Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Yuck, I Feel Like A Boy Today
Back in 2003 when I was running HIM’s Transgender Initiative, we had a meeting in which one of the attendees exclaimed during a break, “Yuck, I feel like a boy today.” A gay man who was on the HIM board heard the comment while he was on his way to another part of the building for a separate group meeting. He asked Dawn and I about the comment when we met for our board meeting later that week.
We are always in education mode when it comes to getting the GLBT/SGL community and others to understand the varying degrees of differences in terms of transwomen and what we experience. We had some time before the board meeting started, so we sat him down and attempted to break it down to him what that person’s thought process was that led to the comment.
Transition is an emotional process in addition to being a physical one. The physical part of it is easy. It involves making the body morph to fit the mental gender imprint that a person is born with by using hormones, gender specific clothing, hairstyles, et cetera. It is the external manifestations of gender.
The mental aspect is the hardest part. Gender roles are learned. Certain behaviors, societal expectations and actions are assigned to the gender roles of male and female and it takes time to learn what those are. Genetic peeps have 18 to 20 years to do that with the guidance of their families and society. Transpeople have the complication of trying to get up to speed with their new gender role and unlearning the old one in a very short amount of time. In addition to that, they have the burden of trying to learn those roles with those same societal and familial forces sometimes arrayed against them.
There are days when everything is clicking for you and you’re in the gender zone. Your presentation is on point, voice is in the correct pitch range, and everybody’s complimenting you about your hair and appearance. You look so fly and are feeling so feminine that you believe that you could take on the Miss Universe pageant beauties and win in a walk.
Then there are those days when you don’t feel so feminine and external things exacerbate it. You’re slightly upset because you have an electrolysis appointment to finish removing body and facial hair. You had someone use the wrong pronoun to address you multiple times and you’re running low on hormones. You’re having a bad hair day and you overheard some little kid while you were out asking his mom if you’re a boy or a girl. You feel a little jealous because you saw this strikingly beautiful sistah getting admiring looks from the brothas, or another one holding her child and it brings back all of those conflicted, inadequate feelings you had before transition.
I suppose that’s what this person meant when they said, ‘Yuck, I feel like a boy today.”
All you can do when you feel that way is what ballplayers do when they’re in a batting slump: Fight your way through it. You remember how you felt when you had on your best clothes and had your face made up to supermodel precision. Remind yourself when you feel a little upset about having to undergo electrolysis that there are genetic women waiting to get hair removed after you’re finished. I’ve even had my genetic female friends tell me that even they have days where they don’t feel quite so feminine and they have possessed vaginas since birth.
So it’s not always about feeling like a boy or girl. It’s about loving yourself, the skin you’re in, enjoying life and confidently loving every moment of it.