I’ve a hard time figuring out how to respond to people who say, “But why do you have to change your body? Can’t you just dress as a male and act like a male– why do you need to take hormones to become male?”
I have problems with this question on many levels, but mainly, I wonder what it even means to “act” male?
I assume people are insinuating that I should settle with behaving in a more “masculine” manner. But what would that even mean?
My desire to inject testosterone isn’t based on the misconception that having the freedom to be confident in society should belong only to those with testosterone pumping through their bodies. It’s this exact skewed relationship between the world and the image of masculinity that I want to fight against, and my choice to become more physically male is entirely unrelated to thinking that appearing male should grant a person more right to power.
Every time another person asks, “Can’t you just be a butch lesbian,” it only further fuels the fire of distorted gender roles dominating society. I hate the term “butch lesbian” because it enforces gender even among anatomically same individuals– to be the butch lesbian means to be the strong lesbian, to be the loud or the outspoken lesbian, to be the giver more than the receiver– why are strength roles always issued to those abiding by what we’ve established to be male norms?
I don’t need testosterone to be emotionally stronger, to be rightfully presumed more emotionally stable, or to be looked to as the more appropriate bearer of responsibilities. To be a “butch lesbian,” or simply “a woman who dresses and acts like a man,” would be accepting gender differentiation at a level I’m entirely uncomfortable with, because to fulfill the role of what society demands the butch to be, so many attributes of my personality would have to be sacrificed because they wouldn’t fit what we’ve been led to believe “should be male,” and therefore, “should be butch.”
I’m injecting testosterone in order to have the body I find more fitting, not to create a personality I feel I somehow cannot have as an outwardly female person.
I’m often confronted by people unhappy about this transition who argue, “But you’re such a girl, Jamie! The way you treat children and want babies– how can you give that up? And what about the love you have for animals? What makes you YOU are the female things about you– your kindness to others and gentleness with small creatures! As a male you won’t care about these things!”
I’ve never felt either female or male– the only relation my desire to be a parent and my patience with animals has ever had to my female gender marker is that society has thus far allowed me to express this side of myself only because I’m outwardly female. Had I been born an anatomical male, the squealing over puppies and collecting children’s books for my future family would’ve been conditioned out of me years ago: Straight men can’t show emotion! Strong men can’t be giddy about the puppy section of the pet shops! Real men can’t crave having children! Young, single men can’t be gentle.
I refuse to believe that anything about me is strictly male or strictly female, or that I’ll lose any right to behave in a manner we’ve been led to believe is either masculine or feminine. The only fear I have about mixing testosterone with these character traits people recognize as stereotypically female, is that I’ll again be fighting yet another gender and/or sexuality-related battle: I’ll go from existing as the outsider lesbian who doesn’t fit the “butch” guidelines, to a male who has too much of a gentle streak to be accepted as an appropriately-behaving, straight man.
But this is a fight I’m willing to continue, and concern over that inevitable battle isn’t powerful enough to keep me from transitioning.