I began this blog because I wanted to work through the seeming impossibility of being female, identifying as a faggot, and wanting to have gay sex with gay men. I didn’t know if I was trans or if I wanted to claim trans. I felt all right being called “she”, and I didn’t necessarily feel like I had body dysphoria, though I did like the idea of having a more masculine appearance. My main difficulty was, as I outlined in “Butch Lesbian vs. Female Faggot”, that there is not socially legible way to be a female faggot. The term itself, it would seem, is an oxymoron, completely self-contradictory. I have failed to resolve this difficulty. I apologize to any readers who were rooting for me to stake out a livable terrain of female faggotry: this is something that you will have to do on your own.
Keeping this blog has, however, helped me to become trans. I say become because, unlike some people, I wasn’t always trans, I wasn’t always male, and I wasn’t always a guy. But I am all of these things now. More than for many transpeople, I think that my sexuality has driven my gender identification. If I had been attracted to feminine women, perhaps I would still be a non-trans butch today, people’s occasional feminine genderings of me but a passing annoyance. But I understand and accept that gender and sexuality are relational terms. One can’t just decide one is a certain gender and expect that to be the case. Gender is also what other people think of you; your gender only exists relationally, in how it interacts socially and erotically with other genders. In order to make a certain gender real, you have to figure out the social signs that will communicate that gender to others, the cues that will tell them how to interact with you. As in any linguistic system, there is a certain room for innovating new vocabularies, and there is always the option of engaging in lengthy explanations of one’s gender, but it is most economical to speak within the vocabularies and to take on the signs that make one legible to others. If I lived in a world in which there were certain recognizable signs that communicated female faggotry, then perhaps I would not identify as trans or use male pronouns. But that is not the world I live in.
I do, however, live in a queer world in which one can be a trans guy, with or without taking testosterone or undergoing chest surgery, and be referred to as “he” and thought of as male. Here too, there are certain social signs here too that I have to respect, but for the most part, I am already there. The advantage of using male pronouns and being known to be a trans guy is that it does a lot of explaining for me. Since a lot of trans guys are gay, my sexuality, if not clearly visible to all, is at least possible. And, being a trans guy, my effeminacy takes on a whole different meaning than it would if I were simply a “she”. So male pronouns are the social sign that I’m using now to convey my particular way of being a faggot, to try to make this inhabitable and legible. The question now is whether it is possible to be a non-transitioned trans fag indefinitely, or whether the social signs I want to wear include the physical signs of maleness that only testosterone can give.
To be clear, however, identifying as trans for me is not simply a calculative choice based on an assessment of which existing social signs would best fit my needs. It’s also something that has to be felt. So here are the factors that have made me “feel” trans* lately:
Dating a gay cis-male who saw me as a trannyboy** was hugely influential, because it felt so damn right. It took my faggot identification from a sex game that I played out with other females and a fantasy that I entertained about gay men to an experiential reality. I realized that, yes, I liked everything about having gay sex with a gay man in an imaginary boy’s body. More profoundly, I got to experience interacting with someone who instinctively “got” my gender and my sexuality completely. Being seen and treated like an effeminate fag by another fag and not feeling like I had to perform butchness to have my masculinity recognized felt earth-shatteringly right. It was the first time that I had been seen and eroticized for exactly who I wanted to be. In the end, the fact that I so loved being treated as a gay trannyboy was what alerted me to the fact that maybe I ought to try being a gay trannyboy. Ever since, I have been trying to figure out how to make myself more generally legible as an effeminate faggot.
Methodically ruling out the possibility of having sex with different types of lesbians has also helped me embrace transness, since it indicated two things: 1. there is something trans about my sexuality itself and 2. if I transition, I will not be closing the door on lesbianism, because that door is already shut. This year, I experimented with a femme for the first time. It was a strange experience because it didn’t resonate with my fantasies at all. I felt strangely disconnected from the experience, like I was playing at being a straight dude in a porn video. The not-quite-feminine not-quite-masculine female genders have never interested me. I had two experiences this year getting physical with boyish-looking girls, and when their bodies’ response to me was utterly female, I became completely turned off. These were boyish-looking girls, not butches, genderqueers, or trans guys, and our sexualities were completely off. After chasing a series of butches who treated me either as a lady or as a non-sexual bro and who had a lesbian rather than a gay approach to dating, I have given up on butch-kind. I want a fag, not a butch, and if a butch wants me, she probably has the wrong idea of who I am.*** Now there are female-bodied people who are into fag sex and who are attracted to me as a boy, but I’ve found that they all identify as genderqueer or trans and date men as well as female-bodied queers, so taking male pronouns and/or transitioning would not alienate them at all.
