Working as a volunteer for COC Leiden on the educational program I find myself confronted with a classroom full of 15 year old children. In most cases these kids have no idea what my life looks like and the struggle transgenders have been going through for so long. Some of them honestly don't understand why it should be such a problem. Others find it all very odd and don't see how it relates to their world. But being transgender can happen to anyone. People are trying to show that transsexuals are more intelligent then the averaged person. I seriously doubt that's true. It could be that people with a lower IQ simply don't understand what the problem is or don't have the means to express themselves or the means to actually do something about their situation and therefor decide to stay the way they are because they don't seem to have a choice. Genderdysphoria hits all parts of society equally.
But that doesn't make it any stranger to those kids. Why would a guy want to wear a skirt? One day, standing in front of a class, I was tempted to say: I wear boxer shorts too, nobody thinks that's weird. I realized how odd it was to say that, being a female to male transgender. And then it hit me. Even if I was a real girl, it would still be okay for me to wear boy's undies. But the other way around, it wasn't okay. I told them this was silly. That boys should be allowed to wear girl's clothes if girls were allowed to wear boy's clothes like trousers and boxer shorts. Yes, trousers. It wasn't too long ago that a girl would get beaten by her own mother for wearing trousers. And now we think it's completely normal. But boys still can't wear skirts. Marilyn Manson once said that Robert Smith (the Cure) made it okay for boys to wear lipstick. I wish that was really true. Fact is, if a regular boy, not someone famous or who works in entertainment, wears lipstick out on the street, and not on a stage, he will most likely get beaten up. The only time a boy can wear a skirt outside is when it is a kilt, which is Scottish battle clothing. But even then, it is worn as a statement, and people look and point.
Going from girl to boy, from Venus to Mars, I have noticed there are things I suddenly can't do anymore. Like wearing a skirt or make up if I want to. Those things are just not done. Suddenly the things I say that were labeled as strong and independent being said by a woman, were found rude and offensive when said as a man. I find myself needing to sensor myself, not because of what I say or even how I say it, because I would have said it the same way as a woman, but because I am male. Women are expected to stand up for themselves, to fight for their rights. Men are expected to already have rights and should not claim them because by claiming their rights they are automatically suppressing women. Really? It would seem so. I find it all very strange. It seems to me like men are even more stuck in their gender role then women are. Remember people asked me why I couldn't just be a masculine woman or a tomboy because that would be easier? It would be easier. A lot! Mostly because you don't lose the rights you have as a woman. I had no idea how limited men are in their personal expression until I started living as one. Being a masculine woman means getting more freedom and being able to make your own choices. Being a feminine man means losing your rights as a man and not gaining the rights of women. Women have been fighting to gain the rights of men and have succeeded on many levels, though the fight is still far from over. I wish them all the best, I really do. It made my life a lot easier while I was still trying to live as a woman. But men have hardly started the battle to gain the rights of women. Every now and then a man stands up and raises his fist, but it doesn't seem to stick.
Maybe men are afraid that when they try to gain women's rights they will lose their own rights and will be left with nothing. As a transman it's even more difficult because you feel you have to prove your manhood. You have to compensate for not having a penis. And if you do decide to wear a bit of make up every now and then suddenly you are not trans enough and not a 'real' transsexual. Again, something that seems very silly to me and a lot of people agree it is silly indeed. But I don't see a lot of people standing up for this. A lot of transsexuals are afraid that people will think they are actually transvestites when they hold on to some habits that are linked to their old gender. This does happen and does not help at all. Maybe we should all pay less attention to what we all 'should do' and pay more attention to ourselves, who we really are and how we want to express ourselves, no matter what the rest of the world thinks. Though maybe not while we are walking the dog late in the evening... I know there is a fair chance of getting beaten up over this, but I'd rather stand up for what I believe in and get a few bruises then continue to live in shame. Who's with me?
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