Editors' Note: Not Aiden is a gay man of trans* experience who prefers to remain anonymous because he's tired of being everyone's token tranny. He enjoys photography, yelling at Project Runway contestants, and the eternal search for a good gay film. For the moment you can catch him at Not Another Aiden.
"Let me state it categorically. There is no such thing as a male or female personality. Personality is not a function of gender."
Well, Mr Gold, you at least got one thing right. After all, can't everyone agree that there's no one true way to be a man or a woman? We're all a mix of different ideas, hobbies, dreams, and traits that transcend the boundaries of male and female. I like boy bands and bluegrass, shopping and soccer. I wear conservative suits and (on occasion) glitter eye shadow. Yes, I have many traits that fall into the "gay sissy" stereotype. I also have a few that would put John Wayne to shame. My gender is not defined by my personality; I am simply a man like any other.
I am also a transsexual. I am the exact opposite of what most people (trans and cis) expect a female to male transsexual to be like, yet here I am.
Why am I a transsexual? Contrary to popular belief, it's not due to some deep seated desire to conform to societal expectations. I could have done that far more easily (and cheaply!) without the therapy and weekly injections. I am a transsexual because I wake up every morning and wonder where my penis has gone.
That's not a popular thing to say these days, particularly not in trans* circles. You see, in an effort to welcome people of all gender identities, body orientations, and experiences we've started insisting that genital configuration does not matter. To many of us this is true; there are trans* men who are perfectly happy with their vaginas and trans* women who have no desire to invert their penises. However, we have forgotten about the people like me, the people who don't care about the societal implications of gender nearly as much as the physicality of changing sex.
While I fully agree that no one should be forced into medical treatments they don't want in order to conform to a cisgendered doctor's idea of what a "real" transsexual is, I would like to point out that we've backed ourselves into a corner by dismissing body image entirely. If we don't transition for the physical aspects and we understand that there's no such thing as a male or female personality...why exactly are some people trans*?
Some would say it's a political identification. There is no such thing as gender, therefore they are trans* because they transcend societal gender norms. That's great for you, but then why do some of us feel the need to take hormones and/or have surgery in order to be comfortable with ourselves? Surely you don't buy into Mr Gold's premise that we're all simply trying to fit into a heterocentric society? I disprove that theory and I'm not even trying.
I was raised to participate in beauty pageants, but also take Kung Fu and kickboxing with my (male) cousins. I enjoyed princess dresses and grimy jeans. Now, those jeans had better have been the proper wash to go with whatever shirt I was wearing, but I didn't mind if they got dirty or ripped while I was out rollerblading with my friends.
The social aspects are not why I transitioned. In fact, I was able to enjoy "honorary flame queen" status long before I ever came out. For some reason it didn't occur to people that if I was wearing a glittery gown and high heels it wasn't exactly drag. I dated gay guys, participated in all the same social activities as my gay male friends, and generally did what I do now. I still wasn't happy.
It's hard to explain to someone who's never experienced it, but I'm never quite comfortable in my own body. I know, that's so cliché, but in my case it's true. I wear a binder that exacerbates my asthma and ruins my back because I can't handle looking down and seeing breasts. I can't have a sexual fantasy without being disappointed when it's over because I don't have a penis. I inject myself with hormones every week even though I'm terrified of needles because I only started being able to recognize myself in the mirror after my facial features started shifting.
There is nothing societal about my need to transition. If there was I'd have been happy when I was nine and everyone thought I was a boy anyway. I certainly wouldn't continue to prance around like a hyperactive fairy now that people see me for the man I am. Any effeminate guy can tell you, we're not exactly accepted by society.
In my case that goes triple. I certainly am not well loved by close minded people who toss around "sissy" and "nelly" as insults. I've had more than a few trans* men tell me that I'm not "really" trans because I have no desire to wear baggy polo shirts and stop smiling in order to force society to see me as a man. I even know of gay men who think guys like me (be they trans* or cis) should stop being ourselves because we "enforce harmful stereotypes."
What no one seems to realize is that I am what I am (horrible musical references included). You can say I've been brainwashed by society, others can say I'm buying into stereotypes, still others can say I need to accept my body and move on. At the end of the day none of that matters. I'm here. I'm queer. Get used to it.