Once I realized that lesbians were not for me, I started feeling quite trans. Specifically, I began to feel that my desire to have sex with guy-identified folks with a male relationship to their bodies, precisely as a boy with a male relationship to my own body was incontrovertibly a trans desire. Taking male pronouns and identifying as trans is one way to make this desire more legible to those who might best respond to it.
Getting read within queer culture as someone who could be trans and could be a “he” lately has felt really exciting and affirming. Feeling great about getting read this way and wanting to repeat this feeling has been a major part of my decision to change my identification. Realizing that queers who are just meeting me could go either with “he” or with “she” has made socially transitioning seem like a real, tangible possibility. At the same time, being read as a woman, a lesbian, and/or a butch has started to feel more and more off and uncomfortable lately. I am tired of living in a constant state of mistaken identity and am ready to take steps to correct this.
I feel a strong sense of kinship with trans guys that I don’t experience with lesbians or with women more generally. It has felt really great lately to be treated like a trans guy by other trans guys, and this is another feeling that I would like to repeat.
I feel, more and more strongly, a gender-dysphoric pull toward maleness. I certainly feel more consistently dysphoric about my body than I did when I started this blog. This is the most confusing part for me: do I feel more dysphoric because I want to be seen socially as a guy and having physical signs of maleness would ease my way? Or because I have felt good about all the ways in which I have masculinized my appearance, but have reached the limit of what I can do without hormones? Or because I have begun to identify more consistently and literally as a guy and therefore more consistently desire a male body? Or because I’m afraid people will think I’m crazy for wanting to use male pronouns and having a more male body would make my pronoun “fit” better? Or because seeing T as a controllable form of physical masculinization rather than as the outcome of a certain transsexual life narrative or the means to transition into full maleness has made it seem within reach? Or because my identification as a faggot, my lack of attachment to my femaleness, and my lack of identification with the lesbian community take away the brakes that prevent many lesbian-identified butches from transitioning? …I am still figuring this all out, but what I do know is this: I have a vision of myself as a male-bodied faggot that is profoundly soothing. If any of you read Lacan, there are certain images of slim, hairless, shirtless Asian men that have the same effect on me as the infant’s first views of its reflection have on it: jubilation and euphoria. I am jubilant with the misrecognition of myself in these bodies (especially the smooth, naked chests), which have a wholeness, rightness, and power that my body currently lacks. These images resonate with my internal sense of my own body: I think that they look exactly like me; I see and, more importantly, feel myself in them, even though a quick glance in the mirror confirms that we actually look somewhat different. I also experience this with certain real-life fags: this sense that we have the same body and are exactly alike, usually accompanied by me wanting to wear their clothes which, I am shocked to discover, end up being too big for me. Having queer male lovers has only intensified this desire for and identification with male bodies. The downside of the jubilation, however, is the melancholy of realizing that I don’t actually have this body. I would like to try to resist the pull of maleness and see if I can remain a female-bodied guy, but I already have doubts about how successful this can be.
So basically, feeling trans is about paying attention to the which things feel good, right, and empowering as well as to those that don’t. Being publicly trans and using male pronouns will hopefully lead to the good-feeling things happening more and more often, even though I will have to deal with a lot of transphobic bullshit.
On the other hand, there are times when I doubt that I’m “really” trans, “really” a guy. There are times, during sex, when I fail to imagine my body as male. The fact that I only recently really started to feel trans makes me doubt the authenticity of this identification and wonder if, at some later point, I will feel female once again. Sometimes I just feel crazy. Sometimes, when I think about how difficult this is going to be, I wonder if I should just pour all my energy into reconciling myself to being female rather than trying to get others to recognize me as male. Since both require work, how do I know which one is more authentic?
Comments, encouragement, and comparison of experiences welcome.
*”Transgender” is a broad, umbrella term, and people choose to identify or disidentify with it for many different reasons. Even before I began this blog, I was “technically” trans, understood broadly. But I did not feel like publicly claiming trans was meaningful or felt right to me. So this is an account of how publicly claiming trans began to feel meaningful to me, which is not to say that it can’t feel meaningful to others with a different experience of transness than me.
**I know that “trannyboy” can be a triggering term for some people, and I apologize for this. But there is also a certain usage, within queer culture, of “trannyboy” to refer specifically to non-transitioned trans guys. Since I don’t look like a lot of the transitioned trans guys I know, “trannyboy” feels more accurate and more within reach for myself. In addition, it draws me into community with other non-transitioned trans guys. In the context of this post, I use it specifically to describe how I know my lover thought of me.
***I enjoy making dramatic statements about how I am “through” with lesbian-kind (as lovers), but here are my caveats. The one type of butch who seems to be consistently attracted to me is the 50-yr old white butch Daddy, and I do think that the race, generation, age, and gender difference between me and them would make this dynamic hot. And if I met a butch who truly knew how to be gay, I would not hesitate to hook up with her.