Archive for the femininity Category

On "Female Socialization"

Posted in about me, femininity, life, political, queer on 08.13.09 by Maalik

Recently, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea that trans men were socialized as women. I’ve always identified as a transguy, the trans connected to guy, because my experience as a man is influenced by the years I lived as a girl. I know it’s different for everyone, but I’ve come to realize that I never had that experience. To say that I was socialized as a woman is inaccurate; because I’ve never really had that experience.

This comes up a lot when others consider trans men a “different kind” of man or assume that because of our female upbringing, we are less misogynistic than our cis counterparts. They wrongly presume that because we are female-bodied, we experience life like a “traditional” (heterosexual, cis, femme) female and that this experience translates into a more understanding position. For me, and for many of us, this simply isn’t true. I’ve had to fight against my own misogyny, caused both by the desire to be seen as “manly” and by scorn towards the gender that wrongly embraced me.

I don’t know what it’s like catcalled, because it’s never happened to me. I don’t know the fear of walking alone at night, because I’m usually the one who is feared. When I speak, others listen to and respect what I have to say– and I recognize that these are privileges that most females don’t have. For all intents and purposes, I was socialized as a man; I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman.

I will admit that I am often mistaken for a butch lesbian, but even that doesn’t carry the same value as being perceived as a “traditional” woman. In my limited experience, butch lesbians are given much of the same respect that men recieve– they are seen as knowledgable about sports, vehicles, and traditionally masculine things while being sheilded from sexual advances. The descrepency comes in dealings with sexuality, where butch women become the gay minority. For me, even when I was perceived as a woman, I was treated like a man.

My sex does influence gender; as a female I have to navigate the medical community in much the same way that a woman does. But my sex does not inherently make me more knowledgable about a woman’s experience or more understanding to women’s issues. My sex influences my gender in much the way that my race or sexuality do; certainly, they play a role in my gender, but no more a role than anything else. I am not a blackman, but a black man. Not a queerman, but a queer man. And no longer a transman, but a trans man.


Expressing Feminity

Posted in about me, femininity, life on 07.11.09 by Maalik

Every few weeks I go with my mom to get a pedicure. I welcome the experience, sometimes allowing the pedicurist to apply nail polish. Now I can go without needing to bind– I love it.

A year ago, six months ago even, this could not have happened. I hated to even go inside a nail salon for fear of being mistaken for a girl. Society is so gendered– to be seen near a salon caused others to question your masculinity, to get services from that salon made you a chick. And it was far more complicated for me; if I looked like a girl and acted like a girl, how could I be a man?

I went. Partially to spend time with my mom, partially to see what it was about, but mainly because I wanted a pedicure. I knew I would probably be called “ma’am,” but I didn’t care. It wouldn’t kill me. I’ve gotten “she” while playing football with a bunch of guys. The world didn’t care about the “gender” of an activity if the sex of the doer was known.

I went. I was called “daughter” and “she” and “ma’am” on multiple occasions. I lived, but I was never going back. When I was mistaken for a girl on the football field, it didn’t bother me. I did my part– I was performing a “guy’s” task and the speaker was the one who erred. But sitting in a nail salon? I screwed up. I didn’t keep my end of the deal.

I started thinking about it. The same “deal” that dictated that boys not go to the nail salon required boys to have penises. I certainly disregarded the second part, so why did I care so strongly about the first? Just as my mind made me a guy, my gender made my actions “male.” I was a guy playing football just as I was a guy getting a pedicure; the infrequency of the latter didn’t make it impossible. Plus my feet felt good– I went back.