A Dispatch From the Shifting, Porous Border Between Butch and Trans
April 27, 2015 2:06 PM   Subscribe

The borders between butch women, masculine genderqueer people, and trans men are clearer in theory than in practice. In order to find out more about how people in these categories experience gender, I spoke with individuals from across the butch/trans spectrum, from female-identified butches to formerly butch-identifying trans men, and found commonalities, as well as differences, among them.
posted by sciatrix (33 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thanks for posting this!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:56 PM on April 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


could the author not find any butch or nonbinary trans women? what kind of "shifting, porous border" stretches across many genders but only admits people assigned female at birth?
posted by thug unicorn at 2:58 PM on April 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


yeah im not really feeling this one
posted by beefetish at 3:05 PM on April 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seemed pretty clear to me that the writer was talking about a category of related but distinct experiences that I have also seen labeled "transmasculine," not about a category of gender identity per se. Of course, it would be awesome to talk to butch or nonbinary trans women about their interactions with those points of gender space--would anyone like to add their experiences here?
posted by sciatrix at 3:07 PM on April 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's fascinating to learn how much diversity there is along the various axes of gender identity, gender performance and sexual orientation. Thanks!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:14 PM on April 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of the things that I think hobbles this discussion is the broad imputation of attributes to gender that aren't really supportable outside of a weird circular consensus. For example, the notion of aggression as "masculine" means that some women perform masculinity by increasing aggressive behavior, but aggression isn't inherently tied to masculinity more than at a fuzzy population level based on testosterone levels (with dubious causal explanations from both nature and nurture camps).

I understand that humans likely have both an internal sense of gender and a cognitive mechanism to quickly (miserly) assess gender in others, but I keep hoping that we can get away from assessing characteristics as caused by gender, and start to undermine the association of performed behaviors with placement on the gender spectrum. I mean, just to use myself as an example (because it's more comfortable than declaiming about the subjectivity of gender to other people), I'm a masculine-presenting straight cis guy, and one of the things that I kind of enjoy about my general gender presentation (informed in large part by laziness — I've been a beardo long enough to go through several generations of "Beards are cool!" trend pieces) is that it allows me to recode things that are nominally associated with femininity for a lot of people, e.g. pink shirts or loving Beyonce, as legitimately masculine. I have privilege because I'm never really in a liminal gender presentation space, but it's illegitimate that these behaviors have gender performance implications attached to them in the first place.

I will say that one of my former coworkers really brought this home for me — every day, we'd start with going around the circle and giving your name, where you were from, and preferred gender pronouns. And for several years, what my coworker Jesse would ask for was to have their pronouns cross-coded, so when Jesse was in a dress, heels and barettes, "he" was preferred; when Jesse was in a greaser t-shirt, jeans and workboots, "she" was preferred. And I also think that it's kind of sad that after a couple years of working at an explicitly LGBT advocacy organization, in order to get promoted and be taken seriously, he had to transition to a much more traditional "male" performance.

(I kind of wonder about that too, since many of the folks I know who used to go by genderqueer have moved back out of the middle as they've gotten older, and I wonder how much of it is because they came out much earlier than a lot of LGBT people my age [about 10 years older]. Having that freedom to experiment hopefully lowers the stakes, but I worry that folks are returning to a binary more because of social pressure than any personal epiphanies.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:23 PM on April 27, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I don't know. I acknowledge that there have been some longstanding tensions between the butch cis lesbian community and trans men "of lesbian experience." I also see plenty of female-assigned-at-birth queer circles in which cis lesbians, genderqueer individuals, and trans men all socialize together happily. And none of this has much to do with my experience.

I'm a FAAB intersex person who has never been butch. I have never framed my gender transition to male in terms of my being a tomboy, or getting mistaken for male, or any such thing related to gender expression. It's just been about gender identity for me. My wife is an intersex person who was assigned male at birth, and she's your classic futch (androgynous femme/butch gender party).

