The Gift of Transition

I was on the bus headed to a BBQ the other night when I got to thinking about what kind of man I will be. As soon as that thought entered my head I mentally stopped dead in my tracks and smiled. Just the phrase ‘what kind of man will I be’ makes me smile days later. As I got off the bus and was walking to my final destination I passed by some beautiful flower gardens and thought to myself ‘ I will be the kind of man who cultivates beautiful things’ . It was then I realized that, by and large, I can consciously choose the type of person I will be. specifically, the type of gendered person I will be.

In my concept of reality there are two basic gender templates that people start out with; male and female and from those templates can spring an innumerable variety of choices about what gender will look like. Some people choose to live out the gender assigned to them (and yes, I do mean assigned), some choose to weave back and forth across gender lines, others decide that their assigned gender isn’t the gender that feel they are and in some instances people decide they really don’t want to deal with gender at all. The kind of gender expression we live out in our day-to-day lives is often unconscious and not thought out. Rather the vast majority of people simply accept the gender assigned to them and live their lives according to the gender expressions our society has said are acceptable for them.

By and large we receive information about what’s acceptable to our gender as we grow up. Our parents, our friends and the people around us constantly and consistently teach, admonish and reinforce our concepts of gender acceptability. Girls are subtly and even sometimes overtly told what’s acceptable for them to do and likewise boys are most frequently taught what not to do. While I didn’t get the overt messages that the activities I engaged in as a young girl were not acceptable, I was subtly and consistently nudged away from the things I loved to do and into the things that those around me felt would be better suited to a girl. What I did not receive however, were the messages we give to young boys about what is and is not acceptable. Rather I’m attempting to wade into manhood without the benefit of boyhood.

This does have some advantages however. By and large I’m not crippled by a lifetime of ‘boys don’t cry’ messages. While I do have my own emotional hangups, they are less related to gender and more related to my own life experiences. I’m also not prone to machismo for its own sake. Rather I feel it comes as a by-product of some of my interests. There are also some startling disadvantages too that often don’t show up until I’m at all all-male gathering such as I was the other night. Guys socialize differently when there are no women around. Now before you all go and roll your eyes and curse me for pointing out the obvious, let me explain. Until I began my transition, the best compliment I could get from a roomful of guys was that they would forget that I was there, that I just faded into the background. It’s no surprise that’s exactly what I was trying to do. As a girl, I didn’t’ belong and I was conscious of my difference and so I tried very hard to minimize myself and simply disappear. Now, living life full-time as a guy, I’m not as content to just fade into the woodwork. Rather I want to belong; and this is where I realize I truly have very little idea of how men socialize.

Here’s hoping I don’t get my ass kicked while trying to figure it all out, haha.

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