Tag Archive: genderqueer

TwitterAre you a UK based trans* identified man, a man with trans* history or someone with experience of the NHS as a person assigned female at birth who identifies as male, trans*, genderqueer or questioning your identity? The NHS are hosting a twitter club for trans* men on Wednesday, asking people to participate in a live debate about how the NHS and GICs can improve services for us.

This looks like an interesting opportunity to have our say. More information can be found hereĀ  http://aedanjwolton.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/nhsgenderid-nhs-england-host-gender-identity-twitter-clubs-to-improve-services/

Check out what Aedan has to say about this, and please pop along to Twitter to take part this coming Wednesday – 20th November 2013. Oh, and spend a bit of time looking at Aedan’s blog while you’re over there – it’s good stuff.


Much is made of the idea of a trans person “passing”. I’m not crazy about that term, as it implies that trans people are pretending to be whatever they say they are, and that only the really clever or lucky ones succeed in ‘fooling’ people into believing they are a particular gender. At the same time, I acknowledge that ‘passing’ is used a lot to describe the situation where you are read as the gender by which you identify, not that which was assigned to you at birth.

Purely by that definition, I don’t pass. Just in the last three days I have been referred to as ‘the lady’ by a stranger and ‘she’ and ‘her’ by people who know me, but just seem to have made an honest mistake.

Part of me understands this. I look at myself in the mirror, and see the same old me, even though I know that my interpretation of my reflection comes more from my poor battered psyche than a true reading of how I look. So I can really see where folk might look at me and see a woman. Damn, but they must think I’m butch.

I suppose that what upsets me when people get it wrong is that I have made a lot of progress, both mentally and physically, since the day I finally (reluctantly at first, that’s for sure) recognised my masculine nature. I’ve come so far along my personal road that to be “she’d” or referred to as “the lady” almost comes as a surprise, and a hideous reminder that I am this person in transition, not the person I want to be. A pretender. One who tries to pass.

Now if you look back at some of my previous posts, you will realise that whilst I do not identify as a woman, I also do not necessarily identify solely as “a man”, in the sense of being ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’, or someone who just needs to alter their body to become the man they know they are. This is tricky territory. My understanding of gender has changed, even since I started this blog, and whilst I strive to be able to embrace my masculinity, that does not mean I wish to be pinned like a butterfly at one end of a gender binary.

So why should it matter so much to me when people read me as female? Surely identifying as genderqueer should mean I am happy to accept that people will read different facets of my gender identity different ways, and will then address me or refer to me in a way built upon their gender context?

That’s the thing. Whereas I am not happy to cling to a social norm which places men firmly at one end of a line, and women at the other, that does not mean that I do not have a particular picture of myself: a way that I want the world to see me. I am very comfortable in masculinity. Testosterone is the fuel I wish I’d discovered years ago. Chest surgery is the best thing that I have ever done. I vastly prefer to be read as a guy, because that is where I am at my most comfortable. That does not mean I wish I’d never identified as female. Nor does it mean that I am not happy to hold onto some of the habits that grew out of 39 years of socialisation as a woman. On forms I am delighted to be able to tick ‘male’ (in the absence of a third choice). None of these things detract from my view of gender as a kaleidoscope, nor my horror of being stuck in a set gender role.

So about the ‘passing’ thing. Actually, yes, I want people to read me as male, because, as I’ve said, masculine is where I’m comfortable. But just because I do not always necessarily look, move, or speak, or react in ways that are traditionally associated with men, I’d rather people didn’t automatically think that if I don’t tick all the right boxes for ‘man’ that I am ‘the lady’, or ‘she’ or ‘her’. I realise that for pretty much everybody, if they do not see ‘male’, their brains default to ‘female’, even if they know my name and story. I wish I could change this – wouldn’t it be great if my blog could start a change in the way people perceive gender? No such luck, I fear.

There is a lot to be said for being true to onesself, and I know that I am finally being truer to myself than I ever have before. I probably haven’t chosen the easiest of routes, nor the easiest for others to understand. I heard someone once talking about another trans person I know, saying “I don’t think he really knows what gender he is. I wish he’d make up his mind”. I would argue that someone who has thought hard enough about their own gender identity to conclude that actually neither end of a gender binary fits, has already made up their mind. Similarly, I am not confused about who I am, know how I wish to be perceived by others, and know who I am inside. Is this me having my cake and eating it? Perhaps. But who doesn’t like cake?

There is an assumption, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, that transitioning involves starting at point A, and ending at point B. This rests primarily on the idea that gender can be neatly bisected into A and B in the first place. Whilst there is some acknowledgment these days that gender is largely a social construct, it’s fair to say that the majority of people are only really willing to accept that gender identity is fluid for *some* people, ie: people like me. I hope that as time goes on there will be a wider realisation that none of us are entrenched at opposite ends of a yawning gender chasm, and that the things by which we measure how ‘male’ or ‘female’ someone is are not the whole picture. To horribly misquote, genitals maketh not the man.

I digress a little. My point is that I am not simply ticking as many boxes as I possibly can until I can apply for Man Membership. It is a common assumption, though, that in transitioning I am on a one-way street, via hormonal and surgical support, to become the ‘opposite sex’ [sic] from that which I was assigned at birth. There’s this idea that I have a definite end-point, when all my ‘problems’ will have been ‘sorted’. I rather get the impression that people want to know when I will be “done”, like some kind of transsexual boiled egg. In saying this, I appreciate that for some transguys, the destination of their journey is achieving the masculine status that they know is theirs, and that for many, this is about crossing a chasm. Even these guys, though, may well have different end-points in mind, and it is impossible for any of us to make assumptions about a transgender person’s aspirations, motivations or beliefs regarding gender. I know this is a really obvious statement, but we’re not all the same. Obvious, but it does seem to get overlooked.

Now I have been on testosterone for over six months, and have had my chest surgery, when will this particular egg be done, then? What next? Once most people got their heads around there not being one big Sex Change Operation, I now face questions about when I will be having my next surgery. Answer, I have no idea. For very many reasons, I may never have more surgery. My gender identity does not rest on what’s nestling in my boxer shorts, nor do I feel that I need to subscribe to a regime of constantly trying to get funding for/preparing psychologically for/taking time off work for/putting my body through hell for/whatever the next step along the one-way transhighway might be. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not some sort of gender theory purist who feels he’s too good for what some people see as the ‘normal’ route. It’s just that I’d rather make these massive decisions for the right reasons, not because the medical establishment, or my own socially-constructed perceptions of “what trans people do”, say is ‘next’ on the FTM path.

So really then, what next? My main aim in embarking on this transition is to recognise and embrace the masculinity that I feel, and masculinise my body sufficiently that I feel comfortable in my own skin. I am having to re-learn my body, and get my head around some pretty heavy dysphoria, but with every day my confidence is increasing and I feel that I am actually growing into the person I’ve always felt was me. It’s a fantastic feeling, and I owe it to my mind, body and inner being to actually allow myself time simply to be. Rather than constantly worrying about the ‘next thing’, I aim to spend time getting to grips with the changes that are taking place, and enjoy them for what they are, rather than simply as signposts I whizz past on the road to some far off, pre-prescribed destination.

What next? Nothing. For now.