Sometimes as transmen (and transwomen, too) we have a hard time feeling like "real men," (or "real women" in a transwoman's case) or in some essence that our masculinity is not on the same level as other guys', both trans and not. We tend to get caught up comparing ourselves to non trans males and get hung up about it; we do the same when we see other transguys further in transition or who might possess a masculine physical trait that we particularly desire, like facial hair, penis growth, or a deep voice, etc, and feel like we will never be where he is at, look as masculine as he does, or that we will never even really feel like a "real man" (whatever that is).
I certainly felt that a lot in the beginning of my transition. I would look at other transguys that were much farther than me into transition and be so envious of them; the non transmale hate came when I started passing more regularly and thus was seen to be on their level/"as one of them" and thus was able/had to "compete" with them.
The first photo is me (right) in the fall of 2005, just months before starting testosterone. I was 21, but felt 12, sometimes 15 if I was lucky. I felt like a little high school boy compared to the people my age, especially women. I was uncomfortable around non transmales because not having medically transitioned at the time, I was neither man nor women to them because I was female-bodied but certainly not feminine and anybody they would be interested in, but at the same time, they did not accept me as a male, one of the bros, etc, even though they knew of my transgender identity and that I identified as male, not female. This was entirely frustrating, but at the time I can see that they were not acting only out of ignorance, but the energy they were receiving from me was completely and utterly confusing to them, whether they could physically recognize this or not.
It makes sense; I was uncomfortable with myself. Extremely. How could I expect others to feel comfortable around me? The energy I was giving off was of extreme confusion and coming from two opposite poles to them- both the male and female. On one hand they did not see me as a "normal" girl, but at the same time, I was not a "normal" guy to them either.
The second picture was taken in the summer of 2003 or 2004 when I was not yet trans-identified; I hadn't yet discovered the term "transgender." Clearly I did not dress in a feminine manner and looked quite androgynous. This photo perfectly illustrates the level of discomfort I was at with myself with a body and identity that didn't fit me. The energy and vibes people were getting from me very chaotic, confused, and intense. Perhaps if I had made this realization when I was first transitioning, lack of immediate acceptance would have been more understood on my part and caused much less grief, anxiety, and stress on my part. You live and learn, right?
One of the things that has helped me move from a very depressive, low emotional state was to realize that it is okay to be different. As simple and cliche as it sounds, it is so true. Nobody, whether they're trans or not will be happy if they constantly compare themselves to others. There will always be those that have more, those that have less, and those that actually are jealous of YOU and what you have(believe it or not).
Diversity is one of the many things that makes the human race so unique; no one wants to be a carbon copy of everyone else, except when they're in middle school. You will be happy once you can get comfortable with not having to keep up with others, not comparing what you have to what they have, not always playing Transguy vs. Non Transguy Face-Off in your head; basically, once you can learn to like and value yourself for who you are and not always stressing yourself over who you are compared to others will you ever be happy.
You can still do the things that you like to do and that make you happy without worrying if your actions are "masculine" enough, or "if guys would really do that." You event what it means to be your own man, your own person. Don't let someone else define it for you. Or as Judy Garland more eloquently put it:
"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
I leave you with a video from 7 year old Jazz, who is wise far beyond her years and sums up simply yet eloquently in a 37 second video what it takes most people their whole lives to come to terms with and accept.
Resources & Information
- Transguys.com- The Internet's Premier Online Magazine for Transmen
- The Art of Transliness: Advice on Life for the Modern Transman
- Hudson's FTM Guide
- The Transitional Male
- T-Vox: Comprehensive Resources for the Trans Community
- Transbucket: Photosharing for the Trans Community
- Trans Health: Health & Fitness for Trans People
- FTM-trans Yahoo Group
- FTM Surgery Info Yahoo Group
- FTM: Scouting the Unknown