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“I’m changing my sex.” “Fun!”

January 28, 2009

That’s what a friend said when I came out to him*: “That’s fun! Now we can play video games together.” Another friend responded in a similar, but more explicitly baffling, way: “Neat. Now you have to be sexist.”

So now both these friends are trying to teach me about being a man.Which is kind of weird, because I’m not transitioning in order to change my personality: I’m transitioning socially and physically so that my body, name and pronouns fit my inner gender identity. I never had to try to feel like a guy.

Besides, I couldn’t be consciously sexist. I may not know how it feels to be a woman, but I know how it feels to be seen as a woman and treated like a woman; I know how it feels when society/family/school/media try to turn you into a certain type of woman. It can get ugly. I didn’t want to be that kind of woman, but I don’t want to be like the stereotypical man either, violent and insensitive and macho. There are so many kinds of masculinities: I’d like to pick my own.

At the same time, it’s nice to be seen as “one of the guys”, at least in part (I don’t think my friends suddenly started seeing me as male). Maybe, if they stop trying to teach me how to be a man, I can teach them a thing or two about women. I’ve spent years undercover among them: I think I learned a thing or two that might be useful for straight guys (I may be totally wrong, though).

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*I said I was changing my sex, even though that’s a grossly inaccurate statement, because I wanted him to understand; when I try saying I’m transgender, most people don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. More about coming out in another post.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2009 11:08 am

    This is interesting. I live in a different society of course, and my experience is kinda peculiar. Basically, most of my friends are feminists or feminist engaged and quite gender aware. So I’ve had the opposite experience, sometimes being told not to adopt ‘negative’ female traits like obsessing about appearance, or thinking about makeup and the like. But sometimes the same people put as much care in their appearance as me, not remembering that due to my testosterone I have different skin, etc.

    The comments from your cis male friends reveal this idea that yes, okay you are ‘allowed’ to become a man but you have to be what ‘a man is supposed to be’. And that just annoys me so all I can say is fuck that noise.

    (Sometimes my eloquence gets undercut by my punk side, apologies.)

  2. genderkid permalink*
    February 4, 2009 2:05 pm

    It’s funny how we experience opposite forms of gender policing… So maybe the issue isn’t what we’re expected to be: it’s being expected to be anything particular in the first place.

    “yes, okay you are ‘allowed’ to become a man” — I just realized, when reading this, that I’m lucky that my friends ‘allow’ me (accept me) to be a man at all; that’s a good start. I can proceed to queerify their gender binary from there =)

  3. February 6, 2009 2:20 am

    Thanks for your comment on my blog! And for your interesting blog, which puts me in touch with a little bit of life in Argentina. I wanted to say that men in my life said many things which offended me when I looked female or like a boy. Later, when I began to look like an adult man, I started to experience the ways people treat men. Then I started to realize the men in my life had been trying to tell me things I needed to know. They were showing me the prejudices I was going to face from others. These can be as extreme as the prejudices women face–there is a very real gender binary because of how people see you; people really do experience you differently as a man than a woman, girl, or boy, and you can’t avoid that. People may act very stereotyped, or afraid, or think you are stupid, or assume you don’t respect women, and you have to learn how to respond to the ways people treat you when you look the way you want. Sometimes when you act the way you think is right, it has negative effects, and vice versa. Men know this because men remember being boys, and ways they had to change because people acted differently toward them as their bodies became more masculine. So you may have things to teach non-trans men because you were female, but if you’re becoming more masculine in body or identity, then they also have things to teach you. It’s good to help each other.

  4. genderkid permalink*
    February 6, 2009 11:32 am

    I hadn’t really thought about that; I believed I knew how to be my kind of man. But it’s true that “being a man” isn’t only about being a man: it’s also about being seen as one. Thanks for the insight!

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