It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. This is partly because I’m moving, but mainly because things have just gotten a lot simpler in my head. I’ve finally down-shifted from the interpretive overdrive I’ve been in for the last few months. It seems like a simple thing, but it’s such a relief now to just be able to quietly accept that I am trans, that this is the path that I must take at this point in my life, and that I may never fully know why this is. That is, all the justifications and rationales and narratives that I come up with may be true, but they will never, in themselves, be equal to the good feeling that I get, the feeling of hope and wholeness and power, from just riding my bike and feeling like a boy, from being called “brother” by other transmen, from knowing that it is possible to live a life in which those around me – at work and in my social life – gender me male. This seems like such a precious possibility, and I am grateful to have it. It’s funny, I get the feeling that certain feminists and butches think that I, and other transmen, are taking the easy way out of womanhood, misogyny, and body issues. But this doesn’t feel like a cop out or the easy solution at all (especially since I’m still not sure that I’m going to fully physically transition). Transitionings feels like, by far, the more difficult and unknowable choice, but also, the path of greatest excitement and potential. It feels like the path of greatest growth, which is why I know that I have to take it.
This newfound ease has come, partly, from the fact that external obstacles seem to be lifting. I found a kind and generous non-physically transitioned trans professor and set up a phone meeting with him. Initially, neither I nor anyone I spoke to could think of an out trans faculty member who had not physically transitioned, which would have put me in the anxious position of pioneer. Meanwhile, he’s been quietly being trans in academia for the past five years without making much of a fuss of it (he is gender neutral in writing but tells folks he knows that he prefers “he”). Sometimes, he gets misgendered, and often, he is presumed female, but, in his gentle, go with the flow kind of way, he just deals with it, letting it slip with more distant colleagues and clearly stating his preferences with those closer to him. What struck me the most, in talking to him, was the calm, adult perspective he had on matters. He wasn’t panicked that people would think he was crazy, that no one would believe he could be male, that he would be denied tenure, etc… In his calm certainty that he was trans and that he wanted and deserved to be gendered male, he was able to deal with situations that, a couple weeks ago, I would have found absolutely horrifying. Talking to him made me realize that this was perfectly possible, and that my worst enemy was not the reactions of others reactions, but my own fears and insecurities. And, indeed, others’ reactions have subtly changed as I have moved out of the mode of crisis and into that of matter-of-fact certainty. Rather than feeling worried for me or questioning me about my decisions, they are more likely now to simply accept. And I am more likely to feel that they don’t need to know why I am doing this and precisely how I identify.
The other obstacle, my butch mentor’s disapproval, has lifted as well. I really reached out to her after our difficult conversation, and I think (though I didn’t say so directly) that she realized how I feared abandonment and that, as a queer parent figure, she had a certain responsibility to me. But this is a matter for a future post…
This is just a note to say that things are good, I am well, and if I want folks to call me “he”, it really shouldn’t be a very big deal.