28/06/12, My Experience of Being a Trans Man
To most I’m an average 22-year-old guy. I like music, socialising, and funny movies (crikey it sounds like a lonely hearts ad!). But if I choose to tell you, you’ll know that I’m a transgender man. This small part of me has been one of the biggest struggles that I’ve faced. I’ve been transitioning socially for about two and a half years and medically for around 16 months.For me, the medical side of my transition is minimal in comparison to being socially accepted, feeling safe and feeling supported.
Being seen as your gender is one of the most important things for a trans person, for me it was a recognition of my male identity by others, but living in Brighton has made it quite complex for me to be seen as male. I love the diversity of gender presentation here, but being surrounded by so many masculine women (and working in a predominantly lesbian pub) meant I faced, and sometimes still face, serious amounts of judgement about my gender. When I say judgements about my gender, I don’t just mean a question here or there about whether I’m a girl or boy, but rather having quite rude and abrupt comments made to me such as “That’s a boys name, you’re a girl” or “but you can’t be a boy – you look too feminine”.
Of course I take the time to educate people and inform them; I’ve worked in the trans community for nearly four years so I‘m very aware of the lack of education and ignorance that surrounds trans issues. Yet, in my experience and other trans people’s experience, education doesn’t necessarily mean understanding what is appropriate and what is not.
When I‘m open about being trans one of the first questions I get is “Do you have a penis?”. I’ve been asked this more times than I can count, by gay, bi, straight, old and young people. As much as I find it offensive and rude to be asked about what’s in my boxers, it intrigues me every time. I wonder what the fascination is with genitals, why people have this need to know. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 it’s so they can define you as ‘real man’ or ‘fake man’. Penis = real man. This continues to boggle my mind as it’s such a small part of a person. It doesn’t define any other person who isn’t trans so why should it define me? Having or not having a penis doesn’t make me any more or less valid than the next person and it exasperates me that my validity in society and as a man relies on my genitals.
In order to combat this ideology I’ve been volunteering and working at Allsorts to help facilitate the drop-in and trans youth group, Transformers, a fantastic group providing support and a safe space for trans young people. The group runs on the last Wednesday of each month from 5-7pm.
Written by an Allsorts Young Person.
For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to ‘Allsorts Staff’ on Facebook.