Being Transgender: A New Perspective

Being Transgender: A New Perspective

I am who I am without excuse, apology, or shame.

Here I sit, three months from the first time I published an article about the struggles of coming out as transgender and what being transgender is. Since that piece was published, I have had 15 self-injected shots of testosterone into my system. My voice has changed entirely, my body has begun to catch up. My hips, stomach, and neck have all started to gain more masculine patterns, I am developing an Adam’s apple, I am growing some hair on my face -- hell, even my eyebrows have filled in -- and I am in a totally different place from the last time I wrote about this aspect of my life. I track the weekly and monthly changes with comparison pictures and videos, I try my best to use my voice and be proud as I can be of my gender.

However, the strangest thing that has occurred since then is a sudden popularity of an app called Flipagram. Yes, that video app generally used to put together pictures and videos of you and your friends just to put them on Instagram. Apparently, they have their own community and it’s been interesting to watch the views rise and the comments flood in, but with all comments presents the downfall of encountering closed minded individuals.

I am thankful for the vast majority of people who are so amazingly supportive of me and my transition, but now with this community, I have been exposed to my first real set of challenges with opposing viewpoints and common misconceptions. As hard as that was at first, there are some things that my recent pseudo-popularity has taught me:

  1. I cannot help everyone understand what being transgender is no matter how much I try to educate them. I have found that close-minded people cannot be educated because they do not want to hear any opinions but their own.
  2. The attempts of emasculating me by calling me a girl, a lesbian, a freak -- though hurtful -- are not a reflection of myself or my own masculinity. Overall, what makes me a man is how I define and present/carry myself and no one else can take that away from me.
  3. The challenges associated with being given a podium to speak on Trans-related issues are demanding and often come with copious amounts of stress. I do not mind answering questions and educating people to the best of my ability, but to be given such a responsibility while gaining acknowledgment from a small community who award you compliments like "you're amazing” and “an inspiration,” is an insane level of leadership I don’t think anyone is exactly prepared to handle because it comes with the burden of guiding/educating by example.

That being said, my experiences as a transman are limited and scattered. I have only been transitioning for a short period of time and though I am educated and speak to a lot of my trans friends on a regular basis, I have done my best to make sure that when I share my story I reiterate that I am just one guy and my experiences/personal trials and tribulations as a man who is transgender do not by any means represent or mirror those of any other transgender male. I am only living life through my own personal lens and therefore cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but it is strange to have that responsibility given to me by a select group of curious and excited individuals.

From my personal experiences -- though I am proud of being transgender -- sometimes it is just nice to pass*. The further I progress in my transition and the more my voice changes, the less I am misgendered. Nevertheless, I constantly struggle with passing in my daily life because it forces me to grapple with difficult concepts; does the desire to pass take away from the pride I have as a transgender individual or does it make it seem like I am ashamed of being transgender?

The fact remains that regardless of if I pass or not I am still a man and I am proud that I am able to live my life authentically and genuinely. Passing and the desire to pass are not wrong, and they shouldn't make you ashamed of who you are. While I do not hide the fact that I am transgender, I don’t think it is necessary to disclose that information every time someone refers to me and perceives me as my proper pronouns. This goes to say that there is nothing wrong with not passing or not wanting to pass while still having pride in being transgender, and it also doesn’t make someone any less their preferred/authentic gender.

I have learned that no matter what, if you are transgender, people you don't know will go out of their way to ask you the rudest and most inappropriate questions that they could possibly come up with. "How do you have sex?" "What's between your legs?" "What bathroom do you use?" "Did you get the surgery?" I have tried my best to be patient and not over-analyze these questions, but you just have to wonder why someone would ask another human anything that degrading. I would like to make it explicitly clear to anyone venturing into reading my content that asking any transgender person what they have between their legs is rude, inappropriate, degrading, and makes them feel lesser/subhuman. It is also not okay to ask a transgender person what their dead name* is or to see pictures of them before their transition. If they wanted you to have that information, they would share it with you; I promise. Basically, if you would find the question you are asking a transgender person extremely uncomfortable or rude if a stranger came up to you and asked it, then don’t ask that question. Transgender people will share with you whatever they feel comfortable or would like to share. We are human; being different does not constitute the right to ask rude questions or make rude comments about how other humans live or express themselves. Though I am open to answering most -- not all -- questions, there are many transgender individuals who have had traumatic experiences that may hinder their comfort with the same questions.

