The Day My Gender Failed

When my gender failed me, I realized becoming a man became something I neither expected nor wanted. But this thing I neither wanted nor expected embeds itself into masculinity. To deny it suggests as a man I don’t have a clue. To embrace it as though I committed grievous harm suggests I want all the guilt but none of the responsibility.

When Did My Gender Fail Me?

All of this stuff swirls around a central question: When did my gender fail me? Perhaps another way to say it: When did my expectations of what becoming a man means, get crushed under the bruising weight of reality?

color photo of gender warrior Jay Sennett

I did not realize early in my transition that becoming a man meant more than simply how I looked. The fact that I did not realize this should indicate how far removed from reality I lived in my gender fantasies. Right? Of course, gender lives and breathes as more than how I look. But I suspect I lived so very far from my body because I needed to become comfortable in this body. To do that, I focused on how I looked. Looking like a man eased my social dysphoria.

The looking of gender and masculinity came quickly and easily. The doing of my new gender did not. The doing of my gender took years and years and years of practice. I learned to find comfort in heterosexuality. I learned how to act kindly towards other men, and sometimes gently, too. I learned, and still learn how to do this everyday, how to cultivate a more dispassionate mind, to live in my chosen gender and not in my chosen gender. That sounds rather woo-woo Buddhist, I know.

But I learned quickly that while I became a man and live happily as one today, there exists another part of myself, a higher consciousness, one that knows gender remains a game, a scam, beautiful and terrible all at once.