In trying to guide myself through my transition, I find role models to be indispensable. Learning about success stories keeps me going when I get discouraged and think what I want to achieve is impossible. Unfortunately, I can count the number of genderqueer persons with a male history who can serve as a role model on one hand. Kate Bornstein, Riki Wilchins, and the anonymous author of ThirdWayTrans are inspiring, but I’d ideally like to find and connect with people who were able to end up with an integrated transgender identity without taking the transsexual path. Here are a few of my role models.
Jasper was initially the only penised person I could find who was trying to forge a genderqueer or transgender identity and presentation that was integrated with an unmodified body. Finding Jasper was valuable to me for two reasons. First, Jasper showed me that an obviously transgender presentation that was consistent with an unmodified body typically classified as “male” was not only possible, but could actually be tasteful, and attractive, and sexy.
Second, Jasper gave me hours worth of cogent analysis and criticism of a lot of the bullshit present in both the mainstream transgender and feminist movements that I also found ridiculous.
I agree with nearly everything Jasper has ever said.
Finding the author of grrlAlex was valuable to me because ne showed me that looking even more “womanly” but still tasteful and obviously male was possible.
Jasper always seemed fine presenting sort of as a femmeboy, but I really want my presentation to scream “girl.” Incidentally, I didn’t like Alex’s book that much. Alex’s personal story only seemed to scratch the surface and seemed to talk a lot more about fashion than the experience of being transgender. Alex’s academic work and experience as a psychotherapist is more worthwhile.
This probably seems like it doesn’t belong as Zinnia Jones is now transsexual, but something compelled me last night to pop the lid on the time capsule of nir long history of YouTube videos. (Okay, there it is–my first instance of using gender-neutral pronouns for transsexuals. If you don’t like it, see this post. I’ll probably stop mentioning it after now.) Anyway, here’s Zinnia in 2011 “clearing up a few misconceptions” and declaring “I’m not transgender”:
I found shuttling through Zinnia’s history discouraging. Not because I don’t like Zinnia. Zinnia is amazing. I found it discouraging because the last thing I want is to spend five years trying so hard to create a bearable life as a gender non-conforming male (and one that looks much worse for wear than Zinnia) and then and only then realize that taking a transsexual path is what I really needed after all.
A lot of what I read about Zinnia’s history seems like it could have been written by me, except I didn’t reject the “smart” identity and drop out until 24 rather than 14. I certainly experience all of Zinnia’s “eight signs of indirect gender dysphoria” except for number eight: “Substantial resolution of these symptoms in a very obvious way…upon initiating HRT.” Of course I couldn’t experience that because I’ve never had HRT. If hormones could really clear all this up for me, that would be fantastic. But I really don’t want to take hormones. I really want there to be another way. Turns out the hormones didn’t help Zinnia as much as ne initially thought anyway!
I feel similarly learning about Zinnia’s journey as I did learning about Julia Serano’s. I so so soooooo want “bigender queer boy” to work for me. But if it’s not, I want to know NOW! Life is too fucking short. How much more of it can I spend just waiting to die?
I guess maybe this long period of exploration and gender purgatory is inevitable for trans folk regardless of the outcome. And in any case, whatever path is right for me, I certainly feel better about my present and future than my past. So that’s good, right?
How About You?
Who are your genderqueer or transgender role models? Why?