I AM trans. I just don’t try very hard.

Added: 4/15/2011

Yikes!  With the amount of publicity that this is getting I feel bad not saying what sparked it.  This entire analogy came from a conversation with my former minister, Rev. Leela Sinha.  She is truly inspirational and amazing.  You can find out more about her current work at her website!

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At 5’2″ and 130 lbs it’s hard for me to look masculine.  And some days it’s not worth it.  Some days getting up and flattening and tucking and layering and angsting over what clothes will best hide my hips and chest loses out to getting up and putting on whatever is most comfortable, or frankly what looks best.  Some days it’s a lot easier to get up, throw something on, accept that that outfit means I’ll be read more often as female, and just walk out the door.

A few months ago I made the decision to stop getting upset or annoyed when I was misgendered in public by, say, somebody at a store or in a restaurant.  A couple months after that I stopped being annoyed with friends who “messed up” my pronouns.  I get it, honestly.  I really have stopped trying as hard as I had been for a couple of years.  Sure I’d like a deeper voice, but I’m not as anxious for it as I had been.  Sure I’d like a body that fits how I feel a little more, but I have more important, fun and exciting things to save my money for.

So yes, I am trans.  But I don’t try very hard.

And yes, I am trans.  But I don’t care that much.

Because I live in the middle ground of gender.  While most of the world functions either on side A or Side B (that is to say in a binary system – male or female) I am that mysterious other.  And I’m no longer telling myself that I am just passing through this middle ground on the way from one side to the other.  My camp is no longer temporary.  It’s no longer a camp.  I’m building a house here on this middle ground, and I get that that confuses people.

Side A and Side B make sense to people.  You are male.  You are female.  You live on Side A which means you do these things, you like these things, and you want to be these things.  Some people live in the big cities, some live in the suburbs, and some even come and camp in the middle ground at times, either to later return to their own side, or to cross over to the other side.  But most folks don’t live on the middle ground.  Some live here intentionally, like me, and others live here because Side A threw them out but Side B won’t take them.

It’s kind of like living on a fault line where things are shifting and shaking and sometimes our house foundations crack because the building codes that work in Side A and Side B don’t really apply to The Middleground.  But instead of helping us to develop better housing structures most of the people who live on Side A and Side B either pretend we aren’t here or they tell us that nobody is SUPPOSED to live in The Middleground so we deserve what we are getting anyway.

We have allies on both sides too, of course.  Folks who come in with reinforcements to help us shore up our houses and build new ones.  And more and more people are coming in to help us out every day, folks who have visited The Middleground and folks who haven’t.

Why on earth would we want to live here, then?  It doesn’t sound like much fun.  But for those of us who choose to live here it’s about authenticity, and realness, and loving and living who we are as fully as we can.  It’s embracing what this great, big, glorious Universe has given us not as a burden or something to be dealt with but as just another part of life to dance around the stars with.  And that dance can happen anywhere; side A, side B, the Middleground, or anywhere else you find yourself.  Whether you’re visiting, renting, buying, or peeking in from afar, welcome to my life.

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27 Responses to “I AM trans. I just don’t try very hard.”

  1. Bravo!

  2. Oh, amen amen amen! I’m right there with you.

  3. I loved this post. I’m right there with you. I’m not trans, and I’m not your stereotypical female. I don’t identify as male, either. I hate labels, as I don’t fit into A or B. *shrugs* But, I’m cool with it.

    Most of the time.

    Glad to hear you’re not as upset over it as you used to be. It takes a wise and adjusted person to get to your state. Good for you!

  4. Great great description of not being one OR the other, gender wise. I call my condition ‘genderqueer’, male and female, not in a holding pattern until something better comes along, not passing through from A to B, but living with both (and sometimes neither). As hard as it is to accept something other than the gender binary, it’s harder for others. I think choosing not to get hung up on what others see and recognize is probably good for you.. though I’m still having trouble with it sometimes. I’m also transgender but not wanting to transition, so being misgendered is something I’ll live with for the foreseeable future.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and viewpoint.

  5. You are awesome! And as someone who will continue to try hard to get the pronouns, etc. correct, thanks for understanding!

  6. Nice article. 🙂

    I’m a woman (let’s call it side B), no mistakes, ifs, ands, or buts. But Side B often made no sense to me at all. Many times, as a girl and then a woman, I had to fight to make Side B my own. And sometimes I had to give up on Side B. I think many women have that experience because Side B is often so oppressive and limited. And I know some boys and men who find Side A to be pretty damn rigid too. So I think that there are quite a few of us who are not trans who find ourselves gravitating towards “other” sides — or else breaking new ground on the side we’re on.

  7. Thank you. A day like today required something just like this… you will have no idea how beautiful your words have been to my ears/eyes…

  8. well, howdy neighbor. That’s all I’ve got to say.

  9. I gotta say, getting up and putting on whatever feels comfortable, without going through a lot of effort to select certain clothing, apply cosmetics, do . . . anything at all to your hair. . . And then blogging about it using camping terms, building code terms and military terms. . .

    Yeah, guy stuff. That’s all guy stuff. That’s what guys do. You pretty much achieved perfect masculinity by not trying to be masculine.

    • This comment doesn’t sit all that well with me. I’m trying to sort out why.

      Part of it is that almost all of the terminology came from my former minister who is genderqueer, yes, but more on the female spectrum of it all. Part of it is that my life is kind of centered around queer communities and while we totally have stereotypes they are not as rigid or, perhaps, rigid in different ways. And part of it is that “masculinity” is so varied and diverse that saying I achieved it by not caring how I look really discounts a lot of the awesomeness that masculinity can be.

