I really appreciate guys who are secure in their masculinity. Guys who don’t feel a strong need to cling to stereotypical trappings of masculinity in order to prove to everyone that they are “manly” or whatever.
For example – some of those old Jenna Marbles videos! The ones where she would dress up Julien Solomita as a pin up girl, or give him acrylic nails (as just a few examples) and Julian would just have fun with it. Why? Because he knows that some “feminine” clothes or nails do not actually diminish his masculinity or identity as a man.
As I transitioned enough that there was actually the possibility that people would gender me correctly, I realized that I was NOT secure in my masculinity. Not at all. That was a rough thing for me to acknowledge.
I really want to be secure in my masculinity. I want to be a guy who can put on a tiara and be called “pretty” and know that it doesn’t make me any less of a man. If I were in the improbable position of some women wanting to play dress-up with me, rather like how Jenna did with Julien at times, I would be able to just run with it the way he did.
On top of that, I genuinely like wearing skirts. They’re comfortable! They’re pretty! Skirts are great! I want to be a guy who wears skirts! But, sadly, I spent years not doing any of that because I just didn’t have that kind of security.
Part of it came from how aggressively people would gender me female. I really wanted to be perceived as a man, and a lot of people (not just strangers, people in my community. People in my friend circles) made it very clear that if you have a female body and also do or wear “female” things, it’s just TOO HARD for them to remember that you are not, in fact, a woman. I didn’t wear skirts for two years after one of those incidents.
See, the intersection between gender identity and gender role can be a tricky one for trans people to navigate. If we embrace the gender roles of our gender identity, we will be accused of transitioning simply because of the gender role. We will then be “reminded” that men can wear skirts (for trans women) and still be men, and that women can be car mechanics (for trans men) and still be women. On the other hand, if we DON’T embrace those gender roles people will use that to invalidate our gender identity. How can I be a man when I like to wear skirts and crochet and do paper crafts and bake cookies? Those are women things! Apparently to some people “men can be feminine and still be men” only applies to cis men.
Well, men CAN be feminine and still be men. Women can be masculine and still be women. That is true whether they are trans or cis. EITHER WAY.
But back to the original topic – knowing all this intellectually did not actually help me to feel comfortable in my own identity as a man, or to NOT feel invalidated when people used my femininity against me. While I was never a jerk about it, I was still pretty insecure and also I felt shame around that insecurity.
Ultimately though, I think that might just be part of transitioning. It’s getting a lot easier now than it used to be, and society is a lot more accepting than it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally smooth sailing at this point. There are still a lot of jerks out there. Plus even people who otherwise aren’t jerks will still use their perception of your masculinity or femininity as a way to invalidate your gender. I think that one has honestly been the hardest for me. I’ve never managed to figure out a way to deal with that.
In any case, while I’m not some paragon of secure masculinity at this point, I’m definitely doing a lot better than I used to. Little by little, I am becoming the kind of man I want to be. Including being the kind of man who wears skirts sometimes and knows that doesn’t make him any less of a man.