I know intellectually that the difference between December 31st of one year to January 1st of the next is so miniscule as to be useless. There really isn’t anything profound about the beginning of a new year. Years themselves are the creation of humans. Time is meaningless. I know this.
As much as I know this, I still believe in the magic of a New Year. I can’t help but to feel drawn to the illusion of the tabula rasa that ripping open a new calendar creates. I look for any excuse to make a wish, be it 11:11 or my birthday or a bit of rogue space junk streaking through our sky. Am I a hopeless sentimental sap? Yes. I have no shame.
Every New Year, I spend a lot of time, both before and after that shiny crystal ball drops from the top of One Times Square thinking introspectively about my life. I think about the things I have done that I do not particularly like. I think about the things I wish I could be doing. I’m a big fan and a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. I usually don’t see them to their fruition, but sometimes I do. Much like gifts in the season we’ve just completed, it’s the thought that counts. Probably.
I think that writing down and sharing New Year’s Resolutions helps to keep me true to the path. I think I just have so much pride that I feel almost ashamed if I don’t accomplish something that I’ve told other people that I would do. The jury is still out on whether or not it actually makes me more likely to succeed, as shame is something I’m dealing with pretty much constantly. But anyway.
I think the biggest and most complicated resolution I’ve made for myself this year is the strengthening and solidifying of my gender. Over the past several years, I have experienced a near-crippling dysphoria and social anxiety about my gender and presentation. When I first came out as transgender in February of 2014, my knowledge of issues and rhetoric pertaining to gender was quite limited. I was only aware of one way that someone like me (read: AFAB) could be transgender. I knew that I was not a woman. I knew that the bodily discomfort I had experienced since my early days of puberty was gender dysphoria. I threw myself body and soul into the trans man experience. I changed the way I dressed. I shaved off all of my hair. I changed the name I used on a day to day basis. I changed my pronouns. I read all of the trans man blog posts, magazine articles, and memoirs as I could get my hands on. I used the men’s restroom. I bought and wore a binder every day, even as my back ached and my dysphoria persisted.
The deeper into the trans man community that I trekked, the more self-conscious I felt. The trans men in my life are among the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. The struggle that trans men face on a daily basis is one that goes far too often unnoticed, but it is not my struggle. I could not see myself in the narratives painted by trans men. I could see similar veins among our life stories, especially among those who shared with me multiple demographic markers, but the actual, visceral gender narrative was somehow different.
It would be quite an egregious understatement to say that I am a little more knowledgeable about gender issues these days. I began studying queer theory and gender theory with a vigor that can only be produced by academics trying to understand themselves. I am intimately familiar with the various theories about the nature and experience of gender. I could give lectures on the gender spectrum theories, the social constructionist theories, and the innate theories. I now know that the “truth” about gender, whatever that may be exactly is essentially irrelevant, as the lived experience of gender does not care about what I say of its origins.
That understanding of gender has made me very intellectually comfortable identifying as genderqueer. I like the ambiguity that the identity brings, especially in such a binary world that relies on hollow stereotypes to understand individuals. Ambiguity is the space in which I am comfortable. Intellectually.
As I mentioned before, intellectualism can only get us so far in any discussion of gender. Lived experience is something else entirely. This world, especially here in the West, refuses to accept or acknowledge the existence of genders beyond the male/female binary. As is the case with most presentation and exhibition of gender, there are no stereotypes that can be drawn from to ensure that one will be read by others as genderqueer.
I have struggled with this. Knowing that no stranger on the street will ever read me as genderqueer has caused me a great deal of anxiety about being in public. I am tired of being uncomfortable in the world around me. So what if there is no stereotypes for me to play with? That is not limiting. That is freeing. I am free to be whom and what I am.
I have resolved that in 2016, I will discover ways to be myself and make my gender known. I have resolved to finally settle on a name (contenders still in the running are: Ezri, Cameron, Tesla, and Rowan). I have resolved to use my chosen pronouns, ze/zir/zem regularly and without shame.
My second most important resolution is to write more. I have been given to opportunity to write as much as I can, to publish and not worry about my financial health. I have resolved to write as much as I can, aiming for at least 800 written words per day. I am hoping that I can, in the next twelve months, really find my voice. I have a voice, but I am not sure that this voice is my final form. Sometimes, especially on this blog, I feel that my writing style is just as awkward as I am in real life. Perhaps that’s endearing. I don’t know.
Another resolution involves my health. I know that I am a little bit overweight. I know that keeping extra pounds on me makes me look more feminine (I’ve got DDs and birthing hips, extra weight just accentuates it). Seeing as I have struggled with eating disorders at various times throughout my life, I know what the warning signs and trigger points are for me and my illness. I know that balance and moderation is the key to many things in this life. I have resolved to be more moderate and more careful about what I put into my body to nourish me and to try every day to practice yoga and do Pilates to build my own strength and hopefully lose a couple of pounds.
A fourth resolution I have made for myself is to become more social. The social anxiety I described earlier in this post is something that has been holding me back for quite some time. I hope to remove that rather unsavory element from my heart and to become more comfortable interacting with others. I know that more sociality will improve my mental health. I know that it will help me to become a more effective activist and advocate for the causes and communities I hold most dear.
My fifth and final resolution for 2016 is to engage and enrich my spiritual experience. I was born and raised Catholic. I was confirmed, taking the name of Genesius, in 2011, but I only did so to appease my devout mother and grandmother. I lost my faith in the Catholic dogma around age ten. Ever since then, I have been searching for a spiritual path that would lead me to some level of spiritual fulfilment. I have done research on many, many religions in my life. I have yet to find the one in which my own fulfilment lies. I am a witch, albeit a secular one right now, but I have been erratic in my practice. I have resolved to throw myself into study of various pagan faiths as well as Hinduism and the yogic teachings.
Like I mentioned before, I have no way of knowing whether or not I will be able to achieve all of these things, but I will try my damndest. I am not willing to settle for a life of mediocrity. What about all of you? Are you making New Year’s Resolutions? Why or why not? Have you ever completed a Resolution before? If you are working toward one (or many) I wish you the best of luck. Leave your thoughts, dissents, or words of encouragement in the comments below.