From time to time I reread my old diaries, revisit old blogs, recall old thoughts. Reflection, it’s a two-edged dagger—it can be something to hurt you if you don’t wield right.

That part—wielding that dagger right—comes back to stab me from time to time, because I don’t keep control. Thoughts can be dangerous if you let your mind wander into dangerous territory, whether you’re familiar with it or not, without control or a guide.

Self portrait of author in front of a movie poster for the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.
My appearance can look anything from a prepubescent, androgynous teenager, to a cis-passing man. We must be on our guard not to confuse how we present ourselves, with how we identify ourselves.

From time to time I wonder if, in my transition towards manhood, if I made too many concessions, too many compromises. I considered myself agender before taking that first T shot, and after that, I decided to call it quits on the non-binary stuff and just adopt “trans man” and “FtM” to describe myself.

I didn’t want to argue with people over gender identity, correct pronoun usage, the politics and sociology of sex verses gender. I didn’t want to get shunned from public washrooms (sorry, US readers: restrooms). At the time I was updating the gender markers on my legal paperwork, New Jersey only issued birth records and photo IDs with “male” or “female” on them. Because the system was set up on a binary system, it was easier just to claim I was male, rather than take the time to fully explore this sense of self.

Was I trans, when I first came out and identified as agender? Yes, and no—I still hoped to eventually obtain a mastectomy and hysterectomy, but I really didn’t think about nor realize at the time the consequential need for hormone therapy afterwards. (No ovaries means no hormone production.) I just really did not think in terms of “male”, “female”, “masculine”, “feminine”—I know I wasn’t a woman in any sense of the term, but didn’t think I could see myself as a man, or even something “non-binary”.

While I continue to look at myself in the mirror, there’s also one more thing. I realize sometimes these oft dysphoric thoughts arise when I feel like I look androgynous, especially when a mask covers my face and I’m clean shaven. When I look “clearly” male, I don’t have these troubling thoughts that question my masculinity, if not ultimately my essence and identity.

Am I genderfluid, sliding between an agender and transmasculine identity? Am I a demi-guy? Am I agender, with a preference for masculine pronouns and appearance? Am I a lesbian who prefers masculine pronouns?

After I play this bout of self-doubt with myself, here is what I come back to. I am human; I am me. I have a name that suits me, and get called a thousand different nicknames. What others call androgynous, the universe does not care. My body has healed, has been reclaimed. The clothes I wear are basic, comfy, modest. I am attracted to women, and wish to settle down with a girlfriend at some point in my life. I have a family, loved ones, workplace, and online community that support me, even though i live in a highly conservative area. I am a parent, sibling, child, relative regardless of the terms used.

What thoughts lie through the looking-glass, when I slide over these clothes?

My depression sometimes causes dysphoria when really there is none. Since I was young, I always wanted to be a boy and cried out when people tried to remind me I was a “girl”. What nature desecrated, nurture healed.

I am just me. I wish my thoughts would just let that be. The mind can be your most powerful tool, or your self-destruction.

3 thoughts on “Am I (Still) a Man?

  1. Wonderful post. I remember when I came out, I was on the gender-fluid boat as well. But as time went on, I knew I wasn’t. You’re right, we are just human. I think many people tend forget that as they give us other labels and make jokes (more at my expense than yours). No matter what label you try to give yourself, I appreciate you! Continue being YOU.

    1. I have been all over in terms of trying to find a label. I think masculinity and femininity each also occur along spectrums in of themselves, as opposed to a continuum that has masculinity on one end, femininity on the other. I just find it funny that after having medically transitioned, I’m finally in touch with that feminine side, or I am comfortable with the parts of my body that will always be “female” (like my health and all).

      1. Sadly, I wish I could say the same. I have spent my whole life hating the fact that I was male. To the point I constantly thought about suicide. When I made to decision to come out and start my HRT, I began to feel more like me and happier. I still don’t like the parts of me that are male. I still wish I were born male, but I also believe things happen for a reason. So, I’m embracing that philosophy. At least I’m not thinking about suicide anymore.

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