Author’s Note: Please keep in mind that this is one guy’s opinions and one guy’s only. I am not the emperor of trans people. If you believe otherwise, it’s your own fault. (And if you’re insistent in your beliefs, at least make it worth my while by giving me a tiara.)
I’m a complicated dude, you know? Just like any other person.
But during the times people were told I was trans, many of them had the unfortunate habit of thinking they suddenly understood everything about me: that I relished the day I’d get an attached, cis-sized penis; that I didn’t want anything to do with penetration of my own body during sex; that I had my transness on my mind during every second of every day.
But assumptions like these are wrong.
Are they wrong for all trans guys? Of course not. But everybody is different, and no one person defines an entire group.
As a general rule, assumptions are always wrong as a whole, but occasionally right on a person-by-person basis.
Even if your assumptions come with the best of intentions – a la “See? I’m totally viewing and respecting you as a man!” – perpetuating assumptions for a whole community actually doesn’t make you a good ally.
And look, I’m all for allies. I think every put-upon group deserves as many allies as it can get so they can get that much closer to basic human rights. Allies for all!
But allies aren’t helpful if they’re just tossing misconceptions on people. When you do this, you’re actually dehumanizing the group for which you care so deeply.
Case in point: If someone saying they’re a trans guy suddenly puts a mess of stereotypes in your head, then it’s time for you to take a moment to unpack your brain, reflect on how those thoughts got in there, and take a look at least a few contradictions to what you previously believed.
Hence this list of confessions.
Are they “confessions” in the way that I’m somehow ashamed of them? Hell no. I’m, in fact, quite proud of each of them in their own way. They’re part of what makes me me.
But they’re nonetheless things that outsiders tend not to want to hear, and so they’ve remained secretive more often than not.
My examples are highly individualized, but it’s nonetheless my hope that you’ll be able to walk away from this article with one solid notion about trans people and gender: that no two of us express it exactly alike.
1. Sometimes I’d Still Give Anything Not to Be Trans
As transness is becoming more visible in the mainstream, everybody’s hearing more about trans people being proud of who they are, of not wanting to change themselves for a second. And that’s awesome. That’s exactly how it should be.
But as we continue to struggle with being taken seriously (and prove that this is not a phase or confusion), people like me often are afraid to admit to something that anybody – cis or trans or whatever – has thought at least once in their lives: that sometimes we just wish we were somebody else.
Getting fired over my identity. Being harassed and abused. Having a date go incredibly well, only to have the person immediately ditch me when I disclose myself. All of these situations will sometimes get me to go, “Eh, fuck ‘em. The world is slowly changing for the better regardless, and I’m an awesome person,” but they’ll also sometimes make me want to sit right down on the ground and refuse to get back up until I’m magically cis.
The trans life is hard. And sometimes I just wish I could take a break from it.
With the physical and mental struggle difficult enough, I don’t need the social and cultural bullshit on top of it. And putting on a plastic smile every day because you worry a cis person will otherwise mark you (and the entire community) as a bunch of fakers is tiring.
These refuse-to-get-up moments are thankfully rare for me these days, but I know they’ll always be hiding in there somewhere. And I’ve learned not to be ashamed about it – because it really isn’t about me.
In essence, it’s not our identities that we want to change; it’s how negatively society treats us for being who we are.
That’s what we want different.
But with society being such a behemoth, we sometimes turn those feelings toward what we hope will be more manageable: ourselves.
2. I Love Being Fucked ‘Vaginally’
I just don’t like using the V word in reference to me when I can avoid it. But seriously, while I used to have hang-ups about my body, I eventually made peace with the fact that there’s nothing wrong with the extra hole I have. It’s just outsiders who keep trying to tell me it’s somehow female. (Pfft.)
I eventually started seeing my front hole as—well—a thing specifically designed for penetrative sex. And once I started gently experimenting on myself, man, I realized it felt damn good to me.
My socially constructed links between genitals and gender became that much more dismantled when I realized how many gay men indulged me in my requests without batting an eye.
Once I realized that (decent) lovers weren’t seeing me as any less of man, I suddenly wanted them to give my front hole all of the attention ever.
In a nutshell, I learned that my body is my body. And I can do whatever the hell I want with it and still call it a boy’s body doing boy things.
While folks may comprehend and respect a trans man’s wishes never to be penetrated (especially via that hole), they must also wrap their minds around the concept that just as many of us enjoy the sensations – and that it doesn’t compromise our masculinity.
To believe otherwise unfortunately does us, as trans people, no favors. It instead suggests that 1) you believe socially femaled bits are inherently female or will always be socially femaled bits, and/or 2) we, as trans guys, have an obligation to indulge only in socially male things if we’re to be taken seriously as men.
Which oddly puts us right back at square one with this whole softening of the gender binary thing.
3. I Get Pissed When I’m Invited to ‘Women’s-Only Spaces’
Especially when trans women are simultaneously rejected. It’s like a one-two punch to our entire community.
Let me make something perfectly clear: Having your women’s-only spaces welcome trans men does not make you an ally of trans people.
