A hard lesson for gender non-conforming folks is that people want to police you and your gender–especially within the LGBT community. Somebody pointed out during the Black Transmen Advocacy Conference that the LGB community is the worst for outing transfolks and saying trans people aren’t “real” men or women for differing reasons. Our own queer brothers and sisters invisibilize and marginalize us. Many people are always so concerned with if you are trans enough. Masculine or Feminine enough. As if their opinion is the deciding factor as to whether you are male or female. As if you “passing” (see previous post) to them is the societal litmus test for your legitimacy. But these ideas didn’t fall from the sky. It comes from what some have labeled a “heteronormative” society (where heterosexual lifestyles are privileged) where there are specific gender roles and behaviors to be adhered to. Sometimes queer folks find themselves subconsciously mimicking or emulating these roles; other times they consciously mimic or emulate these roles. A concern is if there are expectations for the performance of certain gender roles crafted by a “majority” and forced upon the whole of society.
We can’t keep letting people hand us who we are and what our experiences are. Though this has been the formula, we’ve got to break free from that equation. (And by we–I mean black and brown transmen/women–the narrative is usually one of white transmen/women who invariably invisibilize us on top of that which already occurs on behalf of the larger LGB community).
We have to define ourselves. We have to create what we want to be–who we are. We can’t keep taking our cues from social constructions on masculinity and maleness. They are damaging and exclusive. Honestly, when I looked around and saw what available models I had for masculinity–it arrested my development as a transmasculine person. I wish I would have known then that it was up to me to create a new masculinity. To become who I wanted to be. To not just reject society’s roles, but make new ones and challenge them in substantial ways. I wish I would have known then that I could create my own gender.
In terms of coming into my own masculinity all that need be said is that at the end of the day it’s not about who’s buying my masculinity because honestly, I was never selling it. People can deal with my gender expression however they see put, and it’s really not my obligation to explain why I am the way I am…or even who I am. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a person go up to a cisgender person (or a person whose gender and sex match up) and ask them why they are the man or woman they are…or why they “became” that?