Living Your Gender

I remember a day, many, many years ago, when I went with my grandpa to do some errands. I was about ten years old. The day had so much promise. I loved my grandparents more than anything and any opportunity to see them, together or individually, was met with joyous anticipation. Unfortunately, my memory is not all that great and I honestly can’t remember most of what we did that day, more than forty years ago. However, there is one specific moment of that day that stands out so vividly; I can recount what I was wearing, what was said and how that moment made me feel.

Among our stops that day was the barber shop. My grandpa needed a haircut and couldn’t wait to show off his granddaughter to the barber. We walk in (I am on top of the world) and before my grandpa could even introduce me, the barber says, “Ira, I see your brought your grandson with you today.”

Grandson?! Was he talking to us? I was MORTIFIED. I was definitely NOT a boy. I was very much a girl. That was a certainty.

In all fairness to the kindly, old barber, I was wearing levi’s (girls back then didn’t often wear jean-style pants) and had recently gotten a very short “pixie” haircut. At ten, girls and boys don’t look much different – it’s the clothes and hair that creates the perception of gender.

By the way, the barber felt terrible that he had mistaken me for a boy but I have never forgotten how I felt being identified as the wrong gender.

My son is transgender. He has known for quite a while that he is a boy. Of that he is as certain as I was at ten, out with my grandpa, knowing that I was a girl. When he goes out there is a certain amount of anxiety as to whether he will “pass.” Though his confidence builds with each passing day, I am guessing that there will always be a little voice in the back of his head questioning and wondering if people will see him the way he wants to be seen.

Try to imagine how you would feel if every time you went out, people thought you were someone other than who you knew you were. You might need to read that sentence a couple of times before it makes sense.

roz hunter trans sonIt takes an incredible amount of courage for a trans individual (whether MTF or FTM) to live as the gender they affirm. For Hunter, the past year has been an evolutionary process. He slowly changed his manner of dress, his hair, his visual identity.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the adults who grew up in a time when they couldn’t be anyone other than their assigned gender. Now, as adults, they are finding the courage to live differently. It is a BIG deal for a forty year old who has been living life as a man to make the hard, brave decision to go out for the evening dressed as a woman. Think about that. The next time you are out and find yourself staring a little too long wondering if the person seated across the restaurant from you is a man or a woman, remember that he or she is a human being first. The road they’ve travelled has likely been difficult and fraught with rejection, uncertainty and insecurity.

The next time you are wondering about someone else’s gender or choices, remember how certain you are of your own.

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14 thoughts on “Living Your Gender

  1. Pingback: More Than Just Passing- It’s Being | Dandelion Fuzz

  2. I cannot even begin to say how much something like this means to me…you really hit it square, and perhaps your words will help pave the way for us, who were locked into gender roles with no parole and no visitations!

    Glad to have found your blog via my friend Kat at Dandelion Fuzz.

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  3. When I was a teen and “mistaken” for a guy, While at times I may correct than, usually I’d let it slide, bc it was cool, I liked the identification, and to prevent a scene (bc I was at work). Now when I get mistaken for as female, I simply correct them that I am a guy.

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      • Yes, though I don’t emphasize the “trans” part. I tend to live in stealth offline, but online will disclose that factoid to help others if necessary. Plan to go see a specialist this fall when my son returns to school.

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      • I thought so — I hesitated asking because I thought I remembered reading something earlier that you wrote. How old is your son?

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      • He just turned 6, entering the first grade, and calls me Dad most of the time already. He wants to know when I will go visit the doctor and get my “shot”, and after I wake up, turn into a “full-blown” boy (I reference Pinocchio with that). Because that is how I explained it. He shows some gender-variant behavior, like watching Princess Sofia and playing with dolls when he is with his female friends, and I do not discourage it.

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      • Yes, I gave birth, but the other biological parent isn’t in the pic, nor has any idea I am transitioning. Not a problem, though—we both live in jurisdictions where transsexuality cannot be used as a cause to remove a child from where they currently live.

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      • I don’t date and haven’t had a partner since then, but he has many “aunts” and “uncles” helping to raise him, that are a daily or weekly part of his life. Taking a. Ullage to help raise him.

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      • Charlie… Thank you for reading my blog and for being engaged. We are learning as we go in our family situation. I hope I can continue to be a resource and a friend as you go through your journey.

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