Written by Rita Snounou
I’ve fallen in love with a man.
It somewhat upsets me that he isn’t a woman. I would have liked the whole package to include the femininity that liberates me from my own feminine self. I’ve come to find such comfort in the fluidity of my gender, and I am suddenly faced with the slightest possibility of its solidification. It terrifies me that, in falling in love with a man, I might ‘accidentally’ transform into a cis woman.
This man, this beautiful lover, to whom I have told almost immediately that I am not always a woman, one day asked me in the most intimate of settings to explain what I meant by “some days I wake up, and I am a boy”. It is difficult to explain, because for one, what I said was inaccurate; I never wake up feeling like a boy. I do however wake up feeling masculine. Sometimes that feeling does not conflict with the body in which it is being carried. This masculine nature does not reject my small breasts, large hips, broad shoulders, and small waist. I walk around feeling, for lack of a better word, rougher. My shoulders slouch. My feet kick out when I walk. I tend to keep my hands in my pocket. My eyes get droopy and my confidence, which is generally quite low, skyrockets. Every part of my female body that I have been taught to criticize suddenly feels liberated. It feels like ownership; this body is mine. As someone perceived as a cis woman, I am held accountable for looking, walking, and talking a certain way. There are rules as to how my unruly hair should fall. When I feel like a masculine being at peace within a feminine body, no one – myself included – holds me accountable for anything. Fluidity becomes freedom. I feel like a sexy beast. I smile at girls, and they almost always smile back. I smile at men and they only sometimes smile back. But when I am like this, the men hardly matter. They are boring at best and not intimidating in the least.
It is when I venture out of this perfect grey area and into feeling like a man stuck in a woman’s body that things start to get messy. On days like these, I wake up with a hatred for my hips. I cannot understand why it is that my shirt does not fall upon my shoulders in that perfect and effortless way that it should. On days like these, I hate my voice, my feet, my hair, and my breasts. I hate my oversized knees and the fluffiness of the skin on my thighs. I hate my soft fur and would so much rather see coarse hair all over my face, arms, and toes. On days like these, I reject my softness. And being around men becomes terribly stressful. In retrospect, I have confused the feeling of wanting to be a man with that of desiring a man for over 16 years. I suddenly find myself feeling like a homosexual teenage boy trying to seduce a heterosexual man, all mixed up with the knowledge that I am also stuck in a woman’s body that is also being rejected. These are terrible days, during which I cannot focus on much else.
They are equally as terrible as the days I wake up feeling like a woman, and only a woman. My shoulders feel too big, my feet to clumsy. In this culture, in this city, I never feel ‘up to standard’. My clothes are far too shabby, and I walk like a penguin. I’ve been destroying my nails for 27 years, and my legs are genetically tailored to be too wonky and stubby for any good choices concerning shoes. I am neither petite enough nor voluptuous enough to fit into a niche of desire. I do not like being a cis woman.
On these dichotomous days, it becomes very clear to me that I am not enough woman, nor am I enough man. On the grey days, I am more than enough of both. I am told this is ‘gender-fluidity’. I am told this means I am not a cis woman. I was only ever able to come to learn this about myself - and accept it - when I started sleeping with women. It translated so beautifully into my gender expression within intimacy. I am finally turned on out of my mind. I am finally living - fucking – in my own body and it feels like home.
I am terrified that this man that I have fallen in love with will accidentally take that away. To be fair, I should say I am afraid that I will take it away because I have fallen in love with a man. I am terrified that I will miss wearing a strap-on and feeling whole – scared that I will miss fucking a woman so much so that I might make hurtful decisions during the forging of a healthy partnership. How will I or he navigate this?
I have fallen in love with a man and it scares me that he isn’t a woman.