Another thing I have noticed is that I am more protective of my masculinity than some of my friends. I don’t do certain things because I don’t want to be perceived as female, and I think some of my cisgender* (cis) friends fail to comprehend that. I am more guarded because I feel that I need to be. We are protective of our masculinity and femininity because we do not want to be misgendered. I don’t care how deep my voice gets, I still will not cross-dress as a female “for fun”, and I will not let you paint my nails because that is something trademarked with femininity and though I see no issue with it I am more uneasy and cautious about my presentation of gender. Asking someone to do these things can cause fits of dysphoria* for some transgendered individuals. It is a concept that even some transgender people struggle with. Though I do not speak for every transgender person, I do find these things normal and totally fine and could care less if my guy friends are wearing makeup, nail polish, high heels and dresses. I care if I do because not only does the general idea of it make me uncomfortable, it is also something I am more protective of as a transgender male.

I have learned that people are very rigid about what I do and how I express myself as a man. I am not a guy who is into sports, I am not a guy who cares much for cars, I am not a guy who cares about any other male’s expression. I am a guy who cares deeply about writing, music, politics, and art. I care about making sure as a male, I am still being respectful and polite while trying to navigate and be sensitive to women’s feelings, rights, and empowerment, adjusting how I act as needed. I am not a guy’s guy, and though I have male friends, I am closer to females and that is okay, it doesn’t make me less of a man -- it just means that my friends happen to be girls and though other men will take that small factor and try to emasculate me for it and suggest that I am not trans, I am still a man and not all men (Wow, a phrase I’d never thought I’d say) are required to be friends with or identify with every man they encounter. I am not the only man who struggles with making connections with other men because frankly, we are all shitty and don’t always share the same interests or points of view. Recently I went to a comedy show, where another man (who is cisgender) stated that even he has trouble being friends with other men because he doesn’t really identify with them either and that reassured me that I am not the only man that struggles with this problem and therefore, does not take away from me being a man. At one point my father told me I still do “girl things” because I have customized shampoo/conditioner and acne medication, but being cleanly and wanting to take care of my hair and skin isn’t something “girly”; it's just part of regular hygiene and caring about how I look. People will question your masculinity if you’re sensitive, nurturing, or caring. My grandmother -- though a fantastic supporter and conductor of copious amounts of research so as to better understand me -- took my nurturing and caring nature and said I would make a better mother than a father, but in 2017 fathers are trying to revamp how fatherhood is practiced and perceived; besides, I would make one terrible mother. The gender expectations of being a man are rigid and I am learning the struggles of trying to battle toxic masculinity while trying to assert my position and expression of my own masculinity because I am no different from any cis guy who shares the same traits and values that I possess.

When it comes to how trans men are expressing themselves, it is frustrating to consistently have to defend yourself and affirm your gender with individuals who do their best to take their version of what being a man is, and try to pick apart the man that you are. I do not believe that people do this inherently, but I believe that society has taught us that the rules of stature and expression of one gender or another are so rigid that in turn, anyone who is transgender must fit that stereotypical version of being male/female or else their gender is not valid, or they are just confused. People cannot continue to place men and women in uniform boxes, but especially need to stop expecting transgender men/women to fit into those boxes as well. We cannot constantly ask people to affirm their gender just because their expression is different from our own -- not only for transgender people but for cisgender people as well.

I have ultimately learned through this process of transition that I am who I am without excuse, apology, or shame, and continue to make it my mission to do my best to change perceptions about what being transgender is and in the long run how we perceive masculinity and femininity. I want to encourage taking a moment of pause before casting judgments and making comments about how one individual lives, presents themselves or chooses to be happy in their own skin. I am glad to be continuing my journey because it has made me the man I am today and I am proud of the person I am evolving into every day. Just because some people may not understand or do not want to understand who I am and what makes me the way I am, doesn’t take away from the fact that I am happier living as my genuine self than needing to play dress up as someone I am not. The people we become or discover ourselves to be -- no matter the process -- is a journey we take alone and it is deeply personal. It is no one’s job to tell another individual how they think or feel is wrong, and as humans, we should do our best to understand each other and educate ourselves on the different versions and variations of individuals out there instead of casting our judgments. I do not mind the criticism and resistance -- they have always been part of the deal when it came to coming out and living as my true self -- because others do not and should not have a say in how I live or what I do with my own body.

