I am fortunate to have a lot of adult men in my family who are not only great people but shining examples of masculinity in all its forms. For 6 months, I’ve been thinking about writing about my dad and how important his expression of masculinity and femininity have been to my development as a man. (Now that you’ve prompted me, I think I’ll start working on that tonight.)
I also have some great uncles, one of whom I keep in somewhat regular contact with since I transitioned via email “sport updates” when he fills me in on the world of college and professional ball :) When I came out to my extended family he sent me a “Welcome to the Other Side” package that included cigars, a book by Garrison Keiler, some Courvoisier, a romance movie, and a print-out of this joke so I knew we weren’t taking this too seriously :)
And I have a really fabulous second cousin who I got to know two years ago. He is the definition of a good person and a good man. Humble, generous, ALWAYS helping in any way he can, incredibly respectful of women, and constantly seeking education about his privilege and the ways he can let it go or use it to help those without.
I also have been known to look to some of my peers whom I really respect, both trans and cis, to get hints on how to be a good man in today’s society. How to be a man without taking advantage of male privilege (not to mention white privilege, class privilege, ablist privilege, etc.). How to be a male feminist. How to create yr own version of masculinity.
I think I’ve been truly fortunate that even since birth I’ve been surrounded by lots of different kinds of men, because that’s the most important part of learning how to be a man I think - it’s about learning how to be yourself. (Should I write that in a Hallmark card, guys?) But really, it is. It’s about learning that there are lots of ways to be men. And it’s about learning how not to follow the stereotypical path of manhood that society points us down, which inevitably leads to sexism, cissexism, homo- and transphobia, etc.
I think I’d like to be able to give transmasculine people at the early beginnings of their transition (or just gender exploration) one day to live ‘post-transition.’
I went out last night to a bar where some friends were DJing, and was the little social butterfly that I can be sometimes (I love talking in public especially now that my voice is deep), and that buzz I get from existing in public as a man is something I will never fully be able to communicate.
And I just think that if I could help trans men who are first discovering their gender know that some day they will have at least one experience like this and feel like this for at least one night (and for most, will constantly have experiences like this) that the fear of all the bad stuff about being trans and transitioning would just melt away. Going out and being sir’d and offered the key for the men’s bathroom without specifying and meeting people who I know are seeing me as a guy…. makes any of the difficulties, any of the dysphoria, and panic, and familial stress, and awkward situations beyond worth it.
And I just wish I could give every trans guy a glimpse of that experience and that feeling so they can all know it will be worth it in the end.
(Side note: I’d honestly like to do this for all people transitioning. I can just only offer the semi-post-transition perspective of a trans man, and that’s why I limited my magical power to the transmasculine spectrum.)
First of all, what is post-transition? I think every trans person can and does define this differently. It can mean that you have physically met yr transition goals (i.e. been on testosterone long enough that the actual changes have already occurred; had yr desired surgeries; etc.). It can mean getting to a stage socially where you are fully out as male and acknowledged as such. It can mean that you are socially read as male all (or a huge majority) of the time, regardless of where you are in terms of physical goals.
For me, it means that I have achieved my two major physical goals in transition (I have had a successful top surgery and have been on testosterone for almost 6 months) and am read as male 95% of the time. There is more to come in terms of physical changes, and the day I start looking older than 20 will probably be the day I really consider myself post-transition, but that is a matter of waiting for some of the T changes to take effect.
I have done everything in my power that I want to do at this point in my life to physically transition. (I will ultimately have a hysterectomy, but that’s for health reasons and not for gender dysphoria or what I consider my transition). For me, it is also that I have legally changed my name and the gender marker on my ID, so I can exist officially as Sebastian, male.
So that’s where I am in my life. [I’m going to talk a little bit about the relief that comes from not doing some of the daily things and feeling the dysphoria that comes with transition, so if you are feeling dysphoric or having a rough day and are sensitive to this, please wait to read the rest of this. I don’t want to contribute to any sort of negative feeling on yr part.]
So as I progress further in transition, I will have more and more experiences living “as a man.” In many cases (and the majority once I am further along), people will perceive me as a man and assume I am cisgender. My public ‘role’ will gradually shift to become that of a man, rather than a transman (or lesbian). So my experiences will change, because society relates differently to men than they do to women or people of an ambiguous gender.
From time to time, I will reflect on these interactions, which for the sake of sensationalism :P, I will call adventures.
Today, I was sitting at a cafe area below my apartment listening to a bluegrass-y band, and this guy (I’d guess 19) sat down next to me and said “hey”. It is a nice surprise in Massachusetts to have someone initiate conversation, so being the good North Carolinian that I am, I replied as friendly as I could while keeping my voice low in my register and told him I liked his shirt (I did - I had noticed it earlier). He said he liked mine, and the conversation was started.
We talked about the band and how we liked it and liked that there was always live music in our tiny downtown. He had just moved here from Maine. When he asked if I went to school around here (which means he read me as college-aged!), I simply said that I had just graduated and didn’t mention the name of my women’s school.
We eventually introduced ourselves, and after a little bit of conversation he met up with his roommate who had just gotten off work and we said we’d probably see each other around.
The conversation ran smoothly. He was a new guy looking to make friends and I was Sebastian, the guy who lived upstairs and liked the bluegrass band.
I feel like it was worth writing about for a number of reasons. First of all, it is the first time I can think of that I interacted this much with a male around my age who did not know I was trans. Second, I was surprised at how comfortable I was. My voice has dropped enough, that I am not focused on it when talking. Which means I speak more loudly and confidently. And while I certainly made a point of keeping it low in the beginning, I didn’t think of it again after that. I also always wondered how I would feel with cis men who interacted with me as though I was any other guy. I wondered if I would feel like I was tricking them or if I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, or if I would feel markedly different from them. And I felt none of these things. I mean, part of that had to do with this kid - he was really friendly, liked that Northampton was “accepting of everything,” and had no signs of hyper-masculine douchiness. But part of it is that I really do accept myself as male. Not just in theory and in writing, but in practice. I don’t rank myself below cismen in male-ness.
I should also note that it has always been the case that I have felt pretty at ease being “one of the guys.” One of the reasons I went to a women’s college was because I wanted girl friends and had very few. But I feared that this comfort would not extend to my interactions as a guy. I think I thought that I would feel like I was playing a part or that I would constantly be afraid that they would think I was off or not enough of a guy or that they’d be able to “tell.”
But I am pretty comfortable in my masculinity, and I am also more and more aware of the variance in masculinity amongst ALL men (cis, trans, intersex, and otherwise). And I think I may also be okay with them being able to tell. I certainly would rather people know that I am trans than try to act like a hyper-masculine alpha dog or bro that I am not.
I don’t know. I’m rambling. I don’t post too many rambling things on here, so I suppose it’s okay to go ahead and put this up.
I’m watching Beaches on WE.