Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hymn to Him

If you’re looking to be “himmed” and not her’d” there’s a tranny hierarchy, FYI. Some of us have heard this, and even the best of us might have experienced the sour taste of having to “him” someone who hasn’t “earned” it.

By this I mean there are some transguys who feel that you can’t be a “him” if you ain’t on the T; I’m given to understand there’s some sort of ranking by surgeries, too. I have wondered on occasion, if assigned-at-birth-men feel that, that “hey, you didn’t live male, Shortstuff, so how dare you pad your panties and call yourself a man!”

I don’t think cisgender men give two scrotal hoots about transguys actually, and therein is the heartwrenching difference between us and them. If they only knew.

I have been surreptitiously scoping the masculine for YEARS. Practically out of the womb. Since I can remember - and I can recall the hiss of the black and white television and the palpable devastation of the adults around it during the first Kennedy assassination and that, mothersuckers, was less than a month before my third birthday – I recollect an already ripening love for the male.

This love of mine was very specific however: I did not care for male children. They were loud, gratuitously violent, and inclined to force me to remove my panties. My best friend, David Lindsay, was a gentle creature who, like me, shunned the boys and the girls, neither of whom seemed to play at anything really fun like “Radio Announcer” or “Variety Show Host.”

But the accoutrement! The boys’ blazer had a pocket on the inside! This made me inexpressibly covetous. I could see myself wearing the handsome dark green wool, tucking special rocks and paper with secret code inside. I was more Christopher Robin than G.I.Joe. I longed for real collars; everything for girls was softened and blunted or darted and pleated. I wanted boxy pants with lots of pockets and…and belt loops by golly belt loops! A belt even! The treasures I beheld in my father’s jewelry box soothed this unnamed, unspoken anxiety, the anxieties of being a Samantha when I felt so SAM.

Men, I have been watching you for years. Your slumps and your slouches, your insouciance, your insecurities. I’ve let my envious eyeballs explore every inch of your solid shoulders, your clavicles, the goose-flesh dappled skin of your dense necks. With something akin to love and certainly within the realm of passion I’ve counted hairs, noted like a scientist the areas in which they are more likely to congregate. Because I am so visual I drew you again and again and again. “What are those?” asked an innocent of my attempted sketch of Reggie from Archie Comics. “Breasts” interjects my mom nervously, who does not, who cannot, understand: I would never, EVER draw a female body. Why would I when it is the male’s that I worship? “Pecs,” I say, because I have learned their proper name, because I care, “they’re muscular pecs.”

Men, you are as foreign and as terrifying as a giant squid – and the waters are yours, always have been. I’m bouncing around in a purloined dinghy marveling at my good fortune in sighting such a creature, before realizing I’m about to be its lunch.

I have done everything I know to get you to look at me. I’ve been your (in)equal, in bands, on teams, at jobs, and in love. No matter how I tried, I was always second-tier. Bros before, well, you know. Men have always been among my closest friends, and yet I always felt your distance. I could be relegated to a “honey” or a “sweetheart” in less than a slap. When I call someone “Honey” it’s with the love of a mother. Women taught me that. I’m not sure I even like men, but then again, I’m not sure I like women either. As the immortal Johnny Mercer sang "I don't like men/ Women I don't like too/ Sometimes I don't even like myself, but I do do do like you!"

I am your stalker. I am up your pants leg now. Me and every guy in transition – we’re in your pen pocket, we’re tucked in your hatband; when you whip out your wallet we dash for a compartment; we’re on your jock, in your cologne, in your shaving mug, your class ring. We’re comparing size, and heft; we’re studying how you stroll. And while we’re jealous of your dick, we’re not jotting love-making skills from you, nor do we need your flirt. But mother goddamn, to have that confidence, the thing that can only be born of privilege!

Ah. So. There it is. I watch and I envy (penis!) and I covet and I long. But at the end of the day, I’m reminded: I really can choose to have the best of all possible worlds. How lucky am I!? I know what it’s like to be a woman. That may be the greatest gift I’ll ever have been given – to know what it’s like to be the most globally downtrodden of the human species teaches me compassion, right? It connects me with a worn, silken thread to everyone. And as I cast about for male role models I find, by and large, my male role models are women:

  • My neighbor Mixon broke up a fight between a pit bull and a herder, helped a guy in a wheelchair, and held the whole neighborhood together IN ONE NIGHT.
  • My friend Alex shines the sort of strong, wise paternal love-beam that pulls you in its wake to your higher self.
  • With greater and greater frequency, it is women who are modeling the kind of leadership, courage, and ambition I admire, the kind I think of as “male.”

Gay Christian mystic-activist Andrew Harvey believes Jesus’ was the ultimate masculinity, the perfect union of male and female. I can model a prissy control-freak, have a tantrum of sexual entitlement, or I can help someone without asking anything in return. I think of true, transcendent maleness as uniting, not dividing.

And of course, I’d sure like to unite my thing with yours. I’ve got my eye on you.


  1. Sam, please tell me you have a book deal in your future.

    I remember looking through my grandfather's drawer of white handkerchiefs, unfolding and folding them again and again; their smell was so distinct! shaving cream, cologne, just MALE, and how right it felt to carry one around in my pocket.

  2. "I am your stalker. I am up your pants leg now."

    This line made me laugh so hard.

  3. I just happened upon your blog and am really happy to have found it. This post in particular. Man-studying is something I perform on a daily basis :)
    I've been doing a lot of reading of FTM stuff on the interweb and it's been really hard for me to find things that don't make me feel really uncomfortable like, "if you wanna be a guy, you gotta have the right hair, smile less and take up a lot of space."
    I can't tell you how awesome it is to hear that I'm not the only one that feels that things are a little more complicated than that. I think it's really awesome that you are so candid, smart, and open about your thoughts and feelings...and that you have such a good sense of humour about it. Thank you.