I am glad to continue sharing my experiences and journey with others who dare to ask or take interest in it. I am proud to be someone others look to when trying to educate themselves or gain a perspective they hadn’t previously known or understood and will continue to do my best to shed light on the issues that come with this complicated and complex process of transition. I will continue to not live my life by the desires and standards of others, and navigate the trials of being the man I want to be when masculinity is full of toxic notions and pitfalls. The nuance of humanity that I am exploring through my transition is endlessly fascinating and I do not intend on stopping my process or journey anytime soon; I am Beckett and I am here to stay.

* Pass in the transgender community is defined as a transgender individual's ability to be correctly perceived as the gender they identify as and beyond that, not being perceived as transgender at all.

* Cisgender is defined as an individual whose biological sex at birth and gender are the same (i.e. someone who is born with a penis and whose gender is male, or someone who is born with a vagina and whose gender is female).

* Dysphoria is defined within the transgender community as an extreme feeling of unease that can lead to extreme states of anxiety and depression related to one’s own perceptions of their gender and how others perceive them.

* Dead name is the name a transgender person was legally given or went by prior to their transition.

Cover Image Credit: Beckett E. Landry

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So, What Is The REAL Trans Agenda?

We do have one, it's just not what you think.

It has been brought to my attention — and I'm sure I'm not alone here — that conservative media has decided that we trans folk are trying to push some kind of ~agenda~ on to society that is meant to undermine people's natural way of thinking. According to many, we use special powers of mind control to mutate the cis into ~trans~.

First of all, I would like to thank all of you conservative conspiracy theorists for acknowledging that we ~trans~ are magical enough to use mind-control powers on the cis — because we are.

I can also tell that y'all are very curious as to what our exact agenda is, as the headlines featured above seem to be conflicting. Well, you're in luck, because right in this here listicle, I am about to reveal to you...

✨THE TRANS AGENDA✨

Disclaimer: This agenda was written by trans guy Holden Joseph Bender Bernstein and does not necessarily reflect the views of other trans folks (but most likely does).

1. CONFUSE THE CIS!

Mwahaha, yes! Oh, cis folk, you think you know who you like? WRONG! I am a trans guy who likes guys, but I don't even PASS as cis, and I often get hit on by straight girls who are just so taken by my handsomeness, that they start to get confused!!! Every single trans person I know is HOT! The first step on the agenda is working!!!

I mean, look how cute I am!

2. Smash the binary!

Binary folx and nonbinary folx alike, we love smashing gender roles and the binary. I am a trans guy who loves makeup! I am such a pretty boy! There is more than just penis and vagina.

3. Hold space for one another!

Holding space is providing the means for someone to say what they need to say and feel what the need to feel. It is like preparing a metaphorical microphone for the person to speak into; giving the person the opportunity to have feelings in a way that is most effective for them.

We trans folx are really good at that as a community, we are always trying to uplift each other and make efforts to uplift voices that are even more marginalized than our own.

4. Make art!

There is a huge trans presence in the poetry community along many other artistic communities. We have a lot of feelings and like to make art out of them so that other people will hear us.

5. Encourage platonic love and cuddles!

So long as both parties consent and are into it, we love to love and snuggle each other! I have never met a more cuddly community than the trans community!

6. Take selfies!

Because we're too cute not to, and we know it. (Oh hey, look, it's me again!)

7. Get folks to learn to just "Google it"!

Sometimes people ask their trans peers some really easily google-able questions, and it takes a lot of emotional labor for us to answer them. We, as trans, try to encourage that people do their own research before coming to us with questions that people bug us with all the time.

If, for some reason, you just need more information from a real-live-trans-person, ask them if they have the spoons or the space to answer a trans question before asking them the question. IT IS NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO EDUCATE YOU! WE OWE YOU NOTHING!

