I recently wrote a post A Look Back at Our Year, chronicling mine and K’s relationship over 2017. It got me pondering my relationship with myself over the last year and so here’s my account of that.
I started January 2017 ecstatic that I was finally living as an out, gay, proud woman. And now when I see that label “woman” applied to myself I cringe. I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. It’s not me. I’m not a woman. I’m a trans guy. I don’t want to claim the label man. It took months to figure out exactly why. Allow me to explain what I’ve learnt about myself in the last year and how my transition has played out thus far.
In February or March, a friend asked me, “Are you trans?” I laughed, “Uh no! Of course not.” I spoke those words aloud as the voice in my head whispered violently “YES you are and you KNOW IT!”
A month later I met my first trans friend. As I hung out with him, I was in awe. I envied him. He was living as a guy, something I could never, would never do. I had children who needed their mom. I’d done enough to mess with the lives of these 5 humans who so desperately deserved some consistency and normalcy in their lives. If not for them, I would go on testosterone and I would live as the man I knew inside I truly was.
In May, I began allowing myself to express my masculinity in subtle ways. I cut my long curly hair. This was a nerve wracking decision that I waffled on for weeks. The morning of May 21 I awoke with an undeniable resolve that my hair was coming off that day. And it did. The one thing I had that people complimented me on physically was my curly hair. It had to go. I remember thinking that morning “no one will find me attractive once it’s gone but I have to do this”. Everything changed after that day.
Making the decision to cut my hair was the first step on my road to self acceptance.
For the first time in my life I could look at myself in the mirror. I was starting to see myself in pictures, not some strange woman who I know only existed to others, but wasn’t real.
Unfortunately, I still saw someone feminine. It wasn’t me. Not really. Not yet. I was still grappling with the intense longing to go on testosterone. That was the miracle shot that would transform my face and body. One day I kept telling myself, but I didn’t believe that lie.
We toss around the word depressed a lot. It’s not something I’ve ever wished to claim, but I’m pretty certain I was getting dangerously close to the edge of depression. I needed help and I had to figure my shit out.
In September I sought that help. I started seeing a gender therapist. It was time to push myself to make some decisions. I began researching gender dysphoria, testosterone and the full range of affects it has on the body. I came to three realizations about myself.
- I didn’t have dysphoria with my body itself, but the way others perceived me by looking at my physical features, i.e. when strangers look at me and see that I have breasts, they perceive me as female. I also don’t like “feminine” labels attached to my body such as breasts, I prefer chest. I don’t like to refer to myself as topless, but shirtless.
- I do not want to take testosterone. This was a tough one. Deciding this meant I had to accept that I would never pass as male in the world, or so I thought. There are aspects of my body that I am fine with and I don’t have the need to alter, although I’d love to have a deeper voice, a more masculine face structure and body shape, I don’t want to mess with other parts of my body.
- I do not want bottom surgery. Again, another tough one. If I don’t want a penis, how can I consider myself a guy. Believe it or not, a lot of trans guys don’t choose to have bottom surgery. I know, I was shocked as well. I have unpacked a lot of my own misconceptions and internalized transphobic ideals over the last few months.
In December I took my hair cut to a whole new level and shaved my head.
Once again my thinking shifted drastically. When I look in the mirror and at pictures, I see him, the guy who’s been living inside me for the last 40 years. I now pass, maybe not in the world, but in my eyes and that I have come to realize is all that matters to me.
I don’t want to be seen as a cis man any more than I want to be mistaken for a cis woman. I am a queer trans guy and I am proud of who I am. I don’t want to pass in the cisgender heteronormative society where I live. I want to exist in the queer community, surrounded by queer folk. If the cis het peeps want to enjoy life on my side, that’s cool, but I don’t long to fit into their world anymore.