How dare lesbians (women) state a romantic and sexual preference (mainly the latter) that doesn’t include penii and XY chromes?
Gay men? Oh that’s different.
”Owning the Middle” (via simplefascination)
I took testosterone for you. You started smiling at me. You trusted my heart like I was a grandson; you trusted my intelligence like I was a Real Boy who had grown up able to ask questions in class instead of spending hours after school quietly researching the answers for myself. You trusted my hands to carry your furniture in the discount store where I worked. You trusted my intentions to be stronger, my instinct to protect, my need to fuck, my right to personal space. You trusted my swagger and gait. You averted your eyes on the street. You stopped staring. Middle-aged couples smiled at my girlfriend and me.
When I was nineteen, I discovered the word “dysphoria” in a trans activist group on campus. Dysphoria explained my humiliation of being a female. It explained why I felt that I should be treated as my older brother had been. I wasn’t free to live the way I wanted to – unless I was a boy. Being a man opened all the doors I had banged my head against for eighteen years. After living as male for a year and a half, I decided to start hormones as I received copious support and encouragement when I asserted myself in this new light. Everything finally fit into place and made sense. A new name and a more visible display of masculinity was my passport into a world where I was finally an equal. In this brighter world, I was part of the majority. I didn’t have to lower my eyes in shame anymore.
“Oh, isn’t he sweet for buying her that hope chest in Goodwill?”
The waiter always gave the bill to me.
“Isn’t he a nice young man for opening the door for her?”
Kisses in the park were cute.
I got jobs the same day I walked into an establishment and declared that I was a hard worker.
I was innocent until proven guilty, worthy until breaking trust.
Men shook my hand without being gentle and looked at me face-to-face instead of giving me a full body scan. Staring at me rudely on the street now implied confrontation. My body was no longer public property.
It was expected of me to demand rights and protect my own territory – it was respectfully masculine rather than overly defensive. I was the typical American, I was the Southern Boy, I was a complete human being with flaws every other man had. I was listened to and allowed the space to gather my thoughts without being interrupted or having my train of thought hijacked by a more qualified opinion. I was the expert of my own experience. I discovered male privilege. The grass on the other side was even greener than I had imagined.
Perhaps transition wasn’t the act of rebellion I thought it was. I had been resisting my entire life as I admired cute girls and sat with my legs open because it was comfortable and begged my mother to let me shop from the men’s section. More accurately, transition was a final acquiescence. It was the only way to make my behavior normal. It was a solution historically backed by psychiatry.
It gave me such a feeling of relief to point to my condition of transsexuality and say “Look! I was born with a defect! It’s a physical, chemical, hormonal, brain problem that I can’t help.” It was treatable; there were doctors to see, medicine to take, and a community of support. My friends said they “knew it all along.” Psychologists approvingly checked off every symptom from the DSM-IV and diagnosed me with Gender Identity Disorder. My pain had a title and a treatment plan. I could speak with an authority that was only laughed at before transitioning – in the gas station, on the phone, to the waitress, to the bartender, to the landlord. I was taken seriously by perfect strangers instead of being gawked at, an extraterrestrial surrounded by familiarity. Why didn’t I transition sooner?
When I look in the mirror, I see a mise-en-abyme, a picture within a picture. I am a product of my society, a response to your criticism and encouragement, I am a hall of mirrors reflecting your uncertainties and insecurities. I see eyes that look back with questions for answers. I see the shame of being a dyke and the elation of being a boy. My transition wasn’t a a careless decision, or a mistake – it was a reaction to my society and my experience that resulted in a better quality of life and provided me with the comfort of having answers and options. Eventually awakening to the ill-fit of living as male allowed me to examine my sex from a more holistic perspective.
What is my gender? I identify with my sex after having repulsed by it my entire life. My gender is that having a cunt has affected every facet of my existence, even when I turned the tables on others’ perception of my body. My gender is having discovered that I don’t enjoy fitting in with the guys: passing as male, becoming fluent in bro-talk, and being assumed to have a penis. By making my sex invisible, I internalized misogyny. Conforming as male meant hearing the word “rape” used as a synonym for domination, humiliation, or asserting authority - and not being able to say anything without being incongruous and confusing to my male peers. They could not have imagined the memories and emotions that word conjured up for me, but I could not find the words to call them out from any other perspective than that of a female and my own personal experience. Being a man meant bragging about “getting pussy” and listening to over-dramatized fantasy versions of my co-workers’ sexual exploits. It meant laughing at the manifestation of misogyny saturating my world and profiting from it. Being a man meant much more than this, but this particular aspect was one I could not swallow through I tried for three years via a deepening subconscious hatred of my birth sex.
