I’ve refused to read the essays in this collection simply because I knew they’d all annoy the hell out of me. I loathe the current generation of queer feminism, I reject the idea that I need to apologise for being a guy, and I don’t believe it’s necessary to spend every waking minute of every damned day analyzing “what it means to be masculine”. First of all, I’m not. Second, even if you were to take the more “butch” aspects of me (read: I like martial arts and was in JROTC) I don’t think they’d be considered exclusively male. My partner’s mom is more masculine than I am and she’s a perfectly happy, straight, cisgendered woman who just happens to like camping and working on cars.
However, this essay was linked in one of the trans communities I read so I broke down and looked at it (I couldn’t help myself, there were a ton of comments and I’m a sucker for internet drama).
I do not identify as a male, but as simply, FTM
And here starts the insanity. FtM stands for “female to male“. If a person does not identify as male then they cannot be FtM. Why? Because they are not meeting the second requirement of the definition. If you identify as “not female” fine, but don’t call it FtM. Call it FtNF or genderqueer or non-binary or something. FtW (female to whatever or female to win) is my personal favourite, but I’m a bit of a snarky jackass like that.
My refusal to identify as male scares many transmen I‘ve met so much that they are pushed to going out of their way to take me down. My identity, they feel, somehow undermines their safety.
Not really, mate. You’re putting way too much thought into this, not to mention making yourself out to be far more important than you actually are. We’re not afraid of you, we don’t think you’re going to mess with our safety. We just want you out of our spaces because you don’t meet the basic definition of being a transguy. Again, it’s right there in the name.
Simply put (and it is very clear to them,) transman equals male. What seems to baffle and miff them is the idea that in a broader sense, transman can include masculinity that is not necessarily male. Okay, now, hold on right here. Am I crazy, or isn ‘t that what FTM transgender is? An FTM can be a man who is not male.
Yes. Transman does equal male. Why? Because transman = FtM and male is right there in the definition. You seem to have some serious issues with reading comprehension.
Now, I have no problems with the idea that masculinity does not necessarily equal man. I know more than a few masculine women, masculine genderqueers, etc. I also have no problems with men who are not masculine (hell, I’m one of them). However, you lost me at the last sentence. Male is a synonymn for man (and boy and guy and a bunch of other words). A person cannot be a man without also being male in some way, shape, or form.
For example, I am a transman. I consider my physical sex to be FtM because I have female genitalia with male secondary sex characteristics. My gender identity is 100% male. (Man who is male.) A cisgendered man would have a male physical sex and male gender identity. (Also, man who is male.) To go the other way, a transwoman would not be male (or a man, obviously) because they’d have MtF as their physical sex with a female gender identity. (Woman who is female.) “Boy shaped” genderqueers could have a male physical sex, but their gender identity is not that of man. (Genderqueer person who is physically male.) Nowhere in there do you get “man who is not male.”
Traditionally feminine characteristics, be they performed outwardly or in my case, lived in my emotional experience, particularly as a partner (boyfriend,) are highly looked down upon by much of the trans-masculine community.
This is true and it drives me batshit. That’s a rant for another day though, if I started now I’d never get back to the original point.
I was suddenly expected to wear big baggy pants (preferably cargo) to hide my hips, big square polo shirts to give me a rectangular torso shape and hide my chest, cut my hair short but add just a bit of gel, stand slouched, shoulders curved to further hide my chest, hands in pockets, to emphasize the squared off posture, and drop the ends of sentences instead of doing what women and gay men do, raise them.
Yes, you were expected to do all of those things. So was I. I followed the “rules” for all of a month before figuring out that I was trading one hated box for another and started discovering out my own style. Now I wear pink and purple fitted shirts with fitted jeans (“Jeans are like the UPS man, they should always give you a nice package.”), rainbow shoelaces, earrings, and occasionally something over the top camp like my pink, glittery collared muscle shirt. I stand how I like, sit how I like, speak how I like, and act how I like. Why? Because I see no point in transitioning if I’m not going to be who I am. That doesn’t make me “not male”, it makes you too stupid to figure out that you didn’t have to either conform or stop identifying as male.
