Originally published in the zine, Not Trans Enough. Written by geoff; reprinted with permission.
if you were to look at me or hear me speak, you’d probably think that i am a cis dude. i could list off all the reasons why that isn’t so. i could just say that i am genderqueer. i could make it known that i am non-binary. or i could just share all that i know about these aspects of myself. i definitely do not look, act, or sound genderqueer or non-binary and i am especially not thought of as trans. well at least i feel that i do not look like or live up to this cultural imagination of what it means to be trans, genderqueer or non-binary.
i never “came out of the closet.” i never had individual conversations with friends or family members. i didn’t even have a facebook status update sharing this new and important part of my life. i never came out. i never really changed my outward appearance to become genderqueer although i wish i didn’t have facial hair. instead i started to live my life more openly, honestly and more as my true self. my process of becoming genderqueer was an inside job.
genderqueerness appealed to me because it meant that i no longer had to live like a man. it meant that i no longer had to fall short of the ideal of being a man. it meant that i could start to reject the masculinity that is toxic and violent. it meant that i could be this tiny five foot one and a half tall person trying to live a just life in an unjust world. one thing it didn’t mean was that my male privilege just disappeared once i started to identify as genderqueer.
yes, i still benefit from male privilege even though i identify as genderqueer. this male privilege is complicated and contextual. it’s something i never really thought about or ever needed to consider. i feel genderqueer on the inside but i know that most people read me as a dude. being a genderqueer tomboy femme feels right. although my gender identity challenges gender expectations, i still live in this world that genders people as men or women. as de from my interactions with people that are close to me, i get gendered as a man. even though i identify as femme, i do not experience constnt sexual harassment, gendered or sexual violence.
in my early 20s and before i ever identified as queer in any way, i used to wear women’s pants by goth brands like lip service and tripp. the pants were skinny enough to fit my slim petite figure but were really tight around the crotch area. i also used to wear cyber goth platform sneakers. i had a pair of “swear alternative” shoes that had a 4 inch platform. i only wore them out once. i stopped it all. i couldn’t deal with the looks and i didn’t feel comfortable or confident in what i was wearing so i stopped. i was scared. i stopped expressing this femme aspect of myself to feel safe. i traded aesthetics for security.
“not trans enough” deeply resonates with me. this statement expresses my sentiments of feeling out of place within the “trans community.” it conveys the discomfort that i feel when i say that i am genderqueer, that i use they/them pronouns when i am surrounded by people that have an authentic trans story to tell. the “real” trans story that’s about experiencing struggles, dysphoria and medical transition. i do not wish to put down any of these struggles or experiences rather i hope to add my experience to diversify the trans narratives. i share my experience to validate it. i share my story to affirm other peoples’ sentiments if they too feel “not trans enough.” i think that all trans people are amazing. i dream of a future where trans people don’t constantly live with discomfort, where trans women and transfeminine people do not face disproportionate rates of violence against them, where trans people do not just struggle to survive but thrive and where trans people are honoured for the beautiful people that they are.
geoff is a mixed race gender queer of filipinx descent living as a settler on colonized land known as toronto, turtle island, traditionally land of the haudenosaunee, mississaugas of the new credit, huronwendat and other indigenous peoples. they identify as a sober addict in recovery. they wish to politicize their experiences with substance use and sobriety while unraveling the limited representation of the addicted body. more of their work can be found at https://livingnotexisting.org/
This piece was first published in the zine, Not Trans Enough. Written by Rhiannon Robear; reprinted with permission.
One night this summer, I was at the gay club looking glam, and having a smoke break outside with my friends. A cis gay guy came up to us and started talking about trans things in that “you’re a visibly trans and/or gender non-conforming person so I’m about to lay down all my trans knowledge, thoughts, and critiques for you” kind of way (a.k.a. completely unasked/unwanted). Overall it was a real drag, and I brushed him off mostly, but then he held my hands and looked me in the eyes and said, “baby, I know you’re trying to be the belle of the ball, but the reality is you’re built like a 6 foot amazon linebacker, and you need to work that.” I was taken aback like where the fuck do you get off telling me who I am and what I should do. But as much as I hate entertaining cis-notions of what trans people are or should be, what he said was true, and deep inside me I knew I felt that and it was the first time someone told me that I could &should be a woman on my own terms.
The reality is: I’m 5’11, probably between 250-300 pounds, hairy as all hell, and I wear size 13 women’s shoes: I’m a big girl. I spent years of my life identifying as a gay man, and trying to work at accepting and loving my body & myself in a culture that taught me that being fat & being femme made me undesireable, unattractive, and inferior. It took me YEARS to be comfortable with who I am, and that process has changed me, and how I value myself – simply put: I don’t do things for other people anymore, I do things for myself.
I identified as non-binary for the past two years, and over this time, I’ve slowly began to come into myself as a woman, and I’m currently in the process of coming out as a transgender woman. It’s very exciting and liberating and I’m now out at work and am ‘test driving’ my new name and pronouns. This being said, what I am most dreading about coming out isn’t being faced with disapproval or abandonment (I am privileged with supportive family and friends), but more about those in my life forcing feminine ideals upon me when I start to identify as a woman and not strictly non-binary.
In a perfect world, would I like to wear a full face of make-up, have minimal to no body hair, have a feminine physique, and be read 100% of the time as a woman? – SURE! But the reality is, I work two jobs, I’m a full time student, and I’m involved in a couple different organizations, and I don’t have time for that. My emotional well-being is like, “you work at 8am, you don’t have time to put your face on for an hour every morning,” “you literally can’t even reach your back hair, how are you supposed to regularly keep that shaved,” etc. Luckily for me, I think that the resilience I learned as a fat & femme gay man allows me to be comfortable in my own skin regardless of others’ perceptions. I also recognize the privilege of being comfortable enough with myself & my gender to not be dysphoric to an incapacitating extent wherein I need to hold my body to a standard for public consumption.
Why yes! I AM a woman with a hairy back – if it bothers you I’ll hand you a razor and you can shave it for me! Until then please fuck off with your gendered policing and let me live my life on my terms.
Rhiannon Robear (she/her) is a 24 year old white trans woman living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is a social work student, and is involved in many different campus and community organizations devoted to trans, queer, and feminist justice. In her spare time she likes to knit, crochet, and watch tv shows. Feel free to follow her on twitter @haliqueer or email her directly email@example.com