Milestones in Masculinity

Change is happening, incrementally, but inexorably. Somehow in the last couple of months, I’ve slipped from one side of the gender line to the other, so now when I interact with strangers I’m surprised if they call me “she”. Male is becoming the default.

The  big factors, I think, are voice and facial hair.

My voice is distinctly lower than it once was, both speaking and singing. Singing is still a challenge, because while I’m a solid tenor now, I have a crap falsetto, and a good tenor needs a good falsetto. I’m still working on that. But my speaking voice seems to have, just in the last month, acquired an extra dimension so that it isn’t just generally lower pitched, but also has an overall more male timbre.

I got a phone call the other day from someone stumping for a local political issue. Since I haven’t legally changed my name yet, my voter registration is still in my obviously female name. The conversation went like this.

Me: Hello?

Caller: *cheery* Hi. May I speak to Girlyfirstname, please?

Me: *instantly suspicious, because even when going by my girl name, I used my middle name, not my first name* Who’s calling, please?

Caller: This is Sandy. I’m calling about county proposition M. *launches into a short description of Prop M, which does something about roads and schools*

Me: Oh. Yeah, okay, you got me. *meaning, yes, this is Girlyfirstname, go ahead and tell me about Prop M*

Caller: *completely misunderstanding* Oh good! Then we can count on you to vote for Prop M? Do you think Girlyfirstname will vote for it as well?

Me: *amused* Yep, I’m pretty sure she’ll vote the same way I do.

Caller: Okay, great! Thank you, sir! Don’t forget to send your ballots in if you’re voting by mail.

Then I hung up the phone and cracked up.

I still hear my voice climb to the upper register when I’m pleased or excited, and it makes me a little self-conscious, but then I have some cis-male friends who have voices that do the same thing, so maybe it’s not the dead giveaway I’m afraid it is.

As for facial hair, I’ve got a lot more of a beard now, but it’s still light colored (you say grey, I say blond…) and patchy, with a little bare spot where a good surfer dude would have a soul patch. I can’t grow a proper moustache, either. I can do one of those ‘suspicious French waiter’ style things, with a giant gap between the two halves of the ‘stache, but it’s like the dead center of my face just doesn’t want to do the man thing.

The sides are totally making up for it, though—my sideburns are narrow but full, and dyed blue to match my hair. I grew them in at the suggestion of my friend Sam, and man, he was right, what a difference they make. I’d say they are the single biggest factor that gets me read as male at a glance. As such, they make me ridiculously happy.

Nezu's face in profile, showing sideburns

Sideburns and fabulous glasses

I’ve also finally got enough hair on my legs that I’m comfortable wearing shorts. I hadn’t realized how much my self-consciousness about my sadly hairless shins contributed to my disdain of shorts. And I have chest hair! Belly hair! Arm hair! I’d like more on my forearms and less on my upper arms, but hey, it’s a start. (The, uh, shoulder hair I could do without, however.)

Here’s the proof of the pudding. I live near San Francisco, and as such have spent many an hour in the Castro (gay center of San Francisco, in case you’ve been living under a rock.) Now, on almost every previous trip into the Castro, male passers-by on the street have kind of ignored me. Their eyes skipped over me, their faces registered no emotion. But two weeks ago I went into the Castro in the late afternoon, and noticed that a lot of guys I passed made eye contact and smiled. It was a sunny, gorgeous day, so I didn’t think too deeply about it. But I went back the next day on another errand, and it happened again. And when I went last week on another errand, it happened again.

I don’t think there has been a sudden influx of more joyous, friendly people into the Castro; I think it’s that the queer men I was passing on the street were, for the first time, seeing me as one of their own. Maybe even, dare I hope, attracted to me. It’s kind of awesome.

Eight weeks and counting down to chest surgery!


~ by Nezu on 6 May 2012.

3 Responses to “Milestones in Masculinity”

  1. Ah yes, if the gay men are crusing you – you’ve truly crossed the line!

  2. Yeah, the sideburns are definitely a clear cue – not wildly dramatic, but distinct. Plus, they suit you well!

    That’s awesome that you’re catching the boys’ eyes.

  3. Yay for sideburns! I am glad that your transition appears to be going well.

    Miss you.

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