When I look at pictures and videos of me and my friends from that time, I ‘m shocked to discover that we were clones. Literally, we wore the same shirt in different colors and we all had the exact same hair cut. (Image here)
Of course you were! Look at 99% of teenage boys, they all look the damned same (teenage girls too, but we’re focusing on guys here). In fact, that picture could be of any 4 of the guys I grew up with. Transmen go through the same awkward teen years as cismen, we just tend to do so several years later. If you think about it it makes sense, we have the same hormonal changes happening as 14-18 year old boys and we’re just starting to learn how to navigate the world as men. It’s a confusing, sometimes scary phase of life, but it’s not unique to transmen. If anything the extra couple of years make things easier for us.
My comfort level lies somewhere in between — I like passing, but I also like remaining visibly queer. I would like to be read as a transman most of the time, but there are exceptions, like in bathrooms, gas stations, or on busses or, for that matter, anytime when strangers are within earshot.
I understand the desire to be visibly queer. I grew up in San Francisco and I identify very strongly as a gay man. Long before I came out as trans (or even knew there was such a thing) I interacted with people online as a gay boy/man. It started when I was about 11 and continued up until I came out as trans (at which point it was no longer necessary). I never changed anything about myself other than my name so I’m not sure it would actually qualify as role playing, but that’s how I justified it.
Again, that does not mean I identify as something other than a man. I am a gay man the same way any other 23 year old gay male is. I see no reason to stop considering myself a man simply because I do things that cisgendered gay men do all the time, it’s ridiculous. It perpetuates this idea that transmen are fundamentally different from cismen in ways other than genitalia and I’m offended by that. Which is also why I hate people who want to be “visibly trans”. Be visibly “other” if you like, but transpeople are NOT “other”, we are the same with regards to everything except what may or may not be in our pants (and in some cases we’re the same there too!)
I just want to be treated with respect and dignity. I want to be treated like a human; an adult not a child; responsible not immature; a person not a sinner. The “sore-thumb-sticker-outters” are often blatantly discriminated against and harassed. While I admire their bravery, I don‘t have the energy for dealing with constant harassment — especially when I get so much of it from my fellow transmen. This doesn‘t make me weak, as some quite visibly queer folks I‘ve encountered have scoffed.
This is just plain contradictory. You want to be visibly queer, but at the same time you claim you don’t have the energy to deal with the consequences. No, that doesn’t make you weak, but it does make you a bit of a flake. If you want to be treated like an adult you’re going to have to learn that sometimes you do have to pick a side.
FTM, to many, means the transition from female to male, starting in one place and ending at another. It is not intended as a place to stay, but is only the transition, the midway. The idea here is that the point of being FTM is to become a male, eventually.
Again mate, that’s where the “TO MALE” part comes from. Seriously, why is that so hard to understand?
Much of the controversy surrounded the fact that I am exclusive to dating transmen, and I don‘t date non-trans men. This group of transmen found this offensive because they believe to be considered different than non-trans men emasculating and devaluing. What they don‘t understand is that I highly value and prefer the masculinity of transmen, mainly because it is chosen and continues to be chosen at each injection day
This entire paragraph is just patently offensive. I don’t care if you like transmen more or think we’re “better” than cismen for some ridiculous reason, it is still saying we are different and I am not ok with that. I did not choose to be a man any more than I chose to have brown hair or an allergy to grape juice. It is part of who I am, a biological aspect that was programmed into my brain without any input from me.
I did choose to transition. I did choose to stab myself with a needle every week for the rest of my life. However, that was a choice made out of necessity, it was either transition or be miserable until I finally broke down and killed myself. I’m not sure that can be considered much of a choice.
Experiencing the world as a woman, even if it was only for a matter of years, gives us transmen wholly different perspectives — not to mention different kinds of bodies. While non-trans men and transmen share secondary male characteristics, there are things that each of us knows that the other will not (and perhaps cannot) know. It‘s kind of like understanding the misery of menstrual cramps or knowing exactly how awful a kick in the balls feels, for example.
