I’ve written before about the idea of transitioning, and how, in hindsight, I’ve always felt far more masculine. I’ve also written about how my family catered to this, buying me “boy’s” toys and letting me play baseball and football with the guys in the neighborhood.
But I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about it. As it turns out, those feelings of wanting to explore that side of me run deeper than I realized. I’ve been trying out different pronouns and Mira commented on it the other night. Although she has been totally supportive of my identity exploration, she was a bit surprised that I went from her/she pronouns right to he/him and bypassed they/them/their altogether, while being less sure about moving in the direction of identifying as a trans man.
And that, along with thoughts bouncing around in my own head, has led me to realize a few things.
Lately, I’ve been trying on he/him/his pronouns. Basically, I’ve been telling people to use what feels comfortable to them, because I’m not entirely sure where I am on all of this. Some people refer to me as he and some people still use she.
She feels comfortable to me, and he…well, I’m still getting used to it. It sounds foreign to my ears. It has this strange sense of familiarity…like I’m experiencing deja vu.
But there’s a part of me that is almost…forcing me to feel uncomfortable with it. And then it dawned on me. For 34 years, I’ve been a girl, and then a woman. At least that’s how society has viewed it. Or at least the majority of people in my world. Until recently.
When I started talking about how I’ve always wanted facial hair and a muscular body, the responses I get are always extremely affirming. Like there isn’t a question that that’s who I’m supposed to be.
Yet I still have this feeling that it’s not right. Again…34 years a woman, by societal standards. I’ve spent my life being conditioned to believe that I am a woman, nothing more, nothing less. So when I hear “he” in reference to me, of course it will sound foreign to me. Because he is who I am becoming. He was the kid who played football with the other guys. He was the kid who was socially awkward because he would much rather have had the advantages that the other guys did in school. He was the one who wanted to be able to talk about his crushes on girls.
The feeling is a nagging one, not of guilt or shame, but more of whether or not I’m being silly. Remember, I grew up in a Conservative household. Gender was always very clear. Man. Woman. Woman was the submissive to Man, despite the fact that when my parents got married, they changed the vows from “man and wife” to “husband and wife”. My idea of gender was always a bit confused.
My mom would buy me G.I. Joe, Micro Machines, baseballs, footballs, basketballs…she told me she’d never make me wear a skirt if I didn’t want to, yet I had to wear a dress under my graduation gown in my senior year.
I’ve never wanted feminine things. And I was taught that that’s okay. But growing up around a family that had such strong anti-gay views, where any talk of the trans* community resulted in someone (usually mom) making a comment about ‘shemales’, made it difficult to explore any aspect of that for me.
I don’t stand in the mirror and hate my body. And this voice, this nagging voice, when I look at myself and see that bit of beard, or that adam’s apple, or those muscles in my shoulder or a flat chest…I hear
“You’re not really a trans man, you’re just being fanciful.”
“Just keep being a butch lesbian. It’s so close to what you want anyway, and you can always be a drag king to make up for the rest…”
“Are you sure about all of this? You don’t have real dysphoria.”
And I wonder. That doubt creeps up, and I wonder if…
I wonder if…
In high school, my debate teacher taught us that the Negative side in debate, if they were good, could “what if” the debate all the way to nuclear war.
So I wonder if…
And with that comes what if I get fired because I come out as trans at work and it freaks people out and what if I lose friends and what if it’s all wrong and I’m not really trans and what if I can’t handle this and what if what if what if…
But, I have always prided myself on the fact that I’m me. I’m Teri, and I’ve always been Teri, and I will always be Teri. It’s just now that Teri wants the facial hair he’s always desired, and to have the muscles he’s always been able to envision.
I think more that it’s not “he” that sounds unfamiliar, but the idea that a new chapter in my life is unfolding before me…it’s exciting and scary, and it’s amazing and terrifying. But that won’t stop me. I have beautiful friends and family around me to support me.
And I think when I start hearing “him” I’ll know that he is me, and to some degree, always has been.