I follow the Rodeoh blog on tumblr, which features a wide array of people modeling their brand of underwear. I follow it mainly because pretty much everyone who is interested in that brand (because it caters to afab bodies) is a lesbian, queer woman, transmasculine, FTM, etc, all of which I have a lot of love for and want to see images of even though I’m not that interested in the product.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that almost all of the people featured who have facial hair and mastectomies are lifting up their shirts specifically to show off their mastectomy scars (in kind of a pointed way) in the photos. It’s mostly the people who I think would pass almost 100% of the time as male otherwise. It’s really interesting to me — they went through this process to ostensibly seem less female, publicly or to themselves, but in the context of modeling for an almost entirely queer/gay female audience, specifically signal their afab bodies, or evidence of a history of transition, etc.
The reason this gives me something to think about is basically that that seems perfectly natural to me, despite what the trans/queer narratives I’ve been fed in my time spent in those communities told me: that Trans Men Are Men, and that furthermore what that MEANS is that they have absolutely NO connections to lesbian and queer female community anymore. For some, that’s true. For others, it’s just not. It’s totally ideological and not based in reality. Afab trans people and lesbian communities have pretty much always been interconnected – in fact, some of the older butches I know identify as trans and butch lesbians in equal measure and seem to have no idea that people my age think that’s incredibly evil. It’s just… a reality. Why else would there be so many femmes who don’t call themselves lesbians but basically are except for respect for some of their partners?
I think that for many, passing as male is one thing, but not being recognized by your own people is another. I have a lot of detransitioned friends who speak of it often, and in my limited experience I can definitely verify. Even at my “peak” of disidentification, my biggest fear was being seen as a cis man to other women, to lesbians, to trans people, etc. Passing for male is a really dissociative, isolating experience, and nobody ever really tells you that before it happens more often than it doesn’t.
I really think that transition would be so much less fucked up for so many people who have felt fucked up by it (emotionally I mean, physically it would be the same toll) if we were allowed to keep our connections to our pasts and our people even though it doesn’t fit an ideological narrative. Way more than because I want to make sure people know they can always come home if it feels right, this is the reason I keep an open heart to people who do not define themselves in the ways that I define myself. We have a common struggle at the end of the day. I want to see and recognize anyone who wants to be seen and recognized.