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Monday, March 16, 2009

Sexuality and Gender: Or How I Knew I Was a Guy

I had my first crush (on a boy) in 2nd grade, my first crush (on a girl) in 9th grade. I identified (in chronological order) as: (straight, only not really, it's just most people's default unless they realize otherwise), straight, straight-and-I-didn't-say-that-girl-was-hot-I-don't-know-what-you're-talking-about, bi, wishing-I-was-a-lesbian-but-too-bad-guys'-wrists-are-so-damn-hot, asexual, lesbian, lesbian-and-fuck-you-if-I-have-a-boyfriend, a dyke, piesexual (no, it's not what you think), and finally (today) queer.

For as long as I can remember, (after realizing I liked girls), I felt supremely uncomfortable about my attraction to guys.* It didn't make sense. I'd read Dykes to Watch Out For and feel kinship with the characters, but then wonder what to do about the fact that men's torsos held so much sway over me. Sometimes I'd rationalize it away thinking: oh, I just wish I looked more like them, it'd be nice to not have these breasts.

But not once (until college) did this thought translate into: hey! I wish I didn't have this (female) body! Maybe I'm not a girl!
Not quite sure how the connection was missed, but indeed it was.

Early at college I struggled a bit with seeing trans and genderqueer folks on campus and finding them hot and wishing I looked like them, but assumed it was simply my own lookism/wish to be skinny (and thus able to look so effortlessly androgynous) and not an actual desire to be perceived as anything other than female. And so I continued as I was.

Later, I started (very casually) seeing a man. It totally fucked with my head. We weren't even dating, but still I hated thinking that everywhere we went, people who looked at us thought we were in a straight relationship. I knew that my non-hetero identity was instantly erased because we were: boy + girl. It wasn't just how other people saw us, it was how I saw us as well. Seemingly overnight, I stopped feeling aggressive and powerful and sexy, and started worrying if I was calling too much, not enough, did I sound desperate, why hadn't he called me back, and lastly, How the fuck did you work that thing? As a girl, in relation to a guy, I had NO CLUE what to do. I spent a whole lot of time trying to justify to myself (and my friends, unneeded though it was) how I could be dating, I mean "officially not dating", a guy.

We broke up, I mean "officially stopped officially not dating". A year later I came out to myself. (These are not nearly so related as it may sound).

When my mom asked me why I couldn't just be a butch lesbian, my answer was twofold: I'm not butch, and I like guys.

'Cause you know what, I DO like guys, I like guys in the queerest fucking way I know how. I like guys in such a gay, gay, way, that .... that I'm surprised rainbows don't pop out my ass. I like guys, not like a girl likes guys (which, for the record, is any way that a girl who likes a guy, likes guys) but like a guy likes guys. 'Cause I'm a guy. Got it?

For years I hated myself for liking men. I couldn't do a damned thing about it, but it was constantly there. Taunting me. It made no sense, to everyone else my desire for guys was perfectly normal. But to me, it felt like some fundamental betrayal of myself. Nothing I did or felt, was right. The second I came out as a guy: *POOF* Queer as a three-sided square, and felt like it was the truth for the first time.

So yeah, my gender isn't my sexuality. But when I finally figured out the one, the other just slipped right into place. These days, as a queer genderqueer trans guy (who likes who I like, without regard to their gender), I feel aggressive and powerful and (mostly) sexy, and I never worry about whether I call too much, sound too desperate, or whether I know how to work that thing.

*When I had a boyfriend (in High School) who had a beard, I tried to think of it as training for pubic hair on girls.


  1. Dear Zeke,

    This was so well-written, explained, and made me smile a whole lot after trying not to get into a screaming match with my new effective MIL about how she doesn't want her daughter to "try to look like a man" just because she is in a relationship with a woman. This totally cheered/queered up an otherwise totally crumby day.

    So, thank you! Y'r my favorite!

  2. i relate to this a lot.

    my sexuality isn't my gender, but they are so, so interconnected.

    i remember in high school wanting to date gay guys. and my friends would say "oh, we need to find you a bi guy!" but that wasn't what i wanted. i wanted a guy who was only attracted to guys.

    i could probably say a lot more about this but it's 3:30 in the morning and my mind is kind of out of commission. but if you have a livejournal, you should add me and then you can read my posts.


  3. As a struggling transguy who is just coming out to himself/the world, and still figuring out how to make the connections between who he likes and who he wants to be, and trying to reassure everyone around him that he's sure while kinda quaking inside...

    Thank you



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