All photo credits to Zayden Camenzuli
Pride week got me thinking, what about the boys? Where are the boys?
Trans masculine identities are people who were assigned female at birth, but do not identify as female. We are a full spectrum of people who may identify as male, non-binary, agender, or “genderqueer”. They may seek medical assistance such as hormones and/or surgeries but not necessarily.
This can be hard to understand for people who have never felt this battle between their identity and their “born into” gender. I was already in my 40s by the time I worked out that my gender identity was causing me distress. Like many trans people before me, I was told that I was just a confused butch lesbian.
This is partly because media representations would have you believe that trans masculine people are physically able and capable of “passing” as cisgender men (i.e., as people assigned male at birth). Most transmen I followed online fitted into this slot perfectly, and because of this unfounded assumption, it is believed that being trans masculine is somehow “easy”. Simply because trans men can pass by unnoticed, as men, and our trans masculine stories are wiped out.
This attempt to punish trans people for not looking “real” enough affects everybody who doesn’t look “right”. These standards have been internalised by the trans masculine community, where the desire to be accepted by the popular concept of beauty means that we reinforce the superficial rules about what people need to look like to be male or female. Those seen as “not trans enough” are rejected, and the stories of trans masculine people who do not confirm to a stereotype are not told.
To this end, here is a representation of some of the Transmasculine identities found on our spectrum and their stories.
Matt (19 yo)
“At the age of 14 I came out as a lesbian, but I never felt that it was the right label. Yes I knew that I felt attracted towards girls but it's still didn't felt right. Than once I went to a camping with the girl guides, I as 16 at that time, and there we had a talk about gender and I heard for the first time the word "transgender" I went home and did my research. And it was like a missing piece in my puzzle. So at the age of 17 I came out a trans FTM. But as I started growing up I started noticing that I never felt that I'm a man either a female. I started experimenting with being a bit more androgynous, for example wearing nail polish. I meet non-binary people and I started feeling that that was the right label for me. I don't feel that I have a gender. I'm just me. So, at the age of 18 I came out a non-binary. Now I'm soon turning 20 and I have never felt truer to myself.”
Gian (31 yo), Married – 3 years on Testosterone
“As a trans man I deeply know the toll that living a lie takes on one’s mental health and overall quality of life. I felt like a part of me was always hidden, even as I tried to fit into people's expectations as best I could. I was still the jigsaw piece that didn’t quite fit. When I finally accepted who I was and made the decision to transition, there was an immediate improvement in my self-esteem, confidence, and mental state. And the growth I’ve experienced after transitioning is nothing short of life-affirming. The Pride week is important for us all. It is there to show and prove that we are here. We exist and we are not going away.... #stophate #transpride #transawareness”
Alex (30 yo) - 3 years on testosterone
"Pride liberates us all. It’s the day we can show ourselves to the world. Until we remain invisible in text books and schooling, until some of us are attacked in the streets, until we keep being denied entry to a country because of a government’s closed borders policy, until some of us will have full and equal access to all places, Pride will remain necessary."
Mar (26 yo)
"Came officially out as trans only last February and will very soon start taking Testosterone. There is no rush or pressure to come out, take your own time to understand and acknowledge what you need to do in order for you to be happy. Transitioning isn't a competition on who started first or who didn't start yet. Transitioning is a life process that it will take time but in the end it will be oh so worth it. Keep moving forward and always always believe in yourself and trust what you feel."
Lee (34 yo) – 3.5 years on Testosterone
"I remember at the age of 4/5 hoping that when I wake up in the morning that I would be a boy. Of course that was never going to happen... Suffice to say, I knew who I was from an early age. I finally got to start my transition in May 2016 when I was 31 and I never looked back. 3 and a half years on T and two surgeries later, I'm who I was always meant to be. I'm lucky enough in my transition to have the full support of not only my family, but of my friends and also from the company I work for (and my awesome colleagues) "
Leon (24 yo) – 3.5 years on Testosterone
“I started my journey of being ME in 2016, I also started Testosterone on 2016. I had mastectomy done and total hysterectomy regarding my transition to be masculine. I couldn't be happier!
Stef (24 yo)
“Ever since a young age, I could never connect with my body, growing up I genuinely thought myself a boy even though I looked like a girl. Being transgender is not just a journey, it is an experience, I found strength I never knew I had and I grew to love myself day by day. I’m still pre-testosterone, yet my journey began when I looked in the mirror and saw a man looking back at me, hopefully in the near future, he’ll be the one staring at his own reflection scars and all”
All photo credits to Zayden Camenzuli