The Divine Androgen- Living In-between
Introducing Ace Shades – A Christian GenderQueer Author, Photographer, & Aspiring Drag King – Volunteers his personal time for DiversiTree.org
Originally posted on Ace Shades Blog; Broken Winged Guardian
By Ace Shades
July 14th 1991, the night my mom gave birth to me, her baby girl. At least that’s what the doctors said when they saw the lack of penis between my legs. My parents did raise me in an environment of freedom to choose what clothes I like, what toys I want to play with, and encouraged me to play with other children no matter the sex, race, class system, etc. I was still raised as a girl. After all why wouldn’t my parents raise me as a girl? That’s the sex I was born as so that is what I should be raised as correct?
As I grew up I showed interest in both things that would be categorized as masculine and things that would be categorized as feminine. When I was a kid I had cropped short hair and kept it that way until later childhood where I decided to grow it long but I rarely did anything with it except for pulling it into a pony tail. I was obsessed with pirates and play sword fighting with my friends. If one of my guy friends told me to play the damsel in distress I would laugh in his face and tell him ‘No I want to be the bad guy!’. I spoke out if I saw something as wrong or unfair (especially if it effected a friend) and tended to be more aggressive then my fellow female classmates. It was fairly common for people to mispronoun me with my short hair and sometimes it made me feel uncomfortable but never to the point that I really wanted to change who I was.
Even with these more ‘masculine’ traits I still played with dolls and had a very nurturing side when it came to younger children. I was also very empathetic and emotional; if a child was hurt I’d cry too because I empathized with their pain or fear. I had dresses that I liked wearing and I was not a fan of sports though I didn’t care about getting dirty if I was doing something I viewed as fun.
I probably always had a sense that I was ‘different’ then other girls but it never really became a big thing until I hit puberty. Then I started noticing that I had no interest in looking fancy or wearing less modest clothing or painting my face with make up. I watched as other girls giggled about boys and crushes and I still was focused on my imaginary escapes and stories that seemed to always fill my brain.
There were moments I did groom myself to be more feminine but that was usually for special occasions or costumes when I wasn’t myself. Most of this I pushed off as coming from a mother who had always raised me to be myself and to not change who I am for anyone. I also fixed her with the blame when I started seeing that in relationships with men, I didn’t want to be treated as a delicate flower that needed to be protected. I was the one who did the protecting.
As I grew older I did gain some slightly more feminine traits but still never seemed to really resonate with being feminine. It wasn’t until later in high school where I became friends with pre op trans male when my mind was opened to the difference between sex and gender.
At first I had a hard time processing this notion of someone’s gender being different then their assigned sex but after awhile it became just common knowledge to me and I started questioning my own gender identity.
For the longest time I had just used the word ‘tom boy’ to describe myself because I had nothing else to define me. But now that the umbrella term ‘Transgender’ had been introduced to my vocabulary there were a lot more words to use.
As I struggled with my gender identity I got into doing drag shows through the GLBT group at CSU. After being in theater most of my life performing was nothing new nor was presenting as male but the openness and people actually using male pronouns on me made me realize that female pronouns were not right when aimed at me.
With more exploration I found the term ‘Gender Queer’ and slipped it on feeling that being both or in-between male and female fit me better then trans male. I still had a very strong feminine side and had no desire to transition. With this label my masculine and feminine expressions exploded. I cut my hair short once again and dressed more androgynous, finding amusement in confusing people about what gender I am.
Now I define as trans male. I may have a feminine side and I may have no desire (at the moment) to transition, I am a guy. Male pronouns feel right and click while female pronouns feel like someone is stabbing me in the heart over and over. I also go by them/they/theirs when I’m dressed more feminine.
I live in between still and it is not just because I’m not out at work. I’m out everywhere in my life (well except for some extended family) except work. When I’m at work I still go by Sam and go by she/her/hers while outside of work I go by Ace and he/him/his or them/they/theirs.
This separation is not as separate as people would like to think. When I’m at work I don’t magically grow long hair and put bows in it and skip around in a dress/skirt. Most of the time at work I’m in masculine or unisex clothing. Even my work shirts are ‘men’ sized. Most of the kids I work with question if I’m a boy or a girl. Usually I respond with ‘does it matter’? Then watch them stare at me and shake their heads ‘no’. Now when I’m out being myself I don’t magically grow a beard, a gruff voice and present only in ‘masculine’ clothing. When I’m Ace I’m me. When I’m Sam I’m me. Both are me and always will be a part of me. When I’m Ace I don’t hide the fact my voice rises in pitch when I see something I view as cute. I don’t do everything in my ability to hide the fact I’m female born. When I’m Sam I don’t hide the fact that I’m more masculine in dress or have a more assertive stance when it comes to dealing with issues. I always live in-between and even if I ever do decide to transition that will most likely never change.
For I am me. I am masculine. I am feminine. I am sassy, defiant, opinionated, artistic, creative, passionate, protective, expressive, emphatic, gentle, assertive, passive, emotional, and independent. I am a Christian. I am disabled. I am a singer. I am a writer. I am a photographer. I am Caucasian. I am a guardian. I am transgender.
and, most importantly
I am Sameul Ace-Lou Noland