Losing a Queer Identity

The title here is misleading because I am queer and will always be queer.

However, once I realized I was trans (transmasculine to be specific) I did experience a loss of part of my identity. While I gained happiness and confidence, I lost my “queer woman” identity, which has caused me to experience a wide range of confusing and upsetting emotions. (Let me know why that intro sounded like a shitty first draft to a persuasive essay you wrote in the 7th grade).

Throughout college, I was extremely unhappy. I had some amazing times, made amazing friends, and met the love of my life. But deep down, I constantly felt unattractive, unhappy, and unmotivated. Looking back now, I know it is because I am supposed to be a boy, but I was living as a girl.

But at the time, I had no clue. I began college as a straight girl, clinging to femininity thinking that it would make me happy to have men attracted to me as a feminine woman. While I know I was objectively good looking, and I know that men were attracted to me, I was still unhappy. I became almost self-destructive and made my whole self-worth based around my looks and whether men wanted me.

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Meet my past “straight girl” self (left) who wore crop tops to class and apparently fake leather shorts and sandals to frat parties.

Obviously that is unhealthy and that thought process was likely because of my upbringing as a woman in a patriarchal world.

So when I figured out I was bisexual as a sophomore, it was as though a whole new world opened up to me. My thought process went something like this: Men never made me feel good or like I was worth anything, so perhaps focusing on my attraction to women will make me feel good about myself.

And while this logic is still flawed as it uses other people to value myself as a person, it was kind of right. Discovering I was attracted to women as a woman made me the happiest I had ever been.

I was suddenly more confident in myself. I loved being gay (I’m using gay as an umbrella term here, I am bi, but I like the word gay for myself as well, let me live). I embraced my queerness to the extreme.

I wore exclusively tumblr lesbian clothes. I watched the L word on repeat. I posted selfies on tumblr on the reg. Snapbacks were a lifestyle. Softball 4 dayz. I even watched all of Carmilla (my fellow queer people, you know when you watch Carmilla that you are DEEP in queer culture). I embraced my already pretty gay walk. Queer lady YouTubers were my people.

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The peak of my gayness: Summer 2015. Peep the vans, the button up, and the sunnies.

I got to be the classic gay feminist constantly having gender and social justice discussions with my friends. Halsey and Fifth Harmony hypnotized me with their hotness. I had a sexy picture of Emma Watson in my room (to be fair, I had this up before I realized I was queer. lol at my past self thinking I was straight).

I walked around like I was hot shit. I wanted people to look at me and think “queer.” I flirted with girls and was with girls in a way that I had never been with or connected with men. I was actually loving myself for the first time. I was so proud to be a queer woman.

So why was I still unhappy, even when embracing my queer identity? I didn’t figure it out until the end of my senior year: I wasn’t a queer woman. I’m a queer guy.

Realizing that was a turning point for me. I am the happiest I’ve ever been right now living as a boy. I’m starting hormones soon, I’ve changed my name, and I’m in a much better place.

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I made my mom take this.

But being a man means that I am losing my place in the wlw, queer woman community. Being a queer woman brought me so much confidence and happiness during a time in my life when not much else made me happy or even made me want to get out of bed.

Not only that, but I am afraid of not appearing queer at all anymore, not just not appearing like a queer woman. Im not super masc or anything, but I’m afraid as I start passing that I will be straight/cis passing as well. I am so proud of my queer identity; I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want people in Provincetown to think I’m just some straight tourist. I don’t want to go to pride and have people upset that a straight appearing cis-looking guy is there.

Realizing my trans identity has given and is giving me so much. I’m just afraid about what it might be taking away.

It sounds dramatic, but I feel grief over the loss of this identity. But I’m also confused. I know that I’m a guy, but when I see queer lady stuff like Hayley Kiyoko’s new gay as fuck music (WHICH I AM LIVING FOR BTW) and Lauren and Halsey’s queer duet song and girls holding hands in public and other wlw stuff, I feel a kinship with it. I feel like, hey that’s just like me!

But it isn’t anymore. I feel cut off from that world that brought me happiness and confidence during a time where I almost always felt like shit. And when I feel like I’m a part of that wlw community still, I start to question my trans identity. How can I be a guy and still wish that I was a part of a wlw community? How can I look at my favorite queer lady YouTubers and feel so connected with them as though I am one of them if I’m really a guy?

Being a gay girl gave me things I desperately needed as a depressed 20 year old: community, confidence, and hope for happiness. Losing that is really hard for me to deal with. But as a guy who is sad about not being a gay girl anymore, it is a confusing loss. I know I’m moving forward and being who I really am as a boy. But being a gay girl was fucking fun, and I do miss it.

Hopefully that made some sense and can resonate with someone out there. You can be trans and miss parts of being your old self. You can be a trans guy and miss your experience as a queer girl. Being trans doesn’t have a rulebook or any requirements.

I’ll just keep telling myself these things until I really believe them.

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I’ve Known Since I was 5: An LGBTQ+ Stereotype

One of the most damaging stereotypes about being LGBTQ+ is the belief that all LGBTQ+ people know from a young age that they are LGBTQ+.

While this is often true for many people, it’s not for others. Many people (both LGBTQ+ and cisgender heterosexual) believe this idea wholeheartedly, and it actually invalidates many queer and trans* experiences; it can even lead to people invalidating their own identities because they didn’t discover this identity or part of themselves until later in life.

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Double Rainbow.. all the way

As a young kid, I didn’t think about sexuality or gender in any way. I was just being me. I was a “tomboy,” but to me that was just who I was. Attraction and gender didn’t even enter my mind; I was too busy playing Runescape and worrying about whether Harry would defeat Voldemort (spoiler: he does). When sexual attraction did enter my life, I was attracted to men. This is still true, but it turns out that I am also attracted to women. But, did I know this in middle school or high school? Not at all. I was so oblivious to my sexuality; I assumed all girls had a crush on Katara from Avatar: the Last Airbender, dreamed about dating Emma Watson, and felt tingly when hugging girls and boys. Looking back, I was so, so, so bi. But I didn’t know.

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Me in the black shirt with the attached tie. Soooo queer. So unaware of it.

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