Rama: Hello all Cam here, but I like to go by Rama when I’m doing my writing thing. So I’ve been transitioning for about 5, 6 years now and every day I have to ask myself this question which seems to haunt me at my every turn. Am I masculine or feminine? Now as of today I know the answer to this question, I have a feminine personality, but even now I have trouble putting myself entirely into the feminine role. I mean what is femininity, why do people believe so adamantly that I should be fulfilling a masculine role? Does male and masculinity mean the same thing?
On a hot summer days, when I’m walking though the neighborhoods of Flint, MI, one of the questions I hear all the time is, “Is that a boy or a girl?” I usually hear it whispered under someone’s breath or a little kiddo will just come out and ask me straight up. This question always catches me of guard no matter how many times I hear it because the answer their looking for isn’t the answer I want to give. They want to know whether I have a penis or a vagina. In the beginning I would just give them the answer they want to hear, but I would always feel I’ve done them a great disservice not explaining to them that I identify as feminine or woman.
Maybe it’s not that I didn’t explain to them, maybe I’m more disappointed in myself. While I love my feminine side I have not quite yet completely embraced it. I still have… masculine expectations and masculinity is still expected of me. Like when I go on a date with a girl I’m still expected to cover everything, or when in relationships with women I don’t get a lot of respect because I’m not being the “provider” by the masculine definition. Even in my family I’m still addressed as “son” “he” and “brother”. I’ve even had a conversation with my niece about how I identify and right when I think she’s getting it my brother pops out of nowhere and says something like “Oh well you still sound like a dude!”
Now at this point I’m not discouraged by any of this seeing as I’ve had much time to think and meditate on the subject. You can’t teach old dogs new tricks basically, and while I do love my biological family the time is coming, even right around the corner, when I’ll have to put them and their antiquated ideas behind me, but what about those who are in the same situation?
I wonder how they cope and deal with these situations and their families. I mean I know what I have to do, but it’s taken me years to finally be at peace with this weighty decision. You pretty much have to distance yourself from people whom you have known your whole life; not just emotionally but financially as well. This is quite difficult to do when no one will hire you generally because you don’t “pass”. What do you do when the only food and shelter you have are a group of people who can’t relate to you, and do not respect your ideas?
My plan was to endure it, which requires much much…much patience. I’ve had to look the other way on many things, and keep quiet about situations that very much disturbed me. I even ended up in a homeless shelter for six months. There was much sexual harassment and fighting and homophobia in that shelter. Not only that, I also had to strip naked and shower with a bunch of men. To say the experience wasn’t pleasant is putting it lightly. And still I have to say my experience is nothing compared to the norm of LGBTQ youth who have to survive out on the streets and such.
What bothers me even more is when I consider how easy my life could be if I just give up and accepted the masculine role that society and family are trying to force on me. That experience sums up the first half of my life before I started my transition. I gave it an honest to G_D shot. I tried to be that reliable, hardworking guy that everyone could depend on and all it did was make me depressed because I couldn’t express myself the way I wanted to. I was making all this effort to make everyone else around me comfortable, but no one seemed to care that this futile effort was hurting me.
I remember one time in high school a teacher asked me if I liked football and wanted to know if I was going to play. When I said no and that I didn’t like it she had a look on her face like my answer was beyond comprehension. Like she wanted to say “This conversation would be easier for me if you would just agree with me and say yes.” When I think about it now I laugh and say to myself “these are the kind of people teaching the gay youth?” All this because people think masculinity and femininity are determined by sex organ and not one’s own perception and knowledge of self. So every day I have to ask myself, “Am I masculine or feminine?” to remind myself that I, and I alone, have the answer to this question, and no one outside of myself can decide this for me.