To be as accurate as possible at this very moment, my current gender identity is wanting to take a saw and separate the two diametrically-opposed gendered parts of me and let them finally live their separate lives in peace & productivity.
I honestly do not know which is the “real” me and which is merely a layer brought on by compounded trauma. More often than not, it is suggested to me that obviously (obviously) my feminine side is the real deal & once I follow through with (another) comprehensive therapy program, it will all be sorted.
I would say that growing up, I was about 75% interested in hanging out with boys and playing with action figures & cars & whatnot. Easily. I found girls & girl culture to be intensely boring. Now, was this because of the relatively limited roles & interests allotted to females at that time? I have entertained that possibility—though to be honest, I also feel there is a sizable percentage of “traditionally feminine” hobbies/interests that females generally do tend to be drawn towards. Which is to say: I am not sure my personal preferences really would apply to the majority of women out there.
The irony is, as of late I’ve actually gotten interested in a hobby that is very female-centric, scrapbooking/“junk journaling.” (Even though…2 of the most famous scrapbookers were William Burroughs & Peter Beard. But Burroughs, certainly, was mostly doing it for the lulz & to break reality via chaos magick). Scrapbooking has been one of the few interests I’ve ever had that seems to be predominantly made up of female enthusiasts. I might even dip a toe into slow-stitching & pornographic embroidery.
For almost a decade I was considered a “female role-model” because I had publicly spoke up about being sexually harassed in the comic book industry—something that up to that point (2006 or so) was rarely done. Now: being a “female role-model” and also secretly more-or-less transmasculine is really neat because you can be actively & publicly hated by both men & women! It was sheer genius on my part.
Of course, to the male trolls I was a hated “feminazi”—and to the female trolls, “there’s just something wrong about her!” I was already considered a “traitor” by some feminists just based on my “vibes.” Because while I didn’t dress like a dude or even understand what being transmasculine was, clearly most of my interests & personal role-models were male. So this translated (if you would excuse the awkward unintentional pun) to: “she doesn’t deserve to be a female role-model because she’s not…female enough!”
What was it like being secretly more-or-less transmasculine & also being a somewhat public female “role-model?” It was like constantly wanting to kill myself but not really understanding why. Every time I was hired for a gig specifically for my perceived gender—which was about 75-80% of the time—I wanted to die inside. I held out hope that perhaps I could somehow “extend” the definition of being a “female” somehow by starting to introduce my more masculine interests & beliefs to my public persona, but I was already being held under a microscope by the feminists in my industry who rather publicly believed I was most likely a “traitor” receiving the publicity & opportunities that of course they rightfully deserved. So every word I would blog would be scrutinized to reveal perhaps secret “anti-feminist” propaganda.
This is all, by the way, why when “TERFs” became a thing I was not surprised at all. I think some of the roots of TERFiness is such a strong hatred of men & masculinity that anything that was ever in any way related to such—even an accident of birth—is suspect & bad & tainted.
And this leads to the several instances in my later years where I have been straight-up informed that if I was a lesbian—even a masculine lesbian—that would be ok & far preferable to some sort of transmasculine situation. The impression that I get, even in some progressive circles, is that as a transmasculine person with little interest in having sex with other women, I am pretty much fucking useless.
If anything I have written so far offends you…I’m not sure I apologize per se, but you must understand that this is all rather new to me to write so openly. As for the term “transmasculine” and whether I do or do not “qualify” for that description…the definition of such I’ve taken from the “Gender Wiki” and you can parse it out at your leisure. One thing I have noticed from my time dealing in progressive causes is that while there are a lot of great people in them, there are also a number of very loud assholes who constantly want to prove that you do not “qualify.”
I will end this post with two more quick points that probably need their own posts to expand upon.
First: I am also very esoterically-minded, and it is impossible for me to separate out my fluctuating gender identity from my metaphysics. I already perceive how some might find that all very problematic for a wide-ranging number of reasons. But such as I am.
Second: The definition of my gender identity that has seemed to work best with peeps who really find it hard to wrap their minds around all this stuff is to say, I feel like a gay man in a woman’s body. That all being said: I am in no way claiming to understand the experience of growing up as a cisgender gay man. I am just reaching for the most apt comparison.
Was this helpful at all? Are you intrigued? Infuriated? There’s so much more to say. Next post.