Feb. 20, 2017
According to Wikipedia, some people apparently refer to it as nail varnish. I have a reasonably straightforward relationship with the substance. I own several bottles – perhaps as many as a dozen or more. When I’m given an opportunity to be in ‘girl mode’ for more than about 36 hours, I’ll usually paint my nails. If possible, I’ll ask someone else to do it for me – I’m actually pretty terrible at it. When I’m in girl mode, I really prefer my nails painted.
There are a few things worth commenting on here. I grew up as a boy. In fact, I still think of myself as a boy… usually. By fortunate happenstance, I’ve become comfortable living and working through the work week as a boy, and generally living on the weekends as a girl. I mentioned in my last entry a few titles – genderfluid and demigirl in particular. As I explained then, genderfluid means that my gender changes. Some days I’m a boy, some days I’m a girl. Deal with it. What’s relevant here is that I tend to gender bend, not gender blend. I’m generally either one or the other – boy or girl. Don’t worry about pronouns, male (he/him) is just fine. A good rule of thumb is that I’m in girl mode on the weekends, and you can usually tell by whether I have leggings or a skirt on versus shorts or pants.
I didn’t work out that I wasn’t quite 100% boy for quite awhile. It took me until college, actually. In all fairness, there were little hints here and there. I realized after learning about Jung that I have a fairly overdeveloped sense of the feminine – what he calls the anima. It was a running joke for awhile. But, complements of being magnificently slow to figure things out, I missed all the useful things that girls learn growing up about, well, being a girl. So I never learned about nail polish. Now I’m finally catching up. It turns out red nail polish stains like a bitch, and a base-coat of clear polish may or may not be enough to save you from it. I’ve also learned that I really hate unpainting my nails. Oddly enough, it has nothing to do with the (admittedly somewhat unpleasant) smell of nail polish remover.
I hate unpainting my nails with a passion. It’s symbolic, for one – I’m converting between genders, and very often I don’t want to. Left to my own devices I will, in time, oscillate between boy mode and girl mode. I’ve become /used/ to a sort of ‘five of one, two of the other’ schedule, but that doesn’t mean it’s natural and it doesn’t mean I like it. It’s also never really a good transition either – much like trying to get the little flecks of paint and glitter (why do I always choose the sparkly ones?), moving between modes is a messy and incomplete process at the best of times. Unpainting my nails is the manifestation of impending gender dysphoria.
Dysphoria. It’s a good word. Wikipedia has a good article on clinical gender dysphoria here. I say clinical because, much like depression, it is a disorder in the context they’re using it. When I apply it to myself, it isn’t – I just really hate feeling like a girl and having to be a boy, or vice versa.
Actually, that’s a lie. It’s always having to be a boy when I don’t want to. Oddly enough, nobody ever minds when I’m a boy, because that’s what I look like, was born as, and so forth. It’s never a case of people are expecting me to be a girl and I’m feeling like a boy – that just doesn’t happen. To a very vast majority of people, I’m a boy, period, end. I generally call these people “coworkers” or “transphobic” depending on the situation. See, here’s the rub, and the answer to the obvious question of “why don’t you just leave your nails painted?”: I’m not out to everyone.
There’s quite a bit of trouble with being out – I don’t think I have to elaborate when I say that not everyone approves. Some of those people that don’t approve violently don’t approve. Some of those people that don’t approve are in a hiring and/or firing position in my career.
Do I actually believe that if I showed up to work tomorrow with painted nails, I would lose my job? No.
Are there places where that would be the case? Yes.
Are there laws being proposed to legalize that sort of discrimination? Absolutely. Only instead of calling them ‘legalized discrimination’ bills, they’re calling them ‘religious freedom.’ The freedom to fire me or refuse to hire me because the person in question thinks that what I am goes against their religion. Nevermind the fact that the book they’re reading is thousands of years old, written in a variety of languages, the product of many translations, and may or may not have ever been meant to be taken literally. Nevermind the fact that church and state are supposed to be separate. Nevermind the fact that I can’t believe we’re still fighting about this crap in the year 2017… I unpaint my nails because I’m afraid.
I’m under no delusions about my situation. I don’t think this blog post will change the world. It might reach a few people, and perhaps change a heart or two. I not even terribly sure this post makes sense – it probably rambles and takes too long to say what I’m trying to say. Realistically, I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say, and there’s no call to action.
I just really hate unpainting my nails.