This blog will contain...
...profanity, sexually explicit dialog andadult imagery.
If you are under 18 and/or offended by this...

Thanks fiona, from "Sir Q and Me" for the warning message that just makes me melt. :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

The importance of self-identity

So Emily Tilton suggested it would be interesting to read posts about how my perspective on life and the lifestyle of BDSM- as someone who lives in BDSM, I admit that made me shudder just a bit, like a GBLT person being told their sexuality is a choice- and today is the first. As I've been doing in past weeks, I'm sharing the link to Saturday Spankings for your spanking reading enjoyment this weekend; I'll probably read to, but I've been having to cut back a bit as my Master has been trying to deal with some serious temper tantrums and bipolar madness on my part.

The GLBTQI+ or "Quiltbag" Pride Flag

I have known transgender people who, while they have to some point transitioned their gender from what they were assigned at birth, they don't identify as "trans." Sadly I had never seen that choice of identity label given respect in print until I started reading Julia Serano's "Excluded." I'd never thought of it until I was talking to a friend the other day, but I prefer the words I use to explain my sexual and relational identity- queer, poly, and kinky- because it's uncommon that a person reads/hears my identity without asking to have at least one of those words defined.

I've been thinking about "queer," about all the reasons I prefer it to "bisexual." I had a bunch of thought after reading Julia's thoughts about identity terms and bi-invisibility and -phobia. While I don't anymore see the identity of "bisexual" as reinforcing the gender binary (of male/female, which I don't agree with), as an identity as a sexual person who lives outside the mainstream, bisexual feels inadequate to me.

While this isn't the Leather Pride Flag, I appreciate how the Leather & Grace UUs For BDSM Awareness symbol incorporates the Leather Pride colors and the Unitarian Universalist symbol the chalice.
Here are two links I want to share from the Unitarian Universalist Association- the national organization of my religion; here is the page for bisexual identity and here is for queer identity. If you decide to go read these two pages, I'll tell you that definitions 2 through 4 of "queer identity" make it feel most right to me. Queer is so much more inclusive and transgressive of sexual, gender, and relational boxes that just don't encompass my reality. I am proud not to be in the mainstream as much as possible, even in things like being married to a man, I transgress things by being attracted to people other than my husband... who is also my Master.

Now I want to point out my phrase "sexual and relational" identity. Without getting into a nature-versus-nurture debate, I believe the relationship forms and who we fall in love with should be less determined by "society" than by a somewhat nebulous "what feels right" to each person, as long as everyone is consenting and no one is permanently injured. I talk about this to bring poly (as in polyamorous) and kinky (as in BDSM practitioner) into the conversation. If "queer" answer "who" I might be involved with romantically and sexually, poly and kinky answer things like "how many," "in what ways," and "how."
Polyamorous Pride Flag

However, as gay people have fought to have their lives acknowledged outside of who they have sex with, being poly and kinky affects my life "outside of the bedroom" too. I have had people tell me that "I am a lifestyle submissive" is "talking about sex," while I argue that for me, it's a statement of identity as a person might say "I am a lesbian." Something that's sure to make my Master laugh is when I tell Him that someone (usually a person who's never seen me around Him) says they can't imagine me being a submissive; I'm not a doormat, I've only accepted my Master's collar. Although it comes to me, having filled out a BDSM survey online recently, that I've started using "lifestyle submissive," while I really prefer "slave," as the former can be a little easier for a non-BDSM person to deal with than the latter.

In terms of my characters, I feel an in-real-life level of import to their identities. This often comes out in anger, irritation when people misgender The Queen based only on his name. Despite that chosen name (he chooses it over his birth name), the pronouns I use with him are always traditionally masculine. True, he experiences "being a man" in his own way, that includes a bisexual/queer identity. I think he's comfortable enough in fluidity that he doesn't question too much- he is who he is.

Of course balancing my surety with The Queen is my confusion with Lady Audrey. I started off thinking she was just a domme friend of his with five submissives of her own. Somewhere along the way, I decided she should be transgender as all my other characters are cisgender. As her back story grew to include a close friendship with The Queen, including being the one to give him that name, I struggled between writing a sensitive (to transgender/sexual people), authentic character and actually writing the character. I used to have a character with a "heavy Scottish brogue," but her dialogue was so difficult that when I decided The Queen's stable was too big, I removed "the Scottish girl"- I didn't want to do that to Lady Audrey.

With Lady Audrey, I've found myself doing a lot of searching on what it means to be a woman. She belongs in this post about self-identity because she identifies as a trans woman; she prefers feminine pronouns.One of the important parts of coming to understand her as a person was given me by Vanessa Clark (her blog can be found here)- basically "she's a woman, treat her as such." I was focusing too much on the "trans" part of Lady Audrey's identity. As I work in books four and five of my Vala's Story serial, I've taken the chance to educate my readers, who may very well be cisgender like me, maybe having read/talked less about non-cisgender issues than I have, as The Queen and Lady Audrey do their best to educate Vala in what it means to Lady Audrey to be a trans woman.

I may appear to be a straight, monogamously-married woman if you see me with my Master. If we're among "vanillas," I often don't use His title, as is often His preference. If you catch Lady Audrey on a "good day"- she's just started taking hormones after having "lived as a woman" for nearly two decades and any transgender person can tell you, the medical side of transitioning can make some days difficult in terms of how others "read" your gender- you won't have any reason to think she's anything but a stereotypically tall high fashion model, unless she decides to come out to you. However both Lady Audrey and I think of ourselves as women... and I believe that is our right to self-identify as such.

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