Events for December 2022

A Review of GIRLTRASH: All Night Long
March 3, 2014
Femme Problems 118: If My Dresses Could Talk
March 4, 2014

Boi Problems 104: Many Destinations, Many Journeys

Lee Winnike

When I first came out as a trans man, I was going through a “butch” phase.  Partially from my therapist, partially from observing trans men. I felt pressure to be masculine. My biggest fear was leaving the “woman” set of gender norms and expectations, only to be policed into fitting into the norms associated with being a “man.” Of course my fears were founded, I did experience that type of policing but along the way I learned a valuable lesson. My transition is not about “becoming a man” and denying myself anything feminine; it’s about embracing who I am, even if that does not fit into the definition that others have created for me.

As I sit between my parents, my therapist asks me “how do you feel when you wear a dress?” My mother and father turn their faces towards me simultaneously. I know she is trying to convince them that I am really a “boy,” despite their conviction that I am their daughter. I pause for a second, choosing once again to share the parts of my story that align with the stereotype of a trans man. As I describe the times I felt very uncomfortable in dresses, I ask myself, “Can I still be trans and like dresses sometimes?” I have enjoyed dresses before, yet other times they made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Sometimes I fit into what is defined as “masculine” and sometimes I do not, but it seems impossible to explain that complexity to two people who are trying to disprove my trans identity.

Well-intentioned clients often ask, “Is it Mr. Lee or Ms. Lee?” Through testosterone treatment, my voice has been dropping, causing confusion for observers. Recently, both gendered terms have felt unfamiliar. I have a fear of bringing my personal life into work. “Mr. Lee is fine,” I answer. I wish that I were courageous enough say “It’s actually Mx. Lee” and use a genderqueer title that acknowledges my complex identity, but insisting on Mr. is intimidating when the idea of being trans is confusing enough. I don’t imagine “Mx. Lee” could be proposed without a lengthy and awkward conversation. Often at work I wish that I could “pass” as a man so I could avoid these interactions. Sometimes I feel ashamed of my brightly colored nail polish and the inflections of my voice that get me lumped into the category of woman. Other times I wave around my limp wrists like the genderqueer flags that they are.

In the evening, when I open the Youtube search box, I type the words “how to apply lip liner”. I laugh at the irony that I had never wanted to learn this skill when I was identifying as a woman. Now, when I feel safe in a group of people, I have found my femininity has begun to burst at the seams. Makeup, nail polish, earrings, I cannot learn femme skills quickly enough. I walk into the room in tight jeans and statement pumps, head high while gold glitter falls off of my blinking eyelids. The femme pride I embrace contrasts the shame I felt just hours before.

Transitioning for me has nothing to do with going from “A to Boy”. Instead it has been about listening to what I need instead of trying to become something that I am not. It is a journey with no set destination, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Readers, I want to hear your stories, what about yourself that you didn’t expect through coming out as lesbian/queer/trans*/etc? What helps you express yourself when you feel pressure to be something that you are not?

<< Boi Problems 103: What’s in a Name? Part II | Boi Problems 105: Transition Blues >>

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