If you have ever seen any of my previous work, you’ll know I have talked about gender stereotypes and femininity before (in fact its almost all I talked about in my work last year). if you’re new here, feel free to familiarise yourself with my work on gender after reading this- its all very important to me.
I am a male. This is not how I was labelled at birth, so I am a trans man. I am on hormones, I have a lil ‘tache, I have had top surgery that masculinised my chest and intend on getting a hysterectomy in the future, when the time is right. However, my gender identity and gender expression, don’t quite “align” in societies “norms” and this has had me thinking quite a bit about whether the way I restrict myself to fit categories is just a principal of safety or trying to please gatekeepers and strictly binary people.
*note: through this I will be referring to things as “masculine” and “feminine”- this is to societies standards, I don’t believe clothes/make up/etc is gendered*
First I want to talk about toxic masculinity, something that plagues cis men and often stops them sharing emotions, crying, generally being a nice human. It also prevents them from stepping foot in the womens clothes department because oh god I’m going to be seen looking at flowery blouses. What an utterly diabolical thought. It also prevents men having their make up done, even just for a bit of fun. Note to cishet men: wearing make up doesn’t make you *gulp* gay. Hint: You’re gay if you got the hots for men. Now, I understand this is personal preference, I’m not saying ALL men should wear make up and dresses and feel comfortable, that’s not how this works, however, men who do, shouldn’t fear being called f*ggot, fear being harassed or fear being assaulted. That is where toxic masculinity comes into play. Just leave people to be as feminine as they please and basically don’t be an asshole just because your version of masculinity doesn’t allow for people to express themselves and feel pretty.
I’m not using this piece of writing to rip into cis men (although I definitely could, sorry).
Trans men are just as bad for gatekeeping and enforcing toxic masculinity. I’m not going to mention any of the “public figure” trans men who contribute to this as they try their absolute hardest to please terfs- lets just say they’re predominantly white and do not deserve any of their audiences. However, these are the kind of people who invalidate gnc (gender nonconforming) identities, call people “trenders” for not wanting every surgery going or acting in any way feminine when they’re “supposed to be a man”. Toxic masculinity.
I played my own part in toxic masculinity too, I didn’t invalidate others, but I definitely invalidated myself. I’ve always advocated for people to live how they wanna live, present themselves how they wanna present themselves, but somehow always managed to invalidate my own expression. This was especially true when I hadn’t started hormones and when I was on hormones but didn’t “pass”- terrible terminology, sorry! I was trying so hard to hyper-masculinise myself, so that I didn’t get misgendered that I pushed down any desire to wear women’s clothing, that honestly you wouldn’t have even guessed was from the womens department, but god forbid I wore womens trousers. I knew where it was from and this meant I wasn’t man enough. I know retrospectively realise that this wasn’t the case and I should have just wore what I wanted because in reality who gives a damn. I fully understand why I was like this, it was because the thought of being called “she” because I was wearing eyeliner would ruin me and crippling dysphoria would kick my ass and to be honest I got misgender enough without being openly feminine. Even now, when I pass 90% of the time, I don’t think I can leave the house wearing make up or a dress without being misgendered, but one day, maybe. For now, I’m like a teenage boy experimenting with femininity in front of the mirror, but keeping it a secret from the outside world in fear or judgement (or dysphoria).
One of my biggest issues with this whole masculine, feminine deal is; how come its generally ok for cis men to wear make up and dresses, but the second a trans man does, he is “detransitioning”. What kind of crappy double standards is that? How is it “yaaas qween” when cis male mua’s flaunt their looks, but a trans man gets maliciously misgendered. How is it “men in crop tops *heart eyes*” but only if they’re cis, skinny and white. All men should be able to express themselves without judgement. What makes it even worse is when the transmed lobby is screaming trender and making people who enjoy traditionally feminine things feel as though they’re not man enough.
So a reminder to my trans male siblings, you do you. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing being trans wrong. If you feel male, you’re male. Don’t let societies toxic masculinity stop you from expressing yourself how you want.
I hope this wasn’t too rambly- to put everything in short, do what makes you happy and stop feeding into toxic masculinity, its a very unattractive look on anyone.