When I was in college in the early 1980s, I was subject to "interventions" by the lesbian separatist political group on campus because I wore femme drag and hung around with a lot of gay men. I've never felt really comfortable around lesbian communities after getting gender policed like that. My wife, on the other hand, had a bunch of butch lesbian friends in youth. But now that we've both transitioned, I'm presumed to feel some sort of close attachment to lesbian communities, while she gets the cold shoulder when attending events that say "all genders welcome!" with the invisible footnote "really we meant if you're FAAB."

So, OK, I acknowledge the issues stated in the article, but really: there are butch women who are trans, and trans men who are femme, and the article would mean a lot more to me if it addressed that reality.
posted by DrMew at 3:36 PM on April 27, 2015 [14 favorites]


It seemed pretty clear to me that the writer was talking about a category of related but distinct experiences that I have also seen labeled "transmasculine,"

As a general rule, being female-identified precludes falling under the transmasculine. 'Transmasculine' generally means AFAB trans* people, without specifying further details of their identity.
posted by hoyland at 3:44 PM on April 27, 2015


'Transmasculine' generally means AFAB trans* people, without specifying further details of their identity.

Generally speaking, hoyland, yes--but then there are FAAB drag kings who label themselves as living under the transmasculine umbrella, who are female-identified in the individual sense (most of the time?), but who identify with genderqueer people and trans men in terms of social affiliation. . .

The borders of trans-inclusion can be kind of wavery and contentious (which is true of any community, really).
posted by DrMew at 3:55 PM on April 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really hate this piece. What purpose does it serve? It almost feels like it's asking (cis) people to go on a trip back to the early 2000s when the evil trans men were supposedly "stealing" the butch lesbians without actually telling them about that history. Because, obviously, all trans guys have previously identified as butch (and butch lesbians at that) and any vaguely butch woman is on the slippery slope to transitioning.

(Also, did the author just google for books with 'butch' in the title to find Stone Butch Blues? Everyone of a certain age will have read it. I'd actually be interested in knowing how people who aren't trans relate to it.)
posted by hoyland at 3:55 PM on April 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm still giggling that she called it the seminal text of all things butch.
posted by mittens at 4:18 PM on April 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


commonalities and differences?!?!?!??!?!?!?!??!?!
posted by Bwithh at 4:20 PM on April 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


commonalities and differences?!?!?!??!?!?!?!??!?!

In conclusion, the country of trans- and non-binary genders is a land of contrasts.
posted by firechicago at 4:42 PM on April 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


So much of this conversation is new to me and what I know I've learned from this site. I get that maybe it's basic, or backward, for some people here but as someone for whom this is Brand New I appreciate any chance to learn more about the nuances, both from posts and the comments about them. So thank you for this sciatrix and thanks to those in the thread for teasing out the finer points.
posted by billiebee at 4:56 PM on April 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


I have privilege because I'm never really in a liminal gender presentation space, but it's illegitimate that these behaviors have gender performance implications attached to them in the first place.

"Illegitimate" isn't quite the word I would use, but I'd agree that it would be great if the definitions and linkages were way looser (and overall, way more playful). But right now they very much aren't, and as someone else who is not at all liminal about gender, I'm ok with people using the tools they have, even if the tools are overall pretty shitty.

Some people are happy occupying those liminal spaces, but other people aren't and the best way they have to move towards the center of a major gender identity are often quite heavy handed tools, like "1950s housewife outfit" that most people who are already in the center of a gender identity might never feel a connection to.

I don't have the theoretical or experiential background to critique or defend the article itself, other than to find the stories interesting. I could definitely see people I know in some of the anecdotes, without knowing enough to see how well those were or were not situated more broadly.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:28 PM on April 27, 2015


I did not like this article either; sure "butch lesbian" (or the one heterosexual butch woman, who sometimes identified as genderqueer), "transmasculine genderqueer person", and "transgender male" are all niche identities, but the author relied on shallow investigation to tie all these identities together.

