So when I first started to imagine taking testosterone to physically transition, I imagined that I would become a smooth, hairless, lean effeminate fag. This was how I came across before T (to those who knew how to read me correctly), and so this is who I hoped to become after beginning T, but to the whole world. The other possibility (I imagined) was horrifying – becoming a straight man!! Although I had been really into topping before starting T, I assumed that once I made my debut into the gay male world, I would be a bottom, because the effeminate one tends to be perceived as a bottom, and because, if I was dating cis men, I figured that it would simplify matters, especially since I did like to get fucked. Overall, I decided that enacting my identity as a gay man by having sex with gay men was more important than my identity as a top.
One year after starting T, where am I?
I have pretty much exactly the type of body I envisioned. Lean, muscular, small, and mostly smooth. I ended up growing longer hair than I anticipated on my legs, and growing a light happy trail. While, initially, I was not particularly pleased with these developments, over time, I grew to love them. Seeing as how my lower body was already pretty lean and muscular before starting T, the hair is the major visible change – but somehow, it signifies totally as male. I love looking down and seeing my “male” (i.e. slightly hairier) lower body now.
Otherwise, I have a perfect gay boy body. I feel really lucky. I love it. It’s really only slightly different than how it was before, since I didn’t have much fat to shift around to begin with and the muscle mass that I did put on was lean rather than bulky.
But I move it differently than I expected. I think, partly, because my changing muscles have affected my phenomenological experience of my body. I can feel the strength and the mass of my pecs, shoulders, and upper-body, for instance. I enjoy it, and this makes me move in a way that emphasizes their mass, strength, and stability. I have ended up not being one of those flexible waisted, butt out, back arched gay boys, and this is not because I’m trying to hide my chest. Overall, my enjoyment of my sense of my new muscles leads me to project strength and stability in my posture, along with the potential for lightning-fast movement. For me to take on the flexible-waisted, butt out, back arched posture, I would have to let go of my muscles’ desire to experience their strength, and so I haven’t been able to do it.
The result is that I don’t think anyone who knows me would call me effeminate. In fact, my femmy genderqueer trans friend said the other day that he considered me butch! BUTCH!!! I was completely astounded. A few days later, I went to queer choir practice and was told that I was a bass! A BASS!!! A BUTCH BASS! Will wonders never cease?
In all seriousness, I honestly didn’t believe him at first. That is, I thought that he must have woefully loose standards for what a butch was if he thought that I was one! It just didn’t make sense. I knew that I was nothing like a real butch such as my Pops. We have completely different gender styles, embodiments, ways of moving, ways of relating to women. I was not butch. I was also nothing like the many butch straight trans men I know – again, totally different gender styles, embodiments, ways of moving, and ways of relating to women. (I realized recently that, though I think of myself as someone who has many good trans male friends, actually, I don’t tend to relate so well to straight trans men. My intimate friendships are all with trans men who are or have been primarily into other men). Only such an extraordinarily femmy friend could believe that I, of all people, was butch.
But it’s true that with this friend, I behave as the butch. This friend, along with other feminine people I know, also make me realize that there are certain ways in which I’m quite a bit “butcher” than many others around me. I am a realist. I shoot down ideas that don’t seem feasible, and I don’t know how to do it in a sweet way. I am direct. I don’t play games, I am not coy, and I am as incapable of feigning interest, niceness, and enthusiasm as I am of expressing my strong opinions in more polite and inoffensive language. I believe that life is hard, and that people ought to be tough to survive. When my more sensitive or idealistic friends tell me about their problems and disappointments, my instinct is to tell them that that’s life and to advise them to toughen up, to assert themselves, and to take a more cynical or adversarial view of how the world works. When something really awful happens to me, I turn inward. I don’t seek out friends or try to express the hurt immediately until I am a little more in control, a little less broken, a little less vulnerable. I err, in general, toward appearing more confident than I actually am, because I don’t fully trust many people, and even when I do, I don’t usually like to show them my vulnerabilities. It just feels unseemly to me. Finally, I tend to express myself in more economical language than many more feminine people. There are all masculine, one might even say butch traits.
