I’m taking a time out from my writing prompts to write about something else, a daring thought that danced along my conscience to tease me a little about the issues we as a whole currently experience.
I don’t suspect that you all know me, but I am going to go ahead and say this. I identify myself as a gender-neutral individual but favoring more towards masculinity. But lately, I’ve been wondering and pondering about this status for several reasons, and then the one thought, the one question slapped me in the face about my own gender identity:
Am I simply too scared to go either direction? Is being in the middle my safe ground, my haven in this sordid world of western binary ideals?
Think about it. I was born anatomically female. Throughout my entire life, I usually considered myself more masculine than the average female. Hell, kids made fun of me for it when I was little, making a cute diminutive out of my first name to make it sound as if I was a man. But that’s neither here nor there. Another time. At any rate, that’s what I considered myself but never mentioned anything to my parents. I knew they wanted me as a little girl, not as a little boy, so I kept quiet. But as I grew older, I tried to embrace my cisgender nature: wearing the dresses, playing the girlish games, just simply trying to hide everything I was. It was dangerous to reveal anything different than what is expected of you. Just play along. Just cover it up. It’s dangerous. It’s way too dangerous.
Then I got older. I remember this remarkable moment when my grandmother said something to me on New Years when I was nine years old. I remember playing with my older brother, keeping up with him. My grandmother was a keen observer back then… and also vociferous about her observations. She said to me, “Dear, you should have been born a boy.”
I became elated at the statement. I found no offense with it, despite my own mother’s protests and corrections. “Sera is a girl!” I heard her say. But that stuck with me.
But to reveal anything against that was dangerous. So I kept my head down and just focused on survival.
Even before middle school, I started noticing that the environment that I lived in was not amiable towards females. In a male dominated society, I worked my way through it, trying to be a woman, a demeaned sex despite Susan B. Anthony’s best efforts. I hated it. Everything about it. I had to make myself “pretty”, but not too pretty. You might be asking for it. You should wear that dress, but make sure not to have a man put his hand somewhere where he shouldn’t. It was all about further survival in a world where it was even more dangerous than before. Because anyone who grew up female understands that sometimes one’s self-worth is based on the person who holds her arm at a special occasion. I understood that in my world, I was only worth what eyes fell favorably upon me. Dirty, maligned gazes that sneer, jeer, and demean when your eyeliner runs… the careful eyeliner that you put on with shaking hands and wet eyes because of another form of torture was not only in the heels worn, but in the immense pressure to be something you know you are not. It dawned on me that I was an object, not meant for much more than to bring someone home to the family to display that I was worthy of love from another individual… that all my efforts in this dangerous world brought me to a man that would protect me from the hungry hands of other men. The message was now loud and clear:
The world is dangerous, and you’re not strong enough to defend yourself.
Thanks for the vote of confidence.
It wasn’t until about halfway through college that I started to get more masculine haircuts. But then I noticed even doing that was dangerous. What scared me, even more, was when I thought that I might be trans. I still question this today. But the point is that even becoming a man was dangerous in itself. Trans people are often discriminated against by the heteronormative social structure because if a man is attracted to a trans woman, who then reveals such, often feels lied to, like they have been tricked. That’s not the point here. No one is trying to trick anyone (at least that I have met). I was not out to trick anyone when I was dressing more masculine. I was going with what I thought was right. But then another slap in the face came to me:
If this is what I am, how am I going to ever get a job that is going to be accepting of the identity that I have? Having no money, being dependent on others…. Is that a life I want to lead simply because I am who I am and fuck everyone else? And even then, am I willing to go against my own family, the people that fostered me and cared for me as a child? Am I betraying them?
Newsflash: even carrying out your own identity is dangerous unless you fall into a “normal” box and fall into line. Many stand as traditionalists in their social views, and if something dares to rise against that so-called status quo, then there is going to be some push back. There always is. And often times, for those in the trans community, that results in violence.
So here’s the argument: both ways are completely dangerous. I can’t act as a woman for a few reasons.
1) Take a look at Trump’s comments in the current US election. When I labeled myself as cisgendered female, I remember this disgusting behavior as I walked down the street. I remembered this every time I wanted to wear something nice but knew I had to walk down a dark street to get where I was going. I remember this even when I get the wild hare to dress like my assigned gender. Do not go out alone. Do not dress too sexy. If you drink that much, then you invited it to happen to you. Your story doesn’t sound like he forced you. It was like a constant code embedded in a cacophonous song that I was forced to listen to on repeat when I wanted nothing more than to become deaf in a body that I would willingly cast aside. I was always on high alert — and even more so still.