The article made no effort to distinguish that not all trans men started out with a jonesin' for women and even could lead an uninformed reader to assume that all trans men were once lesbians. I mean, the very first line is: "Butch women aren’t men—except for the ones who transition to male". The phrase: "...I spoke with individuals from across the butch/trans spectrum...", seems to imply that if you are transgender and female assigned at birth, you have simply shed your butchness upon transitioning. The author really equates (trans)gender identity and sexuality here without even once mentioning the reality that transgender men are not universally sexually attracted to women.

In my opinion, the article categorizes transgender men as people whose female-assigned-at-birth status should take precedence over their status as... men. From this article, I would assume that the author is one of the people that assumes transgender people "aren't real [gender]". The author would not be able to compare and contrast these identities otherwise. "Many masculine women remain happily within the female gender for their entire lives and experience no discernible dysphoria." Sorry, but transgender men are not just masculine women who decided to "hop the gender fence". To be transgender is to never have really identified with your assigned-at-birth gender in the first place. Masculine women are masculine women: transgender men are transgender men.

I really think the whole premise of this article is a bit backwards for all of the above reasons. It did not surprise me to find that the author is a butch lesbian herself. I understand if you only took time to investigate within your community, but at least become a little more knowledgeable about trans identities before you decide to do a verbal Venn diagram.

I am a transgender man and I have never been a lesbian, butch or otherwise. It really rankles me when people peg me that way, especially in my personal life. I am transitioning to male not because I am a "masculine woman" -- it is because I do not feel (and have never felt) like a woman in the first place. I take a strong stance on this article because, generally, there is scant information presented to the public on being transgender and the last thing any transgender person needs is for a bunch of people to come away feeling like they've learned something about our experience from an article that gets it all wrong.
posted by sevenofspades at 5:32 PM on April 27, 2015 [18 favorites]


Some people are happy occupying those liminal spaces, but other people aren't and the best way they have to move towards the center of a major gender identity are often quite heavy handed tools, like "1950s housewife outfit" that most people who are already in the center of a gender identity might never feel a connection to.

Unless I'm misreading this, this is a backhanded stab at the "trans people are just performing stereotypes of gender" thing. What is "already in the center of a gender identity" if not code for 'cis'?
posted by hoyland at 5:49 PM on April 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I appreciate that this article was posted but also have pretty negative feelings trying to read it.

It's weird, the last article about transmasculine presentation that I commented on here, I really dogged it and people here were pretty hurt and angry by my reaction. But I think as a masculine person who feels "in between" or "both" or "something else" or "doesn't want to coopt trans identity but masculine woman doesn't feel exactly right" person, I feel these articles on a very personal level, and like the other one, I just don't like it. It's hard not to feel that it speaks for me, and if it does, it does so inaccurately.

I agree it echos the trope of the disappearing butches which is not only trans phobic but also ahistorical and inaccurate (show me the evidence that there was a magical time in the past of Femme/Butch culture where there were non-trans butches as far as the queer eye could see! There just have never been a ton of butches - we're a sub culture even in cultures with recognized 3rd genders, and butchness has always cooexisted and overlapped with trans maleness).

And also, and this is the part that pissed people off last time but it's such a strong feeling to me - I just really resent stuff written by and about butch/genderqueermasculine people that doesn't talk about bigger identity issues, or the life-threatening oppression faced by trans women. As a group, I think our solidarity sucks.

Anyhow, overall I thank you for posting this as it's good to have more discussions of gender here on metafilter, but my personal reaction is pretty bad.
posted by latkes at 5:56 PM on April 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


Unless I'm misreading this, this is a backhanded stab at the "trans people are just performing stereotypes of gender" thing. What is "already in the center of a gender identity" if not code for 'cis'?

