i still have the keychain.

Back in my veritable youth, at the Prestigious Women’s College, I came out (quietly) as trans.  Most people on campus didn’t know this, even though my senior year I lived with two of the most prominent trans guys at the school. Even they didn’t necessarily know how I felt. Only one member of my family was in the loop, but probably didn’t know that it was something official, even if declared only privately.

Truth be told today, even though I use the word “queer” most often, when it comes down to it I still identify as transgendered.  I still carry the transgendered keychain my erstwhile college gf bought me. I still cringe a bit when folks try to peg me with a pronoun, or tell me that I’m a (shudder) “beautiful woman.”  That freaks me out, but many of my lesbian-queer friends would freak out themselves if I reminded them that this is a label I  feel comfortable with – not the only label, but one of several that make up my umbrella. When a (slightly older) friend of mine from college heard I was calling myself trans, she lamented to me that the world was losing another good butch. At the time I thought she was outmoded and, basking in the righteous morning of my new identity, I thought she couldn’t ever possibly know what I was going  through, how my own body felt, and what it meant to finally accept myself this way.

I straddle the line between butch and trans everyday, and have found solace on both sides.  As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve developed more conflicting feelings about being transgendered, specifically about the body modification many folks undergo to change into their true selves.  I personally don’t trust allopathic medicine with any of my parts, even after undergoing a breast-reduction surgery at the age of 21 – right smack in the midst of my trans adolescence. (Much good it did me, as I’m still at least a C/D cup.) These days I’m hard pressed to find reasons to take ibuprofen, let alone inject myself with all kinds of prescribed chemical compounds.

Which is why I’m so fascinated hearing the stories of transmen that go through hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgeries. Because I, too, can relate to not feeling at peace with the disconnect between my brain-gender and my body-gender.  But in my case, I realize that my brain-gender isn’t any more male than my body-gender is. It’ s just… a lack of female. I know many FTMs who don’t feel the same as I do, and that’s ok by me – gender identity is a personal journey if ever there was one.

Chaz Bono is on the press junket for the movie chronicling his gender transformation.  Each time I read another interview I can’t help but feeling a little like my friend from the PWC – like we’ve somehow lost another butch, although I admit that the world needs more good men too.  But there’s something uniquely strong and sexy about being a masculine-identified woman, a quality of sitting-in-your-otherness that my FTM friends eschew. They want to be guys. They want to pass.  A large part of why I’ve tried not to dwell on my own trans identity is because I know I will never pass – I had to accept that fact, that even if I went through all the hormones and medical factory work, there are certain attributes to my physical appearance that mark me as female.  Accepting that allowed me to accept myself even more than the original label did – it allowed me to accept that I will always live in a grey area. I remain trans in the way that trans as a prefix means “across,” “beyond,” or “on the opposite side.” Not exactly male or female, nor entirely butch or femme, in the traditional sense. I’m the little pointy cross section of the Venn diagram.  And that’s also why I’m here, as the Pretty Butch. Trying to figure out my own circumference and area.