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June 2002

Gender... is such a confusing thing. I could sit here for hours writing about what my gender identity means to me but unless someone feels the same way I do, it would still be impossible to really understand. I guess you could equate it to how a white, middle class man can not know what it is like to be a Latino, lower class woman. I think that one of the most important things to know is that for so many people, gender is NOT a binary thing. There's as wide of a range of gender expressions as there are people in the world, and no two are exactly alike. I think we all need to work toward being able to express our gender in the way that we're most comfortable, and respecting and supporting other people's presentations of their own genders.

I myself identify as a female to male transgender guy. What that means is that I am biologically female in sex, but my gender identity is male. I present myself to the world as a male, people refer to me using masculine pronouns, I see myself as a boy and ask other people to do the same. I also identify as a transsexual because one day I plan to have chest reconstruction surgery and take testosterone to make my physical image more closely match how I feel mentally.

I'm also a butch. This is probably the hardest aspect of my identity for me to explain, but it's even more important to me than being trans is. Most folks recognize the terms "butch" and "femme" as being commonly used in the lesbian community, but now the terms are often used by members of the trans community as well. A lot of people use the words very loosely to describe only aesthetic characteristics, like "today I'm butch because I'm wearing boots and flannel." Personally, being a butch goes much deeper than the clothes I wear. I've always been a butch. It's not something I decided to do one day, it's an intrinsic part of who I am and it affects everything I do.

I'm proud to be a trans person. Sometimes I wonder whether I'd rather be a biological male and I'm not sure of an answer to that. While it would make me happy and it would make things a lot easier for me, I probably wouldn't be called to do the type of activism and advocacy work that I do now. Someday I will have a physical body that matches how I feel internally, and I will be satisfied with that, even if it's not what I was born with. I struggle with the realization that at some point in the future once I have had surgery and gone on hormones, everyone will view me as male and my transgender identity will not be apparent. While it will make me happy to have that body, I don't want to become "invisible" as a trans person either. I know that I will remain visible and active in the trans community through my work as an advocate, and I think that will be enough for me. Still, knowing that so much of who I am revolves around my transgender identity makes the thought of having that part of my life become somewhat unrecognizable difficult to imagine.

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