Recently I was talking to someone I respect a great deal, and she said something I've often thought as well: many people are more uncomfortable with gender nonconformity than with homosexuality. Of course, the two often go hand in hand. But let's assume, for a moment, that we can disaggregate them.
In my work circles, which mostly comprise upper-middle-class NPR listeners, few people care if your partner is male or female. Same-sex partnership is still noteworthy, interesting, and a titillating gossip source to some
people, but for the most part, it's not a big issue. Homos abound at high levels in my profession, and most are pretty open. But I have trouble coming up with examples of high-powered women in my profession who wear mostly men's clothing. If you're a woman giving a conference talk, it's not that big a deal to mention your same-sex partner. It is
a big deal to wear a necktie. No one else does it, and you're likely to be seen as "making a statement."For me, this begs two questions: (1) Why?; (2) What implications does this have for my own self-presentation? Today, I'll write about the former.Here's my guess: looking gender-conforming still adheres to people's ideas and assumptions about gender--the idea that men "are" and "look"
a certain way, and that women "are" and "look" a different way. If we define homosexuality narrowly (as I think most people do, particularly non-queers), it only challenges one aspect of gender typicality: whom you sleep with.
It's as if are only two kinds of ice cream, and ice cream always comes in double scoops: one vanilla, one chocolate. This is what most people always order, then later they learn that some
people order two scoops of vanilla or two scoops of chocolate. "Fine," they think. "Some people like two scoops of the same thing. But there are still just two kinds of ice cream."
In contrast, if someone orders vanilla with chocolate swirls and says, "It's still vanilla--it just has chocolate swirls in it," (or if, God forbid, they order strawberry) this challenges people's fundamental ideas about the kinds of ice cream that exist
. In this way, gender nonconformists
mess with people's categories. A woman in a tie, when only men are wearing ties,
is like chocolate chip ice cream. "What IS that?" people think. "No flavor I've
ever seen." This is probably why, as Kristen Schilt writes in One of the Guys, when people go from identifying as butch women to identifying as trans men, they become more accepted in the workplace. As butch women, people viewed them as gender atypical. When they become trans men, people can say, "Oh, I kind of understand--you were really chocolate all along!"
As more states adopt legal protections based on sexual orientation, I think gender conformity will be one of the next frontiers. This is closely tied--though not identical--to the fight for trans rights, providing another reason to help fight for the rights of all
other queers, not just your personal subset.
For now, I'll leave the conversation there. What do you think, dear readers? In your everyday work lives, what's people's reaction to sexual orientation versus gender nonconformity?
A friend of mine went to a presentation by the fabulous Janet Mock
recently, and took this photo. Part of the presentation talked about how non-trans* people be allies to trans* folks. She fleshed these points out a lot more at the presentation, but I want to share her list and add my own thoughts as well [my additions are in brackets]. I hope that trans* readers will comment!
10 Things You Can Do Now [to be an effective ally to trans* people]:
What do you think of this list? What would you add?
- Allyship is not a badge. [Nor is it a "door" you walk through. Just because you have trans* friends doesn't mean that you're allowed to break #'s 2-10, or make fun of trans* people, or anything like that.]
- Educate yourself.
- Work with local groups. [I know that sometimes female-ID'd butches don't want to start getting involved with FTM groups because then people will think that she (the butch in question) is trans herself. To that, I say: so what? You're not butch enough to take it?]
- Include "gender identity/expression" in nondiscrimination policies.
- Welcome trans people into spaces & groups. [I'm not a fan of "women-born-women" policies. I do think it's okay, in limited circumstances, to require that everyone in a given group ID as a woman. Yes, this excludes trans men and non-binary trans people from certain womyn's music festivals. And I am personally uncomfortable with this, but I think it's (again, rarely) necessary for groups to be circumscribed sometimes--e.g., for trans men to have their own groups that exclude female ID'd butches, for lesbians to have their own groups, etc. But why the *!@# would we exclude trans women?]
- Educate others. [But don't presume to speak for trans* people.]
- Use preferred names & pronouns. Don't assume. [Also, realize that there are non-binary trans* people who ID as neither a man nor as a woman, and eschew gendered pronouns altogether.]
- Never "out" someone.
- Never inquire about surgery or genitals. [If you want to learn, there are ample books and websites.]
- Recognize that trans people are people too.
