I don’t really do group identity.
I have never really been “one of the” anythings.
No sports teams, no clubs, not even any nasty cults.
I may have been trained for man duty, but it was never simple for me. I wasn’t ever one of the guys, not ever.
Recently, I have been reading the blog a newly transitioning transsexual who is sure that she is a woman. She likes trannys and all that, but she is a woman, even if she only has been making woman choices for a few months now.
I have confidence that people see me as a man, so I can act from that assumption.
Now, I am also convinced that I can’t really pass as a man under any scrutiny. For example, women looking for a man to partner with will quickly find that I don’t meet their expectations. Hell, I haven’t been able to pass as a straight man for at least fifteen years. And when people assume that means I must be a gay man, well, they quickly find out I am even less a gay man than a straight man.
I have spent my life ducking out of manhood. It became clear to me in sixth grade when I avoided bullies in a way that baffled them. It was very clear when I started being interested in women; behaviors that baffled me then made perfect sense when comparing adolescence stories with other lesbians; I was having lesbian sex. Heck. even my first sex partner (at around age 20) I now understand as a soft butch, though I wish I had understood it then.
I knew I looked like a man and people saw me that way, but that I couldn’t really pass as a man with any close examination. The history of the last 35 years bears that out in very clear ways. I don’t have an ex-wife and kids, don’t have that history of even trying to fit in and be ballsy. Sure, some of that is my father — not a man’s man, he, being defeated by his nine year old son — but most of it is me. If I really had it in me, well, I sure could have followed up by now.
One effect of this never being a man is that I never learned the expectations of the binary. Conceptually I understand that men are baffled by women and women baffled by men, but for me, that wall of distinction was never there.
(As I am writing this, someone just looked at this post; right on point. Serendipity.)
To walk in the world as a woman, though, to make the choices of a woman, I must be comfortable with that binary. I need to be confident that when I claim choices, those choices will make sense to others who understand and live within the binary.
That concept is just weird to me, even if I understand it on a conceptual level. I know that women make the choices of women and people accept that; no, they even embrace those choices.
Maybe one reason that running from one gender box to another — “I was a man and am now a woman’ — is comfortable is because gender actually makes more sense if you actually were living as a man rather than living as “not man,” as I have.
When I came out as trans, 25 years ago now, my goal was to become more androgynous, to stay in my assigned role with extensions. I felt that would keep me stable in the context of desire, in social status.
What I learned is that I wasn’t really that good at being a man, even then — just not cocky enough — and that moving roles would probably have been the best choice. But letting go seemed impossible with my solid male body and challenged family, so I avoided it. Truth be told, I also never really saw myself as a young woman, but as a middle aged woman entering her “Goddess Period.”
My choices make much more sense as the choices of a woman. “Everything I do in this house, I do as a woman,” I told TBB. “I cook as a woman, clean as a woman, track medical issues as a woman, take my mother shopping as a woman, everything.”
“I believe that,” said TBB. “Why isn’t that enough?”
“Because I can’t do anything else as a woman. I can’t go and take a bubble bath as a woman, change my clothes as a woman, cry as a woman, take care of myself as a woman.”
TBB laughed. “You always hit the nail on the head, even when you are hurting.”
Yeah. Like a woman.
I don’t understand fixed gender divisions.
But I do understand myself as a woman.
And if I want the power of making my choices in this world, if I want people to understand those choices in context, those choick choices, then I have to walk in the world as a woman.
In other words, I have to know that them is me.
And people who do think in that gendered context will get that and understand it, even if the context baffles me some.