8. Bake desserts for each other!

I have no clue why, but the trans community has this amazing culture of people who know how to bake offering to bake all kinds of desserts for one another, and it is fantastic. Definitely a highlight of the agenda.

9. Pee in peace!

WE'VE JUST GOTTA PEE, Y'ALL! LIKE STOP TELLING US WHERE WE CAN AND CANNOT PEE! WE WANT NOTHING MORE THAN TO PEE IN PEACE, K?

And, last but not least...

10. Exist!

We are here. We are real. Everyone should believe in us, and we will not stop until that happens.

Cover Image Credit: Redbubble

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8 Questions The Rest Of The World Needs To Stop Asking Trans Folx

Have you ever been curious about trans people? Well, google it.

Curiosity killed the cat, and it is going to kill any relationship you desire to have with trans folx. When you're told, "google it," its because the question you asked hits a little too close to home and it is not their job to teach you as they are not getting paid. Often, minority groups face a lot more trauma in their everyday lives than their privileged counterparts do.

1. Whats your "real" name?

"But why is this a bad question?" Some of you reading may ask. Here's why: names can be triggers. For trans folx, the name they were given at birth can be a reminder of a time in their life where they weren't able to be trans. And even further, it can be a signifier of people that have abused them in there life. At the very core, names are how we tell people who we are.

If someone asks you what your name is, and after you tell them says, "No, no, no, whats your real name?" How are you going to feel? Confused? Disrespected? When someone tells you their name, they are presenting a very specific self to you. You don't get to decide for yourself which version of each person that you meet, and this includes Trans folx.

2. But what "sex" are you?

Do you go around asking everyone this?

Because if you do, you should probably stop. It is incredibly invasive and not your business.

Do you really spend a lot of time thinking about the actual genitalia that people you will never have sex with have? Or do you approach possible sexual partners and ask them this as a precursor to flirting?

If you think it is your business to know what the physical genitalia in people's pants look like then you should talk to a therapist and seek psychologically counseling.

3. What do you have under your belt?

Same with the last answer, if you wouldn't ask your grandmother to describe the genitalia that she has to you, don't ask strangers on the street. If you are physically attracted to someone and worried about their genitalia being a turnoff, then you should reevaluate your sexual desires and be more open-minded to the kinds of sex that are possible for you.

4. Why don't you just keep using the name your parents gave you, it's just so pretty!

Again with the names! Nobody on this planet is perfect! Sometimes bad things happen to people. Names get changed for as many reasons as there are people on this planet. If someone changes there name, you don't 1) get to know why they changed their name and 2) get to tell them that they somehow made a "mistake" for changing their name.

5. Have you gone through "the surgeries?"

Oh, oh, ohhhhh. "The surgeries." First of all, there is no "set" of surgeries that every single trans person goes through as apart of their transitioning. Second of all, this is like asking someone: "So what do you have in your pants? A penis or a vagina?"

6. So if you're a trans man, and you like women, you're still gay right?

Right off the bat, gender and sexuality are different things! Wait, let's say it again! Gender and Sexuality are different things! We can break it down even further! Sexual Orientation labels like gay, straight, and lesbian, refer to a "same-sex" attraction which really means an attraction to people who exist within one gendered category i.e. they are monosexual labels.

Labels like bi, pan, or queer refer to attractions that are to people who exist within two or more gender categories. Transmen are men, so when transmen are solely attracted to women they might identify as Heterosexual. Don't assume anything.

7. Is being transgender the same thing as being a transvestite/Drag Queen/Drag King/etc.?


This is a perfect question for Google! And I'm serious! When you are trying to compare two identities in order to gain a better understanding of one of them, just Google it! It's a yes or no answer and there will always be supplementary information right there too!

Also, don't use the word transvestite, its derogatory toward trans folx.

8. What if you get the operation and change your mind after?

Fortunately for your curiosity, the process that it takes for a trans individual to undergo any form of surgery that may be attached to their transition experience often requires a ridiculous vetting process that will ensure that people who do transition medically, love every second of their self. At the end of the day, unless you're their counselor, its none of your business.

Cover Image Credit: Franziska Neumeister

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