I totally forgot to do an actual two-week post, so here’s this.
I had my pre-op appointment on Friday. I really like everyone in my surgeon’s office. They’re very polite, which I’d expect, but they’re also very nice and personable. I’m a little intimidated by the pre- and post-op instructions and warnings, including the chance for pneumonia (especially since I have asthma) and a potential significant drug interaction between one of my brain drugs and one of the antibiotics I have to take, but I’ve moved past the near-crippling anxiety from a couple weeks back. I think my brain just couldn’t maintain that level of anxiety, which I’m not going to complain about.
I accidentally let slip to my boss that I’m having surgery. It came up in a “what are you doing this summer?” conversation. He’s been very cool and respectful about trans stuff so far, and he’s going to find out anyway (believe me when I say the chance will be noticeable), but I still had a moment of “ohfuck” because it’s one thing to hear someone say they’re trans and another to see physical changes. I’m aiming for tenure, so that was an extra anxious moment. Oh well. He mentioned me getting tenure almost in the same breath, anyway, so I’m sure it’s fine.
Still, it brought to mind the reality of a lot of conflicts I have in my own mind about my physical changes vs. my mental state. I’m absolutely glad I’ll have my breasts gone. I’ll be glad to have at least part of my identity more easily recognized by strangers. But at the same time, that’s not my entire identity. The longer I sit with this “I’m trans” thing, the less binary I feel. I’m masculine of center, I guess, but I still have a hard time saying “I’m a trans man.” I don’t feel that way.
Binary FTM is the narrative that’s most easily accepted in the world at large, relatively speaking. Of course a woman wants to be a man. Who wouldn’t want to be a man? But unless you abide by the bro code, you’re not a “real” man. It’s no different for cis dudes. Probably all of you know this. This is part of my discomfort in transition and probably something I’ll continue to struggle with. I don’t want to be that guy. I also don’t want to erase (or have erased) the 30 years I’ve spent as a woman. I’m not one of those trans guys who’s grown up always considering myself a boy. I can’t divorce my identity from “female” and “woman.” I don’t identify as a woman, but I identify with women in a lot of ways. I’ve suffered the same oppressions many (most?) women have. The fact that I’m moving into a relatively privileged sphere via my changing physical appearance doesn’t change that.
I fully intend to take advantage of that relative privilege to try and make a difference as an ally to other women, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the opportunity. But I’m also not just an ally, and I worry that my gender presentation will push me out of women’s circles, which is where I feel like I belong, at least more so than men’s circles. I really don’t want to be one of those guys who pushes himself into spaces he doesn’t belong, and I’m afraid I’m coming off that way, but if I’ve been socialized as a woman, if I can’t escape that, but at the same time I’ve come into a place of (at least surface) male privilege, where do I belong?
I worry that my female friends won’t feel as safe around me anymore, that they won’t take me into their confidence. I worry that they won’t be able to help reacting that way. Who could blame them? I already make unfamiliar women nervous when it’s dark and they can’t see me very well. I’m nearly average cis dude size and I have short hair. I totally get that socialized sense of fear, but it’s not like I can tell them that. And will my female friends start wondering if they can’t identify with me anymore?
I don’t know. Logically, it will probably be fine. But I can’t shake the discomfort of becoming something I myself have issues with. Ironically, though I identify as more masculine, I’m afraid of a lot of men. Not of my cis male friends, who are among the gentlest and most feminist people I’ve ever met, but of strangers. Of the social construction of a man. That’s fucking sad on so many levels.
I have a lot more thoughts on this, so I’m sure I’ll come back to it. The best I can do right now is just concentrate on the things I have to do in the moment, the things I know will be good for me, and trust my friends to be honest with me if they start feeling uncomfortable.