2) Besides just the codes I had to follow just to fit in, I could no longer handle the behavior I had adapted just to suit some delicate egos. Because my life depended on my ability to maintain a relationship; everything hang on being able to attract someone despite my own “dazzling” good looks and personality. Honesty was a virtue that had left this conversation and instead turned into a practice in masquerading. You want to know who’s truly trying to trick who? I was trying to trick others into believing that I had not an inclination to become another gender than the one assigned at birth. I was trying to trick myself into thinking this is what I was, and I had to deal with everything that came with it. Was I happy? No. Too bad. Sucks. Deal with it. Trick yourself into enjoying this meaningless talk and dance like the Cinderella you were taught to be.
Now, reasons why it’s dangerous to be a trans man:
1) Does this sound familiar? “Straight men want to date women. Gay men want other men. Women will date other women, so would want to date you?” Don’t say you haven’t thought that when anyone trans comes along. That thought guided my own logic about my own social identity. No one would want me if I became trans. Those thoughts alone are dangerous. They’re restrictive. They’re prohibitive. They’re like a corset that’s been laced too tight that will slowly choke the life out of you. Hell, it may betray you by thrusting a piece of broken bone right into your lungs, choking on your own blood.
Startling, isn’t it? Imagine living like that every day, but instead of your thoughts acting as the corset, it’s society. That restrictive nature choking out what life you have left until you have someone unlace you — or you figure out how to get out of it yourself. But even after that, someone could kill you for not fitting into the corset that they put on a pedestal to worship. You ruined their parameters of what fit into the boxes in their heads — and now you’re the one who has to pay for the breaking of their psyche. Because it’s your fault that you don’t fit in. It’s your fault that you do these things and hurt others with your own “selfish” desires. Because. It’s. All. Your. Fault.
(And this goes the same for any woman, trans or cis. It’s your fault. It’s all your fault. Doesn’t even matter what it was. It’s your fault.)
2) I have dressed like a man on several different occasions, and I immensely enjoy it when someone calls me sir. I’m not going to lie. It makes me feel good inside, not because I trick them, but it’s like someone recognizes you and says your name right when you have a slightly complex name. But even then, you get looks when someone doesn’t quite know what to do, especially those from a traditional background. The men will look at you as if you’re a spy trying to get into their secret club. To go around alone is dangerous. You’re seen as a deviant in most settings, or that something is seriously wrong with you — and many don’t know how to take that. They’re confused, and that confusion startles them. It shakes them. And anything that causes a hiccup in their understanding of their world, their perspective, it’s alarming and seen as a threat and MUST be dealt with immediately by any means necessary.
Often meaning violence. Because you’re an aberration. You don’t fit in, you pariah. You mean to do this.
Well, yes, but not in the ways you think. I don’t do this simply because I feel like I want to be labeled as a pariah. I do it because I want to… because for once in my goddamn depressing life, I feel… whole. I want to feel as whole and comfortable as you. Why do you look at me with such disdain? I want to be just like you. I don’t want to trick you. I want to just be. Just be and only be without fear.
I have lived my entire life in fear in either direction. Being a woman didn’t fit and, quite frankly, fucking terrified me that I had to succumb to this preordained disgusting dogma. Being a trans man didn’t completely fit either because I still like to do feminine things — like dressing up and makeup — sometimes. I still have feminine mannerisms that I have to figure out are hard wired or removable and if I want to be rid of them. I’m figuring it out. But on whichever place I stand, I am telling you I am terrified. I am simply terrified of the current environment, and even where I stand now in my gender-neutral area. How do I tell the person I’m dating that I really don’t like feminine pronouns… that even in my stand, I hate the term “girlfriend”? I hate it with passionate abhorrence. My dream? “Boyfriend”. I told him about my own issues with my gender identity and seems alright with it, but time will tell.
Time will tell the end of this tale. I only hope your part in it is for a construction of an environment where people like me don’t have to fear anymore. We don’t have to survive. We can thrive. We can become us without discrimination, without hate, and without this stifling corset. It’s a damned funny and gross color anyhow.