My buddy C
and I enjoy exchanging stories about the funny, traumatic, or improbable "sir"-ings bestowed on us. We began talking about manners surrounding the incidents; what do we want people to do after they mistakenly refer to us with male pronouns, then realize their mistake? Here's our advice:Things to do after you make a mistake about someone's gender:
- Just say, "Oops, sorry," and move on like it is no big deal. Because it really isn’t. It's happened to us before, and we won't hold a grudge. Promise.
We'd love to end this post here, but unfortunately, personal experience suggests that a second list is warranted.Things NOT to do after you make a mistake about someone's gender:
- Do not blame the other person. Do not say that our hair or clothes are "confusing" or point out that we are "dressed like a man." Doing so is embarrassing for you and annoying for us.
- Do not overapologize (hint: more than two apologies qualifies as "overapologizing"). We realize that our self-presentation is not gender typical, and don't think you're nuts or a jerk for making the mistake.
- Do not use it as an excuse to tell us how much you support gay rights or trans rights, or about all the friends you have who are trans and/or gay. This takes a relatively innocuous situation and douses it with awkwardness juice.
- Do not use it as an excuse to tell us you love our haircut and "wish" you could wear your hair that short (hint: you can!).
- Do not defend yourself (after following us into the women's restroom and yelling at us accusingly through the closed stall door, "This is the WOMEN'S room!") by saying, "It was an understandable mistake." We will never understand why someone is SO certain that they know what a "real" woman looks like that they honestly believe that a short man with hips and boobs just walked into a clearly labeled women's restroom, ignored the presence of women and the absence of urinals, and blithely sat down to pee. Isn't it more likely that you just might have a narrow idea of what a woman "looks like?"
- Do not switch pronouns, then switch back again. Being "sir--ma'am--sir'd" is worse than being sir'd.
- Do not say, "Oh! Them is little titties! I thought you was a man."
I just read this article on the Advocate's website
about a parent who accepted her transgendered kid early on. It's heartwarming that the kid wasn't bullied (at least, not yet--fingers crossed for him in middle school). But what really caught my eye was the sentence, "He transitioned at the age of five."What?My first thought was this: no one knows what he or she wants to do or be at five.
Five-year-olds will assert that they are dogs or fire trucks, or that they want to eat only pickles for the rest of their lives. Sometimes they assert such things with startling persistence. Are we supposed to take all these things seriously?At the same time, maybe assertions about sex and gender are more fundamental somehow--more elemental. Maybe by being perceived and treated like a boy from age five, the kid in the story will avoid nasty bouts with depression and gender dysphoria
that would have plagued him if he'd transitioned at 25. He'll be able to go through puberty as a boy the first time around. Kids know who they are, this line of thinking goes. And a really big part of me agrees with this. Still, another really big part of me knows that the world is packed with sex divisions and gender norms. From a very young age, I certainly knew that I wasn't like the other girls.
I always wanted to play with the boys and wear boys' clothing. When I looked in my parents' closets, it was my father's ties that I coveted (and my mom is by no means a "girly" girl, so it's not like ties were the alternative to dresses and heels). If the mom in this article had been my mom, I probably would have transitioned.Instead, my mom would reassure me that not all girls liked to wear dresses or play with dolls. There were unfortunate restrictions (how I wished I was allowed
to shop in the boys' department!), but as best she could, she taught me that there were a lot of different ways to be a girl. I'm positive that her open-mindedness helped me to become the dapper butch I am today. For a lot of reasons, the road was not an easy one. But I am very glad to be a girl; my girl-ness just doesn't look like most other people's.I guess what I'm struggling with in reading this article is a fear that gender nonconformity will be taken for early expressions of trans identity. I think it's super important to accept kids as they are, but how do you do this--and support a kid you think may be trans--while
at the same time, leaving wide open the door that your dress-eschewing kid may be a female butch? I worry that labeling gender-nonconforming kids "trans" is another incarnation of affirming gender norms.As you can see, I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about this. What do you think, dear readers? Is five years old too young to transition?
Hi friends! Sorry for the kinda-long absence. My ADD-addled brain has been preoccupied with a number of things the past few weeks, including but not limited to:
1. Finishing a profile for one of my jobs;
2. Propagating succulents;
3. Doing a big around-the-house project with my DGF;
4. Taking a bunch of photographs for a website for one of my other jobs;
5. Undergoing massive amounts of career-related identity crisis.
Anyway, I'm back now (yay! I missed you!) and was wondering what you all thought about the following topic: When, if at all, is separation based on sex ideal/necessary?
First, a few caveats. Let's acknowledge that this question is inherently problematic: cissexist, falsely essentialist, and denies the experience of intersex people. It assumes that sex is a dichotomy, which it is not. (Also, note that I'm talking about sex, not gender
So, I'm curious: What do you think about separation based on sex in the following scenarios?
When do you think that sex (or gender) separation is necessary and/or ideal? Would you be happier in a world with no sex separation?
A reader wrote to me recently and said she's only attracted to trans men, but not "biological men" (i.e., cis men). She wanted to know if that was "weird." Others have written with similar questions. For example, I've gotten, "I'm a butch attracted to butches; is that weird?" and, "I'm a straight guy attracted to butchy women; is that weird?"
My universal answer is: no. It is not weird at all. It may be statistically uncommon, but who cares? High intelligence and the ability to throw a 95-mile-per-hour fastball are statistically uncommon, too. There's nothing wrong with this. If we were all identical, the world would not be nearly so interesting.
Writer Ann Lamott once said, "Nobody knows what you really want except you, and no one will be as sorry as you if you don't get it" (she was quoting from a letter one of her teachers had written to her, and the teacher was quoting Lillian Hellman). Lamott was talking about writing, but I think the same thing applies to relationships. No one knows who really makes you happy except you.
If--for whatever reason--you're only attracted to trans men, but date cis men because you think you "should," I can imagine a number of possible advantages. It's easier socially (in most places), the dating pool is larger, and you never have to explain the trans thing to your parents. But are these things worth dating someone who doesn't make your heart quicken?
When it comes down to it, what really matters in a relationship are the micro-interactions you have with that person: the inside jokes, the intimate moments, the quiet moments, the indefinable something that draws you to that person. You can't fake it. And you can't conjure it if it's not really there.
I tried dating femmes for a (short) while, because I thought I "should." After all, my butch friends all liked femmes, and there didn't seem to be many butch or androgynous women interested in dating other butch or androgynous types. But dating femmes just wasn't me. I knew it, but I tried it anyway, and it felt like role-playing. My heart wasn't in it. However common the butch-femme dynamic may be, and however wonderful it is for so many couples, it is not the dynamic that feels most natural and fulfilling to me. Does that make me normatively "weird?" I don't think so. Does it make me uncommon? Maybe. But again: who cares?
As far as I'm concerned, there is not a lot of value to be gained in worrying that you're a femme attracted to only femmes, or a trans guy only attracted to cis men, or a bi woman attracted to everyone except butches. Sometimes terms like "tranny chaser" or "butch fag" are used in disparaging ways to talk about people with uncommon romantic preferences. I think this is because people are threatened by something they can't relate to. And it's easier to call uncommon things "weird" than to try to wrap your brain around the wild diversity of human relationships. In fact, it's SO easy and SO common to label and police and stigmatize and categorize that sometimes even if no one imposes judgment on us, we will impose it on ourselves.
I advise you not to do that. I advise you to pay as much attention as you can to what your gut and heart are saying. The more carefully you listen, the clearer they'll get. And I bet you'll never hear them utter the word "weird."
via Creative Commons
I bet we've all experienced at least one of the following:(1) Being told we don't "belong" to a group we think we belong to.
(2) Having someone assume
we're part of a group with which we don't actually identify.(3) Hearing someone else identify with a group to which we belong, and being annoyed because we don't consider them a part of the group.Where does identity "policing" come from? And why, in the LGBTQ community,* of all places, does it seem to happen so often? I was pondering this the other day and came up with a short list of possible (no doubt interrelated, and no doubt often subconscious) reasons:
As I've talked about before, I'm no fan of identity policing. Nonetheless, I can understand the impetus behind it, and I bet I've unintentionally engaged in it.
- You feel marginalized in various ways because of an identity you claim. If another person who claims that identity is not marginalized in the same ways, it may feel unfair that they "get" to claim that identity, too. (For example, I suspect this is why female-ID'd butches sometimes don't like trans men claiming butch identities. Butch women have to deal with looking gender-nonconforming virtually all the time. Many trans men can pass as gender-normative if they want to.)
- You want a group to specifically define you, not to be some kind of broad identity that anyone can claim. (For example, ever encounter a hipster type who claims to be "queer but straight?" If so, you might know the feeling I'm describing.)
- You're an "average" member of some group. But if the group is opened to people of some other identity, too, you become lower status within this group. (Butch women/trans men is a good example for this concept, too. Men are higher status in American society [and, unfortunately, in most others as well]. Trans men often pass as men, look like men, etc. If trans men can be butches and butch = masculine, then there's a way in which trans men are "more butch" than female identified butches. Some female butches may find this threatening.)
- Your group is already low status in society, and you don't want an even lower status group to join it, because then it will make your group even lower status. (For example, I've heard lesbians eschew trans women who consider themselves lesbians, and gay men eschew trans men who consider themselves gay men.)
- You think your group is cooler than some other subset of it, so you emphasize a boundary to separate you from that subset. (E.g., I've heard gay men say disparaging things about lesbians, distinguishing sharply between themselves and queer women--arguably, drawing on male privilege while implicitly chastising lesbians for their gender nonconformity and/or "unattractiveness." [To be clear, I firmly believe that this kind of statement is an outlier.])
- They lack some aspect of the identity you claim. You see this aspect as central to the identity. If they don't share that aspect, you can't talk to them about it in the same way, so all of a sudden the group you felt comfortable in includes people you can't talk to (in the same way) about something central to the identity. (For example, if your queer women's group includes a bunch of bisexual women who are dating men, it might feel kind of weird to talk with them about what it's like to be, say, a queer woman at a work function to which partners are invited.)
- You feel like you "got there first" and have a feeling of ownership over the identity. When people who aren't like you start to claim it, you may feel like the identity is changing in a way that excludes you. You want the group to define you--you want it to be a nice fit, not some broad umbrella identity under which you happen to fall. (For example, if you identify as genderqueer or neutrois and as neither male nor female, you may feel uncomfortable or discouraged if people who identify as [and appear to be] either fully male or fully female say that they are genderqueer.)
I hope I've caught myself, questioned myself, and asked where the impulse was coming from.Of course, identity policing and boundary-drawing doesn't just happen in the queer community. It happens with regard to age, race, class, and just about every other social group we can think of. Nor do I mean to suggest that identity policing always arises from bad motives, or the intention to exclude others. I suspect we'd all agree that it's important to have social and psychological spaces where we can understand ourselves, question our assumptions, and feel at home with people we believe are like us.What do you think about all of this? Have you ever seen, experienced, or engaged in identity policing?
Do you think it exists in the queer community?Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.*
** I was recently a guest speaker in a queer studies class in which several of the students suggested that calling LGBTQ folks a "community" is false and s
** If you feel the urge to write, "Why do we have to label ourselves at all?" or "We're all human beings," or something similar, please read this first.
This is a guest post by BW reader Jack Kaulfus, who also blogs at www.jackkaulfus.com and teaches writing in Austin, Texas:
I’m out there somewhere on the trans spectrum, socially and politically (by "trans," I mean one who self-identifies as transgender, transsexual, or gender variant). But I've always felt more inclined to identify myself as a woman--even if it means coming out to everybody in a 100 yard radius when the soccer referee insists
that my coed team needs another woman on the field to continue the game. This past Tuesday, I was reduced to screaming "I'm a GIRL!" down the field after a short but excruciating "Who’s On First" set between my team captain and the ref. My name is Jack, so that complicates things further.
Every time there is a public misgendering in which I am ultimately perceived as a woman, I sit in the middle of a heated exchange between the proud, transmasculine-identified me (TM) and the proud, queer woman-identified me (QM). The internal dialogue goes something like this:TM
: You’re passing! Awesome. But you aren't really a girl, so you just kind of lied.QW
: That was embarrassing. No one else has to prove she belongs on the field. Maybe you should start a fight.TM
: Well, what did you expect? You have a low voice and a bit of facial hair. The other girls have ponytails. People don’t like to be confused.QW
: F**k other people’s confusion. You don’t have to have a ponytail to be a woman. You’re not trying to deceive anybody.TM
: BTW, studly, this particular binding/uniform shirt combo is really working for you tonight.QW
: You need to talk to that ref after the game--educate her about how to deal with situations like these. You need to explain that policing gender at a sporting event
is insulting to every woman here.TM
: It’s her job to make sure people follow the rules. One of which you’re probably breaking because you have more testosterone coursing through your system than some of the guys
on the other team. You should transition all the way. Quit waffling. Take responsibility for your own identity.QW
: Yeah. Assuming that mantle of white male privilege is going to be a terrible responsibility. Make sure you’re prepared for the raise in pay and automatic deference to your opinion...TM
: Not all men are alike. You are not like other men.QW
: Not all women are alike. You are not like other women.TM and QW
: I’m glad there will be beer after this game.
The next time the ref was down my way, she apologized. I was prepared to just let it go (like I always do), but then she added that everybody was calling me Jack, so she was confused. I told her that Jack is my name, and then the ball came barreling toward us. Conversation over.
At times like these, authenticity feels like a tiresome luxury. I’m not quite prepared to give it up, but it requires living in a state of near-constant personal revelation. I find myself needing to be prepared to answer for my gender in the strangest places and situations.
I’ve been told many times that it just doesn’t matter--or that it really only matters to me, because I think about it too much. Gender is a social construct. Gender is all in my head. If I could only get past this pesky gender hang-up and live freely as Just Jack, I’d be happier.
But so often, identifying and embodying one easily recognizable gender identity becomes the reason
other people feel they should treat me with respect: I’m a girl for my co-ed soccer team, a guy walking through a deserted parking garage, a trans writer who can write with authority about girlhood in America. I could really get behind the idea that it just "doesn’t matter" if I weren’t constantly
being asked to make a decision about how my identity fits into the paradigm du jour. BW note: Thanks to Jack for this great article, as well as Guest Post #3. Read more of Jack's writing at www.jackkaulfus.com. If you're interested in writing a guest post for Butch Wonders, email me here
This is a guest post by BW reader Jack Kaulfus, who also blogs at www.jackkaulfus.com and teaches writing in Austin, Texas. In this post, Jack writes about the experience of passing--and not passing--as a Texan man.
I discovered the term "transgender" in the late ‘90s, and since then I have cultivated a complex, contentious relationship with my gender identity. I’m pretty visible as a butch woman, but over the past few years, I’ve been taking a low dose of testosterone in an effort to bring my physical body more in line with how I have always wanted to look. As of this writing, I don’t plan to ever fully transition to male, but walking this androgynous line has offered me perspective I never thought I’d experience.
I am 35 and I live in Austin, Texas, where queerness is usually celebrated in the community at large. I’m lucky to be here where I can walk this line in relative safety, without excess fear of physical violence or verbal harassment. I should add that I’m white-skinned, educated, and from a middle class background. That has a lot to do with my relative safety as well, especially in the south.
The places where I pass as male are typically the more dangerous places to be seen as queer--small towns and suburbs of bigger cities. I think I’m usually shunted into a default category of male because my hair is short, and I’m usually with my long-haired partner and her two kids. I’m always surprised when I pass for longer than a few seconds, but if I do, I am offered a tiny peek at what it might be like to walk the world as a white Texan guy with a pretty wife at his side. It’s very different from the way it feels to walk around as a visible queer with a pretty wife at her side. Here’s what I notice I get when I’m out in public, passing as a cisgendered male:
- Eye contact. Friendly men make eye contact. Friendly women make eye contact. People talk TO me instead of around me or to someone else altogether.
- Physical contact. Friendly men shake my hand. Friendly women touch me on the arm.
- Addressed with strange familiarity. How you doin’, Boss? Chief. Amigo.
- Small talk (not initiated by me) about how old my kids are, who I think will win a sports event, or why I’m buying so much brisket.
- Helped first (especially if I am dressed nicely).
- The check at the end of the meal.
- Asked for help or directions.
- Harassment-free access to public bathrooms.
I don't pass every time, but I pass often enough to feel the absence of those small privileges when they are not extended. I have come to believe that walking around my life as a visible butch woman requires a certain resignation to public invisibility
on the whole. I’m here, I’m queer, and you probably don’t want to a) sleep with me, b) invite me to play on your ultimate frisbee team, or c) flirt with me in hopes of a large tip. I am recognizable as a human form--not necessarily ignored--but I definitely don’t register the same way a white, straight, cisgendered male does.
I don’t have a vested interest in becoming that which I am not, but poking around in places where I am comfortably welcomed and valued (either as a butch woman or as a cisgendered male) definitely heightens my awareness of the privileges I take for granted every day. BW note: You can read more of Jack's writing at www.jackkaulfus.com. If you're interested in writing a guest post for Butch Wonders, email me here.
