Yesterday was not a good day for me, I was PMS-ing badly and was in a bad mood with everyone. I chose to go into the city for the early launch of Dude 2 despite feeling a bit rough around the edges. Thinking back I should have stayed home and not have gone, but at the same time I survived and it wasn’t the end of the world. I was ok up until I headed towards the merchandise table to buy a copy of the magazine and a t-shirt/singlet. As I made my way towards the corner of the room my eyes focused on someone behind the table. I recognised the face from a once-off encounter and then my eyes caught sight of their chest, they’d had top surgery. My mind reeled so quickly I was caught completely off balance as a strange sense of fear and anxiety overwhelmed me. I no longer wanted to go over there, I couldn’t face them – how stupid I felt.
A couple of months ago I was put in contact with someone else , via email, who identified as genderquee (GQ)r. I was reluctant to make the first move for fear of not being trans* enough or laughed at for calling myself GQ. In the end however we exchanged one email and ran into each other shortly afterwards. I walked away from our first and only meeting feeling deflated – they didn’t seem eager for a catch-up after all. Another email afterwards and a random bump-in I got the excuse that they had lost my number and that they were busy. Fair enough I thought but we never spoke again. After that meeting my sense of not being ‘trans enough’ was reinforced from someone who obviously didn’t see me as how I identified. Putting that one experience aside it is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I entered the sex and gender diverse community.
Pre-GQ as a lesbian and then queer I never felt I wasn’t what I said I was. I admit however, that I didn’t feel a strong part of the lesbian community because I was neither femme or butch. I later discovered and embraced the term queer for who I was, later added the ‘gender’ part at the start. Although I had a few trans friends with several crushes on FTM’s I never felt part of that community. I was always referred to as a ‘dyke’ or a ‘lesbian’ and so, invisible as GQ. Now however I am very much ‘within’ the trans community, but perhaps not perceived as ‘part’ of it. I admit I don’t tell everyone that I am GQ, yet I strongly object to terms like ‘dyke’, ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’ or ‘she’. The few people who know are no more than a handful, and many are not in my everyday life. Perhaps I am seen more as an activist/supporter/partner within the trans community, but not as ‘trans’ itself.
Going back to the launch…I was confronted with someone who identified as GQ who’d had top surgery and who, I felt, rejected me. I almost ended up in a sobbing mess as everything got too much. Each day I struggle with who I am and who I want to be. I’m never 100% sure of my trans-ness, of starting hormones (if I get the go ahead), telling my family, pronouns and top surgery. At that moment I was confronted with someone who identified as GQ and who’d had top surgery. It was enough to shut me down. Eventually I put on a brave face, bought myself a copy of the magazine and continued chatting to people around me, but I am yet to fully unpack why I reacted the way I did.
As I drove home I realised a few things – I wouldn’t be able to have top surgery or use male pronouns (if I so choose) until my family isn’t around. Unlike other people I simply cannot come out to them and I cannot loose them – I don’t have anyone else. ‘If’ I get access to hormones won’t necessarily mean I will choose to use them – I am not in a rush, and again I have to see how it could possibly affect my family. In a sense I feel defeated and in another I feel free – I can just be me, a GQ. As I flipped through the latest Dude magazine and read Alex Iron’s contribution I felt a sense of pride and hope – maybe there are others like me out there who are trans-ish (“…the few people who who still claim…genderqueer, and who may still have their breasts and not inject testosterone, are a rare and somewhat archaic group of people”.