I’ve noticed myself try to be quieter as I’ve started becoming more visibly masculine.
When people read me as male I feel like suddenly (in the feminist & progressive discourse spaces I inhabit) I no longer have a voice worth listening to. It’s difficult to balance the way feminist discourse at large tries to get masculine voices (without specification) to take a goddamn fucking seat while expressing my own particular brand of masculinity that has been informed and constructed by my femininity.
I’m stepping into a social place where half the time I’m read as male and taken super seriously (and half the time not). I know what (cis white) men are supposed to do, which is pass the fucking mic; so my quandary is:
Does being read as a man instantly invalidate my voice and experiences?
Queer Feminist discourse tends to sway largely in the yes direction. Having grown up being told I should be silent because of my gender expression means that being told by a different social group that I should be silent because of my gender expression is something I’m already good at instinctively, even though I know it’s wrong and entirely unnecessary.
I suddenly understand why so many transmasculine people become quiet about their experiences. I think a lot of us feel this – because we know what it’s like to not be listened to. Suddenly having people’s ears because of voices dropping a couple octaves is really disorienting. It doesn’t mean that all of the oppression I’ve internalized is suddenly un-learned and I’m suddenly granted every single privilege a cis white dude has as if my life had never happened to me. (apparently in my brain, regardless of not being white or a man, cis white dude is still my bar)
I have agonized over minor things like being the first to move or speak up, because I’m read differently. Some of that is because I don’t want to deal with the confusion and some of it is because I feel like because my voice isn’t femme of center anymore, I’m somehow less allowed.
It’s really like going through that part of puberty where you have to decide how much social projection matters to you about how you express yourself and gender. With added complications because being non-binary means there’s nothing to switch to, so this extremely binary conversation is happening while the binary-ness of it all is also extremely irrelevant.
I’ve fallen into the trap I saw coming but hadn’t fully grasped. I’m going to work hard to write more about my experiences and feelings and disoriented-ness on HRT because I don’t need to carry the internalized lies that my voice has no value due to my expression anymore.
I’ll just keep doing what I’ve always done: speak my truths and elevate the voices of others as I can. There’s room for everyone’s experiences, even mine.