Words are insufficient. They will always be. We are doing the best with what we have, but there are truths too deep, too sacred, too holy, too messy to describe, even as our vocabulary advances.
I said to myself in a moment of epiphany at fourteen, “I can be a closeted gay man in a woman’s body forever. Thank God I’m not a gay man in a gay man’s body — I don’t know if I would be able to survive.”
I didn’t have the words for what I was– not as someone who was intersex and certainly not as a trans man– and that was as close as I could get. This was pre-internet, so there was not really any way for me to get more information, if it was even out there. (Like, when I realized I was also interested in women as well as men, I looked up bisexual in the dictionary that my beloved uncle David had given me, but it was so old that the definition of bisexual was what we now call intersex.) I had heard of trans women, but I had no concept of a trans man whatsoever.
I didn’t have the word intersex. I had literally never heard it, and I had no idea what I was. I plucked my facial hair, painfully and incompletely, one hair at a time, reminded daily by my 5 o’clock shadow that I had to work hard to even fail at the goal of passing. I hated the hormonal shifts that made me fear I was dying. I hid my body and myself, not even knowing what I was hiding, only that I was constantly in fear of being exposed.
I had breasts that I did not want, that felt like a spectacle and felt like my own fault, even though that’s not how it works. I told my mom when I was sixteen that I was going to get them removed when I grew up, and she laughed and asked if she could have them. (Later, a gay male friend asked if he could have them. My dears, if there were some way to take them off and put them in storage when I am not in drag, I would keep them myself!)
I love my body now in a way I never have before, because of Radical Acceptance, because of the Love that comes from outside of me, from Source Unknown, and flows through me to the Beloved Other, pouring over me, unbridled, in the process, because of the 12-Step work I’ve been doing for many many years, because of the mirror neurons I cultivate in improv, because of the hyper-empathy of my neurodivergence, and, frankly, because I’ve used my body (with the help of modern medicine), against the odds, to grow and nourish a baby I love beyond imagining.
Words have been insufficient all these years. They are insufficient in this moment. I collected and rejected words over and over throughout the years, tried to live outside them, tried to live in a way that made sense, in a pithy way, so that I could explain or subterfuge my way out of rejection or violence. I’ve approached and then retreated from my desire, my inner self, my passion a million times, with a million distracting ploys, with a million attempts at respectability. I’ve harmed myself out of shame, to prove my undesirability, to try to validate the abuse I survived, to punish myself, to keep myself in line.
I had a breakdown after SF Trans March this year . I mean immediately after. And I mean a real fucking breakdown, crying inconsolably in the dead of the night, unable to speak breakdown. I had spent the day with my friends and my family of choice and connected with so many people, and I was validated and admired and praised and photographed and didn’t get sunburnt, and I got to have dinner with some of my dearest friends and favorite people.
<Cw, suicidal ideation> And I got home and wanted to fucking kill myself, because even with all my Radical Acceptance and the Abundant Love That Washes Over Us All From Sources Unknown In An Eternal Mystery and all the support from understanding people and from people who are truly trying to understand, I had still been glossing over, trying to cut off the edges that don’t fit the way I want them to, to say, “Well, that is close enough.”
Words are insufficient. To say, “I am a gay man in a woman’s body” is not fully accurate, but also to say, “I am an intersex, intergender, bisexual, genderqueer mermx” is not fully accurate either. Nor is it accurate to say, “Words are insufficient, so — close enough.”
Our understanding of ourselves shifts and grows over time. Our understanding of the world shifts and grows. I’m so grateful to have the words I have now. I’m so grateful to be able to get down to a specific identity (that I acknowledge is both socially-constructed and incredible valuable for my understanding of my place in the world as it is right now), to have words for things that I thought were my lonely secret. I am intersex. I am bisexual. I am trans.
I am a queer man.
Bisexual intersex trans man
Age : 39