Is this how we want be known? If we enter a conversation on trans* issues, queer issues—any issues, really—do we want the immediate reaction to be “oh great, here comes another trans guy whining about something and making the entire conversation about him”? Or do we want to be seen as people who would make good allies in fighting oppression, even if that means putting our issues on the back burner and relegating our voices to the background?
I challenge you to think very hard about what makes the kind of man you want to be.
I can tell you right now that testosterone and a flat chest aren’t it. Not all guys go down that path, and not all people who do are guys. Neither does buying into a bunch of patriarchal bullshit and welcoming the male privilege you’ve been handed with open arms. And you don’t get extra “Man Points” for calling other people out on their identities and telling them that “nobody will take them seriously” if they don’t X, Y, and Z.
Being a man is about what you are on the inside. It requires the ability to think critically about what goes on around you, particularly about the ways racism, sexism, classism, cissexism, ableism, etc. interact to shape the experiences we have. It requires thinking before we act and speak, and taking responsibility for what happens as a result. It means being able to say “I’m sorry,” while recognizing that a mere apology does not automatically merit a restoration of trust. It means treating everyone with respect. It means accepting that a lot of the time, other people know better than we do, and it’s our job to shut up and listen.
We, as a group, need to grow the fuck up. And it needs to happen now. We need to focus a little less on ourselves, and more on the world around us. We need to accept that it isn’t always about us, particularly when it comes to trans* issues, when it is MOSTLY not about us. Whatever we deal with, trans women and other AMAB trans* folks get it so much worse. You might feel uncomfortable because of your height, your voice, or the size of your dick, but trans women are getting murdered just for breathing. It sucks to have hurt feelings or to not feel at home in your body, but at least you are alive to have emotions at all.
And yes, it’s not fair that there aren’t many representations of trans guys in popular culture, but the ones that we do have tend to be overwhelmingly positive and depicted as strong and deserving of empathy. Trans women, on the other hand, are overwhelmingly used as punchlines and murder victims (and even then it’s seen as acceptable to crack jokes while examining her body). Yes, we have “Boys Don’t Cry.” Trans women have pretty much every mainstream comedy to point to.
We also need to be careful about which spaces we are welcome in, and what spaces we choose to enter. It is awesome to have a group of guys who are going through the sort of things you are going through, whom you can ask questions about how to shave, or what binders work best, or what to get your girlfriend for her birthday. That space is important to have. However, it does not mean that we are entitled to ALL trans* spaces. Sometimes, we just aren’t wanted in a conversation, or sometimes we’re speaking too much without realizing because we aren’t paying attention. But when sites and spaces and conversations about trans* issues tend to focus more on the needs of AFAB trans* people, that’s a problem.
And for Pete’s sake, quit using the t-word. It’s not your word to reclaim. You are not being “oppressed” because you cannot ‘reclaim’ that word. You actually have a lot of privilege because there was nothing that needed ‘reclaiming’ in the first place.
I’m not saying that fixing this is going to be easy or uncomfortable. But you know what, if a little hard work and some awkward moments is going to give someone else the ability to live without being a target or a joke (let alone being alive at all), I’d say that’s worth it. Society is offering us privilege, an unfair advantage over everyone else because of our gender, or the color of our skin, or what socioeconomic class we were raised in, among other things.
And I don’t know about you, but the kind of man I want to be does not go along with a system that is cheating on his behalf.
Please direct any and all comments here.
There are a lot of important points of discussion here. Yes, it sucks that trans* men are widely being calling out as “douchebags” on tumblr right now, but it also is because some trans* guys have been doing some pretty awful stuff (perpetuating transmisogyny, being sexist, being rape apologists, rapists, etc.). We need to hold those individuals accountable because right now they are representing us in a really poor way.