Yes. For lots of reasons
That said, in the past 6 years, I have only dated women. And am at the moment sexually exclusively attracted to women. So I’m a queer straight guy. (It’s also fun to claim the label straight because it still messes with some people’s ignorant conceptions of gender and sexuality.)
in response to 1. : do you think that a straight, cis couple with the same mindset can identify as queer, or is that appropriation?
Yes, I do, and I believe I know some couples like that. I also know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, and there is some importance in queer as a political term that is not misappropriated. BUT I think queer is most powerful as a political term when it can be applied to LOTS of different kinds of people. Thanks for asking - it’s a really good question. I hope I explained my thoughts well in that brief response.
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 really want to thank you for writing in. You are right that yr perspective is unique, at least it is unique in terms of what we normally get to hear and read. I really appreciate you being honest about yr story and difficulties.
I want to quickly clear up a misconception about my response to Brandon. I did not say he had to identify as trans and I don’t think he does. I also didn’t want to give off the idea that he should change how he identifies. I don’t think anyone has the power to willfully do that. My point was that he could still identify as “just a guy” and leave room in that for his history. He does not need to identify as queer or trans if that is not who he is. The literature I recommended does fall under the category of “queer studies” but it is really just about expanding our concepts of male and female.
I agree that transition itself does not necessarily make things get better. I am torn here, because I fear that a large part of yr struggle is yr insistence that you were born with a birth defect. I am not challenging any part of yr identity, but I would think it would be impossible to be at peace with myself if I couldn’t come to terms with my history and the way I was born.
And I want to caution against yr blanket message that people who transition will continue to have dysphoria and struggles. It’s not a walk in the park but there are many trans men for whom the struggles of being trans become small, few and far between. And I think a lot of it has to do with coming to terms with some of the things you can’t change. And embracing the fact that there are lots of ways to be “just guys.”
Congratulations on how far you’ve come and I wish you and everyone the best of luck. I’m sorry you continue to struggle with this and I hope that it gets better.
I also hope I was more clear this time about identities, etc.
Hey Brandon. First of all, I’m really sorry you’re struggling with this.
I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to transition at yr age. Obviously, there are times I wish I had transitioned younger so that I could have started my “guy life” earlier. But early adolescence is so difficult anyway and few cisgender people are blessed with a healthy dose of self-esteem at the age. Everyone is awkward and figuring things out and are launching into life and sexuality with little to no experience. Self-confidence is something that I think largely comes from surviving this time in yr life. It comes from accruing experience. From making it through the hard stuff.
I’m guessing a lot of what you are feeling in terms of self esteem isn’t too far off from other 15 year old guys. But you also have other challenges because you are trans. Dealing with dysphoria and social situations is a lot easier when you go into it with self-confidence.
Like most things, dysphoria gets better with age. With experience. With maturity. It also gets better with time because of the nature of transition.
But I do think you are right to suggest that part of the dysphoria may be due to you identifying “just as a guy.” This is not to say that you must identify as trans to feel better, but it will help if you identify in such a way that allows for yr body. You are a guy with a female history (however you want to think of that - as living as female, as being seen as female, etc.). You’re still just a guy. Just a guy without an anatomical penis. Just a guy with a body that doesn’t naturally produce enough testosterone.
I think it will help you greatly if you can expand yr concept of what a guy is. Of what a guy’s body is. This isn’t to say that you won’t want to physically change yr body when can. Medical interventions can go a long way in helping us feel right in our bodies… but they won’t magically erase our female history. And if you are in denial about that and about its effects on yr body, I think you will have a hard time being comfortable with yr junk and whatever else, even after a full medical transition.
I know this is a heavy order. Try some reading about queer theory (Judith Butler and Kate Bornstein are good places to start). Look at images of all the different types of male bodies (both cis and trans, non-op, post-op, etc., etc.) Again, I’m not saying this will solve yr body issues. If we could make dysphoria disappear by “expanding our minds” we wouldn’t have to transition at all. But it will assuage it greatly I think. It will make you as comfortable as possible.
Now, dating-wise.. if you are attracted to people, I see no harm in putting yrself out there a bit and dating or even getting romantically involved. It’s going to be awkward. It’s awkward for everyone. You are literally learning how to interact romantically with others. I remember how awkward it was for me and I remember stories of my cis friends for whom it was just as awkward. Dating can definitely be fun, though, and you can chalk the bad experiences up to experience. You learn from everything.
And physically, don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with.
Many trans men are sexually stone butch, meaning they don’t “receive attention” during sex. No need to even take yr clothes off. And honestly, you are still young (which you said). A lot of people yr age aren’t doing anything sexually, either, because they aren’t ready for their own reasons.
I hope this was helpful - I feel like it was all over the place. I didn’t transition until I was 21 and have a sort of crazy dating history (I started dating boys when I was living as a girl, then started dating girls, then came out as trans and had a girlfriend through the early stages of transition, then dated around a bit after I had begun transition). So obviously I can’t draw a lot of parallels to yr experience.
I do think that you may be assigning more issues to yr female history and not enough to just being 15. I also think that this is something a good therapist could really help with.
Best of luck - I really admire you and yr courage at this time in yr life.
I think a lot of things about this.
First, she is wrong. There is absolutely no such thing as “looking trans.” Sometimes there is a common look of young masculinity or femininity among those early in medical transition. But that is not “looking trans” because for most trans men, that phase lasts a few months and is something they are deliberately trying to move past. She may think she “can tell” but likely she has encountered many trans men and assumed they were cis. It’s absolute baloney and it actually infuriates me that this myth continues today. Nothing about a medically-transitioned trans man sends signals about his trans status/history unless he wants them to. I’ve been on T for 8 or 9 months (have I really lost track?) and still see flashes of the girl-version of me, and yet many people I encounter are surprised when they learn I’m trans. Queer people. People who know trans people. And I’m hardly far into transition or particularly manly-looking compared to other trans guys I know.
Second, there are some trans men who strongly identify with their transition and their feminine selves and do not want to look “cis.” They tend to be active in the queer community and perhaps this is who yr friend is referring to. She needs to know that not all trans men are like this.
Third, I think this is such an offensive way to talk about trans people. Regardless of its validity, a statement like this should never be made. Trans people should not be defined by who they were, especially if they are not announcing that history to you. I think if you have the opportunity to politely and as non-attackingly-as-possible bring this up, you should educate yr friend a little. You don’t want her to get defensive (and I know a lot of well-intentioned people who say pretty ignorant things about trans people, so I know that misinformed opinions are not markers of being a bad person), but she needs to know how harmful and hurtful statements like this are - not to mention inaccurate.
I say they have an incredibly narrow and inaccurate concept of what sex is.
There are non-trans people who have hormonal or chromosomal abnormalities and essentially are male (as they would define it) and have lived always as male and have two X chromosomes.
And to be honest, most of us never have chromosomal tests, so we don’t know what exactly is going in. We make assumptions based on our hormones, our puberty, and our genitalia. I read somewhere that there are many people who are technically intersex and never know. Or don’t know until they are trying to have children and are infertile or something.
So my point is even this thing that they think so clearly defines sex doesn’t. So why must anything else? Being male is something separate from chromosomes, hormones, genitalia, etc. And they simply just do not know what they are talking about