Today, March 31st, 2018 has been dubbed the international day of Transgender Visibility. And I kinda didn’t want to let this day slip by without finally opening my mouth, without using my words, without expressing myself as eloquently as I can, because I have been silent for way, way too long. So I suppose, here goes everything…
I first learned of the word “trans” in college. But I, being a science nerd, learned it in OChem in relation to molecules: “Cis-trans isomers are stereoisomers, that is, pairs of molecules which have the same formula but whose functional groups are rotated into a different orientation in three-dimensional space. When the substituent groups are oriented in the same direction, the diastereomer is referred to as cis, whereas, when the substituents are oriented in opposing directions, the diastereomer is referred to as trans.” Apparently that’s not the trans visibility today is highlighting, although chemistry is very important so shit, maybe it should be! Fortunately/unfortunately, the definition for trans as it relates to gender isn’t so cut and dried, although the Dictionary on the interwebs defines it as, “denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.” Seems pretty clear eh? Yes and no.
As a person who has historically clung desperately to black and white and clear definitions I’ve always been irked by grey areas and vague definitions. What does “sense” really mean? How do we quantify it? What level of correspondence are we talking about? How different do these senses and correspondence have to be? Which then inevitably led my mind to further wonder…What makes a person trans? Is there a test? How do you know for sure? Are there things you have to do? Actions you have to take?
Full disclosure: You’re hearing from the person who didn’t “know for sure” if they were a lesbian (despite being so gay, and so sure they loved women, and so attracted to a specific woman at the time) until they made out with another woman. Which kinda sealed the deal for the time. Until they were all, wait I’ve made out with but what about having sex with a woman? What if I’m not “truly a lesbian” until I do that? *Sorry about all the sex talk family, my bad* Once that hoop was jumped through, to put it oh so indelicately, and it was the most natural and at home feeling, I settled for a while again. Until that pesky little voice was all, but you’ve never had sex with a man (thanks so much society *sarcasm*) so what if you’re really not a lesbian because you haven’t ruled out the other “option?” I drew the hard line there, no interest, no desire, just no. Sorry guys, I love you but, not that way. It truly is me, not you!
Any who, as it turns out within that line of inquiry there lies insanity. Pure and unadulterated insanity. As I’ve grown older, and *maybe* wiser I’ve slowly recognized and (somewhat) come to terms with grey areas and that there is no one way to “be” anything, that definitions are stifling, that labels can be a crutch to hold onto when you’re starting out but can be really hurtful in the end, and most importantly that there is no “need” to “do” anything to prove yourself regarding your identity. You just need to do you, Boo. You just need to be confident within your identity, however you define it, that’s what is attractive (and I mean that in a larger sense than just trying to get a date, did I mention I was single? 😉 ) and you owe no one an explanation beyond that.
Right, so why am I still typing? Because I *want* to express myself, my authentic and true self, and hopefully because of that someone, somewhere will find some sort of resonance and peace because of that. The feeling of being othered and alone is one of the worst; it’s driven me to some dark places, some terrifying actions, and threatened to take my life. But I haven’t let it. And I don’t want it to take someone else.
So here’s my truth: Do I identify as trans? Yes. Do I have a fair amount of privilege as it pertains to that? Absolutely yes. Do I want to be visible for those who cannot? Hell-to-the-fucking yes. Does the fact that we have to make these kind of statements and have these days, because hate and injustice, make me beyond sad? That’s a definite yes. Am I finally on my gender is a social construct and everything exists on a spectrum soap box? Eh, maybe. Sorry ’bout that.
How does identifying as trans look to me, you may be asking yourself. Well, good question! It’s been something I’ve been working on for years, potentially my whole life (and let me tell you there are some sad/funny stories within that, but that’s for another day, I’m trying to keep this short and sweet). I feel as if my gender assigned at birth (female) and my gender identity (not really female and mostly more male) are at odds with each other. And I’m a hater of animosity, of any schism. But, at this point in my life I do not identify as completely male either. I do know I feel more confident, more self assured, more myself presenting as male. What does that look like to me? I wear men’s clothes (well shit, I have for most of my adult life) and revel in the more masculine look (thanks for the fun dress clothes foray a few years ago M&D!). I enjoy when someone refers to me as he/him or sir. I consciously perpetuate a flat chest (and of all things thats what I’m most dysphoric about) all day, everyday. I sport a short, “masculine” hair cut and have found barbershops to be both intimidating and awesome (ask me about my first straight razor experience, shoots). I wear men’s chonies (again, its’s been a while) and for those who are wondering I prefer boxer briefs, with fun patterns, that match my outfit (but it’s this silent matching, because no one knows, so it makes me slightly sad on the inside). Being fit and moreover muscular and built is a point of pride, I don’t want to be slim anymore (there’s another fun story, hating my curves and my delve into anorexia/bulimia, yikes) I want to be strong, have broad shoulders (I’ve fit into my Dad’s suit since age sixteen), big quads, etc. I wish I had a more angular jaw. Somedays I wish my “sideburns” (stray, sad hairs) and “femstache” (it’s a sad state of upper lip hair affairs) were more prominent. Occasionally I pack, and it feels very natural (and if you have to ask, I’m going to tell you to use the internet, and no Dad I won’t tell you what “queefing” is either, for the 100th time), and I feel extra confident. When I get gendered as female my confidence/ego totally deflates. Not much about female gender roles or identities jives with me. Dresses terrify me (again, ask for this, a pic of me in a dress at prom, that was the last time!). I have zero domestic bone in my body, cooking is a mystery, I can figure out laundry, sweeping/mopping I learned from a job…But I digress.
Is that shifting and changing on a daily basis? Hell yeah! Is that terrifying and awesome?Fuck yeah. Will I go on hormones (aka testosterone aka T) down the road? There’s a good possibility. Might I remove the most dysphoric of all of my feminine features (dem titties) at some point? Definite possibility. Might Alyssa become Alex/Adrian/Alec/Adain/MysteriousOptionCThatStartsWithA down the road? Maybe. Will you all someday remember fondly the “woman” you saw as Alyssa as the “man” I am now? However that gets defined. I sure hope so. Is there so much more to all of this than I’m addressing? Dear holy jesus god lord, yes. Thats another story, for another day.
Anyway, Happy Trans Day of Visibility! I am loved. I am accepted. I can be me. And I am thankful. So very freaking thankful. I love you all. Thanks for listening.