I recently put a new video on my YouTube channel (MrHerbertTurtle). It was a ‘Manliness Test’ – if you haven’t seen it already, go have a look – it’s silly. It was VERY ironic – please be assured that I know my masculinity does not rest on my ability to suck a sour sweet. And I’m not just saying that because I lost.

I’ve been told by a couple of people that I looked ‘not very manly’ and ‘quite feminine’ in the video. At first I was worried – after all, I’m a transgender man, and want to read as manly, so I watched the video again. Yes, I can see that whilst squirming around, snorting and giggling, I wasn’t channelling my inner Phil Mitchell, but then – why should I?

I think when a lot of people consider my transitioning, they think of me in hugely over-simplistic terms as  ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’. Therefore I believe there is an expectation that I will, as time and testosterone go on, suddenly unveil the fully-developed male persona that has been ‘trapped inside’ all this time. Sorry, but it just doesn’t work like that. I have been brought up and socialised entirely as a woman. I have learned, mainly subconsciously, how to move, speak and react to others, as a female. That doesn’t detract in any way from my knowing that I am a man, but it does influence the way I am today.

So what to do? When I first came out as trans, I was keen to be seen as manly, to try to react in what I considered to be a manly way. I think a lot of that was about confirming to other people that my decision to transition at all was right – see, I AM a man! As time has gone on, I have realised that trying to act in a way that does not yet come very naturally is stupid. Time and testosterone will help me to match my inner masculinity with my mannerisms, but trying to force things will just make me look like I’m trying too hard.

And if I still do read ‘quite feminine’, well so be it. When I was first considering transitioning, a friend (also FTM) said “There are so many models of masculinity out there, don’t just try to adopt the stereotype”. Maybe I won’t end up as the hardest bloke on the block, but if I want to giggle like a girl when I’m sucking a sour sweet, I will.