No backhanded stabs were intended in any way and your reading is certainly not what I had intended to convey. I'll step away at this point rather than double down on a discussion that is academic to me and is real life to other people.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:18 PM on April 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't want you feel like you shouldn't comment, but on the other hand feeling like you shouldn't double down is usually an instinct to be trusted. Anyway, this old comment of mine is my less abrasive response. (Should I have been listening to the thought I had that I might be lashing out a bit? Perhaps.) We hold trans people to standards that we don't hold cis people to--either a trans person's presentation isn't normative 'enough' or it's too normative, it almost never just is.
posted by hoyland at 7:07 PM on April 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I can barely articulate the ways this article makes me want to drive to wherever she is and put a stop sign on her keyboard. She assigns a broad label to a group of people she thinks are similar and then concludes that this label doesn't fit these people and therefore that's a reflection of the label? This article is the graduate level version of kids who say to me, "Are you a boy?" "No." "Then why are you wearing boy's clothes?"

First, she seems to just plop the butch label on Shay without Shay having a say. I don't hear for a second that Shay identifies as butch, I hear the author call her butch and she basically replies that she gets that a lot. She does say that she identifies as female and as masculine and as lesbian and "doesn't object to" being called butch, but the last I checked, lack of objection is not an affirmative. (This is one I get a lot - "hey, you're butch!" - as you might infer from my statement in the previous paragraph. Not only do I hate butch as a label for myself but 30 seconds with me and you realize you're talking to Buster Bluth, so.)

Shay is confident in her identity as a woman, clear and comfortable about her own masculinity, and knows enough about trans identities to know that she’s not trans. (One of her best friends from high school transitioned from female to male.)

I don't even know what to do with this one. "Knows enough about trans identities...one of her best friends is trans" is the functional equivalent of "I have a friend who's black." It's like she's implying that Shay can't possibly be comfortable with herself unless she is, like, sure that she's not a dude. She talks about masculinity/trans/gender identity like trans is some kind of a rash that might eventually prevail, that trans is the ultimate and only destination of the woman with advancing masculine tendencies.

In the long run, there may be no way to save this dinosaur of an identity—or butch may eventually be nailed down to a single point rather than encompassing multitudes. For the present, however, what butch means depends on which butch you pose the question to.

Wait, was the whole point of this that we're supposed to try to figure out how to 'save' butch? Pick any kind of identity in the world and use it to replace "butch" in the excerpt above and you have a statement that is both true and so simplistic it's worthless. Yes, people are different.
posted by good lorneing at 8:00 PM on April 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have to be honest -- I've been struggling with this question for years, by which I mean if I was 5 years old in 2015, rather than 5+40 years old, I would probably easily move into transitioning at puberty, if not before (parents, medical practitioners, powers that be, etc. allowing.)

But when I told my parents I was a boy, and wanted "a sex change" when I was 5, you JUST DIDN'T DO THAT then. Especially if your mom is Catholic and already told you you were going to hell because she found you playing doctor with another girl. Instead, I got to go to Catholic school, take ballet and prohibited from wearing jeans for a while, until I stopped talking about it and did the best I could being a really butch 8 year old. When I came out as lesbian at 13, it still felt not quite right, not because I wasn't attracted to women, but because I didn't feel like one at all. But being able to be butch was as close as I felt I could get to truth without losing everything that mattered in my life.

So now, there's a part of me that says "you've been this 'you' for so long, you don't need to transition." But when I see guys who've chosen it, I feel this jealousy and anger: "Why do they get to be themselves and I can't? It's not fair!" (which, of course, feels like my 5 year old self clawing its way back into my consciousness and asking me to make him whole.)

The Bruce Jenner interview may have done me a favor, in this regard: I've noticed a distinct difference in conversation with my mother since it aired. I suspect there's a hard conversation in my future, and hopefully one that airs out all of this, because we haven't spoken about my gender since I was 8 or 9 (my being gay ended up more than OK, but it took a long time.) This is hard stuff.
posted by ltracey at 8:27 PM on April 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


"We hold trans people to standards that we don't hold cis people to--either a trans person's presentation isn't normative 'enough' or it's too normative, it almost never just is."