You’re undermining our masculinity and our identities as men (wherever on the spectrum we may place ourselves) through the unsaid statement that our masculinity will never be enough to “un-woman” us, that we’ll never be “real” men.
Have we as trans men had “woman” experiences in the past? Most likely. But so do trans women in their current identities now. So let them the hell in. Seriously, you can’t have it both ways.
For so many “women’s-only” spaces to continue doing otherwise is nothing short of counter-productive, further cementing in patriarchal notions of sex and gender that—I’d always thought—feminists were trying hard to dismantle, not encourage.
4. I Don’t Care That I’m ‘Upholding the Gender Binary’ by Transitioning
I’m not wasting time turning this into an argument about whether or not I actually am upholding the gender binary by being me. Because that’s not what’s important here.
What’s important here is that I was suicidal because I couldn’t live as a man.
And now that I’ve had the medical intervention I needed, there’s quite a bit of sunshine. The bad feelings are gone.
Your Queertopia agenda isn’t as important as me not offing myself. My life is more important than your wants.
And if you’re really into dismantling the binary’s stronghold (good for you, by the way), I suggest you look into upholding and encouraging all the different ways a person can express gender, not attempting to destroy every scrap of “male” and “female” notion on the planet.
With gender being so socially fundamental, eradicating gender will eradicate the identities of many people.
Instead of eradicating gender itself, we need to eradicate the ways society pisses on people who don’t walk within the gendered mainstream. These are two very different causes.
Build up, don’t tear down. I’m pretty sure most of us in the anti-binary fight are looking to create more equality amongst people, not dehumanize them.
5. I Want the ‘T’ Taken Out of LGBTQIA+
It just gets really tiring to hope that something “LGBTQIA+” is actually welcoming to trans people only to find out that, nine times out of ten, it’s not.
If we just removed the T from the bland acronym of false universal inclusion, maybe we trans people would stop getting snowed when we walk into a function.
Gay, lesbian, and queer people would have the opportunity to put the T in there only if they meant it and wouldn’t be pegged as monsters if it were extracted.
See? Everybody wins.
Bigots could be bigots, and we trans folk could save our bus fare for ice cream instead. The six-year-old in me is particularly fond of Cake Batter.
6. I Don’t Need an Attached, Cis-Sized Penis to Feel Like a Man
I just sometimes wish I had one so it was easier to “prove” to you that I’m already a man.
But I guess life is full of irony. And cyberskin.
7. I Don’t Believe You When You Say You’re an Ally
Words are only words. When someone makes the distinct effort to say to my face that they’re an ally for me, experience has led me to be skeptical.
For instance, depending on where you are in the United States, putting an “I <3 Trans People” pin on your backpack can pose virtually no risk and require minimal effort on your part. In fact, it’s so simplistic that it can be kind of insulting.
You <3 me because I’m a trans person?
Clasping on such a pin makes perfect sense if you’re trying to objectify me or infantilize me into a creature who could do no wrong, but no sense if you’re aiming to treat me like a human being.
Seriously, being trans doesn’t somehow make me likable. I’m actually kind of a dick. It’s all part of my being a complex, bitter, sarcastic, family-less, dumpster-diving character who happens to be trans.
Basically, you’re unfortunately not so much an ally as a tolerant person who had a dollar to blow. You’re saying what you’re saying in a circle of people who are already saying it. How are you encouraging change by that?
In the end, the pins can stay, but that can’t be all you’re doing. And if that is all you’re doing, then don’t tell me you’re an ally and (therefore quietly) demanding my praise.
All that does is put all of the focus back on you, the cis person. And I thought this was supposed to be all about me for once?
8. I Forget That I’m Trans
It’s a blissful experience, though terribly odd to explain since you don’t know it’s happening while it’s happening.
But once I hit a certain point of self-acceptance and received the medical assistance I needed, I now go days on end without remembering I’m trans – not when I administer my T, not when I pin my packer on in the morning, not when I have to use the men’s room.
It’s not that I don’t like knowing I’m trans, it’s just that it’s a relief to sometimes feel…normal. The forgetfulness means I’m at peace with myself. And that’s just plain nice.
So to all of you other guys out there: It’s cool to be exactly who you are in whatever stage you’re comfortable with.
Accept your follies, revere your awesomeness, and simply remember that nobody – absolutely nobody – has the right to tell you how to be you. Be safe, be happy, be healthy. And screw anybody that gives you a hard time.
And to all of you allies out there: Please just make sure there’s more to your self-proclaimed label than a lack of desire to actively harm us.
If you want to actually help, make an effort. Listen to all of the different viewpoints we as trans people have, and recognize that we’re a collective of similar body experiences with varying opinions on what that entails.
But while we may have arguments amongst ourselves about binaries and space inclusions and stealthiness, we can all agree on one thing: We just want to be seen and treated as the humans we are.
James St. James is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. He isn’t particularly fond of his name, but he has to admit it makes him easier to remember. When he’s not busy scaring cis gender people with his trans gender agenda, he likes to play SEGA and eat candy.
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