Today we continue our discussion with trans man Patrick*. Yesterday we covered a lot about the trans community as a whole. Now we are moving on to talk about Patrick's* personal experiences. I think this will give you a good idea of how it feels to be a trans male.
So now that you appear male, how do you reconcile your gay femininity with your desire to appear as masculine as possible?
In a fuck the world way. I don’t think being an effeminate gay male makes me any more female than it does for any other gay males. But many people think that it does. I have had countless people ask me, “well if you’re gay why didn’t you stay a woman?”
It is a good question.
No it isn’t. That would be like saying; you’re gay so why don’t you transition to become a woman.
Well, I wouldn’t say that.
No, that’s exactly what the question is. It’s asking a gay couple, which one is the woman. That’s what it boils down to. Orientation has nothing to do with gender.
On the topic of dating, do you have a hard time finding dates/mates?
I have a hard time finding guys who don’t treat me like a fetish. I don’t date as much as I could if I was willing to accept that. Usually they want to date me because I’m trans instead of in spite of the fact that I’m trans.
Why does the fetishism bother you?
Because I don’t want to be treated like a sex object.
From the stories I’ve read, many transgendered people say that they felt like they were or should have been the other gender, prior to their transition. How did that present in you?
I can’t answer that question. It’s something that was just inside me. There’s nothing specific I can point to.
My brother was the only person I was allowed to hang out with as a child. So, I never learned about those girly things. I never understood why girls played with dolls, it just seemed ridiculous. However, none of that is so masculine that it should be a problem. I just always felt like one of the boys.
How did you know that you didn’t feel like a girl? Rather, how did you know you were a boy? You don’t have anything to compare it to. If someone is blind from birth you can’t describe color to them. There’s simply no way to know.
I do a lot of things in my sleep, like go to class. I remember one instance when I went to go to the bathroom and forgot that I didn’t have the proper genitalia for the urinal. I woke up rather suddenly. [Laughs] But that’s the best way I can describe it to you. When I dream I’m not in this body.
Can you tell me about the discovery, or rather how you came to realize that you were transgendered?
Growing up I was a tomboy. I remember telling my mom, as a little kid, that I was a boy. My mom then told me that if I kept telling people that, they would forcibly institutionalize me. She has a flair for the dramatic. I kept thinking that way until I saw a therapist when I was 18.
She was in catholic services and didn’t help much but she referred me to someone who did. Before then I never heard the word transgender. I went home and Googled it. I was able to find a support forum and thing went from there. I started my transition on November 1, 2007.
Where did you find help? What resources did you find?
Transe-generation.com, they have a wonderful support forum and I’ve made many great friends.
A lot of people seem to take offense to a trans man or woman calling themselves male or female. The thought is that a trans man or woman could never fully experience what it is like to be a natural man or woman, so they shouldn’t be able to refer to themselves like that. How do you respond to that sort of criticism?
Normally, with a huge fuck you. Then I cut off contact. That being said, I don’t run into many people who share that point of view. Even then, they usually just want to know about the medical side of things, which I’m happy to share.
I meant to ask this earlier but how much did surgery cost.
$6,000 and some change for the surgery. Then another $1,000 or so for follow up exams and what not. It was not covered by insurance. Still paying off that credit card bill.
It was worth that cost for you to have the surgery?
Yes, I wanted to die. Had I been told that the surgery would never happen and I would have had to live the rest of my life with breast, I would have either cut them off or I would have killed myself.
I know that depression, anxiety and suicide attempts are common with transgendered people. I think a lot of what gives people pause about the move to declassify GID as a mental is because other disorders are so strongly attached.
I think that a lot of trans people who have depression and anxiety disorders, myself among them, have disorders that are situational. Like, if any “regular person” was in a position where every day, no matter what they did, people were going to call them by the wrong name, use the wrong pronouns and not acknowledge who they are. Then, periodically, some random person was going to be screaming unbearable insults at them, I think they would be depressed and anxious too.