Widgets Magazine


The Transitive Property: Becoming One of the “Guys”

So last Monday I had my first day of a class called “Feminism and American Literature.” Being both a fan of literature and feminism, I was pretty excited that day. However, as I sat there, I felt a bit off. I felt flustered, guarded, on edge, vulnerable. I had no idea why I felt this way. It wasn’t until about halfway through the class that I realized I was the only male-identified person in the room. And for the first time, I became acutely aware of my maleness.

This class was the first time I ever felt out of place in a female space. It was strange — before, I was so much more comfortable in female spaces than male spaces. As someone who has studied both English and Feminist Studies, I was pretty used to being the minority in female-dominated academic spaces. During my freshman year, I even lived on an all-girls’ floor. (Yes, I got to live the dream of living with all girls. It was awesome.) I’ve always felt that I related more to women than to men. But now, as I continue that transition, I feel like that dynamic is changing.

The moment of conception for this column occurred when one of my best friends told me how he noticed that I acted a lot straighter now compared to the beginning of my transition. And although I do identify as “queer” and consider myself part of the queer community, my other queer friends have seen me more as a straight boy than a queer boy. And I admit that I’m beginning to see myself less as queer and more as someone who’s straight. I’m slowly becoming more and more like a guy — like a normal guy. And whatever the hell normal is, I’m not sure, but I sure feel it.

I’ve taken a lot of traditionally male mannerisms. I go to the gym. I drink beer. I know how to joke around with other guys. I’ve noticed that my walk has become a lot straighter — I’m not very sure how to explain it. When I was just beginning to transition, I had a very non-normative sort of walk, the sort of walk that signaled to people that I was not a normal guy. I wasn’t very sure how to move in a masculine way. I experimented with different ways of walking, with different ways of holding my body. I was fine with and proud of having a more feminine walk, of portraying my masculinity in a non-normative way. Maybe it’s because of the testosterone and how I’ve added on muscle — particularly my arms and shoulders — but now I carry myself differently, walk differently. Physically, in many ways, I’m much more traditionally masculine than I was before.

But the most jarring aspect to my transition is how I relate to women, particularly women I am interested in. I never participated in college hookup culture because I just didn’t get it. I never learned the signals that girls give guys if they want to dance, make out, have sex. The idea of hookups was all very foreign to me, even at the beginning of this school year. But at this point of my transition, I’m slowly becoming more and more familiar, more and more aligned with the more conventional ways that men and women interact with each other sexually.

Of course, I’m not the type to hook up with people, (as I mentioned in last week’s column), but I’ve become more familiar with this whole heterosexual courting paradigm. I’m becoming a traditional guy in terms of how I go about treating someone I’m interested in — I feel compelled to pick up the tab, hold open doors, just those things that men traditionally do. I have this weird impulse to be a gentleman, which I know is problematic, since the idea of the gentleman does to a degree stem from sexism and chauvinism, but all this comes with being culturally indoctrinated as a straight man.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m very happy with my transition. I’m happy with how my body is turning out. I’m happy with my voice. I’m overall so much happier than I was two years ago, when I first was coming out. But at the same time, I feel like I’m losing something. I once prided myself in being able to relate to women, in claiming women’s spaces as my spaces — but now, I feel that I am separating myself from women, relating to them as straight men relate to them. I’m transforming into a regular guy, the guy you’d have a beer with, the guy you’d give a slap on the back. It’s so strange. And to tell you the truth, I’m not very sure how I feel about it yet.


Want to have a beer with Cristopher? E-mail him at cmsb@stanford.edu.

  • a T(ea) Time attendee

    1. Interesting, m’dear, very interesting….it’s a bit strange to see you write about “normal guy”-ness, when I would have to agree with one eensy phrase I feel you kinda stuck in there but then skipped over very quickly: “whatever the hell normal is”. granted you only have so much word space, but I feel a smidge uneasy about such a staunch identification with normalcy. perhaps “popculture-mainstream” would be a more accurate way to see it? there seems to be a lot of investment in “normal”, when you admit there isn’t an exact definition it right there. I have a whole spiel on “normal”, lol, let’s chat about it on friday 🙂

    2. I’m sorry about the feeling uncomfortable in your english class (sorry!…but i admit it– I totes chuckled 🙂 ). but would was i question whether it’s solely due to you presenting/passing/being considered a “normal guy”, as you put it.

    3. also, i’ve totes noticed what you mean about the walk :), it’s very much reading differently as time goes on :).

    4. Also, I am curious as to how this “normal guy” stuff fits into your identity as a transman. do you see yourself as one day feeling so “normal” that you stop identifying as a transman, and simply identify as a man? is this part of the common trans experience (the ‘dropping’ of “trans” from the identity)?

    oh boy, i can’t wait to just ask you these things at T(ea) Time 🙂

  • a T(ea) Time attendee

    ugh, so many typos in that post….i’m so sorry, lol