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Spilling the Gender Identi-Tea

Spilling the Gender Identi-Tea

Marty Noel Chenyao | Fake and Basic

Update: I changed my name from “Mimi” to “Marty” in July 2019. This article keeps the original “Mimi” self-references in order to maintain a sense of timeline.

My name is Mimi, and I am a boy who likes looking like a girl.

And I use he/him pronouns now. Please refer to me in this manner when talking to and about me. [1]

There, I said it — the words that I’ve known to be true since I was old enough to understand the concept of gender itself.

Truth be told, I’ve always thought of myself as a boy who was stuck in a girl’s body, with all the confusion and body dysphoria that comes with such a situation. The one thing that complicated my coming out was that I liked stereotypically “girly” things. I wish I could say that I got massive amounts of dysphoria from being made to dress up as a child, but really, as the trans boys in the memoirs I read were skin-crawlingly uncomfortable during the few occasions they were made to look feminine, I was having my mom buy Easter dresses on sale and wore them to school every single day. I proudly owned five American Girl dolls, each with their own little closets, accessories, and playsets. I was hypnotically drawn to all shades of pink, and anything with a bunny motif on it. [2] I wasn’t great at stereotypical “boy” things either — video games bored me, and I couldn’t play sports to save my life.

For a long time, I thought that this meant I couldn’t be transgender. Never mind the fact that my breasts gave me so much body dysphoria that I avoided bikini pictures and cleavage-bearing items like the plague; never mind that I felt right at home as the only “girl” in a group of boys, or that I imagined myself inhabiting the male gender role whenever I thought about myself in romantic situations. I was obsessed with frilly things and girly colors; there was no way that I was actually a boy.

I realize now that basing my gender identity specific interests or outward expression was essentially buying into the idea that gender was made of superficial things, rather than a deeply-held sense of who we are and how we relate to the world. I personally know straight, cisgender boys who love pink, boys whose handwriting have large circles over the i’s and j’s just like mine does, and boys who I can count on to lose their shit over an aesthetically pleasing piece of clothing. I even know cisgender boys who have no problem twirling around in a full-skirted dresses. If they’re acknowledged as being male, despite all of the “feminine” things they liked, then why can’t I be a boy, too?

Exactly. There’s no reason why I can’t.

Some updates on my gender labels

The last time I explicitly talked about my own gender identity, I told you that I didn’t identify as a trans guy and that I preferred she/her pronouns because I didn’t want to deal with people misgendering me on the reg. I have since gotten over both of those hang-ups. I now fully identify as a (femme!) trans guy, and I use he/him pronouns.

Does this mean I want to physically transition? The answer is yes, but slowly. I am definitely getting top surgery sometime in the near future (it depends on my work schedule, the availability of the surgeon I want, and how long it would take to get all the necessary paperwork together. I also have to sit down with certain people in my life and have a long, serious conversation about how I’m not fucking around with this stuff anymore). I’m still on the fence about the testosterone injections — I don’t like hormone treatment for anything, and I really fucking hate needles. I’m definitely not getting bottom surgery. More on all this later.

If you are reading this now, chances are that you got to know me after I started college. I’ve focused the majority of my adult(ish) life on my academic and career goals, preferring to deal with the dysphoria and questioning in private. It may be surprising to learn that I’ve had these intense thoughts about my gender identity for as long as I can remember. I’m acutely aware that there exist people who know me in real life who think that this is a phase, or a random cause I picked up and aligned myself with out of nowhere to make me seem “cool”. It is my hope that those people stick around for this series, and they change their minds after its end.

This is also the first time that I believe I can write about gender in a clear and intelligible way. I’ve tried many times as a child and frustrated teenager, but I didn’t gain the vocabulary (or the support of others like me!) to voice these experiences until college. Now that I have a clearer idea of who I am and what I want to do with my life, I’m ready to share my entire story (thus far) with you.

Really, with this whole gender thing, I have two main goals: to further trans rights (on what a trans person looks like, etc) and to dismantle toxic masculinity in American culture. It was toxic masculinity that told me that I couldn’t be a boy and still want to wear dresses. It was toxic masculinity that told me I had to overcompensate and “prove myself” in order for others to acknowledge me as a man. That’s fucking bullshit, and I’m ready to be a living example of how boys can be femme, too.

June’s One Month Project will be to write and publish as many articles as possible on my life as related to gender — my childhood (where “gay” was an insult and I would literally wish on every wish-making device to be “not queer”), that God-awful time called puberty (what do you do when virtually every assigned-female-at-birth person around you is in a hurry to grow up, but you would love to stay in your passable-as-a-little-boy body for the rest of your life?), how I’ve approached romantic relationships (why haven’t I dated more women? Are the men I date technically in a homosexual relationship?), my plans for physical transition (do I want to go on hormone replacement therapy?) and how I’m navigating life now as an out, femme trans man, one day at a time (where I deal with things such as asking my employer to refer to me using he/him pronouns and realize just how much of an uphill battle everything is!). I will, in essence, spill the tea about everything gender-related that I can coherently write about.

Welcome to the tea party! Pull up a fancy white outdoor chair (you know the ones I’m talking about), smooth out your dress, and grab a cup and saucer. We have a lot to talk about. ♚

Notes

[1] As in, “Mimi is such a navel-gazing asshole! Who does he think he is?” ????

[2] The laptop I’m typing this on has a baby pink case with a giant bunny sticker on it. Do my younger self and I share an aesthetic? You bet.

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© 2019 by Marty Noel Chenyao. All rights reserved.

marty@fakeandbasic.com | @fake.and.basic

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