A few days ago, I had somehow stumbled across Janet Mock, an Associate Editor for PEOPLE.com, who is also a transsexual. She tells the story of her gender and sexual confusion in an interview with Marie Claire and I found it rather inspirational. But I didn’t think much of it until I see a post about it on Clutch, earlier this evening. The post’s comments had more to do with religious persons being upset with Ms. Mock for switching her sex.
Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by transsexuality because so much of my relationship with my sex (female) is cultural. You’re raised as a girl, and in the most stereotypical fashion, your parents probably gave you dolls, dresses and stuffed animals. Actually, growing up I had black barbies and an extensive collection of stuffed animals who I pretended to play school with. I went through puberty as a girl, and experienced a lot of the same frustrations other not-so budding teen girls experience. My female-ness was reinforced in every facet of my life; there was no way I could mistake myself for a boy.
Perhaps part of the trans-phobia is our own lack of understanding of what creates gender; who or what defines it? Is it a personal choice or is it something innate to our sex? I believe it calls into question our own shortcomings in regard to how we express ourselves. If a transwoman chooses to embody all the stereotypical mannerisms of a female-bodied woman, does this somehow mean that make-up is part of my sexual design? That I’m denying my true sexual nature by not acting distinctly feminine?
At least – this is what I think about.
As I take a small glimpse into how some transmen and women choose to express themselves, I wonder about my own relationship to my gender. I have never felt particularly feminine, nor entirely masculine either. Over 90% of my friends are female, and even most of my family members are women.I relate to and have a deeper relationship overall with girls than boys.
But unlike the characters in Judy Blume’s Are you there God? It’s me Margaret, elation was the last thing I felt when my monthly tormenter first popped up. I do remember measuring myself excessively in early high school, hoping that puberty would kick-start me into my version of womanhood, so I could blossom into Salem Hayek and put everyone who ever teased me to shame.
Totally didn’t happen.
And I think of MTF transsexuals, and how they KNOW that they’re the wrong sex, and will feel complete once they take the hormones and get the surgery. In a way, I envy that quest; I envy them. I envy the knowing because I feel so disconnected to both my sex and gender. In the privacy of my own mind I often lament the misfortunate of being born a girl, and I wonder how other girls can stand it. But I never wanted to be a boy. I don’t feel like the Universe misplaced me, but I speculate at great length why I don’t feel like a girl. Why I don’t understand what it means to be a girl.
So I enjoyed reading Ms. Mock’s story of success, happiness and personal quest to achieving her sense of self because I also envy her for it.