Monday, February 4, 2008

Bois2Men

First, let me apologize for the delay in writing. Funny how life happens sometimes. I realize that many of my blogs on trans identity don't exactly have "mass appeal." They actually probably don't mean shit to anyone but me.

Nevertheless, I have to keep writing what's on my mind. So here it is.

Lately, all my bois have started becoming men. In the last few months, four of my closest trans brothers have started their physical transition--through top surgery and T. And I'm happy for them. Truly. But as half of me reaches out with open arms and congratulatory remarks, I feel the other half slowly backing out the door.

Why?

Well, I've come to realize that the reasoning involves a touch of jealousy, a bit of alienation, and a whole lot of fear.

Of course there's a part of me that yearns to be them--that wishes that my transition could just as easily include or disregard the rest of my immediate family. And clearly, it's difficult to find myself alone; The guys with whom I shared that scary process of self-unfoldment and coming out now swap stories about hormone shots and post-op delights to which I just can't relate.

But mostly, it's fear. I'm afraid of where our FTM community is right now. I'm afraid of the casualty with which young guys start hormones and schedule surgery. I'm afraid of how those conversations parallel those around body piercings and new tattoos.

Now, let me qualify. Starting these physical transitions have, no doubt, changed my brothers' lives for the better--the changes definitely help them feel more genuine and whole. And I CERTAINLY prefer this era of (relatively) easy-access SRT to the hurdles and obstacles that faced transmen before us.

But I'm still afraid. Afraid that the relative ease of access for some will limit the access for others. I'm worried that those guys who want to genderfuck get to do so, and that those guys would give ANYthing to just feel more whole never will.

It's raced, it's classed, and it's located.

Those who are white or benefit from skin privilege, those who are middle class, and those who live in large metropolitan areas do enjoy more access than those who are brown, who are poor, or who live in rural areas. And, I imagine, those who understand themselves within the context of an individualistic culture may have an easier time moving "forward" than those whose "selves" are linked to a family identity.

There's something about the ostensibly instantaneous gratification that these guys experienced in their transition process that has me turning up more doubts and questions than resolutions and answers. Why has this process turned into some sort of competition? Why does it seem like I'm the only still stuck at the starting gate? What are they giving up in their process? What am I giving up in mine?

Like I said, I don't have answers. I don't know whether I would jump at the opportunity to transition if all things financial, familial, and cultural worked themselves out tomorrow. What I do know is that I hope my FTM community doesn't lose sight of all it's members. I hope that we can shift our understanding of a gender spectrum to the intersections of identity, that we can stop privileging a white boi's right to play with gender over a brown guy's right to engage his gender identity within his cultural community.

I hope we can offer support for bois to be bois, and that we can provide equal access for those who choose to become men.

3 comments:

Jay said...

excellent post. makes me wonder, once again, what do we mean by our "queer community". on a slightly different, but somewhat related note, colorlines had a story in its last issue that addressed the ways racism effects folks who transition between genders:

http://www.colorlines.com/article.php?ID=265

Anonymous said...

thanks for the post. I found it on the nation website, and followed the links back to this site. i'm a mid-40s white butch who has been watching all the young white FtoMs transitioning, and really wanting some conversation about what it means to become a white man. the couple of times i tried to start some conversation, i was basically told that talking about race, class and gender in this particular way was too scary, that exploring the intersections of privilege and transition was not OK. at least among white butch/FtoMs. i keep trying occasionally, and its great to see someone else lay out some thoughts.

Sky said...

anonymous,

thank you for your comments. i didn't see it until now! i'd love to hear your thoughts on the intersections of these identities.

it's tough. the personal is political and vise versa, and holding space for multiple identities CANNOT mean refusing to interrogate that space. yet it often does.