Politically, I’m A Woman

I, like many transmen and trans*masculine people before me, have been experiencing recently a disconnect politically.

If you need a cold hard term to use, I identify as a third-wave feminist. I support rights for every person, regardless of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual variations. For a long time, before I began to explore the genders outside of the binary, I have had almost aggressive internal movements towards equality. A huge part of the reason I began to reject my female status is because I feel like being female is not respected in this world.

But then, I feel like a traitor. Because my gender is so often not female, and because there are so many many women who do great things. I feel like I’m abandoning them. I cannot say that I’m an example the first woman in space, or one of the best female writers of our time. I’m not a woman.

But I still feel like I’m running away. I feel like, by becoming a man or a genderqueer trans*masculine person, I’m affirming the misogynistic views of our society- that only a man can be successful outside of having a family, that a man can do great things and be a great person.

The best expression of this, I think, comes from a book I read on gender a few weeks ago, “Nina Here Nor There” by Nick Krieger (which is also the inspiration for my blog title). The author’s friend Jess, when discussing why he wore a binder even around the house, and packed even though it was itchy and somewhat uncomfortable, said something that really stuck with me.

He said “Physically, I’m male, but politically, I’m a woman.”

Yes. I think I’ll say the same. Politically, I’m a woman. I can never abandon that, and I will never try to hide from anyone that I was born a woman.

But physically, mentally, emotionally? I’m not a woman. I’m not a man either, but that’s closer to how I feel most of the time, and I will keep both, and hold them close to my heart.

~Terrance

Being Male is Like Being High

I think I’ve always had male days. From the time I was very young, there were days I envied men their Adam’s apples, their furry faces and deep belly laughs, being the husband and the father, not needing to wear dresses and pantie hose to mass. I would watch my father shave, poke at his throat curiously to feel the lump that deepened his voice and defined this

And there were days I swore to grow my hair longer than anyone else, to be beautiful and curvaceous, that I’d wear makeup and be just a total knockout- though I didn’t know the words at the time. Those goals were more attainable, encouraged, even, and I remember playing with my mother’s makeup and jewelry, consigning my longing for an Adam’s apple and to shave my face to could-have-beens and dreams to be pushed away.

I remember the day a transwoman was on Larry King Live. I couldn’t have been more than four or five, and I remember watching her talk to King about having her penis removed, about her children calling her Mandy- a mix of Mommy and Daddy- and tried to figure out how solid gender could really be, if a man could become a woman, could be a mommy instead of a daddy. Even then, I didn’t believe that it made much difference, one way or another- I’d seen little boys at preschool naked while they changed for water play, and compared to me, there was only one difference- a penis. Boys even had nipples, I figured, so why would there be any difference at all?

After that, every time I saw an article or even a mention of transgender people, I would hoard close to my heart, unable to understand why. I read an article- in Time or Newsweek, I can’t remember- when I was nine or ten, discussing trans* culture, and then I had a name. Then I could do research. Still, I pushed it aside for years, because so often being a girl and being a boy meant the same thing. I was told I could be and do anything, same as boys, and it didn’t matter to me.

Until fashion mattered. Until people began to comment on my breasts, because they preceded me, and asked generalized questions about girls, and I couldn’t try out for football, because guess what- you’re a girl!

Then it became unbearable. Sports bras, always. Crossed arms, glaring at anyone whose eyes wandered lower than my neckline.

And then my binder came a few days ago. I bound my breasts as best I could, even on Christmas day, and walked around with pecs instead of breasts. I definitely looked like I had bigger pecs than most men… but I could pass. No purse, hair tied back, breasts bound, and I looked like a chunky dude.

Being male is intoxicating, it’s like being high for me. I might someday get top surgery to remove these breasts I will never use, and testosterone patches to brow a beard, an Adam’s apple in my throat, to finally be able to drop the bass.

It’s not that I hate my female body. I don’t, I really don’t, and in a different, less-sexualized world, I think I would be fine with it.

But this is the world I live in, and in this world, I will only ever be truly myself when my male body is seen, my male personality and gender.

I suppose, in a way, it’s good that I’ll be forever alone. I’ll never have to explain to a partner why my outside doesn’t match my inside.

~Terrance

Taking Off Jewelry

I give up so easily.

I decide to wear a ring forever, and never take it off, never put it in my pocket, never lose it while swimming or leave it above the sink in a dish. Then one day it’s annoying, and it goes in a box on my dresser. It stays there.

Every necklace, every bracelet, every earring I keep still, I’ve put on with the intention of never taking off. “I’ll never put it in my pocket”, I say, and for months, I don’t. And then I do.

I wear the same necklace for a year or more. Clean it, wear it in the shower, pick my hair from the silver chain that matches nothing, slender to my thickness, pale to my dark hair and tan skin. And then I take it off, hang it on my bedstead along with the others.

Maybe my jewelry is like a scrapbook of me. Every piece, I remember wearing it to school, sometimes against a dress code that forbade rings, bracelets, non-religious necklaces, wearing to mass, toying with when I’m distracted, nervous, bored, defending to the teacher who notices it and demands that I take it off.

How do you commit to something like that? How does a person commit to a house, a job, a ring, a person, a family? How do you choose once? Choose once, and every day after. How can you know that that ring won’t annoy you, won’t make you frown in its decadence, its extravagant diamonds and whorls carved into the metal?

