Well, this past February marked 2 years on T. I’ve been busy, so busy writing my book that I have had little time for this type of transition writing.
But I did want to check in, and write a little update, and talk some about today, the trans day of visibility.
First, to continue my cavalcade of odd anniversaries, here’s my 25 months on T update.
As far as physical transitions go, I am steady on my dosage, still doing IM injections on my own, and so the changes at this point are gradual.
My voice seems to have settled into a much deeper but still sometimes squeaky range. I think the squeaking has more to do with operator error than range. I have to push more air out, with greater volume, for deeper and more even results. I can’t speak from the same place in my throat that I did before testosterone, nor can I use the same amount of air.
My chin remains the dominant place for hair growth for me, but my sideburns are slowly coming in. The mustache is still struggling, but he’s there. K talks about the “hair” on my chest occasionally, but I think she’s just being supportive.
Muscles are dependent on my gym routine, which has gotten more sporadic because of a knee injury.
Socially, I am 99.9% of the time read as male, with only the occasional “miss” from behind, likely because of my short stature. I don’t care at all when I’m mis-gendered; it no longer feels like a deep personal wound.
The territory I’m moving into is of the “stealth” trans person. And as today is Trans Visibility Day, I thought I would take some time to write a little about living a stealth life.
Most of you know I live in Chicago. I believe being able to afford to live in a major city is a privilege when one is trans. I’d like to write a little bit about the other ways I am privileged before I write any more about living a stealth life.
I’m white, and a trans guy, so as I pass I have the patriarchy on my side big time.
I’m able bodied, and I’m in the economic middle class.
Oh, and I’m conventionally attractive.
In short, I’m privileged as fuck.
So going forward in this conversation, know I know this. I know when I talk about my experience it is a charmed one.
So, carrying on:
The other day I was at work, and a new co-worker and I were chatting, some issue of women’s clothing came up, and she made some comment to me, the jest of it being, “you boys don’t know how tough it is to be a lady.”
It was just idle workplace chatter, but it was nice to be affirmed in my gender. I have been stealth for a little bit, but when a comment is made by a person who just reads me as male, without knowing me as trans, it’s still affirming and feels good.
I could have very easily said back to her, “Actually, I wore bras for years, and I know exactly what you’re talking about.”
But I didn’t say that. Why?
Because sometimes it’s nice to not be a trans talking head. Sometimes it’s just nice to be a man.
That’s what being stealth affords me: it affords me the privilege of blending in. It allows me to “pass.”
God, I hate that word: passing.
And stealth, I hate it too.
Because stealth makes it sound like I am hiding. Like I’m ashamed to be trans.
Let it be known: I AM NOT ASHAMED OF BEING TRANS.
But I don’t want to talk about it every time my maleness is innocuously brought into conversation.
Sure, I “pass,” but what exactly does that entail?
Passing is, in my case, short for passing for a man.
It implies I’m not a man, that I am an imposter.
And that’s not true. It’s actually the opposite.
Actually, for so many years, I “passed” for female. I responded to female pronouns, and a female name, and I used the women’s bathroom. But it was always fake. I was always faking it, and so I “passed” for female.
Now? My body and my presentation are aligned with my internal sense of self. The world is able to read me as the man I always have been.
“Passing” and “being stealth” aren’t indicative of a mis-aligned body; they’re indicative of a maligned system, a system that only reads gender in strict binary ways. We have to work to broaden the terms, so men who can’t afford surgeries or DON’T WANT THEM can still be read as men. Maybe some trans women don’t want hormones; they should still be addressed as women.
I think I’m starting to ramble, so let me say this:
I like being trans, and I’m happy to answer people’s questions about the trans community, as much as I can, because I can’t speak for all of us. Sometimes I am just going to be a dude, and so sometimes that means I’m not going to bring up my trans-ness in conversation. And thank god, because who wants to listen to lectures all day? I guess I’m just growing up, meaning, I’m settling into my male body and in that way being trans doesn’t come up so much anymore. However, if someone says some ignorant thing about the trans community, or the queer community at large…or about women, or people of color (because more broadly it’s about intersectionality, isn’t it? We have to have each other’s backs, don’t we?), I would surely speak up.
And so this blog, and its role in my life is changing as well. MLWT is still relevant, in that I am still trans, but the physical stuff, the hair growth and voice change and sex drive are no longer the crux of my transition story. It’s more anthropological than biological at this point in my life.
So as things arise, I will still post here, but this blog is taking a bit of a backseat to my other writing project. Feel free to still comment, as I will still happily respond to them.
Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli