Isn’t this the essential contradiction of transgender and genderqueer?
Jere Krischel

None of the transgender people I’ve met believe that behavior has to match the physical stereotype. Take me, for example. I dress and behave in a very masculine manner, and I have no desire to change that fact. I don’t want to wear dresses or makeup, but I do want the body underneath my T-shirt and jeans to be female. If anything, I’m feeling pressured to adopt more feminine behaviors just to match the physical changes I’m making, even though I’d rather be a masculine woman. And like you, I wish there was a place for people like me without us being considered “not-women”.

One reason it took me this long to acknowledge how I feel is that I had a strong association between sex and gender roles. I was comfortable dressing and acting like a man, so why would I change my body to be more feminine? That would just make it harder to live the way I want to live. Yet here I am, trying to force a mismatch between behavior and appearance.

The trans women I know are not transitioning because they want to act feminine but don’t feel free to do so. They just want to be comfortable with their bodies. I know one woman who works as a rancher and comes to support groups in dirty jeans and short hair and speaks with a voice like a chain smoker, but she’s had genital surgery. She’s (mostly) comfortable with being misgendered in public, but many trans women aren’t. Often, they put on more feminine embellishments (skirts, wigs, makeup) than they would naturally be comfortable with because without those things, their gender would not be acknowledged. That’s what I was failing to do when having those involuntary reactions at the festival — I wasn’t receiving or accepting the message they were trying to communicate.

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