(Written for the Mills College Weekly, October 1997.)
I think I'm turning into a guy.
A week ago, I thought, "Oh, National Coming Out Day, whatever, I don't have anybody else to come out to... maybe I should email my old piano teacher or something, but I think she's already guessed...."
And now I'm coming out to people as transgendered.
So far, I've had one, "I'm so proud of you!" (from my ex-girlfriend), one "you CAN'T be femme and TRANS! It doesn't WORK! How does that WORK?" (from a friend who should know better) and a whole bunch of silence from anyone who might have read my post about it online.
Transgendered is kind of a weird term. In its loosest definition, it means "transgressing gender boundaries," which can include lesbians and gay men all the way up to transsexual people. I think, under that definition, you could even be transgendered if you were a straight woman who really hated the way society defines women, which a lot of Mills women do. Usually, though, someone transgendered is someone who's screwing with the boundaries a little more than that, like a woman who lives her life as a guy, or identifies as a guy. Someone who finds something really wrong with their gender, whether it's in the gender roles, in some unidentifiable spark of male or female essence within them, or with their set of genitals.
I've been reading transgender/queer theory and stuff about the fluidity of gender for a while now. I can go on for hours about how sex roles are created by your culture, how 10,000 babies are born every year with genitals that are between being a penis or a vagina, how a ton of perfectly normal people have chromosomes other than XX or XY, and how if you lined up everyone in the world by how much testosterone or estrogen they had, you wouldn't be able to pick a dividing line between male and female in the wild continuum you'd made.
At the same time, even though there's no such thing as "male" or "female," we're brought up as if there was, and there are still differences between men and women as a group sometimes. For me, being trans isn't about wanting male privilege or needing the American male sex role... it's more about body parts.
Having lots of transgendered friends, I'd read up on this stuff and thought occasionally that I might "swing that way" myself. You know, the odd sense of being in the wrong body. (Doesn't everyone get that sometimes?) A couple of weeks ago, I was reading over one of my friends' shoulders as she fooled around in a chat room online, and realized that the people she was talking to thought she was a guy. My first reaction was, "wow, they think she has a dick!" My next reaction was, "wow, I wish I had a dick. Whoa, what am I saying?!" I didn't think much of it for a while, just chalked it down to general genderfuckingness. I think my next clue was that I was having some traces of "gender euphoria" was a week later, realizing that I felt a bit odd about having breasts. Like, looking down and thinking, "what are those doing there?" But I didn't get a real taste of it until recently.
I was at this murder mystery party a friend of mine threw, and we were all dressing as prostitutes or pimps. Several of the women there went as guys, and they were debating what to put me in. I wanted to wear this great form-fitting floor-length leopard-print dress I have, just because it's gorgeous. But I looked at my friend dressed all up as a guy with a moustache and a sock in the right place and everything, and experienced this total twang of wanting, really wanting to dress like a guy, pass as a guy, have my body be that of a guy.
The thing is, I'm unlike most other trans folk I've met or read about in that most people say something like, "oh, I knew when I was 3 that there was something different about me," or "I've wanted to be a (boy/girl) since I was 5 or 6...." I may have had some awareness that I was a big ol' pagan lesbian back then, but I've always been very happy with my body. I love my little body, in the face of all the stuff society throws at me to look a certain way. I just would also really love for it to be different.
Even when wanting desperately to be in guy-drag, when I put on my femme-drag clothes I don't really think about it anymore and just enjoy my body the way it is. For a while, I thought of myself as a drag queen, wanting to enjoy the excesses of both male and female fashion. Maybe I'm drag royalty on top of everything else.
Of course this was years ago... in the intervening time, I came out as genderqueer, specifically multigendered, not to mention multiple, began taking testosterone; and now live as a guy, and a woman, and whatever else I feel like passing as on any given day.