Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Becoming What I Hate

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’m approaching a year on testosterone, this May. It was something of a bitter battle to start the hormones, and they have made me feel better about my body, my position, and increased how often I pass. They made me feel so much better about life, for whatever reason that was. Maybe a high of finally doing something about the dysphoria I’ve had all my life, maybe simply making my emotions less prominent. Hard to say for sure, but I know that I was (and still am) much happier on testosterone than off of it.

The happiness has dimmed a bit. I’ve passed a bit of a point of no return, and my face is starting to look like that of a man’s now. I have stubble and a more prominent jaw. My face is less about soft curves and fleshy cheeks than angles and sharper lines. This face in the mirror is actually starting to scare me a little bit and I no longer recognize it the same way I used to. This is a contrast from a time a few months into taking testosterone where I was able to recognize my own face and body in the mirror. That boyish person was me, and I liked that. But now I am becoming someone large and hairy, someone who is more man than boy. This scares me very deeply. I have had very few good relationships with men, and the ones that have ended up working out have been with gay men. I fear men, I’m not likely to trust them, and I live in terror of being hurt by them. I have felt the terror of women around men and it does not get any less around.

I would live as a woman if I could. I feel more comfortable being in groups of women, chatting with women, and in general, there is greater connection in female relationships. I wish I could say that I felt more comfortable being a woman in a group of women, but that isn’t true. I am not, nor can I ever be comfortable being, a woman. That is not who I am, no matter what my body might try to tell me. I wish it weren’t this way. I admire women, look up to women, and can’t get enough of strong female characters on television. In some ways, I fit seamlessly into this culture. My beliefs fit in far better with women than with men, prioritizing emotions and feelings, taking care of everyone, and trying to make sure that everyone’s needs get met, not just mine.

I am slowly becoming what I am afraid of and I can’t really do anything to stop it. And that is what terrifies me. I am becoming a man. For me, that has a lot of negative labels to it. I have not had very many good role models to look up to; I don’t know how to go about the business of being a man. I am a pretty empathetic individual and have a very deep fear of becoming what I hate in people. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, but there is no possible way to avoid becoming a man. I love the stubble, even as I can see a monster peeking around the corner, seeing someone who can hurt, terrorize, ignore. Someone who is capable of heartless acts and will forget the feelings of those they love in a pinch. The stubble and the other gender markers make this body more mine. They help line up my brain and my body in a way that allows them to coexist peacefully, instead of having passive aggressive arguments over what goes where and what does and doesn’t exist.

I grieve for my womanhood, even as I celebrate it not being there. I am glad that I get male pronouns virtually all the time. I am glad of the whiskers, the muscles, the hair, and to a lesser extent, the zits. I am glad that my body is starting to line up more with the way my brain believes it should be. At the same time, I miss the culture of women. I miss the way that women understand emotions. I miss the way that women listen and understand. I miss being able to talk to women without freaking them out or scaring them. I miss having an instant connection or bond over certain aspects of being a woman. There is a lot I am missing out on, but this was the only choice I could have made. I am a man, even though my body is female. I am glad to have experienced female culture the way I have and wouldn’t trade a male body for the lessons I have learned.

Author’s Note: There are some generalizations made about gender in this post. This is based entirely on my own experience and there are always exceptions to these generalizations.