It’s National Coming Out day. I’m a transgender man. If any of you didn’t know that, and want to ask me questions, you can. I came out as a dyke (fn1) at 15, started identifying as some kind of butch or genderqueer person in my 20s, hung out with mostly other queers and lesbians until grad school, and decided to transition physically & socially in 2005. Since then I’ve tried to be out as much as possible, but my gender history doesn’t tend to come up in casual conversation, so I need to make more of an effort than I did when I was a visibly queer female-bodied person with romantic partners who were women.
Unlike many trans people, I don’t believe that I’m truly or essentially “a man,” I just figured out that I feel way more comfortable in my body & in the world having transitioned. I can’t parse whether that would be different in a radically different social world without misogyny or the enforcement of gender roles & gender segregation in so much of everyday life, but I’m pretty sure that in feminist utopia (or at least any feminist utopia I want to be part of) some people would be some kinds of transgender, probably more people than are now.
I’m also the absolutely most privileged & lucky kind of trans person there is – my transition and my life since then have been radically easier than what most trans people, especially trans women and people of color, face. I had a supportive and loving family, partner, and community (fn2) when I started to transition, and the resources to get the medical interventions I wanted despite those not being covered by insurance. I move through the world as an apparently non-trans, non-queer white dude. While I thought before I transitioned that I’d be *even more queer*, really I get to experience straight white dude privilege every day. The biggest thing I have noticed about that is how nice it is to get to move through the world unmarked — seen as just a regular person. I hope we can get to a place where that “privilege” (fn3) is everyone’s reality.
footnote 1: UK friends, Americans are WAY more comfortable with having re-appropriated these former insults as identifiers. My friends & I in our 20s almost never called ourselves “lesbians.” I helped organize one of Philadelphia’s first “Dyke Marches” (still going to this day!), so it’s the term I use, but it’s way less common & comfortable in the UK.
footnote 2: I’m pretty sure some people in the soc department at Berkeley were confused or put off, but everyone who said anything to me directly was respectful and welcoming and it quickly became a non-issue.
footnote 3: I put “privilege” in scare quotes there because, unlike some forms of “privilege” which are advantages that not everyone can have, being treated as just a person is more like a right denied (like voting) than a special perk.