Regarding the Facebook statuses that are plastering my feed about women who have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed, let me just say “me too” and leave it at that. I have seen a lot of people sharing their stories, and I’d like to say thank you to those people. I shared a couple of my own less triggering ones on Facebook (that banana story tho… shining moment of my life to be sure!), but I don’t really have the spoons to share more right now, and I’m not ashamed of that.
Not that I didn’t figure I’d see a lot of women (and some men) saying “me too”, but it was like almost every one I knew. I felt kinda overwhelmed by the feels hurricane that is constantly swirling in my heart.
About a year ago, a little bit before my last major gender crisis, I started talking to a friend of mine about the incongruity between how being a woman is defined and how I felt in my head.
To be clear, this was the same incongruity that I’d felt since childhood, but later in life I’d explained it away by saying “I don’t identify with the definition of what a woman is because that definition is too limited for the kind of woman I am.” Which could have been entirely true.
This is the really confusing thing about being transgender… there are plenty of women who identify as women but don’t feel represented by the definition of what a woman is. There’s really not a lot in my life that I can point to and say “That is what makes me trans”, it’s more like a series of things that add up to something else. I could really go on a tangent here, but I’ll save that for another time.
My point was that during these conversations with my friend, I declared that I knew I wasn’t transgender because I didn’t want to be a man, which mostly points to how limited my understanding of being transgender really was at the time. If I don’t feel like a woman, then clearly to be transgender I must want to be a man, right?
I don’t actually want to be a man.
I realize this sounds so confusing and flies in the face of what most people think that being transgender is.
Gender is a thing that is partially defined by society, and just as I feel like I don’t fit the definition of “woman”, nor do I feel represented by the definition of “man”.
I want a masculine body. That is what is right for me and how I’ve always seen myself. But doesn’t that go hand in hand with being a man? Not really, no. Men do not have sole ownership of masculinity.
Several years ago, I was sitting at a table with a bunch of social work grad students and was asked how I identified (in terms of gender). I was feeling snarky and replied “unicorn”. Later, however, I realized that this was actually a pretty good description. Unicorns are pretty genderless, pretty gay and pretty fabulous. And while some unicorns can tend towards femininity, I tended towards masculinity.
I feel very strongly that I’m meant to be a unicorn in a man-suit, not a unicorn in a woman-suit.
I am more masculine than my woman-suit allows me to be and that’s totally okay. It doesn’t make me less trans.
Some transmen DO want to be men, and that’s completely okay, but I’m not going to perpetuate the stereotype that all of them do. There are plenty of people out there who feel as I do.
Despite how I feel on the inside, people will eventually read me as a man, which is where I kept getting stuck in my conversations with my friend about being transgender or not.
The masculine body that is right for me comes with that price, and that’s a little bit uncomfortable for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought about it a lot and feel like it’s worth it, but I spend a lot of time thinking about what it will mean if and when I read as a man.
Please don’t mistake what I’m saying, I don’t hate men.
I have man friends who I dearly love, I absolutely don’t hate men. But as a person who spent 36 years living as female, being read as a man in men-only situations is something that makes me uncomfortable for all sorts of feminist reasons.
As a man in men-only situations I may witness men harassing women, I may hear men say awful things about women because they think I’m “safe”. I’m not talking about my friends here, I’m talking about randos or people I don’t know well.
If I’m “lucky” enough to be read as a cishet (cisgender heterosexual) white man, and I say “lucky” because while it would certainly make my life as a trans person less difficult and a lot safer, I don’t relish being mistaken for a cishet white guy. But if that happens, I will use the shit out of that privilege to call men out on their shitty behavior (which is not just limited to sexism, but also racism and homophobia). As I’ve gotten older I’ve only gotten more outspoken, but as a female bodied person, it’s hard to get men to listen to you, so I’m hoping that I can use whatever perceived legitimacy I gain to make men listen to me.
My greatest hope is that some dudebro calls me a gender traitor. Or whatever they call it these days 😂
They have no idea.