Identity is something which we always carry with ourselves. It is formed by our gender, caste, class, religion, sexual orientation, and how we navigate through spaces, how we communicate or represent and many more things. Just like others, my identity is also complex. I identify as a transgender man or trans man.
Transgender man or Trans man is a male who was assigned female at birth. In other words, a male who was assigned female due to his genital or biological sex however their gender is that of a male. Many trans men have gender dysphoria and every trans man has different levels of gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a distress which a person experiences due to the mismatch between one’s gender identity and their biological sex.
I have heard many statements regarding trans men and their identities and sometimes by trans men themselves – Born in wrong body, many men are born in their body but many have to fight for their body, self-made man, etc. Many hypothetical parameters are also created, for instance – After transition you have to join gym or all trans men should join gym, most trans men going through transition want their height to increase, want a normative partner, and many more.
In the trans men community, there have been different discussions – both online and offline, about how to become like a ‘cis man’. These can be achieved through surgeries or by adopting different behavioral patterns. I do not have much of an opinion on such statements, discussions or hypothetical parameters. However, I could never relate to any of these.
Gender dysphoria is a distress which a person experiences due to the mismatch between one’s gender identity and their biological sex.
I feel that cisgender man and trans man are both part of the larger men spectrum, representing two different identities of men, divided on the basis of the match or mismatch between their gender and their biological sex. Both trans men and cisman co-exist in the men spectrum. No one is superior or inferior to the other.
There are also different kinds of men and they come in all shapes and sizes, behaviors. Their expression ranges from hyper masculine to masculine to androgynous to feminine. However, people and the larger society lack awareness and expect men to be of one kind and type – hyper masculine, macho, tall and of the body builder variety. This unrealistic expectation has also in some way impacted the trans men community.
It’s difficult to then create an environment which is trans men friendly. I will give an example from my life. I work as a technical trainer and despite my age and experience, I get questioned by students or parents about my competence because of my ‘young’ looks. I know I do not fit into that very box or norm as to how a ‘man’ or cisman of my age or position should look like, as I am a trans man and just started my transition.
To me, being a trans man is what makes me queer. I have been nagged my entire life by society to be “a girl” or be “lady like”. Breaking that very norm of society, I decided to transition and during this transition phase, I have face a new kind of pressure of being a “Man”. There have been performative pressures, pressure to match up to hyper masculine standards created by society and to be a certain kind of a ‘man’.
Being a trans man liberated me from all these societal norms and pressures, it gave me an opportunity to explore who I am. There is freedom from being a masculine man or a good woman and just be me. At every step of my life I can drown in my desires, understand my good or bad side, explore my masculinity and accept my feminine side. I have learnt that there is no use of desperately trying to be like a cisman. No matter which surgical procedure I go through, or how many societal gender hierarchical privileges I get, I am always going to be a trans man, whether I am out in public or in private.
Both trans men and cis men co-exist in the men spectrum. No one is superior or inferior to the other.
I am transitioning or will go through any surgical procedures not because I want to look like a cisman, but it is because I feel distressed due to the mismatch in my gender identity and biological sex and I want freedom from that distress. Usually I hear from people after several months of transition that – Oh! You look like a Cisman. I find such statements amusing as I always look like a trans man irrespective of whether I was pre-transitioning, transitioning or at any point of my life.
Everything starts with you. The day I accepted my trans man identity things have become easier and better for me. Earlier, I always compared myself with other cismen and this comparison led to insecurities, depression and anxieties. Now, after accepting myself as a trans man, these comparisons do not impact me a lot.
To me, being a trans man means to be a man and I do not need to prove to anyone that I am a MAN. I am a trans man who love cats, who loves spicy and tangy street food, I don’t drive (my partner drives), I am an introvert and all these do not make me less of a man!
I am proud to be a transgender man, with all my intersectionalities. At times, I get stuck in the binary created by society of cismen and ciswomen which troubles me in many ways, however, I always try to create a space for trans men like me. I do not desire to be a cisman, instead I hope that a space is created for trans men in the men spectrum and that people should be aware of the existence of trans men in this spectrum. As a trans man, I do not want pity, sympathy or attention however, I just want equality and equity for my gender identity.