Here's a tough question I got from a reader the other day. I'll do my best to answer it, but I bet it'd be even more useful if others weighed in, too. Dear BW,Can you do a post about how you know you're female even if you're gender non-conforming at some point in the future? I feel like an alien in a Halloween costume when wearing women's clothes, even if they're not overly feminine. I don't feel like a dude, but I don't feel like a woman either, as far as I can tell, but if you aren't into being girly, how do you know if you're a woman? My best friends are straight and I don't know how to talk to them about how they know they're women. I wear all men's clothes, and I really like getting called sir, but I think that's only because I get called miss maybe 70% of the time, and sir 30% of the time, and I like knowing I'm ambiguous. Thanks!CDear C,First: good for you to have the courage to ask these kinds of hard questions about yourself! That's awesome.
Second: I'll give you the best answer I can, but I can only speak from my own experience; you should definitely talk to as many people as you can.
I had a conversation with my buddy C about something similar yesterday. We were talking about gendered pronouns (we both use female pronouns, but are often called "sir" and don't mind it), and I mentioned that if I was a kid today (I'm in my 30s), growing up in a progressive area of the country (which I didn't), I wondered if I'd have identified as trans. Why? Because I totally didn't fit in with the other girls. I didn't outgrow the "tomboy" thing--in fact, it became more pronounced as I got older. I wished desperately that I could wear a tux to prom instead of a dress (ugh). I can remember once in third grade, actually praying that God would come and turn me into a boy. I felt much more at home with boys than girls. Girls seemed foreign and hard to understand. Boys made sense, and played cool sports. (Mind you, I didn't feel like I was
a boy, which many trans men report having felt.)
For me, identifying a boy would have solved this particular conflict. But at the same time, I didn't feel uncomfortable in my own body (unless it was wearing women's clothes! I was like you, in that I preferred men's clothes even to non-girly women's clothes). It wasn't my body that was the problem--it was the culture around me (and the gender-based expectations and assumptions that culture contained) that were the problem. I thought my breasts were kind of inconvenient, but I never felt like they weren't "mine." As far as I can tell, this is a big difference between butches and trans men. (You might be interested in this post about why female-identified butches are different from trans men
.) It wasn't until I started to meet butches and masculine women that I realized, "Oh! That's
what I am!"
Some days it would be nice not to get stared at in public, which I wouldn't if I was a man in the same haircut and clothing. But I don't feel like I "am" a man. I don't want to use the guys' bathroom. I like getting called "sir," as long as it doesn't happen all the time
. It reminds me I'm different. Being a masculine woman just feels right to me. I don't feel alienated from my lady bits--especially not when they're under a shirt and tie. But put women's clothes on me and I'm suddenly an alien in my body. This tells me that it's clothes and culture that are the problem, not my gender identity. For my trans male friends, they didn't feel comfortable in their bodies no matter who they were with or what they were wearing. Even if they were alone in the shower, they felt as if they were in the wrong body. They hated being called "she" or ma'am. (I'm not saying this is the experience of all
trans men, just of the ones with whom I've talked about this.)Until I was in my late 20s, all my best female friends were straight, and often fairly girly. Even when I was married to a man (that's a whole other story--here's a link to part 1 of that five-part story if you feel like reading it), I didn't feel like I fit in with the straight women. Now that I'm an out, proud, lesbian masculine butch woman, I feel like my straight female friends know I'm different from them, and respect it. I don't think they see me as less of a woman, just as a totally different kind of woman. And they often treat me more like a gay male buddy than like "one of the gals." This took some getting used to, but I actually like it now. The key point? Just because you don't conform to society's ideas (or straight people's ideas) of what "being a woman" means, doesn't mean you aren't a woman!
I should also point out that a lot of people don't identify as male or
female. Some identify as neither. Others identify as both. Some women get top surgery, because although they identify as women, they don't like having breasts. Some trans men keep their breasts, because they like them or their partner likes them or they can't afford surgery. There are all kinds of possible gender identifications and expressions. Although boxes like "male," "female," "butch," "trans man," "genderqueer," and so on work for lots of people, that doesn't mean they have to work for you. You can also pick more than one. You can also change whenever you want. There are no rules about gender, only patterns
. You don't have to follow one that's already been laid out.
I'm glad God didn't answer my third-grade prayer to be transformed into a boy. I love being a butch woman. There are hard things about it, yes, but overall, it just works for me. Keep questioning, experimenting, and looking for answers about your own identity, and I bet it'll become clear what works for you, too.Best,BW