I used to imagine what I’d look like if I born male, if I were born with the expected physical features of biological maleness. I’d give myself facial hair and mentally take the roundness out of my cheeks and let that image float in front of what I was seeing in the mirror. I think this is a pretty common activity among trans* people.
I was reflecting today on the fact that I can now see the maleness in my face without squinting my eyes and doing mental overlays. It’s not that my face has changed drastically – the shape is a little different and yes, my facial hair is darker and in greater quantity – but it’s still my face, the face I’ve had since becoming an adult. So why can I see the masculinity so much more easily now?
I think it’s all in my head. All my life I’ve been schooled in the art of seeing the female in my face and body, regardless of the masculine tells. It was another overlay that fit firmly over my image when I looked in the mirror, that I saw first and foremost. When I began questioning my gender identity and exploring what gender could mean to me, I began seeing the male more often. It was like a flickering image, at first it was hard to hold on to but eventually I could steady it and examine its details. It was like having another person in my body. Sometimes I’d see the female butch dyke, sometimes I’d see the man. I remember confessing to Roxy that I had a crush on my male side, it was really like looking at the image of someone else, someone I craved being in the presence of, the Kyle side of me.
This morning I took a selfie of myself and looking at the picture I took, all I could see was the maleness. My perception has switched over – now it’s more rare for me to see the femaleness in me, it flickers in and out of my vision and won’t stabilize any more.
I am still surprised at being seen as a man in the world, strangers rarely misgender me now. It still surprises me because inside I am still a mixed gender person and the habit and expectation of being seen of female is based on 50 years of experience.
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