As published on The Montreal Gazette's website:
People sometimes ask me how I identify. The snarky reply I'd like to give them is that I don't.
What's the point? Of all the cool stuff about me you can't see, what's a label going to tell you? Even when people ask me which pronouns I prefer I tend to utter a laboured, hesitant "Eeeeeeeeeeeeh..." and hope that if I draw it out long enough they'll eventually lose interest.
The English language just doesn't have the right words. I used to call myself a male woman, which at the time, seemed extremely clever. In two perfectly ordinary words I had described myself as physically and sexually male while living outwardly as a woman. The problem is that if you introduce yourself to someone as a male woman, they stare back at you with a perplexed look on their face and ask you what that means. It entirely defeats the purpose of having a label if you have to explain it. Then again, I suppose I'd rather just have people get to know me than ask weird questions like "how do you identify?"
Still, it's kind of a shame not having a word because I really like what I am. Other people say things like, "I'm a woman trapped in a man's body," but I'm more like "a woman chilling out in a man's body." Why shouldn't I? There's plenty about a guy's body that a woman might find fun to play with. And I've got such good nesting instincts, too! All a male body needs is a bit of renovation and redecoration and there's no place like home.
I know it's easier to look at transgenderism as some sort of illness -- it makes us sound like the blameless victims of a birth defect that has given us the wrong body. Fine, but why do we need to be so defensive about it in the first place? All I'm doing is looking, acting, walking and talking the way that comes naturally to me. What have I done wrong?
I don't feel like I have anything to hide, I feel like I have an interesting story. I was one of the few little boys lucky enough to grow up to be a woman. Why should I conceal my life pre-transition? A good lot of it was pretty cool. If anything, I think it's a shame that when I just fit right in as a woman all those parts of me are invisible. People just politely ignore that I may not be your average tall lady. Part of me wants to go by male pronouns just so that people will have to deal with the fact that there are boys out there for whom living as a girl is the most natural and comfortable thing in the world.
Maybe that's why I got into nudism/naturism. Underneath the clothes I mostly look like a boy. A rather pretty boy, I like to think, but there's no mistaking what's between my legs. But then, I'm also just as feminine as I am the rest of the time. People are left with the image of this androgynous, long-haired male who acts like a woman. The message is clear: people like me exist. So far I've found that nudists are very accepting. To them, I'm just another human being.
What I wish people understood is that transgenderism isn't really about gender at all. It's about being yourself. I wish I had a word so that I could tell people that I like my body and my personality. I can be a woman with my clothes on and a boy with my clothes off, and I think that's pretty cool.