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Catherine Oliver

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What Makes a Man?

Posted: 05/15/2012 4:42 pm

On the block today? A little blog about how identifying as bigender/genderqueer has shaped my perspective, and how the LGBT community at large tends to gloss over our existence. (Check out the Urban Dictionary definition of "genderqueer" if you're curious.)

We're all part of the same family, so why oh why do more than a few FTM (female-to-male) communities on the Internet shame and marginalize their brothers for falling under the GQ or non-op/no-hormone route in their transitions? If you've experienced this yourself in a trans* community, either FTM or MTF (male-to-female), or even in an LGB community, please share your story in the comments below!

To understand this, we have to get into some pretty uncomfortable territory, meaning looking at culture and gender and assigned sex at birth, among other issues, like what's in your pants. Most if not all FTM men who are doing this glossing over and shaming do not wish to acknowledge their past as females, and perhaps to accept their genderqueer brothers, they would have to stare androgyny in the face. That might be uncomfortable to them. Perhaps they are afraid of seeing their own past mirrored back at them. Maybe they genuinely believe they are right, that identifying this way is the "easy way out," and that genderqueer bois, female-bodied men, and genderqueer people in general are not wiling to face the harsh reality of medical transition.

I cannot speak for MTF genderqueer or male-assigned, female-identifying individuals; for that matter, I can't speak for anyone but myself and my experiences. Some days I identify more male, present as such, use my pronouns to reflect that, etc. Some days it is the opposite. I am female-assigned in my physical gender, but often I will use packers, prosthetics, etc., depending on my presentation at the time. I do not generally use neutral pronouns because they don't feel comfortable to me. If you do, have you found any that work for you? Do you have any suggestions for others who might not feel comfortable with ze/zir, etc.?

The FTM community cannot gloss over the fact that we who are genderqueer and identify as men, dress as men, bind, pack, etc. are not "less than" because we don't take testosterone. We are not less than any man because of our choice not to have surgery or HRT. Nothing makes us less than the sum of who we are at that moment, which is men, through and through. One chemical does not a man make. This leads to the question of what does make a "man" and not a "woman." Can you truly say, "You are not a (trans) man, and here is why I think so"? No, you can't, and you shouldn't, because it's unfair and cruel to dismiss anyone's identity or anyone's experience simply because it is not the same path that you have chosen.

Despite my lack of a beard, chest hair, or a deep voice, I will be chivalrous, respectful (ahem), and polite, and I will teach my children empathy and kindness toward others.

That's what makes me a man.

Glad we got that settled.

 

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