A Surprise, But Not to Me...Perhaps Not to You Either
I’m a transgender boy(girl), which means my gender identity does not conform to a normal definition of “male”. But I’m not exactly transsexual. Actually, I’m gender queer, an androgyne, neither boy nor girl, neither straight or gay. which puts me just outside of just about every “protected” group. Gay folks accuse me of having hetero-privilege, women accuse me of stealing their gender, and men generally want to kick my ass (try it, I’m really itching to teach a little “love” to an asshole).
Transgender: Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these. (via Wikipedia, of course)
Even Wikipedia struggles to get this one right, “does not conform, unambiguously”, what the fuck does that mean anyway. It’s almost a triple negative.
I’m not planning a sex change, nor a round of feminizing hormones — it’s more complex than a woman being trapped in a man’s body. I’m not a woman, or a man. I’m an ambigendrous person who happens to be genetically male. Actually there’s a name for what I am, the third sex. Neither.
I dress as a girlish boy at home, or as a boyish girl, depending on the day and my mood. I’ve recently allowed my friends to see this side of me, and I have a dear dear friend to thank for much of my resolve in coming out. Thanks, girl, you know who you are, “Right back at’cha”. I dress as a queer man at work, on the outside. What’s underneath is, well frankly quite private. It does make going to the gym a bit of a challenge. White shirts too — it takes a certain kind of “balls” as a “man” to let a bra strap show through a white business shirt. Camisoles are a blessing.
I’m 90% straight, whatever that means, my sexual preference is largely for people of the feminine persuasion, not always, I rarely crave man sex, rarely, but not never. Male to female transsexuals (pre- or post-op) however are my kissing cousins, please. But then we all know sex is about people, not plumbing, right?
I’ve always been Hijira, always. As a boy I was proud when shop keepers, especially older women, called me “young lady”. I wore my hair long on purpose, and to my distinct good fortune I was graced with a small frame and a generous dose (love that word) of litheness. I give some people the creeps, certainly my most recent ex-wife found this part of my identity a challenge. I hid it sheepishly once I got the message. My first wife didn’t understand either — I feel badly about that, I think she was capable of “getting it”.
I spent much of my life battling the shame of having a disorder (as if, society is the fucking disorder) that is commonly viewed as a sexual perversion. Men think I’m gay, get threatened and often show that as physical aggression. I get the entire domestic violence thing, as a victim; this despite my own substantial tendency to fly off the handle in a verbally abusive rage when threatened (This is my great shame, I’d like to thank my role models for an impeccable education). I’ve posted previously about my substantial familiarity with the receiving end of theschool yard harassment and emotional abuse cycle. I have been threatened and hurt physically simply because of my non-traditional gender expression; emotional insults have been so numerous so as to feel almost normal.. And my guess is that you do not know any of this about me at all. I’ve been in the closet (with the family skeletons, seriously) for my entire life excepting a few very short periods of liberation.
My dear friend Debra first showed me the way, but she was far from the only shining light (Hi, Jason! Friendly and probably stupid dare: I’ll stop going topless in public if you start). Debra was introduced to me as Lance, the rock-star hydrogeological/numerical modeling genius of New Mexico Tech. We became very dear friends. Debra came out to me, I was the first person to know Debra who had also known Lance. It broke my heart, and made me love her all the more. Debra is one of the bravest women (fuck that, how about bravest people) I know. She gives me courage daily, and we haven’t spoken in years (not since the last time I went crazy and cured cancer with energy fields and 3-D Qi-flow maps, the concept still merits investigation). Debra is also paraplegic due to a tragic motorcycle accident; she was in her day one of the finest rock climbers in southern-California. As I said, Debra is amazing.
I almost told Debra in 1994, but I felt then that I might have been taking something from her, it felt like hitching a ride on her dream. I know today that it would have been no such thing, alas the unfortunate rationalization and internalization of shame, a fascinating phenomenon, I’m an expert in that with which I keep myself so effectively constrained. I’m more than aware that I built my own cage. But not, perhaps, entirely without reason given the world we live in.
Gwen Araujo’s murder in 2002 hit me extremely hard, it was just after my second wedding. I couldn’t explain it to my wife, I’m sure she noticed my depression however. In fact it was the beginning of the journey that led her to decide that I was “broken”. An interesting concept (that of certain people being broken, or un-fixable) from which I continue to suffer (the concept that is). Four “men” willingly took, and very much enjoyed, sexual pleasure with a “female” teen named Gwen, and when they discovered their “error” they beat and strangled her to death. Brutally, in a manner intended to cause great pain, disfigurement and humiliation as she died. At a fucking suburban party.
I’m sorry. That’s worth killing for, Gwen’s murder that is (metaphorically, dear reader, metaphorically). Two defendants were convicted of second-degree murder, intentional but unplanned homicide. They were acquitted of the hate-crime charges that would have ensured their permanent confinement, or even their forced removal from the planet. Perhaps I’ll see them when they get out (OK, enough already with the hyperbolic, metaphorical, and futile protestations of imagined violence against unfairness, why do I even bother?). I still get sick when I think of Gwen’s tragic, and frankly rather common cause of death, like right now, I just threw up in my throat a little. Yuk.
I don’t know what (or how) the fuck to tell my kids. I read the story book “Why is Daddy in a Dress?” only to figure out that the title was a tease, not really a useful exploration of how to broach my particularly awkward reality with my own children at all. Cross-dressing is comparatively straight, and forward. We’ll get there, or not, eventually. It would probably help if I weren’t having a complete fucking nervous breakdown right now as well (acute neurotic depression is the old school psychoanalytical diagnosis).
Anyway, I thought this would be a very god time to continue to be honest about myself.
A little FYI, the correct way to interact with a person of ambiguous gender is as if they were a person. Recognizing my femininity is not any more accurate than my maleness, I’m simply a person. That’s all it really is. Barely bears mentioning, except it seems to be a really big deal, to everyone else. Simply feels normal to me.
He Helps Them
CONTRIBUTOR: Monty Flinsch
DATE ADDED: 2010-08-03 08:05:05
COLLECTION: Personal Reflections
ITEM TYPE: Document
CITATION: Monty Flinsch, "A Surprise, But Not to Me...Perhaps Not to You Either," in HACKGENDER, Item #59, http://hackgender.org/items/show/59 (accessed May 23, 2013).
About the Work
- Monty Flinsch
- Creator's Site