By: Mihran Nersesyan
I always felt awkward in my body growing up. Most of us do, but for me – a transmasculine androgyne – it was, I think, more than average. I constantly felt like my body couldn’t decide if it wanted to be “male” or “female”, as I understood them to be then. My posture, my gait, the way my fat collected on me, my body hair, even my voice. They were all here and there, wavering. The attitude that permeated my body was like that, too. People didn’t know what to make of me, and neither did I.
It stayed that way through my teens, until my early twenties when I started to wake up to how masculine I really felt. My sexual and romantic development had a lot to do with that. But I also just came into a more accepting environment, so what various others thought held less and less sway over me. It’s hard to put my finger on it now, but without being particularly butch, I was all at once fundamentally, intensely masculine. Comments about the size of my dick were nearly constant.
But at that same time, my body started really maturing more definitively into what most of us would call a more “feminine” form. My curves and angles took on a delicacy and a plumpness that they were previously lacking, and now when I’m naked I can practically see the estrogen swelling through me and emanating from my skin.
But I feel it, I’m into it, and it turns me on.
I’m a woman, too, after all. That’s the essence of being androgynous. It’s not a lack of gender, or an ambiguous middle ground between the two. It’s being male and female, together, simultaneously. So as a woman, I love my body just as it is.
But it’s not just my feminine self that relishes in the shape my body has taken. My masculinity gets off on it, too.
It’s all so easy to overlook when I’m clothed. When I put my clothes on, any sense of femininity is lost for most people. If I wear a button-down, a sweater, a baggy t-shirt, or a somewhat bulky jacket, folks have a hard time sensing what pronouns to use in addressing me, and it seems that their only clue to my “sex” these days is my unstyled long hair. (In my experience, if my mood is masculine enough, people can’t see my breasts at all.)
But the masculinity that defines me is no less potent when my body is exposed. Nor when I’m occupying my body in feminine ways, which I enjoy. When I sway my hips when I walk, when I dance in a certain way, when I long to be vaginally penetrated. I do these things as a woman, but I also do them as a man. Even as I do those things, and even as I do them in this body, my masculinity is constantly active and present.
It’s not that I don’t experience dysphoria. I do, often, and it’s difficult to cope with. I long for a body that I can never have. And while I’ve considered transitioning, I know that if I did I would only long for my body to be as it is now. These two identities are equally fundamental to me. But I can’t have both. I can’t have the curves and the softness and the smell I have now, and also the facial hair, the muscle form, and the beautifully engorged clitoris that hormone therapy could give me. I’ve had to choose.
I adore the form and experience of this body. My masculinity unreservedly takes pleasure in it. And I can’t bear to change it, because I honestly think it’s perfect. But that doesn’t free me from the strange cycles of feeling that surround this freewheeling contradiction. Just as my masculinity rejoices in having an estrogen-producing body, so my femininity mourns the body I don’t have.
Sometimes it’s grimly comforting to me knowing that I would feel a certain emptiness and frustration either way. Sometimes I crave a more wholesome comfort. One thing I can say for myself, though, is that every day I grow more appreciative of the melancholic beauty of my narrative.[Feature Image: It is the daytime outdoors and a person is leaning against a black barred gate with theirs behind them holding onto the gate. Only the person”s body waist down appears in the image as they wear denim jeans with holes ripped along them and plaid long sleeve shirt is wrapped around their waist.]
Hi! Thank you so much for sharing this valuable perspective; I enjoyed hearing the author’s story. However, I did want to address one factual inaccuracy related to the effects of testosterone. I am not in any way trying to stipulate how the author ought to go about doing their gender, but at least wanted to put it out there for the sake of other readers.
The author claims, “But I can’t have both. I can’t have the curves and the softness and the smell I have now, and also the facial hair, the muscle form, and the beautifully engorged clitoris that hormone therapy could give me. I’ve had to choose.” But that is not true: fat redistribution, skin texture, smell, and muscle growth are largely temporary effects that revert when a female-assigned-at-birth person stops taking testosterone, whereas hair and clit growth are generally permanent effects. So the kind of body the author describes, short of muscle growth, is almost exactly the sort of body they would have if they took T for 6-12 months and then stopped.
Again, I want to stress, T is not for everyone. But there are many valid gender paths that involve hormone use, and not all of them have to entail taking hormones forever and becoming as “physically masculine” as possible. You have options.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Gorgeous writing. Your perspective is so artfully shared here that I somehow feel like I can truly See it… I don’t feel able to make my own point as clearly. I will simply say I am grateful for your articulate insight.