The Transitive Property: The Pros and Cons of Passing

Oct. 18, 2010, 12:13 a.m.

The Transitive Property: The Pros and Cons of PassingI had my first testosterone injection last Wednesday. During the weekend before, I had to pick up my prescription (It’s weird how my manhood comes from a teeny little bottle that I get from CVS), and then bring it to Vaden for the injection. It was a rather anticlimactic affair. Within half an hour, the doctor poked a needle into my arm and before I knew it, it was done. I still felt like the same awkward Filipino boy who likes comic books. The only change that would happen, I felt, was that I’d talk with a bit of a deeper voice when I proclaimed my love for Batman.

But it hit me a little while afterward. I realized I will look normal—I will pass as a regular guy for the first time ever. Transgender men are probably the luckiest queer people in that once they’ve gone through the physical transition, they can blend into the general population (which is why it’s so hard to keep track of how many FtMs there are. It’s just so hard to tell the difference). In other words, I can live a normal, safe life, relatively free of, you know, getting beaten up, shot at, laughed at, discriminated against, so on and so forth. I will finally be in a position in which everyone I meet will assume right away I’m a bio-guy, and treat me as such. It is a prospect that is strange, exciting and frightening.

I realize that when the effects of testosterone kick in, I will look less queer than before. I will straddle both the queer and straight world, and even have the choice of leaving the queer community behind—something that a portion of transmen do after physically transitioning. But the queer community is something I do not want to abandon. From my experience, the Stanford queer community has been wonderfully accepting. When I’m hanging out at Terra for Happy Hour, or at the LGBT Center, I don’t have to worry about presenting as “man enough.” Hell, I could love Lady Gaga and football and no one will judge me. Not to mention I have also met so many awesome people—I don’t think I would have been exposed to so much diversity if it were not for my involvement in the Stanford LGBTQ community. Many of my close friends are queer. There’s just a connection between my queer friends and me that just isn’t present with other friendships. There’s a mutual understanding, a freedom to talk about things, an unconditional acceptance. I don’t have to prove or explain anything to my queer friends. And last Wednesday’s vigil for recent LGBTQ youth suicides was one of the most powerful moments I have experienced during my undergrad career. The queer community is part of me, and will always be part of me, no matter how I look.

As a pre-testosterone man, I always appreciated my physical appearance because it gestured toward the more complicated aspects of my identity. The phrase “born in the wrong body” is a bit problematic to me. Earlier in my transition I did identify with this phrase, and felt generally bitter about this whole cosmic prank of my body and mind not matching up, but as I grew, I realized that my life experience has actually been a bit of a gift. By living as a female, I understood the female perspective, and through this life experience I realized how important it is to respect women, and how it is important to fight for women’s rights (I swear, if all men were required to live as women for at least some portion of their lives, the world would be a whole lot better). I am ardently feminist, and I owe my female experience to this identification.

I like manly things, like ties, steak and Guinness beer. I’ve had the biggest crush on Emma Watson since the sixth grade, and I have a Jessica Alba poster proudly displayed in my room. However, I also have some traits that you could deem as stereotypically gay—I worship Lady Gaga and religiously watch Glee, and my door is literally draped in rainbow paraphernalia. And for some unexplained reason or another I’ve recently developed an obsession with Zac Efron, Andrew Garfield and any other men with fabulous hair. I’m a feminine guy, and proud of it. Looking more “normal,” though convenient and more resonant to how I picture myself in my mind, has made me realize that maybe “fitting in” with everyone else is not something I want to do.

The other day my throat was a bit sore—I thought with a twinge of excitement that the T was kicking in, until I realized that I live in a freshman dorm, and during fall quarter freshman dorms are bastions of disease and sore throats. False alarm. But I’ll keep you posted, Stanford. Thanks for keeping up with me.

Next week: Cristopher bitches about relationships. E-mail him at [email protected].

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