How can you be sure that one day you’ll wake up beside your wife and not lean over to kiss her like you have ever day since your wedding? How can a person condemn the person they will be to the person they used to love?

I wake up some days, determined to be a woman, to be beautiful, to wear makeup and skirts and walk demurely. And then some days, I can’t. I can’t put on a skirt to wear to mass, I tie my hair back to give the illusion of a shorter cut, I spread my legs when I sit, bind my breasts. I take off the ring and the necklace I’ve been wearing, opal and glass, day in and day out for the past four months, hook the ring through the chain and leave them on my dresser.

Even then, I can’t commit. I can’t stand on one space, I can’t have my cake and eat it too. “You can be anything”, they told me. But I can’t. I can’t be anything, because I want to be everything.

~Terra

Rights of Man: A Response

From the AP English Free-Response essay prompt, recycled for practice in an American high school classroom:

The following passage is from Rights of Man, a book written by the pamphleteer Thomas Paine in 1791. Born in England, Paine was an intellectual, a revolutionary, and a supporter of American independence from England. Read the passage carefully. Then write an essay that examines the extent to which Paine’s characterization of America holds true today. Use appropriate evidence to support your argument.

“If there is a country in the world, where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America. Made up, as it is, of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government, speaking different languages, and more different in ther modes of worship, it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable; but by the simple operation of constructiing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires, and all the parts are brought into cordial unison. There, the poor are not oppressed, the rich are not privileged…. Their taxes are few, because their government is just; and as there is nothing to render them retched, there is nothing to engender riots and tumults.”

In this passage, Thomas Paine argues that “If there is a country in the world, where concord… would be least expected, it is America.” Paine is of the opinion that America, because of its origins, is as close to fair and just as a country can hope to come. However, Paine is incorrect; not because his logic is in error, or his examples poor, but because by virtue of the wariness inherent in human nature, no nation of people will ever be truly placated.

Paine takes an optimistic view of humanity at large. He implies that “a government [constructed] on the principles of society adn rights of man is what every person seeks in life; that this will bring people from every walk of life into complacency and contentment. He is not wholly wrong. In truth, many people, both in his modern society in 1791, and in hour own society today, in 2013, seek rights in America that in their own country would be greatly restricted or even nonexistent. However, people will always be wary. Men and women who are born poor and better themselves financially as adults often will not waste food even when they can afford to. Similarly, when a person who has lived a life of oppression is suddenly granted or gains freedom, that person is liable to remain wary of those freedoms being taken away.

People of today’s America monitor their rights closely. Many would argue that Paine’s statement that “the poor are not oppressed, the rich are not privileged” s incorrect. They hold the opinion that the rich are overtaxed, or not taxed enough; that the government should help the poor more, or not help at all. Because of the rights given them, many native-born citizens might boggle at the concept of their rights, to speech of votes or even wages, being infringed upon.

In conclusion, in his facts, Thomas Paine was not wrong. America is a country peopled by citizens from every land, and the government and the people work together to keep the country and its laws just. However, in his opinion that “as there is nothing to render them retched, there is nothing to engender riots and tumults”, he could not have been farther from the truth. People ultimately do not need something to render them wretched; they do that of their own volition.

~Terrance

Why don’t you want children? What do you have against them? You’ll love them really, once you have them.

Here’s the thing. My identity as a biological female has nothing to do with anything in my life. That’s why I have such a loopy time with gender- I don’t get why it’s such a big choppy subject, why it exists.

With that understanding, I feel like being a parent is an identity. There are women who want them, women who want the pain and sorrow and fulfillment and joy that comes with offspring and giving life where there was none, by virtue of their body.

I don’t doubt that these are real. I don’t doubt that to be a mother can be endlessly fulfilling, or that, were I to have a child, I would love them with all my heart.

But the fact of the matter is, I’ve considered it, and I don’t feel like a little person, who’s my responsibility, emotionally, physically, mentally, is something I need for fulfillment. I enjoy being around children, but I don’t really feel any emotional or mental drive towards guardianship and the responsibility of helping a person to grow.

On top of that, as I’ve mentioned before (though not here) and will likely mention again, I am asexual- meaning that there is no one, man or woman, or those outside of binary genders, that I have ever felt sexually attracted to. While I have nothing against sperm donation or even marrow donations to provide the other 21 chromosomes needed for a little person, I don’t particularly have a desire for someone downstairs, if you get what I mean. That includes clinical actions to add a baby to my physical state.

I have mental and social issues. Not as notable as many people- mostly I need my space, I need mental stimulation, and I have a temper- but I get frustrated when people are stupid, and children/teenaged children can be very frustrating with disagreement and opinions.

I don’t want to be my own mother towards my children. My mother has hurt me more than possibly anyone else in my life, verbally and mentally. I have been forced to practically eradicate any affection for her, because a person you love can hurt you greatly. When I complain about her treatment of me, I’m told that one day, I’ll have a child just like me, but ten times worse. I don’t want that, and I don’t ever want to say things like that to a malleable, vulnerable, loving, hurting little person, just because I’m angry.

I have lots of issues. This is one of them- I think when the drive for family, romantic and parental love was passed out, I was in the bathroom. I don’t have it. I love my dad, and my siblings, my aunt and uncles and cousins and friends, but at arms’ length. Always.

~Terrance