Dear cis people,
I’m here to talk to you today about exciting opportunities to change your life for the better!
Now let me ask you… have you ever thought about your preferences, the things you like? Your clothing, hairstyle, hobbies, and so on? Have you ever wondered if you like the things you do mostly because they’re considered acceptable for your assigned gender by our culture?
Are you okay with trying only half (or less, or none) of the options available? Even if the reason for doing so is based on something utterly arbitrary?
Here’s a protracted, laborious metaphor! :D
What if women were expected to only drive sedans and men were expected to drive trucks? You’re car shopping and the salesperson only shows you sedans/trucks because you’re a woman/man. Sure, that may be what you went in intending to buy and you do so. But maybe you start to wonder if a truck/sedan might actually suit your needs and wants better. So next time you go car shopping, you ask to test drive a truck/sedan. The salesperson looks very uncomfortable at your request. “Wouldn’t you be happier in a sedan/truck?” they ask, “It’s what you’ve always driven.” But you won’t be dissuaded, not today. How can you be sure what you’ll be happier with if you’ve only tried one of the options? The salesperson gets angry, “It’s what you’re suppose to drive!” You get angry. The whole thing is suddenly so stupid. It’s a fucking car! What does it matter which kind you drive? Why shouldn’t you have the kind that fits your needs and wants better?
Gentlemen, when deciding whether to buy boxers, briefs, or boxer-briefs, have you considered there are a whole bunch of other underpants options available to you? It’s true! Along with multitudes of other clothing, hobby, and other self-expression options! And a lot of them can be tried without anyone else having to know!
I bet some of you fellas are sitting there thinking something like, “But why paint my toenails? What’s the point?” It’s fun! It’s nice. Seeing a color you like makes you feel good. Doing something that’s for you makes you feel good. Painting someone else’s toenails or having yours painted can be a great form of non-sexual physical contact and foster those nice bonding feelings. But really, why the hell not? If you don’t like it, use some nail polish remover and try something else!
You can grow your hair out or try out a wig, wear some heels or flats, wear a shirt with a floral pattern, shave your legs and/or body hair, play with make-up, go to a yoga class, try making your body language smaller and softer… any one of hundreds of items and activities that are generally gendered as feminine. You can try more than one thing at time or not. Remember that it’s experimentation! It’s okay to have fun with it!
Ladies, I know you already know a lot about masculinity. That’s part of how patriarchy works. So I encourage you to try things that are less… de rigueur. Do a really masculine presentation, if you’ve never done that. Wear a men’s suit and tie. If you often find yourself thinking something like, “I wish I had the guts to cut my hair short,” DO IT. Hair grows back! Try strength training, if you’re able. If you’ve never worn a strap-on, give it a shot! If you’re willing and have a willing partner, use it! If you’re feeling especially adventurous, try going out and about in full-on drag. If you’re read as just another dude, you’ll learn A LOT.
You wanna try out a new name or different pronouns? FUCK YEAH! You wanna try out different ones a month later? FUCK YEAH! You wanna use different pronouns every week? FUCK YEAH! LET’S DO THIS.
Whoa, wait a sec, different pronouns? I’m cis – I don’t want to be an appropriatin’ piece of shit. Good looking out there (for real!), but you won’t be. The more people fuck with our traditional gender binary, the better. IT’S OPEN ENROLLMENT. You don’t have to start identifying as trans. You don’t have to feel like you can’t ever do so either. How would you know when it’s okay? My Elevator Answer is if you feel that the gender you assigned at birth is stifling you and want to find one that make you feel free to be whoever you are. But ultimately, it’s on you. Even if you never feel like making that shift is for you, exploring gender helps everybody as long as you bear in mind the systematic oppressions trans people deal with.
On a personal note, if we know each other and I’ve ever made you feel like exploring your gender was off-limits because you don’t identify as trans, I am profoundly sorry. I’ve learned and grown a lot in the last couple of years. While my previous views are understandable for where I was at that time, it doesn’t make them right or negate any harm I did. If another trans person tries to make you feel that way, tell me and I’ll go to bat for you.