**Disclaimer**: If I don’t use certain terms correctly, I apologize deeply. I’m still learning.
So, I was born male. Everything I saw made things pretty clear; boys looked this way, played with these toys, avoided these girly toys, fell in love with girls, didn’t do anything ‘gay’. It was pretty straightforward. Of course, before I knew I wasn’t supposed to do ‘gay’ things, I had already experimented with my male friends. I’m pretty sure every child, of either sex, experiments when they’re that young. They find something that feels good, and they want to do it more. It makes sense, it’s basic nature, how our brains are wired for survival of, not only ourselves, but our species.
But I got in deep trouble for playing with my friends in that way. I learned, very quickly, that doing that kind of stuff was ‘wrong’. Later, I learned about ‘gay’, and how it was such a bad thing. Of course, I didn’t question it. Adults on TV were saying these things, and adults were always correct, right? So, I avoided ‘gay’ things like physical contact with another male, unless it was wrestling, which I didn’t like anyway. However, I didn’t have many friends, so I played with my sisters. It was okay if I played with ponies and barbies, so long as nobody else found out.
It was all pretty common, what a lot of boys experience. But I learned pretty quickly that I was different. By the time I had reached grade eight, I had lost every friend I ever had. They had all moved on to ‘cool’ things, and I was just ‘different’. Thankfully, I made two new friends, both of which were pretty ‘manly’. One loved hunting, shooting, beer, partying, wrestling, all things that I was taught were what ‘men’ enjoyed. I didn’t like any of them. I looked around at all the other guys in my small school, and they were all the same. Sports, hunting, partying, beer, wrestling, women, women, women. And here I was, sitting in my room day dreaming, a poster of Mark McGrath on my wall.
But I knew I wasn’t gay. I could look at a guy and think he was incredibly attractive, someone I would like to hold, but the thought of sex with a man, or even just kissing, turned me off. And I definitely liked women. I loved the shape of them, the softness. But why would I also want to hold a man? Why didn’t I like all the things that defined a ‘man’?
One summer, my neighbour reached out to me. We had been really close years before, but we grew apart. She was having difficulties with her boyfriend, and somehow it allowed us to grow close again (we grew apart quickly after things worked out with the bf, which really sucked at the time). My ‘manly’ friend and I had gone over to her house, and she thought it was hilarious for me to try on her clothes. I thought it was a great idea, and not for humour, but I genuinely wanted to try the clothes on. I tried on a few, more gender neutral, articles first. But as soon as I was about to try on a dress, my ‘manly’ friend forcibly stopped me. He said it was ‘too gay’. To this day, I regret not trying it on.
Living in a village (yes, we weren’t even large enough to be classified as a town), I didn’t know a lot of the world, and things that were common elsewhere seemed to lag behind when reaching us. So, I was nearly finished high school when I learned about bisexuality. I thought to myself, “yes, this is it, this is what I am!” But I couldn’t tell anyone, of course, so I kept it a secret for years. And as those years passed by, I started to doubt whether I really was bisexual. From what I had understood about it, I should have been sexually attracted to men. But I still wasn’t. So, again, I was lost as to what I was.
It was always something that plagued me. I knew there was nothing wrong with being gay, but I still worried about people thinking I was gay. Of course, most people had assumed I was gay, and they didn’t say anything, but they also didn’t treat me any differently. I didn’t learn about that until much later. But it didn’t help that I felt like I didn’t know what I was. Everyone else seemed to have a label, a category that they fit nicely into. So what was my category?
Things got even more confusing when I crossdressed for halloween one year. The theme was The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and there was a prize for the best dressed man as a woman. I decided I wanted to go full out. I didn’t just want to look like a woman, I wanted to fool people into believing I was a woman. So, with Audra’s help, I chose believable clothes and shoes, bought large balloons that, when filled with just the right amount of water, perfectly mimicked breasts, and found a super basic costume; just a set of black angel wings. I wanted people to think I was a woman who barely put in effort to dress up, and instead put all the effort into looking sexy.
And it worked! For a night, I got to experience being a woman. Men were ogling, finding reasons to brush up past me, or putting their hands in the small of my back as they passed. I hated that part. But I absolutely loved looking so gorgeous. I rocked the dance floor and had an amazing time. I really loved all of it! Except the creepy men part, of course.
But that was it. Just once, for halloween. And then I spent the next couple years even more confused about myself. Was I a crossdresser? Weren’t crossdressers gay? (Like I said, I really knew nothing about all this, and I honestly though you had to be sexually attracted to men to be a crossdresser).
It wasn’t until a trans friend of mine revealed the intricacies of sexual orientation and gender identity, that my mind was blown. I saw that who I was attracted to had nothing to do with how I presented myself or what gender I identified with. And even more amazing was that everything was on a fluctuating spectrum, nothing was locked in. This defied what I had learned about gay versus bi versus straight. It also revealed that I could be a crossdresser and I didn’t have to be gay or uncomfortable in my male body.
It was incredibly empowering. I felt free to finally express myself, and I’ve been embracing that ever since. It’s allowed me to act as feminine or masculine as I feel in the moment. And I feel okay crossdressing. Perhaps one day I’ll feel okay crossdressing without offending the trans community (had a bad experience with a trans friend rebuking me for dressing as a woman for fun), but for now I’ll just find excuses to dress up as a woman, like this upcoming Halloween. I’d love to go as Korra, but Audra wants to be her, so I was thinking Asami. We’ll see.
Just remember that you don’t have to fall under a label or a category, that it’s okay to change your mind, to fluctuate. Don’t be afraid of being yourself, because people are attracted to authenticity. You are awesome as you are.