I have asked myself this question again and again. Early in my journey into gender exploration, I lived in Baltimore, MD where I first visited transgender support groups. In my short-lived visits among the communities, I felt I didn’t fit in, because I didn’t want to get surgery or take hormones. My entire life I felt like I could not engage with our western medical model of pills, surgeries and managing symptoms. Something inside me was very clear that this was not for me. I don’t and won’t take medications. Instead, I have learned about herbal medicine and natural methods to healing. If I get a headache, I take skullcap, drink water or vinegar or close my eyes and breathe deep. I am attracted to natural cures, alternative medicine, and vibrational healing. It’s as much who I am as my gender identity.
I found myself staring into the eyes of Ian Harvie at the Central Pennsylvania Keystone Conference. I was presenting on GenderQueer and as I began to speak about my experience of accepting that I was born into a ‘female’ body and choosing to not change it, does that still make me transgender? Ian looked at me, Man to Man, and validated me. Reassuring me that I was as much part of the transgender community as I wanted to be and that my transgender experience was as real as his surgeries. I didn’t even know who Ian Harvie was until I looked him up because I had a free ticket to his show as part of my payment for presenting. It wasn’t because he was a well known trans man but because after hearing his jokes I knew for sure he had surgeries and synthetic hormones. He was the “REAL THING” in my mind and his validation pushed me further onto my path to transition naturally. I had recently begun to engage in daily meditation and yoga practices to convince my mind that I was a man.
Gender Dysphoria takes me for a ride, too. I would spend my two days off in my garden, starting the day with deep meditation and vision of my ‘male’ body. Feeling my flat chest, my large upper body, my penis and testicles between my legs and knowing in my mind that I was male. I would include this vision in my play, as a drag king. I love to dance and perform, and drag won my heart. I would spend my days knowing and walking in what I knew to be a ‘male’ body. When I looked in the mirror it was often disturbing because it did not match my vision of myself. So I often didn’t look in the mirror unless I was practicing drag. I did this daily practice for over a year and eventually, my body began to listen and I began perimenopause.
The journey in menopause has been real, hormones have a way of making one sick in all ways. Emotionally, of course, we can find ourselves sideways and this can lead to issues with our thoughts and beliefs. I didn’t realize that perimenopause had begun until a relationship ended, life changed quickly, and my life began to look like mine. I had also spent that time, when I was focusing on my ‘male’ body, on clearing trauma and finding my authentic self. So when I changed my resonance, the vibration I was attracting, my life changed very quickly and my dreams began to manifest. Life was awesome yet now my body was changing and I was having ‘hot flashes’ – It was my time to dive deep into this whole women’s journey thing. Early yes, although feeling overwhelmed, I dove deep into menopause. Reading and learning all I could from wise women who spoke about their journey I found myself awakening to the realization that I had fully experienced life as a woman and now I was entering full androgyne. Truly, physical androgyne. When I understood what wise women have been saying about menopause for years I began to truly comprehend my change. Apparently, some people going through menopause struggle with losing their ‘womanhood’. I was not having this struggle and I was eager to get through, naturally and fully. I comprehend that it could take years and still I vision my male body. All the things I do, I see myself with a male body. There are times I truly think top surgery would be an option but at this time it is not on my priority list.
When I do look in the mirror now and see my ‘female’ body I know that my experience as a ‘female’ has ended. Now I realize that it was only the first part of my path, only my first step in truly understanding androgyne. Now as I see myself ‘male’ and know that I am ‘male’ I am often less bothered by misgendering. On my better days misgendering leads me to feel sorry for the one that just misgendered me, they haven’t comprehended the fullness of my gender. They are only seeing my physical body and this leads me to believe they only see my body, it’s clear the rest of me is male. They are unable to fully comprehend my gender identity. My gender identity is BECAUSE of my experience of being born into this body. My birth into this body has awakened a Divine Androgyne that is clearly both male and female, and if someone misses that, they don’t see me. It’s okay if people don’t see me, I accept that not all people need to see me. This understanding has to lead me to pay close attention to those that DO see me. The ones that do see my masculine, my maleness, my full gender spectrum, my both, my divine androgyne – those are the people that I want in my inner circle. These are the people I trust, these are the people I call friends. Of course, friends misgender me, but rarely, and when they do they follow it up with the opposite. So if someone calls me a ‘she’ by accident, they will soon call me ‘he’ several times, and then return to ‘they’.
I explain to my friends and people that inquire, that when I hear myself as a ‘she’ it hurts, like punching me in the gut. When I hear ‘he’ it feels like a hug, a pat on the back or a kiss. When I hear ‘they’ it feels right, it feels like I belong. In this, they know that using ‘he’ for me can kind of ‘make up’ for the accidental ‘she’ without having to have a long ‘sorry for misgendering you, geeze I thought I had it.’ conversation. So instead of feeling like a burden because I ask all my friends to change their language to accommodate me, it helps me feel loved and respected, which is a basic human need. I have noticed that if a friend and I are hanging out with someone that misgenders me a lot, it pushes them out of their habit and back into misgender language. When my friend applies this tactic they are better able to keep it balanced, it reminds the person that is misgendering me and my friend serves as the perfect ally. I am constantly expressing gratitude for anyone that does this for me as it shows true love and respect for me, and shows they see me on a much deeper level.
I feel that transformation is a lifelong process and I love my natural approach to my gender experience. Yet, there are times that when I reach out to the transgender community they judge me. They judge me because I didn’t take the hormones because I didn’t have the surgery. It hurts, it hurts when your own people see you as other. I have had to really process this hurt and I turned to Brene’ Brown for some guidance. I had received some public shaming in a Facebook group and had spent too much time taking it all in. First, many of them weren’t ‘in the arena’ as Brene would say. It meant they weren’t writers or bloggers, yet I was, and their feedback doesn’t matter because they weren’t in the arena. Second thing that really changed the experience for me was her study about fitting-in vs. belonging. She talked about how there was a clear difference between the two and how trying to ‘fit-in’ only took us away from our authentic selves. My spiritual path, my reason for being alive is to be authenticly me and for me that means no hormones and no surgeries. Yet now my body is changing, naturally, and would anyone deny me my right to claim that I am a trans man? Occasionally, it does still happen but I must remember that regardless of someone else’s opinion, my experience is still valid. It is clear that I don’t ‘fit-in’ to the transgender community but I certainly belong!
Those of us that don’t ‘fit-in’ we serve a very important role in the evolution of the human race. We go against the status quo and in that we help reinforce the most important things of all, we are all important, we are all connected and we all need love. I believe that people that push gender boundaries, regardless of how, are here to serve as a Divine Androgyne. This means that as long as they embrace their most authentic self, they will change the world to more fully understand the concept of gender. Humans will evolve out of gender eventually, we don’t need it anymore. For some people, this concept is scary. For me, it is a concept I see as obvious. We are moving away from separate, we are erasing the lines that separate us. Gender deconstruction is a large piece of what separates us, and we know it. Divine Androgynes, regardless of how it shows up for them or what they decide to do with the experience, are here to help us have a deeper understanding of how it separates us and how to move past it, beyond gender. I am not sure if I will ever see the end to gender, but I know that I am alive and I am to be part of the revolution. I belong in the transgender community, even if I do challenge the status quo.