On the Isolation of Transmasculinity

Being a trans guy who came out in adulthood with few positive male role models but plenty of male abusers in my past is… difficult sometimes. Being a trans guy comes with absolutely destructive amounts of guilt that aren’t talked about nearly enough.

I held myself back from coming out for years out of fear of becoming like the violent, controlling men I saw around me. I’m still working out what a definition of masculinity means without misogyny. Most days I worry about forgetting where I’ve come from and becoming the monsters I’ve always feared. Some days I worry if I would be able to recognize it happening. There’s already so much shame associated with being trans. There’s so much guilt about what you living genuinely means for those around you and those you love.

The guilt of moving from experiencing misogyny to being perceived as its perpetrator is traumatic. I’ve never seen any trans guys talk about this publically. I pass now, and it’s euphoric, absolutely. But some days I go out in the world and see women being afraid of me and I just want to cry, because I know exactly how that feels, but there’s only so much I can do.

I will now live the rest of my mind in a bizarre state of duality that is profoundly isolating. My learned experiences make it difficult to trust men. Women’s learned experiences make it difficult to trust me. It’s so difficult to not be disgusted at my own masculinity.

Without a rubric for a healthy form of masculinity, trans masculine people are so often left profoundly alone, and profoundly self loathing. I’m afraid of monsters… but I look just like one. And when people treat me as one, it’s hard sometimes to not believe it. I channel this energy into being a better feminist and a better man than I ever had seen while growing up. I use my new respect from other men to call them out on their behaviors. But sometimes it still gets to me.

As someone who has PTSD from sexual abuse, is a man, and has been treated as a woman for my life up until a few months ago, these past few days have been incredibly hard to sort through and witness women’s trauma and men dismissing it, and knowing I belong to both and neither.

Another quick thought; the misogyny in men’s spaces is genuinely so internally destructive to trans masculine people. Any time I am “accepted”, I am hyper aware of how conditional that acceptance is, and I am hyper aware that any complicity (even for my own safety), is violent.

I can be closeted and accepted as a man, while internally knowing how quickly that would change, and knowing that my very existence perpetuates the violence I had suffered under, and simultaneously being afraid of both myself and those around me due to past abuse.

Or I can be out and open, and know that so many people see me as a woman at the end of the day, creating immense dysphoria, and be ostracized from women’s spaces and men’s spaces simultaneously, and fear for my safety from a deep, learned and validated terror.

The experience of being a trans man is realizing you are the thing you’ve learned to fear, and watching the world trust you less the more honest you are, and it is traumatic. It is so difficult to not believe you’re doomed to cause harm, or that you’re unworthy of trust.

#transmasc people are suffering. This specific trauma and collapse of the perceived self is simultaneously #TransMisandry and #misogyny. Please take care of and help the trans masculine people in your life see the possibility of good in themselves.

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I am a disabled binary trans man who primarily writes about feminism, queer history, trans issues, science communication, healthy masculinity and public health.