Its been 4 months. Its been 4 months today that I’ve been on HRT. I came out to everyone else about being genderqueer about 2 years ago. I told loved ones that I wanted to transition after the passing of my grandmother this May. I’ve known I was trans since I was a kid. As a child I had all senses of mystical rationales that I came up with to be “okay”. At night I would dream that I was a baby boy in a crib and told myself that being awake was just a bad dream and in reality I was a baby boy and everything was right with the world. I spent a large bit of my childhood and teenage years rebelling against people telling me I was a girl, telling me what women do, telling me that I need to get into place. I stayed in trouble mostly because I was gender policed. The majority of my troubles in school, daycare, and at home was all about me doing things that “only boys do”.
I fought. I fought hard. I battled the internalization of everyone’s transphobia versus me being trans. As a result I hated myself. I spent a large portion of my childhood being suicidal and depressed because I was I combating internalized transphobia, I was Black, poor, and bi in an extremely Christian and queerphobic family. The only thing that kept me from killing myself was the love I had for my younger siblings and my mother and the rest of my family. That was enough to keep me from going over the edge. I loved my family beyond their abuses and policing. And so I did my best to keep myself going.
By time I graduated high school I was working 2 jobs and homeschooling my younger siblings. I applied to college, got into a private university near where we lived. I started college, joined the rowing team in attempts to get a scholarship, had 2 jobs, and continued to home school my siblings. College was the end of fighting. After homelessness and poverty coupled with rejection from my family I was tired of not being loved by my mother. At the time she was married to her then husband who abused me and my siblings but mainly me. By time I was 19, I hadn’t heard my mother tell me she loved me and was proud of me in 5 years. I did everything I could to try to please her & gave up on ever feeling comfortable in my own body, being happy, or just feeling free to be myself. I gave in, I started wearing hoop ear rings, trying to perform femininity, and trying to like stuff people told me girls and women like. Those years were the darkest of my life. I gave up on myself and did my best to chase the hegemonic cishet femininity that was laid out before me.
It nearly destroyed me to live with a dead name and as a person who wasn’t real. I was so afraid. I was terrified that to admit that I was trans would literally be enough to drive me to commit suicide. I thought that saying it out loud would kill me. That fear was enough to drive me to hide for years coupled with unhealthy familial relationships. I didn’t feel safe to begin transitioning until recently. But the reality is I’ve been a genderqueer trans man all of my life. I’ve lived as a trans man doing a horribly executed rendition of cis femininity. The pain that the performance of hegemonic femininity under cishetpatriarchy is so deadly that the life expectancy of a Trans person in the U.S. is 35 years old. And I know for a fact that number is lower for Black Trans people.
As I transition, there is something that is key for me to always understand and my practice: I AM NOT A PATRIARCH. My sense of masculinity does not require that I dominate people in order to fuel it. I have always had senses of masculinity that are in many ways my own interpretations. But what is clear to me is the type of structures of power are behind society’s conceptions of gender. I will not make the same mistake and copy & paste Black men’s cishetpatriarchal masculinity. I am a man. I always have been. I was socialized into the wrong gender. I do not want to mirror the same power structures and systemic domination that seeks to destroy me and others like me on a regular basis.
A decolonized masculinity is a sense of masculinity that is not nested in domination. A question that I have always asked myself is this: WHO ARE YOU WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING? WHO ARE YOU WHEN THERE IS NO ONE IN YOUR VICINITY FOR YOU TO EXERCISE CONTROL/POWER/DOMINATION OVER? WHO ARE YOU WHEN YOU HAVE NO ONE FOR YOU TO FEEL BETTER THAN OR SUPERIOR TO? In other words: the power in my masculinity is a power TO be my genderqueer trans man self unapologetically, NOT power OVER others.
theory‘s cool, but theory with no practice ain’t shit – Fred Hampton
I am always very careful about making sure I live the THEORY of my politics. I have my philosophy, ontology, my epistemology, and my ideology but they mean nothing if I don’t live them. And its crucial for me to make sure that my masculinity doesn’t require that those who come in contact with me are harmed. I don’t want to nor do I have to have a sense of masculinity that consumes, bruises, harms, isolates, suffocates, dominates, kills. That’s not necessary. My gender doesn’t need to do that. My execution of my sense of self doesn’t have to require that I leave a trail of colonized bodies under and behind me.
MASCULINITY doesn’t require the domination of everything in its presence, PATRIARCHY does.
Something I learned from the work of Kwame Ture is that all forms of hegemony are questions of POWER and DOMINATION not ATTITUDE. I take that into consideration. Just being a QT Black man is not enough to ensure that I will not mimic the obsession to dominate that comes with socialization under injustice. Just because I’m Black doesn’t mean I can’t be a white supremacist racist and imperialist, being a QT man doesn’t mean I can’t be a patriarch, just because I’m low income doesn’t mean I can’t be classist. I take this into consideration and I want to be wholly responsible for how I interact with others, insuring that I engage in decolonized & deorientalized harm reduction so that I can foster healthy, loving, and liberating relationships and experiences. I remain self-reflective and critical for that very reason.
Its important for us to understand that we have a responsibility to not make the mistake of perpetuating the same perspectives, mindsets, and behaviors of those who dominate us. I am a man without needing to hate and dominate femininity. I am a man without policing how others perform their masculinity. I am a man even when I engage in behaviors this society sees as exclusive only to femininity. I am a man even amid the deep space 9-ness of my genderqueerness. I am a man who does not need to wound in order to be a man. I am a man and my masculinity does not need to bruise.