But these character traits were all present before I started T as well. Somehow, though, with the body and sweet face I had then, they really didn’t register as butch or even as very masculine. Rather, they were cute. A sweet, slender, pixyish young genderqueer pretending to be a grumpy old granddad – that must have been the effect. Now, the effect is butch but definitely very very gay. A butch gay man, in other words. Among straight trans men and butch women, I stand out as GAY, but not, for that matter, as effeminate.
I was surprised and disheartened at first. Partly because I imagined that I would still be extremely visibly genderqueer (as in flaming fairy) once I transitioned. This is not how I am at all. In part, I have realized that it feels more dangerous and more vulnerable to be a flaming gay man in public than it did to be a butch genderqueer, and I feel more frightened now being publicly intimate with a (male) lover than I did then. I feel more comfortable not drawing excessive amounts of attention to myself. But it is also because I actually do prefer expressing masculinity to expressing effeminacy or femininity, and the satisfactions of this far outweigh my earlier fears of coming across as a regular guy.
And I get publicly cruised and even asked out by really cute queer men enough that I know for a fact that, to the even slightly trained eye, I do not come across as a heterosexual. So I decided, recently, not to worry about not having become the effeminate faggot that I envisioned. It is interesting how little one can know oneself, and how much one’s body can influence one’s (and other’s) perception of oneself.
Finally, something rather stupendous has happened. I have started dating an absolutely gorgeous gay black cis man who is himself an effeminate bottom and who sees me as his big strong (potential) top. This is something of a feat of the imagination considering the height difference between us, and the fact that I am not only smaller, but also skinnier than him. But it works. I have not been so turned on by someone in a very long time. It is partly him, his beauty, and so on, but it is mostly the dynamic – the fact that he makes himself my lady, that during our first kiss, I was the one putting my tongue into his mouth and not the other way around, that when I put my arm around him, he sinks into me as if I am so much bigger and stronger than him, that he really reacts when I dominate him while making out, and that he lays his head on my shoulder in a way that makes me feel totally strong and totally protective of him. He has commented on how strong I look, how it looks like I work out, how I seem a lot taller than I am, and how I have a certain swagger about me. In other words, he makes me feel like a gay butch top, and I love it. More than that, he makes me feel like a Daddy; and I’m afraid, that if this gets going, I will find myself in another Daddy/Boy relationship (he referred to himself as my “babyboy” in his text tonight), but only afraid because they’re so intense and emotionally vulnerable for me.
This is making me realize the extent to which I am actually a top. The sex that I’ve been having – either in a double top situation with other tops, or as a pretend “bottom” with a service top – has been satisfying, but not outrageously hot, because actually, what turns me on are effeminate male bottoms (this one talks about his “bosom” and doesn’t even like to have his dick sucked – I think he’s somewhat genderqueer without using that word). However, my assumption that these kinds of fags would only want a “real man,” and would not want to be topped, even if they were attracted to me, by someone without a cis penis, that I didn’t even really consider it a possibility. Until I came across someone so beautiful that I just couldn’t help myself. And now I can acknowledge that, the truth is, I really enjoy being the penetrator with someone who is significantly more feminine than me (and this is actually not that easy to find, with the contemporary gay male primacy on masculinity). And I want him to give me really long, really great blow jobs, but I don’t particularly care about being penetrated by him. This seemed, however, like too much to wish for, so I didn’t.
I guess, overall, this post is about how one can not really know one’s gender as well as one thinks, because the gender we think we have is often based on the chance appearance of our body as well as fantastical ideas in our head. Our body is the part of us that knows the real story. Secondly, it is about how one can know one’s sexuality but deliberately obfuscate this knowledge because parts of it seem unfeasible.
I am clearly not butch in the same way that butch women and certain straight men are butch. But perhaps I’m moving toward becoming a somewhat butch gay top, and I should just embrace it. It certainly feels good in my body and in my sexuality.
Afterword: Because of certain incompatibilities having nothing to do with gender, topping, or transness, it looks like this relationship with the gay bottom may go nowhere, but it was worth it for the revelations it helped me have.