Mike is an 18 year female to male transman. He is currently studying psychology at The Evergreen State College between making quilts. He someday aspires to be a social worker, and in the mean time, he wants to fix the fact that not everyone is born with an inherent right to be themselves.
I am never sure how well I pass. Sometimes, it’s pretty clear that people don’t really think I’m trans. Sometimes they find out I am trans because I start talking about being a girl in the past or because I stretch the wrong way. Sometimes other people tell them. I am out right now. It feels safer that way, and somehow more honest. I feel like it’s being more honest to my gender and the way that I am in life. I can’t imagine a time where I wouldn’t want to be out.
On the other hand, I can see the appeal of stealth. No one questions a cisgendered man’s right to be a man. Well… Ok, that’s not true, if he does stuff outside of his assigned gender role, they will. But they
don’t find out he’s cisgendered and start using the wrong pronouns. In fact, he’s most likely getting male pronouns because he is cisgendered! And passing well enough that people can’t tell I’m trans means that sometimes I forget. It means that I can forget, for a moment, the pain of being born in the wrong body and it means that I am in the correct box. It’s a nice feeling, to know that there are some people out there who don’t see me as anything but a man.
At the same time though… It’s inherently dishonest. I don’t really like gendered pronouns in general, for the most part. It is a two or three (depending on your preference) letter death sentence. Two or three letters that confine you to a certain role and assume things about what is in your pants. One syllable, and all of a sudden people have ideas about the way you act and feel. They will certainly treat you differently depending on which pronoun they think fits you. Being referred to as he is the label that fits me the best, but that isn’t my entire gender. It doesn’t sum up who I am. It negates the experience and learning that being trans has given me, and undermines a struggle that happened for me.
My gender is not merely male, but transmale. And I like that. Because not even the simplest things were figured out for me. After gender is taken away, so many assumptions are questioned and because my gender is outside of the norm, I have different perspective than most. I get to look at the system and question everything. I get to figure out what I like and what I don’t, instead of being pushed into a set of
expectations. Transition has taught me that I don’t have to accept the labels that I don’t feel fit me. I am certainly not going through this long and difficult process in order to be someone I am not!