Girls Will Be Boys – A Transgender Journey
I was never really a regular little kid. Honestly, I was a bit weird. All my best friends were invisible. Barbie had a GI Joe boyfriend. My Lego houses were glorious masterpieces. I had more crayons, markers, and colored pencils than everyone else. Even as a 6 year old I was always thinking too much and worrying. What was wrong with me?
Probably nothing. But there I was, always questioning. It gets strange when it’s your own gender that you begin to question.
I began my transition from female to male in 2005 by simply cutting off nine inches of hair, adding new clothing to my wardrobe and nuking the name Alexandria. When I first discovered the fact you could alter your gender, I was actually repulsed. It seemed magical and strange — like you walked into a doctor’s office and walked out something else. Then when I realized how simple the process could be… like just a second puberty. How many people would like to relive that nightmare? Actually, there are a lot of us.
At first I was completely unsure of where I wanted to go with things. My family was naturally confused, but they weren’t shocked. I come from a very gay-friendly family. That didn’t mean that they were automatically trans friendly; one is who you are, the other is who you are attracted to.
Luckily, they were receptive, though they had trouble showing their support. They have helped me get to appointments for the hormones I inject weekly, and also to have top surgery — a double mastectomy, to not have to worry about binding those beasts of burden back anymore. I’m pretty sure they thought, “Does ssssssssshhhe have any idea what this all means? Does ss…he even care?”
For the first few months of realizing this in 2005, I broke down. I overdosed. I was home-schooled with a personal tutor for a few months. This realization didn’t come to me after reading an article — I didn’t decide this. Instead it found me and I had to accept it and choose to embrace it, or continue to live in drag. (No offense to drag, but I had been acting in a bad movie for some 18 years!)
So, I accepted it. The world is amazing and we should embrace our oddities. It is overwhelming but comforting to know our world has made things like this possible, and that there are medical communities devoted to helping folks match their brains to their society-seen bodies.
For some reason having bottom surgery has never appealed to me. A part of me is lazy about the idea! I may not absolutely love the fact I was born with a vagina, but I am not really keen on waking up with new junk and trying to adapt to it. Plus, what if I don’t like it — these processes are not cheap and I do not need more on my mind. So, I’ll stick with what I have and learn to… appreciate it. Yes, appreciate the vagina, ladies and gentlemen (and everything in-between)!
Unlike many folks in my community, I don’t actually call myself, “a man.” I will call myself male, or any other way out of “a man” as possible. When I hear that phrase, I just see awful television shows saying, “He ain’t no man!” and things to that affect. A man is not just this broad shouldered homosapien with external genitalia and XY chromosomes. We are defined by everyone else. So, what is a man?
Whatever he calls himself. *wink*
A cheap answer — but break things down into their simplest form and realize this stuff is not concrete –- it’s up to the individual. I realize that opens up a huge can of worms in the spectrum of gender, but I like to worry about myself and not focus on everyone else. I’m not in their shoes, so why dare try to question it all. That is entirely too much wasted energy! But, questions do fly off the handle when people find out you’re trans in real life.
“You can take hormones but you’re still fe/male with those chromosomes!” Pardon my ignorance, but do people walk around and test our chromosomes on the street to defame our visible gender? Give me a break and get over yourselves. The world is too big; your life is too short. Be nice to people and enjoy whomever you may meet. Chances are some of the greatest people in your life are black sheep.
Fortunately, the online world has given me a lot of amazing friends and fellow trans people to enjoy their presence. In the real world, offline, it hasn’t been so great. I have no true reason to hide the fact I was born female. I could be told to get out of the men’s restroom. In fact, I could be fired or beat up. These are real things for everyone, but hate has so much fire behind it and we are just walking matchsticks sometimes. Through college I was stalked by an old, beat-up white car with three males in it. Eventually one night after class I snapped and quit school the next day. Going through that town, I still hear them yelling insults out their window, “What are you, an IT?”
I saw one a few months ago. He was in uniform directing traffic. I hope he has since gained some sensitivity training. If not, fortunately I don’t live in that town.
Not many people have lived like this and I can’t say I know how people would be if they did. I do not like the idea of living stealth—but I am. It’s protection right now. I don’t really try to deny anything, because unlike some trans people, I’ve never really soaked up 100% of the male stereotype (or female, for my sisters). I just do my thing. This leaves me with some very queer interests. Where I work, if your skin is of color you are already unusual. I do my hair every morning. I have a neck tattoo, among other artwork on my forearms. My ear lobes are stretched and I wear bright colors. (So exciting, right? I assure you I’m the freak of the work place with some very unnerving stares!) I wonder if they knew — maybe they do. All it takes is one person creeping the internet.
Sadly this same protection mechanism and fear of people has led me into quite a solitary life. I do have an amazing family and my sister is my best friend — she’s just the best. And my transition has always made our friendship very unusual to most. How many sisters hang out with their brother, more than their friends? We go shopping together, we go fishing together — most people think I’m her boyfriend!
Fortunately for her, she has a boyfriend. For myself, a relationship seems light years away. Falling back on my online life — people seem to like me. (Of course, not everyone… Haters be hatin’.) People will flirt, of course I flirt back. I hang out on OkCupid, I get the occasional message, but everyone is so out of reach. I’ve never been in a relationship! I dated back in — I think, 2006. It was so much fluff and excitement that someone accepted me as-is and now I can’t recall much of it. I can’t even call it experience because it was so long ago! Most people assume I am a straight male, which is always entertaining.
I get to listen, and sometimes view the wonderful world of sexism almost every day. I would have never assumed myself a feminist at any point in my life until I got a job and I was around men all day — stereotypical brut men. I do not consider myself straight. I can’t say I’m 100% gay, for that matter, but prior to transitioning I almost felt exclusively interested in females. The only conclusion at this point is the green-eyed envy I had for the fact males could freely be males made them so unappealing. Now that I am on the side I prefer, and living it as I wish, I’m no longer longing for comfort within females, but rather the interest in males.
But, of course some days are still no picnic; I’m socially immature, unhappy, but on the upside — people tend to make friends with me when they get past my oddities! I have lived as two genders — that alone is an enviable position to be in. And I’m not embarrassed of that past. How many men will ever understand a period and those awful cramps? Those internal girlie bits are serious business!
Speaking of which – yes, I still have them. Being on testosterone has shut down their primary function. (You know, torture me monthly with agonizing pain and red death?) But they are just sitting with no use and although there is no saying when they’ll completely go kaput, they do need to be removed. Hopefully within the next few years I will be able to afford a hysterectomy and that will let me utilize a lower dose of testosterone.
Less acne! I’m all for it! But transitioning does leave a sour reality. Almost everyone is born with the ability to have kids. I don’t actually want kids, at least not at this time, but the sperm or eggs you carry are pretty amazing and taken for granted. They spread all of you to someone anew. Mine will have no use. Some trans folk do freeze their goods for later use — I don’t have that kind of money and I’m pretty sure eggs that have not been running for 5 years may not be suitable for making children!
We all have a story — straight, gay, trans, hell… the healthy, the sick, the weak, the rich. Mine is not typical and I am probably not the best representation of a male transsexual. That’s okay. I’m good enough. I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people sometimes do like me! So many of the first 18 years of my life were a bad movie. Maybe these past 8 weren’t the best intermission — I made it through the end of the world; why not get out there now as the best part ever… myself.
“This above all: to thine own self be true.”
I met Joey Bettis in college, where we were both working on completing our degrees in web design and media. We took to each other immediately and remain friends to the day. Joey — I just want to say thank you for this essay, for your courage and for your undeniably positive spirit. So proud of you! – Dori