So based on questions I’ve received since I came out as FTM and some assumptions that I’ve encountered, I’ve decided to create an FAQ. This will hopefully answer questions that I know people have but are too shy to ask. If your question is not listed, please feel free to ask me. If it is a respectful question, I will answer it. No questions are stupid. I know this is new and “out there” for a lot of people. It’s taken me YEARS and YEARS to internalise these ideas about sex and gender, both in general and academic terms and in terms of my relationship to them so I don’t expect people to just get it overnight.
Q: Are you transitioning because it’s the only way you will think people will accept your gender expression?
A: No. I’ve found my own ways to express gender over the years and I actually became quite comfortable expressing my own unique gender identity (with my own bundle of traits) in a female body. After that, though, I still felt this weird physical sensation of not being in the right body and of not owning my body. It’s a little like trying to drive a vehicle that’s way bigger than what you’re used to driving. Imagine going from a Ford Festiva to an SUV. You would get used to it eventually but I have never, even after 35 years, been able to get used to this body. Another analogy is wearing clothes that are *just* a bit too tight. Not so tight you can’t breathe but tight enough so that you’re always conscious of it and certain positions make you uncomfortable so that you’re always aware of it and always think about it. Finally, a major aspect is the constant confusion of not looking the way I see myself in my brain and this goes *way* beyond typical feelings of inadequacy that people might have because their breasts aren’t the right size, or their hair isn’t the way they want it to be.
Q: So you are becoming guy? So you think you should be a guy?
A: Well, I’m already a guy. Inside at least.
Q: What about your child? Won’t s/he be traumatised?
A: I assure you that I’ve discussed this with my child. While I can’t be sure of the extent to which s/he really understands, s/he appears to be quite excited about Mommy being a boy. S/he knows that I will always be hir Mom and that I will always love hir no matter what. S/he has been raised in a queer environment and has always been exposed to queers of all sorts (trans, lesbigay) so these things are all normal to hir. When s/he gets older and starts to learn that many people have different ideas about what is normal, we will discuss these issues together so that s/he can develop coping strategies to deal with bigotry and so that we can find ways for hir to have a social life without being “outed” as the child of a transman (by then, I should be passing as a guy anyway). I will also refer hir to local resources that are geared specifically toward youths (either queer or related to queers). Final note: if s/he is ever traumatised by anything, it won’t be by my transsexuality. It will be by the prejudice that people face based on sex, gender, ethnicity, religion, handicap, size, etc.
Q: What will your sexual orientation be?
A: I am queer and am attracted to people of all genders and sexes but with a slight leaning toward “masculine” (yes, I know this is a culturally constructed category) individuals, regardless of the package they’re in. I don’t see why that would change.
Q: What are the physical changes we should expect?
A: No one can predict what the exact effects of testosterone on an individual will be because we are all different and a lot of it has to do with genetics but some common occurrences include: facial hair (YAY!), increased body hair (YAY!), deepening of the voice (YAY!), a male hairline (not so yay) and male pattern baldness (not so yay but it doesn’t seem to run in my family on either side so I might escape that one and if I start to see it, it might be one thing that would make me get off the T quite frankly). Muscle mass may increase and some transmen report that their jawline becomes more “male” (yay for both). There are other changes that affect one’s lower anatomy but I don’t care to discuss those since they aren’t relevant to most people reading this FAQ (unlike what some people seem to think, I don’t sleep with *all* my friends). You can easily find that information on the net if you so desire but I’m hoping people can think of me as a guy, period, not as a guy with an interesting lower anatomy. In the beginning, mood swings are possible, as with any hormonal change. I will essentially be going through male adolescence (pay back for skipping menopause I guess) with, I imagine, all the angst that this entails. I may need some guidance from bio-males or other transmen who’ve been through this before . . . And yes, it is reported that one’s sex drive goes up. I don’t know if that is possible when mine is already through the roof but apparently, for some guys, it actually decreases (which would almost be a blessing, considering that my sexual opportunities as a guy, a transguy no less, will probably diminish) or stays the same.
Q: Are you going to get any operations?
A: I will be getting a chest reconstruction someday, when I can afford it. What this means is that breast tissue is removed and the chest area is reconstructed to look more masculine. Then, I will eventually get a hysterectomy. It’s unlikely that I will ever get a phalloplasty since it costs $70 thousand and I’d be too worried about losing my sexual function. We’re talking about my centre of operations here!
Q: Have you thought this through very carefully? You wouldn’t want to make a rash decision.
A: *sigh* I’ve known that I was a boy since I was 4 or 5. I’ve tried to fight it in many ways and have explored just about every way of being female I could think of, from being a pure and innocent catholic girl to being a depraved slut, to try to find a “femaleness” I could feel comfortable in. I tried being a tomboy, then I tried being a dyke and eventually a drag king and none of it was enough for me. While I had fun trying on all those roles (boy, did I have fun!), it’s time for me to acknowledge who/what I am. So . . . YES, darn you, I have thought about this for eons. If someone gets to the point where they are willing to put themselves out there as a potential target for discrimination and harassment, it’s likely that they’ve run out of other options for being happy and fulfilled. It is not likely to be a rash decision, like compulsively getting a tattoo (which I’ve never done either) or compulsively buying an expensive and unneeded piece of clothing or gadget (which I’ve done).
Q: Are you going to start getting into “guy” things, like hockey?
A: I like to play some sports (badminton, volleyball, weight training) but I’ve never been one to watch games (except for when I was 12 and had a crush on Steve Penney) and talk about them. So . . . no. I really don’t see why I would. Just like I don’t see why I would stop doing some of the things I do now like drink herbal tea.
Q: Are you going to become a stereotypical male, as in a sexist jerk?
A: No fucking way. Having lived as a woman for 34 years, I’ll always be a feminist and I’ll always have the utmost respect for women. I will fight against patriarchy until the day I die and I will probably be more effective at it with the greater self-confidence that will come with having a body that fits who I am.