Welcome back to another installment of “Who The F*%k Am I?” My name is Luke (probably) and I’ll be your host for this evening! Get something warm to drink, snuggle under that cozy blanket, and enjoy the show!
On today’s episode, we’ll be discussing bottom dysphoria and trans doubt. My good friend, Alistair Caradec, recently mentioned that a lot of trans content is in retrospect. I noticed that as well, which is why I decided to document my journey as I embarked on it. But he hazards a theory about why most trans content is from a “looking back” perspective that I found interesting. He said that he thinks it’s because some people will use a trans person’s doubt as ammunition against them. As soon as you give voice to a doubt, others will say, “See? Even you aren’t sure!” They’ll use it to invalidate you.
It makes a lot of sense to me. It made so much sense, actually, because I found myself having doubts that I was afraid to act on or give voice to over this past month. And it was for that exact reason. I’ve been considering that I might be non-binary or genderfluid on and off from the onset of this journey three months ago. But it’s been so difficult to get people to call me by he/him pronouns and use the name “Luke” that I’m afraid to rock the boat.
I’ve had to become quite assertive lately, in fact. “Actually, it’s ‘sir’,” “It’s Luke,” and “I’m a man,” are phrases I’ve had to repeat over and over with growing frustration. I’ve even become downright angry with people who I feel are purposely misgendering me. And now I have the audacity to even consider going by “Luca” and using they/them pronouns for awhile? “Wow, Luke. No wonder everyone keeps misgendering you. You change your gender every few months!” or “You’ll eventually just come back around to being female. I’m not changing what I call you until you’re sure.”
That’s what I worry will happen with certain people around me. Or maybe a few other accepting people might not say anything, but be quietly annoyed with me. So now I’m at risk of alienating myself from my small support circuit, too? See, it just causes more problems. Do I double-down and stop thinking about my gender identity now? I said I was a trans man, so even if that turns out to be incorrect, I’m stuck with it? That sounds ridiculous. I’m allowed to learn new things about myself. I’m allowed to explore and self-reflect and experiment until I find the terminology and identity that fits me best.
Scully: Looking like someone else and being someone else are two different things.
Mulder: Maybe not. Everybody else around you would treat you like you were somebody else. I mean, ultimately, maybe, it’s other people’s reactions to us that make us who we are.
X-Files (Season 4, Episode 20 “Small Potatoes”)
I’ve recently been on an X-Files kick and the above quote really struck a chord with me concerning my gender identity journey. I’ve said before that a lot of transitioning has to do with other people, how they perceive you. Yes, it’s about how you feel in your own body when you’re all alone, too. But it’s also about how others see you and treat you in public.
Gender is a social construct, absolutely, but it’s exactly for that reason that we need to be called by our proper pronouns and names. If there were no stereotypes and expectations built around the sex we were assigned at birth, maybe what other people called us wouldn’t even matter. (We’d still be dissatisfied with our genitalia or secondary sex characteristics, as trans people, but I don’t believe society would be a factor in our decision to transition.)
But society does play a role. That’s the reality we live in. That’s why I like being referred to as “Luke”, hearing people call me “he” and “him”. It makes me feel as if I’m seen as a man, even if the people saying it maybe don’t even believe it themselves. Half the time, I don’t believe it, either. I feel like a poser, like I’m trying to be something I’m not. But is that because I’ve lived decades as a female and grew acclimated to being seen as female? Is it because my voice is feminine? Because I don’t have a beard? Because I’m small? Because I don’t have a penis or because I do have breasts? But changing all that requires medical transition. Quite a risk for someone still questioning.
Or is it because I’m actually a woman?
I’ve considered trying on a bra and wearing a dress here lately, just to check to see how I feel about it now. I like the idea a bit in my head, but maybe I won’t like it in practice. Or maybe what I’m afraid of is that I will like it, like I used to like wearing dresses to go out dancing, and then I have more questions. Did I imagine my chest dysphoria before? Did it go away? Does dysphoria just go away like that or was I wrong the whole time? Maybe I’m genderfluid. Fuck, here we go back to the, “You change your gender every few months,” spiral.
*sigh* Moving on, though.
I recently had a discussion with Alistair about my journey that made me start thinking about my bottom dysphoria again. (In a good way, Alistair, no worries!) A couple weeks ago, I went to a local gay club for the first time and saw a drag show. (It was fantastic, thanks for asking.) I did my usual thing when I go out and became one of those free-loving hippie types! Except gay bars are exactly that vibe. I wound up kissing three random strangers and having a quickie in the backseat of my car. This is relevant, I swear.
This was my second hookup since I got back to Cbus (no slut-shaming, haha). The first hookup was…disappointing. I could tell that my partner didn’t really see me as a male and he even made sure to reiterate multiple times that he wasn’t gay. Mostly because he wanted to make sure butt-stuff was firmly off the table. But it’d been awhile and I wanted to see if sex while wearing my binder and being called “Luke” would make any difference at all.
No. No, it didn’t. We were off to a great start, but then the kitty just laid down and died. And then his little man keeled over, too, so we just wound up talking about trans issues (political) for hours. He had a skewed idea of trans people, to say the least, but I guess that’s neither here nor there. He did admit he couldn’t see me as a man, ’cause of the kitty. I realize I shouldn’t have had sex with him now, but I honestly can’t feel too bad about it. It was worth the experience. The experiment. I needed to know if the binder would make a difference and I got my answer.
Or did I? Flash forward to the gay club. Never have I ever had so many random people in a club go, “Can I kiss you?” Um, fuck yes you can! I was in fucking heaven, y’all! And I’m going back for another drag show this Sunday! But anyway, there was this one dude there that was just smokin’ hot and only in town temporarily, so of course I’m gonna play! He seemed pretty chill about me being a trans man and he was super affectionate, so I’m thinking, yeah. We’ll make out a bit on the patio and maybe I’ll hook up with him tomorrow and re-test the binder theory. One thing leads to another and we wind up in the backseat of my car anyway.
But nope. I mean, I was pretty close this time, but he kinda just got his and left me out to dry. I think that has more to do with my partner being lazy than it does my gender identity, though. I wasn’t super dysphoric about the kitty this go, though. It kept purring the whole time, so maybe I can squeak past my bottom dysphoria as long as I have a partner that genuinely respects that I’m a man.
I still want to buy a strap-on. That’s going to be my next experiment. I want to see if having a dick, even one that isn’t my own flesh, will make a difference during sex. I’ve considered how I might feel being called by my deadname and she/her pronouns while wearing a strap-on. (I’ve theorized I may just be into pegging before.) But that doesn’t hit quite as well for me as being called “Luke” in my fantasies. If I find a stable partner during my journey, perhaps I can try out this “deadname” theory with someone safe that I feel comfortable with already.
The point is, my friends, that you can think you know who you are and adamantly scream it from the rooftops. You can find out later that it isn’t quite the truth of the matter and change your presentation, name, and pronouns to something you feel might fit you better. You can even discover you were completely wrong and de-transition to your ASAB. You’re allowed to experiment and continue searching for yourself for however long it takes for you to find your truth. And fuck anyone in your life that gives you shit for it. Half of them are too scared to look at themselves that close in the mirror anyway. Congratulations on being able to admit that you don’t know everything about yourself. You are self-aware and question everything, even when it comes to yourself, and that takes fucking guts. Keep going, your excellency, and don’t tip that crown!
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