I’ve been thinking a lot lately that I’m stuck in the middle of the binary genders at this point. I’m not really female and not really male. But, I think I’m actually edging off into the male area more than I really know. Even without binding my chest I was called sir 3 times today in less than an hour. One man called me “bud”. OK. I’ll take that over miss any day. I was on a quest for something called Naval Jelly. It dissolves rust. I went to three stores and never found it.
There are truly few possessions that I consider precious to me but I recently acquired two of them. My dad died when I was a baby and I have always felt a strange and wonderful connection to him that I can’t explain. I miss him. I love him. I talk to him. I need him. But I’ve never met him. I love someone that I don’t have any memories of. There’s a hole in my heart from not knowing him. He was a mechanic and a wood worker. He made a very large tool chest where he kept all of his tools. The chest sat on our front porch out in the weather while I was growing up. It was my toy box. I played with his tools and imagined what we could build with them. I loved the smell of that tool box. My brother has had the box at his house all of these years and used it to pile garbage on top of. Now that he’s cleaned out his place I asked him if he would mind me having the tool box and he surprised me in telling me yes and that I could have the cedar chest that dad had built as well. I was elated!!!
Both things are in bad repair and the tools in the box are rusted from the years of being outside in the weather. The cedar chest survived a house fire that destroyed nearly everything else around it. It was a miracle. It too has been nothing but a junk collector at my brother’s house for many years. I’ve finally cleaned the soot from it and am in the process of trying to get the smoke smell out of it. So I need the naval jelly to help me remove heavy rust from my dad’s tools. The toolbox has a place of honor inside my awesome shed where I work on my projects.
But this post isn’t supposed to be about my dad or naval jelly. It’s about my gender presentation and perception. Inside, I am not in the middle. I am male. I know who I am. But outside, and in the world, I am used to being perceived as a woman. As I walk around being myself these days I find myself feeling naked. When people see me as male it makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m not used to being seen. It makes me wiggle and squirm, yet feels normal at the same time. It’s a very strange mix of feelings.
Every store or restaurant I go into I wonder whether the person behind the counter will see male or female. I’m never sure. And this unsure part makes me uncomfortable and unsteady. I wonder which bathroom to use if I’ve been gendered male by anyone. And when I’m out with people who are not privy to my gender issues I get really nervous about how I’ll be greeted by strangers. If I’m called sir will they correct the person and make me even more uncomfortable. This process is making me feel like hibernating until my beard comes in and my breasts fall off.
I find myself being increasingly uncomfortable going out in public or being seen at work. I worry about bumping into people that I’ve known for a long time. I’m clearly not comfortable in the middle. Or is it that I’m not comfortable being past the middle into the M zone? I think I’m teetering between middle and M on the gender scale in my head. My vision of the gender spectrum is a long line with Female on one end, neutral in the middle and Male on the other end. I imagine that we all fall somewhere along this line with relatively few people actually sitting at the far edges of the binary genders. I think the discomfort comes not from being on the male side of my gender scale because I’m really ok with that. What I’m uncomfortable with is how other people will react to this change. Will acquaintances that I’ve known for a long time think badly of me? Will I have to explain myself? Will I embarrass my partner and cause a scene? Will I get humiliated by an ignorant clerk or fellow customer in a store? Will I be harmed in some way? There is fear.
I wish I was the kind of person that could sit comfortably in the middle and find enjoyment in making people wonder what gender I am. I’m not. I wish I was the kind of person who could go about my life and not worry what others think of me. I’m not. I want to make sense to myself as well as the world. But my world thinks I’m a woman so now that I’m not looking like a woman very much how is that making sense in my world? I wish I could just disappear for a year and come back looking like a man. Boom! Here I am! This is me. Or maybe I could just disappear permanently and go where no one already knows me. Ah, but I can not do that. I have too many obligations here in this place where people DO know me. The escape hatch has been sealed and there’s no way out now.
So I have to stick it out and work through this awkward, ugly duckling phase of my transition. I’ve been watching the new Amazon series, Transparent. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it as I think it’s very well done. It’s a fictional story about a trans woman named Maura and her family adjusting to her new identity. It’s funny, sad, and real in a lot of ways. The thing that impresses me about Maura is that once she decided to transition she began living as Maura full time without much outward regard for how others see her other than her immediate family. She’s brave and unashamed. I am, undoubtedly, dealing with some shame issues here. I want to be brave and unashamed too. Intellectually, I know that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Being transgender is not a horrible thing. But I know that the rest of the world does not share my feelings about this.
This post has kind of been all over the place and is symptomatic of how my mind is working these days. I’m all over the place. My mind races about how to deal with this situation I’ve created for myself and my peeps. One day this will all be over and I won’t be worrying so much, but, for now, it’s my life.