You might be looking at this post with a quizzical eye, maybe an eyebrow lift. Or maybe you’ve been through all this and you’re nodding in recognition.
It’s not something that happened right away, but as my appearance and voice have become more and more masculine – corresponding with being read as male more often – I’ve gotten more and more comfortable showing my feminine side. I don’t think it’s something too obvious to external viewers, except for those who know me well. I don’t wear dresses or skirts, or make up, or lots of jewelry. My femininity expresses as a softness, an openness, some additional flair in the way I talk with my hands.
So why now, you ask? Why now, when T has commandeered my body and taught it how to do all sorts of amazing things with hair and vocal chords? Why as my face gets hairier and my chest furrier do I feel OK getting my nellyboy on? Confidence is a powerful drug. Feeling good in my skin, being seen, being recognized, being appreciated in a way that is aligned with my self-image has been like Miracle Grow on my self-confidence. And apparently, it was the lack of that confidence that led me to stifle my feminine side. Even as I defended its existence, even though I’ve insisted that I’m not all male, that I am a blend of genders… even though my feminine is a closely held part of my identity, I felt insecure expressing anything but masculinity.
I know from conversations with other transmasculine folks that this isn’t uncommon. I’ve been struggling against outside expectations all my life and some of those struggles have been about my masculinity. My mother tried her darndedest to suppress my masculine side. The feminist lesbians who were around me in my early 20s did their best to shame it away. It went under and didn’t come out until it had received repeated invitations from people who were butch positive. So yeah, once I found myself in a place in life where my masculinity was not only visible, but celebrated and in demand, I didn’t want to confuse matters with a flounce or a faggy flip of the wrist. I didn’t want to detract from the image I was painstakingly building at the very time that image was beginning to get legs and walk on its own.
So what has changed? I’ve been asking myself this question. It’s not just a matter of reaching the proper ratio of body hair to total surface area. Confidence doesn’t arrive with a particular Free T level or as a prize for the 100th time someone calls me Sir and doesn’t take it back. I don’t really know why now is the magic time. But I have theories.
There are two elements to this new level of comfort I am feeling in expressing my full range of gender. The first is that I have reached a level of visible and audible masculinity that feels very affirming, it feels right and that has resulted in a lot of confidence. I don’t fear that the slightest hint of femininity will erase the recognition of my maleness. The second is that I have a sexual partner who is comfortable, turned on and ecstatic to be in the presence of all of my gender expression. I feel very comfortable and safe with her. She accepts and loves me in all my configurations and blends. I feel safe and welcomed and adored by her and my feminine side has been present more and more – which has delighted us both. I feel less and less gated. My gender is able to roam freely and express itself in whatever way feels good in the moment, which is really the way it should be for all of us.
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