I think that this is true for *some* transmen in *some* areas, but certainly not all. I was raised to do whatever the hell I wanted and gender roles be damned. Now, I did do some pretty girly stuff for a while, but I was also a huge tomboy. I modelled and competed in beauty pageants until I was about 9 or 10 years old. I also was a competitive in-line skater and started taking martial arts classes when I was 6.
I was the first girl born to my father’s side of the family in two generations so I was surrounded by uncles and older male cousins who I was expected to keep up with. I played with boys almost exclusively and the two or three girl friends I did have were just as rough and tumble as me. I joined JROTC in high school and was well known for maxing out the male version of the fitness test when only two of the guys could. I can knit, crochet, sew, and I adore cooking, but those are all things my guy friends could do as well.
I have never understood or fit in with girls/women. They really are like a foreign species to me with their over analyzing of the simplest things (no, really, your boyfriend IS just tired) and inability to separate sex from love (he was horny, it doesn’t mean you should be picking out china). I tried, but being a girl is not something I will ever be able to do. For one thing, I can’t stand about 75% of the female population (to be fair, I can’t stand about 75% of the human population). In most ways I respond to things the exact same as my gay male friends, when I don’t I respond the same as my straight male friends. So how exactly have I navigated the world as a woman?
I‘ve even been told before that I was transphobic, that I was certainly not trans myself, and that I dangerously fetishize transmen because I prefer to date them over non-trans men. My preference for transmen has been the cause of tremendous offense on more than one occasion. I shouldn‘t have to really explain why I don‘t want to date non-trans men; I‘m simply not sexually attracted to them when it comes down to it. I‘ve tried. I just don‘t get hot.
Here’s my issue: I like my men to like dick. Why? Because I’m gay. One of the fundamental differences between a gay man and a straight man is a love of dick. Now, there are the gay men who prefer the secondary sex characteristics (hairy chests, beards, etc) to the primary (yay penis!), but for the most part gay men like cock. If you don’t like cock then I can’t be sure you’re seeing me as fully male and I can’t sleep with or date anyone who sees me as even remotely female or other.
I also do think liking transmen, but not cismen is fetishizing. Some guys are ok with that, but the vast majority aren’t. Why? Because it’s loving a part of ourselves that we wish wasn’t there. It’s being attracted to the one part of us that we don’t identify with, meaning you’re not actually attracted to us at all.
I make conscious decisions about things like how much space I take up, how loud I speak and how often. Personally, I believe this is how I can be a responsible man, accountable for the privilege handed to me.
I knew this would come up eventually. It is one of the parts of queer theory and women’s studies that drives me the most insane. Has anyone ever considered that men “take up more space” because they’re usually bigger? Why is it that I suddenly have to scurry around trying not to bother anyone simply because I’m a man? I always thought it was enough to be polite and well spoken.
It really is a reverse form of sex discrimination. First women were the ones expected to sit quietly in the background, not interfering with “men’s work”. Then the first wave of feminism hit and women were clamouring for equality (which I’m all for, btw). We could have (and should have) stayed there where all women were allowed to choose for themselves what they wanted to do with their lives whether it was becoming an engineer or staying home and watching the kids. Instead we moved on to third wave feminism (second wave got squashed pretty easily, no one likes man-hating lesbians) where everything is about the patriarchy and all men have privilege and need to account for it. Bullshit. I am living my life the exact same way as when I presented as female. If anything I have less privilege now because people assume I’m a snot-nosed little boy instead of a driven, responsible woman.
I’m not even going to get into how no one seems to understand that effeminate men (be they gay or not) are treated far worse than masculine women. That’s an entire essay all on its own.
Essentially, this guy has managed to sum up everything I have ever hated about “FtM, not man” types and queer theory. It is people like him that make me want to be completely stealth for fear that someone will think I’m just as crazy.