysphoria is imo the stereotypical presentation of non binary people in the media, as well as the non binary person with zero social dysphoria(which is probably a lot like the concept of gay best friends who let every homophobe walk all over them). People expect non binary people to want nothing to do with anything coded as masculine/feminine or male/female, because they expect our presentations and transitions to reflect their own understanding of being neither male nor female, instead of a non binary person who doesn't identify at all as a man but transitions to grow a beard and has phalloplasty, or a non binary person who doesn't identify at all as a woman but transitions to use she/her pronouns and takes estrogen based HRT. And that's if they think our genders exist at all - if they don't, they're just going to insist that you can't transition to a "made up" gender or something silly like that.

 

To add to the link with asexuality though, it's also more of a risk for closeted trans people in relationships to come out than those with less of a support system and less to lose. So maybe that generally leads to an overrepresentation of trans people among the ace community, where it's less of an expectation that people will be dating. It's probably also an explanation for seeing so many bi-, pan- and homoromantic/sexual ace/aro people on sites like this - being single, which isn't necessarily an ace thing but is likely a lot more common here, gives you less to lose and more room to explore. That doesn't mean our quality of life is better, I doubt we're the best off trans people but we do seem fairly out.

 

I mean, my experiences with dysphoria started being noticeable when I was dating and in relationships, trainwrecks all of them, as well. Thus encouraging me to explore my gender while giving up on dating and find ways to cope with dysphoria which I hadn't really recognised as much before. There's really a lot of stuff we could explore in terms of different LGBT+ communities.

21 hours ago, Laurann said:

Maybe this has something to do with masculinity being the standard/default/unmarked (as in linguistics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markedness)? Basically, masculinity is the default, and femininity the deviation from that default (which is not a good thing, but it is definitely a Thing). There are astronauts, and then there are 'female astronauts.' There is the world cup in soccer, and then there's the 'women's world cup.' (I don't actually know shit about soccer, don't crucify me if there's no such thing as a soccer world cup, you get the point. This works with almost all sports anyways.)

While this is true for many cases, I do think this reflects notions of gender which came before the idea of a female gender role was really embedded in society - kind of going back to the idea of women as "the second sex" and defined as not men? Especially with the situation where there are now types of workplaces coded as for women, e.g. teaching and nursing professions, men are not actually the default everywhere. But they are in many cases.

 

In actual fact, this would suggest to me that whereas a trans man becoming more readily perceived as male while transitioning would always lead to privilege, how that manifests is going to be very very different if he's an engineer compared to say a nurse - in that situation, maybe social benefits of transition related to male privilege would be much fewer involving transphobia based on his profession, but there would still be financial benefits as even in female dominated workplaces, wage gaps exist. These are topics which we should explore because while we do have many of the same manifestations of privilege in society compared to when women existed and were defined purely in terms of opposition to men, there is now an entire gender role containing the expectations of women, and patriarchy is perpetuated not just by men but by women and non binary people too. I mean there are even many social expectations for different intersections. I know this is incredibly annoying and waffly of me but I just look at how complicated society is today, how people from much wider backgrounds now share workplaces and neighbourhoods, schools, everything, and want to write down my disagreements with more generalised feminist ideas.

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PoeciMeta

Lots of interesting points above. I just realised that female is kind of marked, it's the ones who have to wear the impractical clothes, the stick figure whose clothes or hair is depicted, the Pokémon with eyelashes or pink highlights. And you don't even see that every single one of the enemies in video games are male... that could explain AFABs being subtractive, too...

 

From a strictly personal point of view, I think it doesn't influence my own dysphoria that much? I know what has been said isn't meant to be universal, just sharing my experience. I certainly don't want male characteristics, and if I were AMAB, I think I would get rid of them too. I want to get rid of my nipples because having them would give me a 'male chest'. 

Also, if you take the problem the other way around, females are allowed a lot of androgyny, while males are 'confined' in their social codes. Because of this, I think that if I were male, I'd probably want to get rid of things (like... body hair?) but not add curves and stuff to still have the 'unmarked' appearance but without anything 'definitely male', if that makes sense - I'd keep the things men and women are allowed to have, like so-called androgynous clothing, but remove the undoubtedly gendered, dysphoria-inducing stuff like the beard.

I really wish things like clothing weren't gendered, or at least social rules would be... symmetrical. Same dose of gender transgression allowed either way, see? So an AMAB me could wear skirts without being additive.

It's a bit weird, actually. The female presentation is the 'special' one, but the male gender is the one who has less room to diverge. I already had thoughts about that, 'which gender is the most androgynous? The one that is allowed both presentations, or the one whose default presentation is allowed for everyone?' 

 

The ace bias is very present for me, though. As an intensely sex-repulsed ace, the disgust I have for my gendered parts is obviously heightened. It's actually the other reason why I want my nipples chopped off, too, for how sexualised they are. 

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ElasticPlanet

Some bits of each. I use the 'subtractive' word agender to sum up my whole situation because it's the social dysphoria component that was easiest for me to find and understand. Stop trying to put me in this box according to my AGAB. I'm not interested in being given 'permission' to be in that opposite box there either.

 

But in terms of roles, hobbies, interests, jobs... it's definitely additive. I want access to All The Things, and to take or leave each thing based on how much I happen to like it rather than "what people will think"!

 

Other stuff is more complicated, harder to measure and hovering around the middle ground. I think for body parts my ideal point would be slightly towards subtractive (and also, slightly towards female); clothes more additive (and also, towards femme)... I don't know if there's any reason why those 'middle ground' things should all be slightly off the middle...

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PoeciMeta
11 hours ago, ElasticPlanet said:

But in terms of roles, hobbies, interests, jobs... it's definitely additive. I want access to All The Things, and to take or leave each thing based on how much I happen to like it rather than "what people will think"!

Same, but since I refuse to see such things as gendered, especially interests, I wouldn't call myself additive for it. Definitely want to access All The Things, I mean who doesn't :D I just don't want to see any gender in it. 

Edit:... also because... since pratically everything is gendered now... if we agenders are strictly substractive, what have we got left >.>

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