I’m trying to figure out how to approach saying what has come up for me, today. There’s a lot of it, though maybe it doesn’t need so many words.
I have reached the point where I am able to look in a mirror and see myself as male — or as I would look if I were, physically, male. The most surprising point I came to when I did this is that I would likely be seen primarily as a male of African descent…at least if the fat in my cheeks were redistributed to be leaner, and my chin developed a slight bit (cartilage growth happens on testosterone: meaning it is likely my nose would develop a slight bit, as well).
Even prior to the protests in my country over police killings of men and boys of African descent, this had been pointed out to me by bystanders…that transitioning to male, for me, is not the same as it would be if I were White.
I may be wrong here, but I’m thinking that I remember something about how almost all of my male relatives on the Black side of my family have been in prison at one time or another. This is basically not doable for me, but chances are that police would be paying more attention to me if I appeared to be a dark-skinned Black male than a dark-skinned Black female. (Granted that my skin isn’t even that dark, but it is a good deep olive; deeper in tone than the vast portion of people I run across on a daily basis.)
Which, you know, brings up the point that I don’t even know how I come off to people, as things stand now. It hasn’t been much of an issue except where it has come to privileged White peers — mostly in college (I still remember getting asked about how I got my “scar,” which was just a line where my melanin was lighter in the center of my chest. Someone had never seen a brown person’s skin, before).
Let me get off of that.
In any case, today I have been thinking about what it would be like to be socially male, as versus (as things are now) socially female. Although — it wasn’t really until I started making friends with guys in the Art program (some of whom had military experience) that I realized how distanced I was from traditional heterosexual male culture. It isn’t especially that I saw their versions of masculinity as superior to mine, but my sphere of experience was definitely feminine in relation to theirs. I do kind of like it that way.
The major issue here is that right now, I am more fully aligned with wanting to have a girlfriend who sees me as masculine, or to be a boyfriend (yes they are two different things ♥) than wanting to be someone else’s girlfriend. (Quite plainly, I don’t know how to, “be a girlfriend.”) This gets kind of sticky where it comes to being attracted to men (especially those who may see me as a woman; which in some cases is understandable due to the range of their experience. For example, I have a depth of knowledge in feminism which may be out of the reach of most younger men, especially men who haven’t been exposed to queer community), but it’s pretty near undeniable that I’d rather be a guy’s boyfriend if I could. (And I probably would bring in quite a bit of world-opening material for that guy…) I’ve found other queer (cis) men to be actually kind of …intrigued by this possibility, by the way.
But it’s also pretty clear, from one of my past involvements, that I’m not actually fully a man (not to say that those who identify with me here are not fully men, if they do identify as such; but for me…the way I see myself [which goes to a depth I can’t relate in one post] cannot fully encompass “man,” in my mind). I’ve been in nearly the exact reverse position in past experience, here, and it did not help me to think of the person I related with as their target gender. There was something different about this person that taking on the label “woman” would not erase (but then granted, this person did not identify as a woman).
With me there would not be a clear switchover from female to male. I have a surfeit of femininity to the point that I would be obviously abnormally feminine for a man — and this is what has held me back from asking to be referred to as “he,” in the past. (If they call me “he,” what happens the next time I wear a bra and women’s shirt in Dusty Rose?)
It’s also why I haven’t taken testosterone, so far. I’m not really a queen (and believe me, I have met FtM queens), but I do range into “femme” territory. It’s like being just to the other side of the line of being “butch” but still female-identified: hypothetically, this is occupying the position of being femme and male-identified. The only wildcard is that the person is also trans* as well, which is a different variable: one that has to do with history and the body, but not necessarily with identity. It also means, though, that anyone who is going to — say — date me, is going to need to be informed that I identify as a femme man (or as a genderfluid person who ranges into femme/male territory), not as a straight woman or as a lesbian.
Seems that the most obvious route for me is to be a pretty man. A pretty man on estrogen. 🙂 A PRETTY PRETTY MAN. 😉 I kind of wonder how to motivate myself to do this again, though. When I went through weight training the first time, it was obviously to harden up and become more “butch,” as this was one of the things which both protected me and displayed my openness to relationships with women (the men were probably still largely too immature for me, then. The one physically male person I did have a relationship with, was genderqueer). This hasn’t been able to be a good motivator for me in more recent history, however.
And as idealistic as it would be to say that I’m doing it for myself and my health…is that holding a lot of weight? And I mean, I’ve known guys who have worked out so they could be pretty men (for the ladies), and they didn’t seem to have a problem with it. Then again, they were also about a decade younger than myself.
I could try and explore what it feels like to be a femme man, eh? Might as well, while I can…