Transitioning female to male is like walking into the welcoming arms of obscurity. It’s like having Harry Potter’s cloak on. You find yourself slipping into society unnoticed. This isn’t true for everyone, but it isn’t unusual.
When I decided I wanted to medically transition, I sought out a local gender group. It was filled with transfeminine people. It was organized, and run by transwomen. There were a couple teen trans boys and genderqueer kids, but not a transgender man to be found.
I asked about the possibility of finding more transgender men, so I could talk to others about what to expect. The ladies were nice, and said most transgender men faded away.
I remember some of the gals were frustrated. I understand now, that some transgender men gain a lot of passing privilege. Testosterone is amazing at obscuring the feminine. For us, that works in our favor.
It’s very easy to be read as male for me now. That is despite starting as a 110 pound, super feminine person, that could sing in soprano. Now, I’m 170 pounds, with facial hair, and have a voice that is so deep I can’t even begin to sing the old songs I loved.
Even when I do out myself as transgender, I’m more often met with an odd nod. That’s it. The hate transwomen face, isn’t usually aimed at me. Most folks make a statement about how they’d never had known, and tuck it into that space where they they file information on folks with weird hobbies. Even in my super conservative job, folks are still accepting. That is the basket of male privilege transgender men receive.
This means we really don’t have the visibility that transgender women have. The world finds transgender women titillating and scandalous, whereas transgender men just melt into society a lot of the time.
This invisibility, is like a low key super power. Before I transitioned, living as a woman, I couldn’t just grab my keys and go. There is so much societal pressure on women. Get your makeup on, make sure your hair looks right, make sure you are dressed right. Do you have your purse? How are you getting there and back? You can’t just walk, if it’s dark, because that’s dangerous. Is the location near a bar or other venue where drunk men will be? You’ll need to think about safety.
These are all things every woman has to consider. If you don’t, some dude will be there to comment on you, your body, and/or try to hit on you. It’s an every day occurrence. Riding the bus was an exercise in frustration because dudes always think they can chat you up, and you never know if they are going to be aggressive if you slap their bad pickup attempts down. It’s like a weird creeper jack in the box, where you don’t know if the crazy guy trying to hit on you is just socially awkward, or an anger management issue away from freaking out.
There is also an added layer of male privilege at play. To go about your life as male is to not be noticed. You are the default option, now. Women are often treated as a commodity in public, as if it’s a man’s world they are entering.
That kind of visibility and harassment is not something that happens to me now. I grab my keys, walk out the door, and literally nobody out in the big wide world talks to me. Nobody gets in my space. Nobody demands my time. If I’m having a bad day, nobody tells me to smile. I am invisible to the world.
Personally, I find it relieving to be able to do this, but also I find it infuriating. I had always assumed my experiences while living as a woman were universal. There were just a lot of bad creepy boundary breaking men that bothered everyone. As it turns out, they only target women, and often when there is nobody else around to help. These jerks know what they are doing, and like their targets isolated. This isn’t an issue of being socially awkward. It’s predatory.
I know this because the everyday issues I faced as a woman don’t even happen in my line of sight now. I now understand why so many men are confused by the idea that this happens. You literally don’t see it. These creepy men aren’t socially awkward, they know what they are doing. They won’t do it in front of other men.
So not only am I now low key invisible, that entire world is now invisible to me. It’s just part of being invisibly male.