It's my (late) lunch break. And something is on my mind. So while I'm sitting here snacking (literally between bites), I am going to share some thoughts about why I feel complicated about being called a "trans man."
A thread is coming. Get ready. 🧵
A lot of folks make the assumption that I am a transgender man because I'm fine with being perceived as a gay man. But these things are totally different in my mind.
At no point in my transition was my goal to ~be the man I'd always felt I was,~ nor do I really identify as being especially masculine. So claiming "trans man" just feels odd, because it implies an experience of transition that I never had.
Being comfortable with being perceived as a gay man is a whole different thing, in my mind. The reason I'm being labelled that way is because of my femininity in relationship to my body, not because of some inherent masculinity.
People are using the words "gay man" but it's because they are reacting to my femme-ness and my body, which to me, still creates a sense of gender euphoria — because they are interpreting my femininity not in proximity to womanhood, but rather, the body that I chose.
They feel distinctly different. When someone says I'm a trans man, they're ascribing a certain intention behind my transition that I never had. But when cis people assume I'm a gay man, they're reacting to my femininity, which is still very much a part of me.
"Trans man" gives me kind of a weird dysphoria that "gay man" does not. And it's all about where those assumptions stem from. People only give me the label "trans man" because they're ascribing special importance to my perceived masculinity, and that just doesn't resonate for me.
The thing is, anyone who interacts with me in "real life" would never, ever describe me as masculine. It would be laughable. One time, I almost missed my Lyft driver, and rather than running to the car, I actually SKIPPED. I skipped, hand flourishes and all.
Literally, everything I embody is femme. This is why I am assumed to be a gay man 100% of the time. There's an observation made about my body, but I am clearly femme — and for folks outside the community, the only language they know to use is "gay man."
Trans is implying, to me, that there was intent. But my intention, when I transitioned, was to just feel comfortable in my body. This is where I landed. Not because I'm a man, but because this is where I experience the least amount of dysphoria.
So it's one thing to be labelled in such a way that says, "I know you're femme, and these are the closest words that I have to acknowledge that."
It's another thing to be labelled in such a way that suggests, "Trans identifying + testosterone = you are a trans man clearly."
(It was a mistake to try to eat and thread at the same time. I just dropped half of the muffin I was eating. A MISTAKE.)
This is what I'm talking about when I say that gender is messy. It totally is! My transition probably looks similar to many feminine trans men, and yet it was experienced, emotionally, in a different way, and the language provokes a different reaction.
Not to mention, the identifiers we use sometimes exist to denote community ties. There are folks who are non-binary, but have a strong relationship to the lesbian community and shared experiences, and those feel significant enough to claim. That's valid, too.
When I say that I'm fine being identified as a gay man, that's in part because of the shared experience piece. Yes, I'm absolutely embedded in that community. We've shared spaces, community, and experiences. So as a shortcut, sure, that's a social role that fits.
All to say... it's COMPLICATED. There are a lot of layers, and for genderqueer folks like myself, we still have to live in a binary world. So there are all sorts of peculiar and interesting layers that come with adapting to that world, and our relationship to it.
A lot of folks are put off by the fact that gender is such a complex thing. But I'm a nerd — I just find it intensely interesting & approach it with curiosity. The human experience is complex. That is unavoidable. So I think the best we can do is try to be kind to one another.
It's fine to just ask people for their pronouns and roll with it. If you need a descriptor, ask for that, too.
Most days, I just take my cues from Sophia Petrillo and identify as a picnic basket. Because at this point, it's like... 🤷🏻♂️
I'm Sam, my pronouns are he/him, and I'm just... queer. I'm always down to geek out about the layers.
But like, if you're looking for simple, queer is fine. And we can leave it at that. Don't want to make any cis brains explode. 🤠
You can follow @samdylanfinch.