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.