Those of you who’ve read my other posts on DDP know that I’m trans–my heart warms when old men call me “young man” or my girlfriend affectionately teases me about being “such a dude.” But I’m not trans in a predictable, linear way. The problem is that really, I straddle the fence between queer butch woman and straight man.

Notions.

The decision about whether to take testosterone or not is one I’ve been pondering for years, but I’ve been thinking a lot more seriously about it recently. I look at men around me and I covet their hard bodies, their wiry legs and their stony jaws. I want to be made of sinew and rock. I want to look in the mirror and see cowboys and gladiators and hard-boiled businessmen staring back at me, depending on the day. I want to be recognized instantly as my future children’s father, without a lesson in gender non-conformity. I never want to be called “ma’am” again.

But I don’t want women to be afraid of me when I walk behind them at night. I don’t want men to assume I’ll understand them when they talk about how crazy women are. I don’t want to forget what it feels like to feel vulnerable and preyed-upon and taken advantage of and under-valued. My femininity has been my best teacher.

My female body has relegated me to a class of people who are systematically discriminated against, making me tougher and more dedicated to justice. My female reproductive system has made me understand the power of bodily autonomy so viscerally that I’ll get up on a cold winter morning to escort Planned Parenthood patients past angry protesters. My female presentation (for most of my life) has given me access to female-dominated spaces, which have supported me and allowed me to develop my courageous personality.

Changing my body won’t make me forget everything, but having estrogen in my system, and looking feminine enough to be constantly gendered female keeps me firmly grounded in feminism. When I am inseparable from my femininity, it’s easy to keep fighting for the protection of all feminine people. It’s easy to remember to fight for justice and bodily autonomy for female people when everyone assumes that I’m a woman. If I transition, socially or physically, my feminism will continue to be a large part of who I am. But it will be a little bit less my fight. I’ll go from front-liner to ally. There may be a point in my life where I’m ready for that change. But it’s not now.

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