When you don’t change your pronouns but They still call you “him”

Step right up and read about the Existential Crisis of a Femme-Presenting Trans Man. You think I’m making it up but I’m not.

Since the day I came out as a trans man, people have assumed that I would drop my femininity like a bad habit.

I didn’t change my pronouns, but folks started referring to me as “him.” They started calling me “bro” and “dude,” when they hadn’t used those words to identify me before. While part of me felt validated by these things, since my masculinity had been erased and ignored for most of my life, another part of me felt pressured not to stay true to myself in favor of fulfilling the expectations of others.

Oh. Oops. But isn’t that what we’re told to do? With threats and menaces if we’re slow to comply? Also, what remedy is there for this ambivalence? Would coming out as non-binary solve the problem? Or would that just lead to a different kind of feeling pressured?

I retired my impressive makeup collection for a good stretch of time, with pain and the belief that I needed to perform one specific idea of manhood now. I looked in the mirror at myself in a skirt and grimaced with internalized transmisogyny. All I could see was a “man in a skirt,” as if that’s a bad thing.

My therapist told me the feelings I’m experiencing are natural, that it’s expected for me to be questioning what my relationship to femininity would be going forward on my path to transition. At first, I feared starting hormone therapy would mean giving up all things feminine. Was I to abandon my strong female role models, like The Halliwell Sisters, Malala and Lady Gaga, growing up? Was I going to stop binge-watching Sex and the City and painting my nails? And what was I going to do with all the lipstick I’ve acquired over the course of my beauty writing career??

A large part of me feels like saying yes, perfect, go on this way, because it is the logic of the whole thing and it will eventually end up with everyone giving up the latest social contagion and pretending it never happened.

But another part sighs heavily because it wants to point out that this is what we evil TERFs keep saying: just do the stuff you like to do, wear what you like, watch what tv you like, wear lipstick or don’t according to your preference, none of it changes what sex you are and nothing about what sex you are requires you to wear lipstick or not wear lipstick.

Also, thinking about something other than your Self would go a long long way to rescuing you from these quandaries, and, bonus, it would make you a less tedious and more useful person.

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