Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Middle of the Road

I don’t particularly like playing favourites, but I have to say my fav (famous) trans man is Lucas Silveira of The Cliks. I dare say that I love him; however, I could always be conflating my love of his music with my love for the man—but how could anyone really divorce the two? Lucas puts his soul behind every note that passes his lips, wears his life on his beautifully tattooed sleeves. But it’s not the intensely passionate music of The Cliks that has me writing today; rather I direct your attention to a 2007 interview with Lucas, in which he said:

But because of the choice that I had to make, I started looking at trans in a very different way. I feel really invisible as a trans man because I’m not able to take Testosterone. I don’t have the visual aspects that a man has, I’m not hairy, my body is different.
I had this really interesting conversation with a friend of mine, a trans guy. He made the decision not to go on T. He said, “I feel if I did Testosterone, it would make me invisible as a trans man.” I’ve been hanging onto that because it just made me think so intensely about walking in this world having everybody treat me as male and having achieved this male privilege that a lot of guys who are trans feel like they’ve attained.
I started thinking about that because I feel like, not only am I a voice for the trans community going out into mainstream, but there are guys like me. We’re they guys who are truly in the middle. I’ve had top surgery, but I’m not doing T. And to tell you the truth, I don’t know if I ever will. I feel very comfortable being where I am right now.

Lucas has a very interesting attitude here, where so much focus is placed on the so-called full transition he shaped his own dynamic: because music is so essential in his life, hormones were simply not an option. In general, I’m fascinated with the dynamics of others’ transitions: where they start, where they stop, and—most important—what, specific expressions and metamorphoses are necessary (as well as which are not) in order for any given person to feel comfortable in their skins. What I like is that in a broader, more fluid sense people are starting to realize they may not need surgeries or hormone treatments in order to be men, women, etc. Instead of the classic models of transsexuality wherein a trans person is expected to go on hormones and have surgeries to completely remodel their bodies to the ideals of their self-identified sex, now we’re seeing people selectively taking steps of transition, stopping in places that the traditional model would deem “middle of the road”—and what’s more, trans people today are doing this and confidently feeling comfortable as men, women, etc. in that so-called “middle” state.

Granted, this isn’t really anything too new (at least, it’s not to people in the trans community. The psych/medical community, on the other hand...): people have been self-manufacturing their transitions for a long time now, with many of them outside of the influence of medical professionals. It makes me think. At what point was/is my transition finished? Why do I see different transition dynamics being more common in the FTM spectrum than I do on the MTF side of the aisle? I’m sure most people in the trans community have different answers to these questions—many of them probably have some different observations than I as well. But because this is my blog, and because I’m largely just writing what’s first coming to my mind right now, I’m going to relate these observations and these attitudes right back on myself.

Last week I went down to the beach at Glenelg, and while there I was approached by a man selling pony rides (I kid you not). This fellow (God help him, he was trying to be crafty) proceeded to beat around the gender bush (no, not that gender bush), calling me a “handsome woman,” and insinuated that I had made some unique gender choices (in contrast to my Venezuelan friend, whom he described as a “beautiful woman”). In his attempts to clarify that he meant no offense, he simply stated that I “stand out in a crowd.” Thanks, chief: you just said I don’t pass. But, what may have been obvious to pony-boy here wasn’t obvious to several people I’ve met since transitioning, and I ultimately have to contrast this man’s assessment of me with that of my friends, who having known me in all my shapes/forms see me as a girl. Juxtapose that with Lucas, who said, “I don’t have the visual aspects that a man has, I’m not hairy, my body is different.” I always thought Lucas passed perfectly—one look at that damn sexy man and I’m thinking my sexuality is more fluid than I thought—but when I showed the video for “Dirty King” to one of my cisgender friends, she pegged Lucas right away, saying, “She’s really hot.”

It underlies the difference between how an individual can perceive their gender and how other may read them. If I only hear Lucas’ voice—untouched by testosterone—I hear a man’s voice. When I see him, I see a man—I have a hard time seeing him as anything else. My friend, on the other hand, completely unaware of the trans world around her, saw and heard a girl. And Lucas, well, he feels comfortable in his skin as a man, despite having a different body than cis-men...despite having never undergone hormone treatment.

I’m slow to hop on the queer train to candy mountain. I’ve been largely self-conscious and self-critical of my own body and face, thinking them to be overtly masculine, fearing that I’d never really be comfortable in my own gender/body until I could tear myself apart and rebuild my body atom by atom—but I think this is why I love the tans men so much. Not to say trans women don’t do the same, but the men have always seemed so much more embracing of the middle ground...and slowly, I’m coming over to that side, to find comfort in my own Amazon physique. This is (hopefully) my last word on passing: finding peace in the middle...and it only took a sexy trans man punk/alt. rocker to show me the way.


  1. Played the video three times and have forgotten what I was going to say! Need to hear more of their stuff.

    There is an obsession in society to categorise even though the terms of reference have been incorrectly set from the beginning. Like what is your favourite colour and only having the choice of black or white! Mine is red.

    Caroline xxx

  2. By all means, you should get their albums--The Cliks are one of my all-time favourite bands, I could listen to them forever (today they derailed my Tegan and Sarah obsession).