Yeah, but from knowing a couple young 20-something dudes both before and after transition, there are totally trans men who perform their masculinity through misogyny. That's on the "too normative" side, and is one of those reminders that knowing enough about gender to want to transition doesn't inherently mean understanding enough about gender to avoid some really nasty tropes. A meathead trans man is a meathead man.

"I don't even know what to do with this one. "Knows enough about trans identities...one of her best friends is trans" is the functional equivalent of "I have a friend who's black." It's like she's implying that Shay can't possibly be comfortable with herself unless she is, like, sure that she's not a dude. She talks about masculinity/trans/gender identity like trans is some kind of a rash that might eventually prevail, that trans is the ultimate and only destination of the woman with advancing masculine tendencies. "

That seems like a strained objection; there are still a shit-ton of people who don't know any trans people at all and can't envision that being a legitimate identity to have simply because they've never had an opportunity to consider it. That number grows fewer and fewer each year, but it's still probably the majority even within a lot of LGB communities.

I don't think it works on the same wavelength as "I have a friend who's black," (or a woman or trans or whatever) since that's used as the escape hatch for bigotry, where complaining that affirmative action lets the wrong sort get ahead isn't racist because my black friend agrees with me.

"Wait, was the whole point of this that we're supposed to try to figure out how to 'save' butch? Pick any kind of identity in the world and use it to replace "butch" in the excerpt above and you have a statement that is both true and so simplistic it's worthless. Yes, people are different."

I do totally agree with you on this part though. It was pretty much the classic "This is past deadline and I just need to wrap it up" ending.
posted by klangklangston at 11:04 PM on April 27, 2015


Yeah, but from knowing a couple young 20-something dudes both before and after transition, there are totally trans men who perform their masculinity through misogyny.

I never said there weren't, only that they are seen as "trying too hard" first and assholes a distant second, whereas cis men doing the same thing are seen as assholes first and possibly trying too hard second.
posted by hoyland at 6:11 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


That seems like a strained objection; there are still a shit-ton of people who don't know any trans people at all and can't envision that being a legitimate identity to have simply because they've never had an opportunity to consider it. That number grows fewer and fewer each year, but it's still probably the majority even within a lot of LGB communities.

I can see why you would think it's strained, and I acknowledge a lot of the world is not exposed to a lot of trans stuff. I guess my point is, why does she need to confirm with Shay if she thinks she's trans? I'd be kinda offended myself - not that someone would think I'm trans but that someone would think she needs to ask me if I'm sure. What if I didn't have a masculine gender presentation? If I didn't, does that mean I'm totally sure of myself and comfortable in my female gender? Of course not. Again, for me it comes back to "you wear dude's clothes, you must want to be a dude."

My point about the "friend who's black" is, again, the perplexing notion that having a trans friend can somehow make you any more sure that's not your identity, just as "I'm not racist, I have a friend who's black" doesn't make you not racist. Anyway, it's an analogy that you don't have to agree with.
posted by good lorneing at 6:33 AM on April 28, 2015



So now, there's a part of me that says "you've been this 'you' for so long, you don't need to transition." But when I see guys who've chosen it, I feel this jealousy and anger: "Why do they get to be themselves and I can't? It's not fair!" (which, of course, feels like my 5 year old self clawing its way back into my consciousness and asking me to make him whole.)


I really feel this.

I wish the linked article were different, because I think there's enough people who are in that "I am some kind of not-cis-AFAB-person but I don't know what to do about that and how I identify myself bounces around a lot" situation that it would be well worth trying to write about, and I would certainly like to hear from/about people in that situation, especially people who are older than their teens/early twenties, because of generational differences and the sheer effect of living in this manner for twenty or thirty years.

I think there is an article to be written about, for instance, trans men who live as butch women for a long time and then transition, and there's an article to be written about butch and nonbinary women which would of course include butch and nonbinary trans women, but those are separate articles. I think it is pretty silly to write about butch queer women but only include butch cis queer women.

I go back and forth so much. Bodily, I'd shed this body in a minute. I've gotten fond of it from the outside, so to speak, but I am not at all at home in it. I've gotten reconciled to a lot of the things I can't do because I don't feel good in this body - that I'm not comfortable being touched, for instance. It seems like that's gone on so long, what's another few decades?