      • ::: shrug :::
        The only thing I would take issue with in your reply is that my response discounts anything in any way. It was meant as a supportive comment, but also a factual one. Not baseless encouragement from a total stranger, but a point of view from a total stranger who is a guy and thinks you are too. Which I assumed would be somewhat encouraging to someone who is often misidentified as a girl.

        I have been a guy all my life, have done stereotypically “guy” things like join the army, play sports, hunt, grow a beard and so on. Bluntly, I think it’s legitimate to consider myself at least somewhat of a subject matter expert on being a guy. Not that I feel it is any accomplishment (I did nothing to achieve guy-ness, I was just born with a penis and the rest came naturally).

        I do have several friends who are MTF, FTM, XXY and various forms of neutral (I live in downtown Portland, Oregon and am an artist – saying you know someone who is trans here is like saying you know someone who likes coffee.). A couple are beginning transformation, one is halfway through, a few have completed, some just didn’t feel a need to transform in any way. Some of them are casual friends, some are very close friends, some are people whom I have dated. I may not know what it is like to be genderqueer, but I have a hell of a lot of people in my life who have tried their best to explain it, and think I have at least some grasp of it (or at least as much of a grasp as you can have without actually going through it).

        So, yeah. What I said was just meant to be a supportive truth. The actions you blogged about mirror the actions of a lot of other guys, and I pointed it out. It in no way supports or discounts anything about the genderqueer community for the same reason it does not support or discount bamboo gardening: it makes no mention of it, wasn’t directed at it and is not related to it. It was a comment about guys, nothing else.

  10. Spectacular Andrew! Lots of Love from Phoenix!

  11. Woto!

    This makes so much sense. And, I honestly really like your middlegroundiness.

  12. There’s something extremely attractive about someone who, despite the cards they are dealt, still just try to be comfortable in their own skin. I loved reading this, despite not being to directly relate (I’m not trans myself, but I’m interested in the trans community).

    Reading this was kind of a sigh of relief compared to the painful raging struggle many trans people seem to be going through before finally fitting where they want to fit on the gender spectrum.

    Best of luck in life, Andy! Thanks for posting this.

  13. I was diagnosed “Trans Gender – Gender Neutral” – which by definition puts me in the middle. My therapist helped me try to cross from M2F but turns out I am too old for hormones so can’t have “the operation” anyway. Turns out I have been Gender Neutral all my life which NOW explains why I don’t relate to either gender. Your take on this really clears up a lot of confusion I have had about being in the middle and not wanting to move to A or B. Thank you so very much. I like my blouses AND I like my slacks.

  14. Wonderful! I can relate a lot!

    In my case, I happened to encounter the First Nations concept of “Two Spirit” just before I encountered the concept of “transgendered”. Both resonate with who I am…”both/and”, not “either/or”. I am increasingly comfortable there, and really don’t worry much how others perceive me. But you put it even better.

    I like it here on the middle ground. It just can be a bit lonely.

    I’ve come to understand that gender is incredibly linked to culture. I’m active in lgbt spiritual groups and political/civic organizations as a lesbian, in progressive social gatherings or churches I’m more likely to be assumed just another straight woman, and in Plain Anabaptist circles I realize I am a cross-dresser because I wear pants (with a woman’s head covering) and do “men’s work” (in a quite gender-biased workplace) for a living–though I don’t think they really have a concept of “trans”!

    Oddly I feel the most comfortable with the Plain folks, because they “get” that I am “different” than their cultural definitions, instead of assuming I am on one side or the other of the fault line as happens in lgbt or progressive groups. If I go to a family meal after church, I often find myself literally standing with one foot on each side–one in the kitchen where the women are putting the meal on the table, and one in the living room where the men are sitting and visiting until the meal is ready. Or I will be working on meal prep while carrying on a conversation with the men. This is not because I try to do it, but because the men draw me into their conversation while I am intentionally “fitting in” to my body-congruent gender role. There has never been the least sign of dismay, discomfort, or discouragement of this phenomenon among them. Or maybe I am just insensitive to the nuances of their communication! As I become more aware of this, I am more likely to “step across the line” intentionally in non-Plain gatherings where I feel more pigeon-holed.

    I love living in this middle ground because it is so rich and varied, compared to just being on one side or the other. I learn so much from both sides, and then can put it all together on my own rather than feeling like I’m lacking something. I sometimes miss having another person outside me (conversations, hugs, lifting big things, second opinions, etc.), but I feel completely partnered with myself in a complete gender balance.

    I think one difficulty is that there seems to be a severe shortage of similarly balanced potential companions around here, and in my e experience it is awkward having a relationship with someone who isn’t also in the middle ground…seems like it pushes me too much to one side. In such a case, if the relationship is balanced, I’m not; if I’m balanced, then the relationship isn’t.

  15. Wow, I really needed this today. This is totally me.

  16. Thumbs way up from someone of similar thoughts. For me, Side A and Side B have been two hills I’ve found equally impossible to climb. I just keep sliding back down into the valley in the middle, and I’m happy to make my home there now.

  17. This is a great article, and though I’m pretty much a cisfemale, sometimes I just feel like being a little more androgynous/gender-neutral. That wide open space between A and B is indeed a fun space to play in for a while. 🙂

  18. Fantastic!!! As a SOFFA, this makes me super happy. Peace and Love

  19. It takes a lot of energy to try hard all the time–especially when you have lots of other stuff to try hard about as well. It’s a blessing to be able to be where you are, and to be able to articulate that.

    Thanks for putting it into words!

  20. Just came upon this and I love it. Thank you.

  21. Excellent article and commentary. May this biased and uninformed world wake up to knowledge, have undersatnding, and be totally accepting. Step by step – slow process for some – more conversation with anyone will help multitudes.

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