“Being Male”

This is something I wrote in my personal blog, and I just thought I would share it here as well. It is a reflection on how I felt about my life as a “male” and how I experienced that life.

The concept of life as a male, that life before transition and even during transition, has been on my mind lately. I have been considering what it must be like to actually fully experience ones gender, rather than to exist within in the social construct of one’s gender in order to survive.  I think back to my childhood and my young adult years, and I realize that there was so much of life that I was never fully able to enjoy and experience.

There were periods of time, some of them fairly long, where I was able to suppress my dysphoria, but even in those times, I still never fully experienced life as a male. Instead I lived with a constant uncomfortable feeling about what I was expected to do, the things that were going on around me, and even the things that I was doing. I went through the motions, living life the way others wanted me to live it. Never really fully engaging myself in life, unable to fully engage. Instead I was left to look at what was going on around me with the constant feeling that I was an unwilling participant, looking from the outside in, looking in at a life that was not mine, one that I did not fully understand.

Yet, I was able to build a successful life, but the joys of my successes were often shrouded by that constant uncomfortable feeling. The feeling that something was not right. There were periods of time where I acknowledged what it was, I acknowledged my feminine self, but hid it away. Afraid to express my true inner feelings, I hid inside this “male shell” and continued to play by the rules that were set for me, the rules that were set by the gender I was assigned at birth because of the physical appearance of my body. Rules that ignored the relevance of my mind, my spirit, my true self. Even though awareness came around the age of 5, I am sure that it was not something that arose only at that age. Memories before that time are few. I think in many regards I attribute not knowing before this time to not remembering a lot of life before that age.

How does one experience life when they feel so disconnected from it? That is the question that has been on my mind so much. How did I experience life when I was young, fighting the knowledge that my body did not match my mind, fighting the urge to express my desire to break out of the mold that I was expected to fit into. I think about it now more than ever, the desire to break the mold, and all the while the fear that arises with the idea of being found out. I continue to laugh at the male jokes and partially entertain the “male” conversations, all the while thinking that I would not be a part of these conversations if I were presenting as a women. I stand there thinking that, then, I would be spared the low brow humor, the constant testosterone driven conversations, the things that men talk about when they think there are no women around. Sometimes it makes me feel like a spy, like I am a woman disguised as a male infiltrating male culture and observing male rituals.

The reality of it is that I am a woman masquerading as a male, only this is not by choice. I was born with the body, and until my transition is complete I must live with it. I will continue to be the spy, observing, and not totally understanding. If anything, that lack of understanding is what often made life difficult. I never understood why guys do the things that they do, why they behave the way that they do, why they say the things that they say. If someone were to ask me what it is like to be a guy, I would honestly say that after 34 years of living in the male world, I don’t know and I don’t really understand it.

What I do understand is what it is like to feel trapped within a social construct that does not fit with who you truly are in the inside. I look forward to the day when I can live fully as myself, and interact with the world as the woman that I am. I look forward to the day when I no longer have to feel like I am putting on my disguise and venturing out into the male world for more field observations. I can then get out of the spy business, and get on with the business of being me.

There are times when I wonder what it is like to experience life with without feeling this disconnect. I look at men walking down the street, in the store, or out at the park, and I wonder what it is like for them to interact with the world feeling like a man on the inside and being one on the outside. I look at women, and wonder what it is like to have your outside match your inside, to not just be a woman in your mind and soul, but in your body as well. I guess you could say that at times I feel envy for those living in the cisgender world, those who have never had to question their gender, those who have always been able to pursue their passions knowing who they are.

This journey, for me, is not just about aligning my physical body with my mind and soul, but about being able to not have to pretend any more. To be able to finally live life and interact with the world as the woman that I am. I know that transition is not a cure all, and I will, more likely than not, be out about my being trans and probably be an activist, but at least I will finally experience what it is like to look in the mirror and see the woman I am reflected back to me.

Review: ‘Transvestite Wives’ on BBC America

Edited to add: “Transvestite Wives” will also be shown again on Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 6:00 PM, if you missed it the first time around.

Last night, I caught the premiere of BBC America’s “Transvestite Wives” episode in their BBC America Reveals series. From their website:

Transvestite Wives looks at three transvestite relationships, as seen through the eyes of their wives and partners.

In the Scottish Highlands, Sheila discovered seven years into her marriage that her husband Dennis was a transvestite. In Newark, 20-year-old Sam, is embracing her 40-year-old partner Chris’ tranny lifestyle; and in Barnsley, Robyn, who has struggled to be accepted for her weight problem, at last finds happiness with her cross-dresser husband Dean.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised from the title, but none of the relationships had the trans partner in full-time mode. The couples were shown in both same-sex and opposite sex modes, although in the case of Sam and Chris/Rachel, we saw only Rachel for the majority of the episode.
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Male au pairs make inroads in child-care role, but slowly

Once again, traditional gender roles are challenged.

From the Arizona Daily Star, April 28, 2008:

It would be an overstatement to say male au pairs and male nannies are threatening the dominance of Mary Poppins and Julie Andrews and their ilk. What does seem to be true, however, is that awareness about male caregivers has been on the rise as traditional gender lines continue to blur.

Read the full article here.

A Belated Introduction

(Post inspired by this post from Donna Rose)

So, many of you have probably seen my name popping up recently in comments around here (and other places, such as 360 and Livejournal) and wondered “Who is this strange person and why is she here?”

A brief summary to start with – I am female-bodied, and female-identified (Cisgendered, or Genetic Girl). My spouse of almost 13 years is currently questioning their own gender identity, which has made me reflect on my own life and discover how much of it has transcended gender norms and led me to a place where gender identity is almost a non-issue for me.

I was raised in a small town in Southern England in the 1960s. My mother was a single parent, and we lived with two elderly, never-married sisters who had been friends of my late grandmother. Thus my home environment was very much a matriarchal one, with females performing all roles – driving, finances, home maintenance, breadwinner, as well as the traditional female roles. My mother maintained a fairly androgynous appearance and would frequently get “sir’ed”, much to her annoyance. One of the sisters ran a Cub Scout Troop which met at the house, and thus my earliest playmates were male. I preferred my ‘Action Man’ (G.I. Joe) to my dolls, my train set to my doll’s house, and spent many hours climbing trees and becoming a “little woodsman” in our vast backyard. To me, none of this seemed odd and the only difference I was aware of between boys and girls was that we used different public restrooms. As you can see from the photo of myself aged 4, I looked like the typical ‘tomboy’.

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Know Your Role

Know Your RoleEach and every person has their role to play, be it father, mother, wife, husband… etc. My roles have been father, son and husband… friend and even boyfriend to others. I remain a strong person, committed to my responsibilities, but does or can my role change with my transition? Can I be a mother, while upholding my fatherly responsibilities? Can I be a fulfilling husband as a TransWoman to my wife? Can I still fulfill to my parents the aspirations they had for me as their son?

I won’t make a cop-out statement that “I am who I am” or “I’m the same person I always was”, because, quite honestly, I’m not -AND- if you would have asked me this even a year ago, I would have not agreed with what I just said.
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