And then I think about how, if I transitioned, I'd be treated as a man by men, and that repulses me. It wouldn't just be the body. And I am afraid that I'd be changed by that. I'm not saying that everyone is; I'm saying that I'm afraid that I would not be tough enough to withstand the norms around masculinity. It's not that I think I'd turn into some kind of catcalling monster, but I feel like in order to be an even sort of okay person, I'd have to be in constant struggle against How Men Are In This Culture, and I'm not sure I'm tough enough to keep that up. I think I'd let myself forget - I think I'd get comfortable with a lot of stuff just because I had other things to do and think about.

I guess in the end I feel like you don't get everything in life, and what I get is Not Being Tempted To Act Like A Cis Man, and what I sacrifice is a body I feel good in and being able to be touched, and that's just the hand I was dealt. I'll be dead soon - at least in geologic terms - and it doesn't matter that much, I have a lot of other good things in life.

I do not like it when straight people assume that I am a butch lesbian. (Of course, usually they think that "not being visibly feminine" is "butch".) Not only is that not how I identify, but to me it's a term that stands in relation to a very particular aspect of lesbian history and culture which 1. doesn't have a lot of meaning for me and 2. seems to carry a lot of depressing gender baggage along with it.
posted by Frowner at 7:02 AM on April 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


I want to sent a shout out to Frowner and ltracy and others in the midlife-and-above crowd who grew up in an era when gender transition was spoken of rarely, negatively, and always in terms of transitioning to female. I've been around a half century myself, and I know well that business of spending years trying to accommodate to living as a woman because there were no other viable options.

What I especially want to do is to address the fear Frowner raises of how one might be transformed upon gender transitioning to male, because I think this fear is especially strong among people of our generation. I know that when I was in college, the talk about "transsexualism" was completely dominated by second wave feminist cant right out of Janice Raymond's The Transsexual Empire: that trans women were evil men in dresses out to take over feminist spaces, because patriarchy was outraged by there being women's only spaces free from male domination. And contemporary trans-exclusionary radical feminists today continue not only to assert that, but to frame trans men as self-hating dupes of patriarchy who don't understand that they are allowed to be butch women, being brainwashed with gender stereotypes.

Well, I'm here to attest that transitioning to male does indeed get you male privilege, but that that doesn't have to make you into a sexist jerk. There are feminist cis men, after all. Testosterone doesn't make you violent (personally, I'm a much milder person than I was before transition) or sex-mad (I still like sex, but no more than before, as an example). What I've found in my own life is that strong women who will not take any sh*t from me and who will help me see the male privilege I've gained and to check it have done wonders to keep me from becoming a strutting patriarch.

So, basically, I wanted to say that a midlife transition can be a great thing, and the young folks don't have to get to have all the fun, and that if you keep your feminist friends around you--especially transfeminist ones whose experience will be very different from yours--you can come out the other end a gentleman and not a jerk.
posted by DrMew at 4:39 PM on April 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


My take on the FPP is that it reads like a casual essay or personal blog post based on the author's recent personal contacts, not a carefully thought through exposition with adequate breadth of examples. So it was reposted on a major site (Slate). If only that was a guarantee of quality rather than exposure.

As myself someone AFAB who has wandered around and around the hundred-acre wood of masculinity, my other reaction is "The fighting is so intense because the stakes are so small." I and a few of my immediate circle are the only people who care, or are much affected by, whether I'm a butch dyke, a transgender queer, or a man who had a bat mitzvah. I'm still the one with boobs beneath the suit and tie. Someone else would pick different self-descriptors, be differently labelled by others, and have a different path and goals.