My gender is an effort to reach and find a new lens through which to view my reality of being female. Female and male, feminine and masculine are paradoxical, self-referential Janus-words. The inadequacies of language force me to put my existence into the phrase “I do not have a gender.” I do not play any role of gender blindly, but with awareness and a careful observation of each reaction.
Since deciding to detransition, I present my public face with the sentience of being ambiguous. When something as fundamental as one’s sex is uncertain, one’s entire identity is put into question. Many strangers get hung up on that one pivotal point, and I can always tell – they aren’t really paying attention and they dislike me for having an appearance that isn’t as user-friendly as they are accustomed to. Their eyes uncomfortably search my face, my body, my words and gestures for clues. Every motion I make is not of my own volition, but a reluctant answer to a question I would rather ignore. It is never the clear-cut answer they want. They may forget that I never asked to be examined; they must be blissfully ignorant of the fact that their expressions of discomfort are all too familiar to me. Their hands push down and hold me under their microscope. Endless eyes press down into the lens; they stare back at me everywhere I go, innumerable, unblinking, larger-than-life.
When I am alone, my essence, words, and actions cannot be divided into a gender. Solitarily, I am a nebulous, happily abstract being, but every time I step outside I must loathingly allow others to examine me unscrupulously. I have never thought of myself as a circus freak but I have received a very clear message from my parents, teachers, friends, airport security, and co-workers: “female” simply cannot be packaged as I am. I tried to become something else, something understandable, expected, and digestible. Now I choose to stare back at you with defiance and I offer no definition, explanation, or apology for who I am.
As refreshing as it may seem to express frustration using those statements, the kids are listening. That’s why. Teen girls and young women who need something more from us. I can teach my girls that men are pigs and heterosexuality is a life-ruiner, thinking that doing so will protect them from bad guys by making them canny or something. Chances are good at least a couple if not all three will have relationships with men eventually, so what will I equip them with if this is the message I send out, implicitly or explicitly? Well let’s see: lowered expectations that put them at risk and in danger—if a man acts badly, well, that’s what they do! And why would you bother looking for a better one or asking him to get his act together? Lowered self-esteem and less ability to accept their adult desires and longings—what a horrible state, to be cursed with wanting men, who are terrible, and heterosexuality, which is a life-ruiner! This is no better than the teachings of the most repressive misogynist religious sects. And they also can get a depressed, hopeless mindset that they will never find happiness and fulfillment because good men are a myth and you dare not hope to find one and if you think you did, just you wait! It’s a life ruiner, remember?
And the attitude that women are victims of heterosexuality, the “life ruiner,” isn’t even terribly funny to joke about because it strips women of our agency once again. It buries our desires in a bad joke about “the curse” and erases good things we have created. I can’t think of my friend at church, a lovely lady of 85 who so clearly enjoys the presence and support of her sweet husband of 60-some years and so obviously talks to him as her best friend, as a “victim,” a person buried in “socialization” and “false consciousness.” They built something amazing together, a human relationship that stands strong after decades, and she did it as much as he did. And we are going to take away the credit from her?
I happen to find this all very wrong and unhelpful and destructive.
So for the lurkers who are young and discouraged and maybe you are wondering if you can be feminist and straight, or Christian and feminist, or something like that—I’ve had a fair number of anons like that—don’t give up on finding a good man to live your life with, because “heterosexuality is a life ruiner” is spin. It’s at best an honest wounded reaction to real bad things that happen all too often to many women. And at worst, it’s just the kind of snarky thing people say to make themselves feel better and others feel bad about themselves. The pain is real and I don’t want to make light of it. I am not a stranger to being hurt or disappointed by males, myself, and I understand the impulse. But on the other hand, I’ve also experienced and observed this part of the story:
Heterosexuality is a life-creator. Heterosexuality is love. Heterosexuality is orgasms. Heterosexuality is cuddles and kisses. Heterosexuality is seeing your face and the face of your beloved become one in someone new. Heterosexuality is great works of art. Heterosexuality is beautiful love songs, from the opera to the opry. Heterosexuality is the dignified waning strength of an elderly man helping his wife to her feet. Heterosexuality is the look middle aged parents exchange as they watch their child walk down the aisle.
Anything populated by people can become corrupt or be used for ill. But giving up and getting cranky is for old hermits waiting to die, not young people starting life, not for people of any age who are the reformers and creators and problem solvers. Keep hope alive, there’s plenty of reason to have it in your heart.
Keep hope alive! Because homoz have none. Alongside their lack of dignity. And their inability to create great works of art or write beautiful love songs. Or cuddle. Or kiss. Or love.