The Inevitable “She”
A voice answered. I dropped my voice to its lower octave and spoke. I overheard the man speaking to his supervisor. “She says….”
She. It used to crush me. As a newly out transguy nothing could wreck my day like the wrong pronoun. I had to accept that I wasn’t going to pass. Once I did “she” moved from a crushing reality to a minor inconvenience. After I started T “he” began to make more of an appearance, but that’s all it ever made. An appearance. Eventually I stopped caring. My friends tell me that I “don’t look anything like a girl.” I may not look exactly like a girl, but I look (and sound) enough like one to be read as one. It isn’t about self-deprecation. It’s about reality. To some I am read as male, but to most I’m not. The reason has to be I look and sound within the general concept of what a female would or could be.
Originally my theory for this was based on familiarity with visible queerness. People who where more accustomed to non-normative or otherwise queer gender presentation in women would more likely think I was a woman too, and even stress using “she” to show they recognize me. Consequently, people who had little to no exposure to queerness would always read me as male simply because they didn’t know any better. Makes sense, right? But it isn’t accurate. A queer/queer savvy person has just as much chance to use “she” as a rural Ohio store clerk. Regardless of population or location, I am significantly unreadable and under-recognized.
Sometimes I get pissed about it, especially if I’m in a space where I think people should know better. One random “she” here and there isn’t much to get upset about, but I have a hard time standing the brunt of three to six to twelve “shes” flying in my face like bugs on a windshield. It’s as if I can actually feel myself getting cut down, every pronoun pulling me farther and farther away from any hope of correction or recognition. My friends are often quick to correct people, but I rarely do anymore. I wonder if they think I’m a coward for not standing up for myself. I wonder if they feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for myself; it usually doesn’t bother me… that much. The explanation is often more painful than the mistake because it often leads to more questions or, at the very least, an unfavorable look.
Sometimes I don’t know what’s wrong with people. I think I look like a guy. I think they must be crazy, or maybe I’m the one who’s crazy; crazy for even wanting to pass, for caring what other people think. Maybe I’m crazy to think that I should be able to have the pronoun I want no matter what I look like. Maybe I’m crazy to continue to look like I do in this world. Once when I was upset about not passing a friend (also trans) said “if you want to pass there are things you can do…” but I don’t want to do them. I already did them and I grew out of it, it isn’t me anymore. I don’t want to pretend I’m someone or something I’m not, and that includes going by “she.”
Its not that I’m ashamed of being female bodied, or otherwise hate it. I just don’t like it infringing on my identity. What sucks is that it’s not up to me whether it does or doesn’t. Its other people’s perceptions that continually push my birth sex in my face. I’m not opposed to being placed inside the feminine spectrum either. I self-identify as a femme, but that doesn’t mean I’m a girl. I’m a guy, and as femme as I am, it doesn’t change my gender identity. Sometimes I think of upping my T dose but I never do. I don’t want to give up the androgyny and I think my body is having a hard enough time with the strain from T as it is. I guess this is just how it’s gonna be, and since I got over the preliminary experiences of not passing, there’s no cause for me not to get over this… It’s just that I thought I was near the end, you know? I was never under the illusion that T would make life easy; I didn’t take it for that. I just thought it would make life easier… at least, easier than this.
After I was passing a little, I started to genderfuck more to suit my personality. I had been building up the confidence to do it. T was my final push across the binary line. Once I died my hair and started to “femme up” the way I wanted there was no going back to butch. Butch was gone and I guess that any chance of “he” setting roots went with it. Like I said, I’d rather be this way than not, it’s who I am. I’ll just hang out with the other genderqueers until the binary breaks down enough for us to have a space. In the mean time, I do enjoy fucking with people who have no idea what gender I am. I think of it as a little form of payback. If I’m not gonna get my pronoun yet, I might as well get to freak people out while I wait.