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My queer body

Changing my body and transitioning towards a world without gender

For some years now I have defined myself as a genderqueer, a non-binary gender identity: neither man, nor woman, nor - in my case - at any point between the two extremes. I have come to define myself this way after a process of many years. I was assigned male at birth; I was raised and educated as a boy. In this process I have benefited from the privileges that patriarchy assigns to boys, but I have also suffered a lot and continue to live with my wounds and scars. I had a rather conflictive relationship with (my) masculinity, having tried to fit into various masculinities (hetero, gay...), with less and less success. I got to a point where I said "enough is enough", I was tired of being defined as a man, and of the pressure of fulfilling (or resisting) what it means to be a man in our society.

Defining myself as a genderqueer is a way of breaking gender norms. Binarism is such a hegemonic system that it is difficult to get out of it. Not only am I the one who defines my identity, but I am defined in almost any social encounter. I am denied my existence every day, and the truth is that I am fed up, fed up with this denial of my identity as genderqueer, fed up with people forcibly placing me in their binary boxes without anyone asking me where I place myself. I don't know how many times it has happened to me that, when a person greets me in the supermarket as a gentleman, I would like to answer "Fuck you, I'm not a man, don't deny me my identity!" But I don't. I don't have the strength to correct every person who reads me (without asking me).

Defining myself as genderqueer has also been a liberation, a political act, my rejection of patriarchy, of the masculine privileges it offers me (and that some still grant me when they read me as a man). Since then, I am no longer struggling against (my) masculinity, nor trying to fit into anything.

Queering my body

Despite this, invisibility continues, and this has led me to consider changing my body, starting hormonal treatment to demasculinize it, always with the idea of transitioning to no specific place, especially not to an opposite gender (opposite of what?). My objective is perhaps a more strange, more queer body; that is, to get out of the normal and thus make it more difficult to be socially read as a man.
In the beginning it has not been easy to get the treatment. The Andalusian health system remains stuck in binarism and I only found incomprehension in the Transsexual Care Unit (!) at the Virgen de Rocío hospital in Seville. The Andalusian Health Service's guide to good practice is limited to recommendations for the transition from man to woman or vice versa. Queer, non-binary, is not foreseen. I finally got treatment with the support of Transit, in Barcelona, where they answered all my questions and doubts, and helped me get the hormones through my health centre in Seville.

A body in transition

I have chosen to take only estrogens and not antiandrogens, which are usually also taken in a male to female transition process to block testosterone. Estrogens, although they may also block the production of testosterone somewhat, mainly initiate the development of female secondary sexual characteristics. Finally, after almost a year of treatment, I can report some changes:

  • The breasts are growing, I also notice an increase of the nipples and more sensitivity in both the nipples and the breasts in general.
  • A decrease in libido and also in sexual response. The sexual response had worried me quite a bit before the start of the treatment, but now I don't really care. These were the remnants of a masculine fear that has evaporated. Semen production has also decreased. I don't care, because I don't want to reproduce: infertility? So what? There is nothing less relevant in my life than my fertility.
  • The first two follow-up tests show a very low level of testosterone, within the typical female levels. This drop surprised both Transit and me, as I am not taking antiandrogens. On the other hand, estrogen levels are now within typical female levels.

Beyond the physical changes, it is difficult to attribute the emotional changes directly to hormonal treatment, as the beginning of treatment coincided with other changes in my life. I feel more balanced, more comfortable inside my changing body, full of curiosity about the process of change.

Beyond this, with a body increasingly queer come other problems. To buy clothes there are shops and male or female sections (clothes are clothes, male or female clothes do not exist!) and also, where do I go, in a public bathroom? Male or female, there are no other options. If I go to the women's room and they read me as a man I might have problems. In the men's room it's worse, because trans people are not well seen and the risk of harassment is high, especially in bars. I prefer to avoid public restrooms whenever I can. What about changing rooms in the public swimming pool, or what would happen in case of an arrest in a nonviolent direct action?

Towards a world without gender

Would I have considered changing my body in another context, in a post-gender society, that is, without gender? It's unlikely. The decision to take hormones has a lot to do with how this cisheteropatriarchal society denies my existence and imposes its binary system on me. A body -my body- is as socially constructed as gender. At every encounter my body is read within a binary frame, and while the resulting changes due to hormonation cannot completely prevent it, at least they make it more difficult.

Sometimes I dream of a world without gender. What would a world without gender mean? For me, if gender didn't matter, it would allow us more diversity; no need to adapt to norms (written or not), and no need to change the body. In a genderless world people could choose a profession, the way they dress (there would only be sections of clothing for everyone) and behave freely. In addition, they could express, feel, love and desire whoever they want and however they want and, in short, choose in their own way everything that gender constructs and attributes. And, finally, the most important thing: a world without gender would be a world that does not assume the domination of the masculine over the feminine. A world without gender would be a world without male privileges.

 

Published in: El Topo, no 35, July 2019, (in Spanish), http://eltopo.org/mi-cuerpo-queer/



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Article | by Dr. Radut