When I went to my first FtM meeting I expected to find out more about local doctors, how to tell my parents, what to do about dating…basic, “I just came out and I’m bloody terrified” stuff.Â I figured there’d be guys in all stages of transition and a variety of different personalities and gender expressions.Â I grew up with guys, I knew how varied they could be and I assumed that trans guys would be the same.
Oh how wrong I was.Â I showed up in layered polos and jeans, standard college-age apparel for where I was living at the time.Â Almost as soon as I walked in a random guy came up to me and said I couldn’t wear pink any more because it’s a “girl” colour.Â Another guy told me I needed to stop using so much inflection when I spoke.Â Yet another told me to start wearing relaxed fit jeans even lower on my hips and baggier shirts.
The meeting was an hour long.Â During that time every single thing I did was ripped apart as “too girly” or “too gay”.Â Nevermind that I had stated in my introduction that I am gay, none of the guys at the meeting seemed to understand that that meant I’m attracted to men.Â They were all largely the same person, early T guys who considered themselves straight and masculine.Â They wore the same clothes, had the same hair, and hung out in the same places.Â After the meeting they all went out to lunch at a diner popular with a certain segment of the lesbian community.Â I was invited, but left before the food came as I was getting sick of them making jokes about an effeminate gay man who was seated a few tables away.Â (Yes honey, I’m sure you are more “manly” than he was.Â Too bad that’s not the same as being more of a man.)
It’s been long enough now that FtM meetings have changed quite a bit.Â At the very least, most guys now know that you can be gay and trans at the same time.Â However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the subtle disdain for any man who is neither genderqueer nor masculine.Â There is an obvious answer as to why trans men as a group tend to have an overblown fear of anything that might be perceived as feminine, but there’s no reason for why we continue to allow it.Â Misogyny is a fairly common after effect of coming out, but we certainly don’t allow that (and rightly so).
This is a particularly large problem for guys who are just coming out.Â There’s a tendency to shelter ourselves within the FtM community when we first come out, something that’s fully understandable (I tried), but also leads to certain issues.Â How can you develop a realistic idea of what cis men are like if you’re never around any?Â It seems that most ideas about men within the FtM community come from the community.Â I’ve noticed that at most FtM meetings there will be a large portion of newly out guys and maybe one or two who’ve been out for years and are fully passing.Â Generally the only one is the moderator.Â Of course there’s a skewed view of what men are like, few of us have ever interacted with any.
So how can we stop portraying all men as caricatures from the 1950s without also losing the sense of solidarity that comes from associating with people like yourself?Â I’d start off with not berating the guys who don’t fit a certain image.Â Don’t assume that the guy in glittery red Converse wants to butch up.Â Stop telling people that in order to pass they need to wear one specific uniform.Â Not only does it not work for everyone (I always passed better in tighter clothes), it also may make us feel more uncomfortable than dresses and heels.Â Let people decide what kind of man they want to be for themselves.
That would all be helped by checking out all the different types of guy there are.Â Turn off your television, get away from the sporting goods store, and go to the gayborhood.Â No, not the lesbian section.Â Go to a bookstore or coffee shop frequented by gay men.Â DON’T try to get laid, you’re just here to watch.Â Notice how they’re all different.Â Some guys swish, others are more subdued, most probably don’t look all that different from the guys on a local college campus.Â Don’t have a gayborhood?Â Go see whatever theatre production the high school is putting on.Â Find the nearest environmental group.Â Check out an artsy cafe. Just get away from the stereotypically male areas and see what else there is.Â Not all men are sports watching, beer drinking, hygiene lacking beasts.Â Actually, most men aren’t.Â Just like most women aren’t fussy, cooking, cleaning, vapid bimbos.
Really, that’s a great way of looking at it.Â Every time you start to think “oh, well, men do [stereotypical thing]” switch it around.Â Instead of “men sit with their legs wide apart and scratch their balls” think “women sit with their ankles crossed and fuss with their aprons”.Â Sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it?Â I’m sure some women act like June Cleaver (a friend of mine actually loves to and gets all dressed up), but most don’t.Â The same is true for men.Â Some men act like Tarzan, but most don’t.Â For one thing, loin cloths get rather cold in December.