And by ‘guys’ I really do mean men, specifically trans men.
Until I was around 25 years old, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a happy man. At least none that I can remember. Between a deadbeat father, bullies at school, various male authority figures who enabled those bullies (e.g. teachers), other relatives who were ignorant and condescending, and friends who suffered under all of those too, men seemed to exist only in variations of sad, anxious, angry, controlling, aggressive, and violent – pretty much all the things we call toxic masculinity.
As someone who was coercively and incorrectly assigned male at birth, society around me made it very clear that this was what I was supposed to be like too. “Be a man”, “man up”, and all that. As I’ve written about before, masculinity never clicked for me but due to not knowing any alternatives, I tried, and of course I failed miserably. But for a long time I thought that was just it. Maybe it was normal to be constantly unhappy, afraid and depressed? While men around me usually seemed to fit into their role easier, none of them seemed to really be ok.
When I started honestly facing my dysphoria and coming to terms with being a transgender woman, one thing in particular gave me a big push: getting to know trans men.
At the time I knew a couple of trans people and being in touch with other trans women was important to show me alternatives to what popular media had shown me before. But there was also this one trans guy who at the time was in a phase of his transition when he went through pretty rapid and radical changes in his appearance, due to testosterone as well as surgery and he was much more explicitly out as a man than before. The unbridled enthusiasm he had about embracing his own masculinity was the first time I had ever witnessed a man being genuinely happy about being a man.
Seeing how masculinity could be something a person could love that much about themselves gave me the push I needed to really accept that I didn’t have to perform this thing that clearly wasn’t who I am. His happiness was inspiring but at the same time so foreign that it was obvious it wasn’t where I would find my own.
I think without trans men like him, my own coming out as a trans woman would have taken longer and would maybe have been much more difficult.
Thank you, my dudes 💜