Caught in the gender crossfire

I’ve been feeling a touch melancholy this week for some reason. After the improvement over the summer, thanks not only to the breaks, but also starting again with my herb garden, starting college and getting into better cooking and eating habits, I’m now “coming down” to the reality of continuing money problems; the council taking their time to process my drop in income, Arrow Global et al not giving me the last record I need to apply for a DRO – and a class that’s already getting cliquey, with me feeling barely any connection with the rest of the guys.

If I wasn’t still recovering from a depressive episode I probably wouldn’t notice so much, but with one guy trying to explain why pretty girls aren’t good at computers, me challenging the notion while feeling one or two buttons being pushed, and then him mingling with a few others who are probably more like him, it’s all quite a stark reminder of just how different I am.

I’ve felt it all my life; being able to hang around girls until they start talking about make-up, relationships etc, and being able to hang around guys until they start talking about football and sex. I’ve always felt uncomfortable in gender-divisive situations, whether it be guys/girls only, or talk like “men/women are like this / can’t do x/y/z”. The main problem I’ve had when socialising with “normal” people, is that at some point there’ll be this expectation on me to “fit in”, to go along with the crowd, and when I challenge it in some way, they either gloss over it or give me a strange look.

In some ways, it was worse when I started transition. I’d get asked why I was doing it, if not to feel more manly. Friends assumed that I’d feel more manly now I have a flat chest. There was this expectation that I was going to adopt more stereotypically masculine behaviours and traits. Mum got upset because she assumed I’d no longer want to browse charity shops with her. It’s hard enough to explain the need for a sex change in the first place, let alone point out that we don’t all feel the same needs re hormones and surgery. I’ve had people try to put words into my mouth, presumably in an effort to understand it; assuming I too felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body, that I need to feel/be manly, that I want (full) genital surgery, when the truth is very different.

I don’t identify as a gender at all. I even find it hard to associate others as men or women. The terms manly and womanly are social inventions, another means to try and categorise us. What is manly/womanly? The only reasons I know what is usually meant by them, is through hearing others and their ideas of how men and women are “meant to be”. I say I’m a “girly man” because that’s the language most people understand, and that’s how I’d most likely appear to people. AKA different. It doesn’t matter which social circle I’m part of, there’s always some way I’ll drift among the crowd. It certainly feels a lot better being treated and referred to as a man, but along with that comes the expectation that I’ll join the other guys in their feelings on women and technology – and I can’t do that any more than I could wear high heels.

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