Walking In Their Shoes

In case you haven’t figured out from a previous blog post: I am a man. I am a trans man, if you count the pre-qualifier.

I’ve been asked how I knew I was (I am) trans many times. The answer isn’t that I always knew I was trans but that I always knew I was a man. Well, maybe. I always knew I wasn’t like other girls. I say that more easily now that I have become so much more comfortable with myself. But can I really say that I was a girl?

The trans handbook says things like:

I have always been a man/woman. I was never really a woman/man. My outsides never matched my insides. I was always a man/woman on the inside or in my head and heart and soul.

If I have always been a man or boy, can I really say that I was a woman or a little girl? Well, I was certainly raised as one and lived as one. Was I just pretending?

If you’re looking for the answers to these questions I don’t really have them. From my lens of perspective, I think it is a little bit of both.

I have always been a boy. I was raised as a little girl so that made it really hard for me but I think I can confidently say I know what it is like to be a little girl. Even if I was only going through the motions because it was how I was being raised. But gender is fairly meaningless to children until they are taught otherwise. I don’t think I was a boy pretending to be a girl. I was a kid pretending to be an astronaut.

I have always been a man. That made puberty and early adulthood even harder. I don’t know that I can really say that I was a woman. I have had female experiences but I didn’t think in the same head space that women do. I’m not generalizing that all women are the same so I’m hoping that you’re sticking with my thought process and not critiquing every statement. I know that I didn’t quite think or feel the way a woman does. I did experience the same fears a woman can feel for safety reasons, but to be fair a male identity doesn’t really stop a trans man from living with some of those same fears.

Sidebar: Socially, there is a lot of discussion about men not understanding the constant fear that many women live in. I understand where those statements come from having lived as a physical female. That said, I think there is another side to these arguments: men can experience emotions, such as fear, too. Men are taught and conditioned to bury and hide those feelings to the point that it becomes too easy to forget that they have them at all. Ironically, it’s gender stereotyping on both sides that is perpetuating the issues. There are so many powerful, public speeches coming out about the gender inequality that is good for creating a dialogue for change but not when it turns into an attack on men that are being accused of being beyond understanding. Unless you are a sociopath, we all have the ability to emphasize and learn so no one is beyond understanding if we come from a place of education and not accusation.

Back on topic….

By the time I was old enough to be physically considered a ‘woman’ my head and my heart and my soul finally knew I was a man. I lived as an out lesbian for so long that I know what it is to be a lesbian but I don’t know what it is to be a woman, not really. It would even feel strange to say, ‘I was a woman.’ But I was a little girl… and a little boy.

Maybe I can at least say that I have walked in a woman’s shoes (literally, heels suck). I know that my ‘past life’ as a female made me the man I am today. Maybe that’s why I had an easier time with my transition than others. Yes, it was awkward (sooo awkward) but I wouldn’t be who I am now without that time. It’s not easy being a woman and not many men can know what that feels like but maybe a few of us can at least empathize on a deeper level.

Life gets better for all of us when we try to understand other lenses of perspective. That’s why I share all of this. Maybe by sharing I can help someone else understand a different lens from their own without them having to walk in some awful heels. At the very least I think I will make a great father to my as-of-yet unborn little girl because I can empathize with her more than she will realize.