Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I Looked At Life From Both Sides Now

I always loved that song by Joni Mitchell, I always thought it was a good song for trans people because we have literately looked at life from both sides.
What Trans Men See That Women Don’t
“Cultural sexism in the world is very real when you’ve lived on both sides of the coin”
By Charlotte Alter

Three guys are sitting at a Harlem bartop eating fries, drinking whiskey and talking about love. One of them, Bryce Richardson, is about to propose to his girlfriend.
I ask the groom-to-be how he knew his girlfriend was the one. They met at work, he says, and by the time he came out to her, they were already in love. “I said ‘I’m trans, and you’re not gonna want me anyway,” he recalls, unable to keep the smile off his face. “And she said ‘I’m in love with you, I don’t care about that.’” His friend Tiq nods and says, “That’s your wife, right there.”

All three men are trans. But if they hadn’t said so, you wouldn’t have known.
That gives them a unique perspective that a lot of trans women don’t have, many trans women are like me we are not identified as trans until we speak or you get up close. At least for me I don’t know if the way I am treated is because I am seen as a woman or is because I am seen as a trans woman but for the guys they integrate into society perfectly.
Yet experiences of trans men can provide a unique window into how gender functions in American society. In the last few months, I’ve interviewed nearly two dozen trans men and activists about work, relationships and family. Over and over again, men who were raised and socialized as female described all the ways they were treated differently as soon as the world perceived them as male. They gained professional respect, but lost intimacy. They exuded authority, but caused fear. From courtrooms to playgrounds to prisons to train stations, at work and at home, with friends and alone, trans men reiterated how fundamentally different it is to experience the world as a man.

“Cultural sexism in the world is very real when you’ve lived on both sides of the coin,” says Tiq Milan, a friend of the future groom.
The article goes on to list many of the things that are both a curse and privilege.
Most trans men I spoke to also identified another commonality: Once they transitioned, walking became easier, but talking became harder. To be more specific: walking home after dark felt easier, casually talking to babies, strangers and friends felt harder.

“I have to be very careful to not be staring at kids,” says Gardner. “I can look at a mom and her baby, but I can’t look for too long. I miss being seen as not a threat.” Ditto for kids on the playground and puppies, multiple guys said.

And to a man, everyone said they’d experienced a moment when they were walking at night behind a woman, and suddenly realized that she was walking faster or clutching her purse because she was scared.

“If I start to get too close, I can feel her fear, I can feel that she’s getting upset,” says Milan. “And it’s really just an indication of how dangerous this world is for women.
And if you are a trans man of color it is even harder for you. A trans man once told me before he transitioned no one questioned her right to be in a black neighborhood but as a black man he is always being questioned why a black man is in a white neighborhood.
As a trans man of color, Milan says he feels that the world perceives him as a menace, and his interactions with police officers have gotten much more fraught. “I’ve had people make assumptions that I was dangerous or I was a criminal. I’ve been followed around stores. I’ve seen white women who look physically scared, visibly shaken if there’s just the two of us in a elevator,” he says. “You can’t even ask a cop for directions as a black man.”
Dana Delgardo also says that being a man of color comes with new problems. “I bought a Porsche convertible and I’m afraid to be out late at night after having one cocktail driving that car,” he says. “It deters me from doing things that I think a Caucasian male could probably do without fear of being pulled over by the police.”
A friend who is a project manager for an international engineering firm and has a BSEE and a MBA from well-known universities; before she transitioned in a meeting what “he” said was law. Now in a meeting no one pays any attention to what she said until a man says the same thing. One time she was even asked to get the coffee!

It is a unique perspective that we have on what male privilege is because we either gain or lose the privilege that we have and it becomes very noticeable.

I leave you with Joni Mitchell singing her song Both Sides Now.

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