Perhaps a reason why it's hard to figure out what the FPP author is getting at, is the distinctions are so personal, detailed, and infinitely recombinable, that identity patterns will only show over a lot of people and a long time. And most of us don't have that perspective yet. I don't think I do, and I'm in my fifties having first considered transition over thirty years ago.
posted by Dreidl at 5:05 PM on April 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


ltracey: So now, there's a part of me that says "you've been this 'you' for so long, you don't need to transition." But when I see guys who've chosen it, I feel this jealousy and anger: "Why do they get to be themselves and I can't? It's not fair!" (which, of course, feels like my 5 year old self clawing its way back into my consciousness and asking me to make him whole.)

I have a dear friend who thought for a long while he should pretend to be a woman while his parents were alive in order to spare them the pain of truly knowing him. He said he was satisfied with that, with his friends knowing but nothing more, but I always worried about him. When he decided to transition to be perceived more accurately, and told his parents, I was thrilled - and I've seen since then how much happier he is, how much more settled in the world, how much more himself he can be.

I don't know you personally, or your life, or your closest relationships, so please forgive me if I'm overstepping - but I personally don't think it's ever to late to be recognized by others as who you are. I hope you find an answer to this question that makes you feel whole. Please let me know if there's any way I can help.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:08 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


DrMew: I want to sent a shout out to Frowner and ltracy and others in the midlife-and-above crowd who grew up in an era when gender transition was spoken of rarely, negatively, and always in terms of transitioning to female.

Same. I'm 40, AFAB. As a child I wouldn't say I liked "boy things," so much as I rejected "girl things." As a teen, I regularly dressed in ties and vests and wingtips. I had zero idea that FTM transition was even an option so it never crossed my mind as a real thing. I thought, who else is female-bodied but acts masculine? Oh, I must be a butch lesbian then. Except I wasn't really into women, and they weren't really into me. Even today, butch lesbians seem to instantly know I'm not one of them and have almost an aversion to me, as if I'm a fraudulent interloper.

ltracey: So now, there's a part of me that says "you've been this 'you' for so long, you don't need to transition." But when I see guys who've chosen it, I feel this jealousy and anger: "Why do they get to be themselves and I can't? It's not fair!"

This, so much. So, so much. There are so many of tumblrs of 19 and 20 year old trans dudes where you can see them metamorphosis in real time, and they come out looking so confident and beautiful and goddamnit why am I not 19 anymore?! I promise you, if someone had pulled me aside in high school and given me the option, my life would be completely different today.

But I dunno, Bruce Jenner said something about how he's 65, he's been pretending for decades and he can't see living the rest of his life like that, and it's really resonating with me right now. I'm 40, what if I live until 80? 85? Four more decades of pretending? That is fucking horrifying.
posted by desjardins at 6:44 PM on April 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


Thank you all for your responses. I've never written anything that in depth about it publicly, so it felt a little like coming out. Your wisdom, insight and shared complexity touch me. (OK that sounds really cheesy, but is entirely true.)

Frowner hits on one of the major reasons I've pushed this aside: I don't want to be(come) That Guy. I don't think I would (for a lot of reasons), but it always hangs around the conversation in my head. Maybe it's a way to avoid the issue: "if you don't do it, then there's no danger of you having to take up this stereotypical way of being in the world that would make you hate yourself more." But then DrMew's reassurance seems right: I've never been That Butch (I'm more like a really mannered butch nerd gay guy than anything else) so why I think I would suddenly spin out into a terrible beer commercial persona seems less like a legitimate fear, and more like a 70s After School Special that was never made, but would be a great camp production if someone wanted to do it.

Again, thanks. I didn't mean to take up this much space on the post, but I'm glad I did. :)
posted by ltracey at 7:52 PM on April 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah I really don't know how you could become That Guy if you weren't already That Guy pre-transition. People would view you differently but testosterone doesn't make you lose your mind. I've only run across one trans guy that is seriously gross and misogynistic and he is/was in the military and has obviously had a lot of exposure to Fox News-type bullshit.
posted by desjardins at 8:49 PM on April 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think most of us would be all in favor of another Not That Guy existing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:45 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older Ten Things I Learned from Loving Anne of Green...   |   Blue Crude Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments