The TL:DR; of this post is that my name is Steven & I’m a nonbinary trans man. If we’re friends & you’ve been following my transition, you know how I want to be referred to. If this is news to you, I’d kindly ask you call me Steven & refer to me using he/him/his pronouns.
It’s been 2 years since I started taking testosterone. Mostly I’ve been on & off T at a pretty low dose. I’ve used a lot of different labels for myself over the years & especially so this year. I called myself: queer, nonbinary, trans, lesbian & masculine, for the most part. I started thinking about why & came to the conclusion that it was because I was excluded from being a boy for most of my life & then I was forced &/or assumed to be feminine to survive being a “woman” in male-dominated spaces & with patriarchy.
I’ve been at a higher dose of T now for a month. I’ve been feeling way better about the way I look & how I feel. I’ve made a lot of steps to create a more masculine presentation for myself. I picked out a more typically masculine name, I re-organized my closet to have men’s clothing that fits me easily accessible everyday, & the higher dose of T has already resulted in a noticably more masculine figure. I’m hopeful about scheduling bottom surgery soon & working on changing my name legally.
I really like being masculine & I think there’s nothing wrong with choosing to express my masculinity by transitioning for myself, at my own speed. It’s been hard transitioning in a male-dominated space though because I feel like a lot of what defines being a man is wrapped up in patriarchy & toxic masculinity & being typically cis-het normative.
When I came out to my dad as trans, I’m not sure I mentioned a specific gender. I just gave him a name & pronouns. I remember that he asked if my desire to transition was in response to not wanting to deal with misogyny in tech. My dad didn’t reliably refer to me how I wanted to be & he only changed when he figured out he wouldn’t be able to have a relationship with me through my mom anymore. I sought after validation for my gender identity quite a bit from him since I thought my version of masculinity was similar to his. I worried for a long time that I was picking masculinity to escape misogyny. I know that’s not how it works. Men don’t choose to be men. I will be dealing with both transmisogyny & transmisandry for the rest of my life, assuming people know I’m trans. I just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just be happy with femininity & my body like the cis women in my life since I couldn’t be accepted as a man.
The way I’ve performed masculinity is by focusing on my work. Being good at my job & being typically career-oriented is all I’ve ever wanted. To make something incredible & be remembered for that work, hopefully! I’ve been extremely lucky to have supportive coworkers at work where I’m writing Haskell. I really enjoy writing Haskell & I guess I don’t mind it being male-dominated because I’m also a man. The lack of visibility of feminine folks bothers me a lot though.
People ask me why more women don’t write Haskell & actually I think there are plenty of women who write Haskell, who deserve more support. I haven’t interacted with “the community” recently because of the constant misogyny you can see in some of the people who are loud & write Haskell. Navigating misogyny is not something I know how to do well frankly. Being in spaces with less blatant misogyny has been a lot better for my health & for my growth as a developer. Misogyny might also be “the reason” that “more women” don’t pursue Haskell professionally or as a hobby as frequently. But I don’t know, why don’t you think about how you & other masculine folks you know treat the feminine-coded people in your life before asking another woman developer?
I started writing Rust because someone told me it was kinda like Haskell & they have a friendly community because of their code of conduct. There are just a surprising number of trans folks in Rust & I think we just recruit more by letting people in on the secret that Rust is a programming language empowering everyone to be trans. I think there are a lot of folks who aren’t given the space to think about their gender, which prevents people from “choosing” to transition. In Rust, my gender identity has always been respected & I know it will continue to be. It’s amazing to know I have that support. Finding a group of trans-friendly people was very important to continuing my transition & I’m glad I found it in Rust. I learned that “not wanting to be a woman by default” & “not wanting to be feminine” & “not wanting to deal with misogyny” are three separate issues. I also learned a lot of new programming skills. Highly recommend.
I’ve become friends with a lot of queer people, but especially trans feminine people in & out of tech. I’ve been extremely grateful when people have shared about their gender & sexuality. I’ve been able to explore femininity through a lens that wasn’t heterosexuality. Playing around with my presentation & presenting as a very queer femme was a really wonderful experience. I felt like I finally had room to explore gender & sexuality beyond the compulsory heterosexuality & gender I had been assigned. I made femme looks that still made me feel masculine & I realized that for the first time in my life people were just encouraging me to present however I wanted. I have the space now to create the presentation I want without the retaliation. I like presenting femme still & honestly expect my presentation will still vary. Femme, for me, is more of a performance & right now I’m only sharing that with people who respect my identity as a masculine person.
I experienced a lot of isolation as a young girl wishing she was a boy, sorta, but being very confused because of the compulsory heterosexuality pushed on me by straight cis people & the expectations of womanhood on top of that. I experienced a lot of violence in my life from my inability to stand up for myself to other men & say I’m a man & I’d like to be treated as such or saying that & being beaten back by them to put me in my place, as a woman. The real misogyny was me adopting a style of femininity to appease straight cis men. It was the only way I knew I could stop the violence at the time though & having the lived experience of misogyny as a perceived woman will always stay with me.
Today, I’m living with my girlfriend & my best friend at our house, Very Good Bad Thing, in Denver. My friend, Megan, likes to name the places she lives after album names. I picked the name as a joke about testosterone & the mixed feelings I was working through in my transition. She is the reason I adopted J as my first name as I discovered who I was with regards to my gender & sexuality. Grey is my first romantic partner I came out to as a trans man who accepted me & gave me the room to figure it out unconditionally. I’m hopeful with the help of Grey, Megan, my mom & my sister, & all my friends in Denver that I’ll finish the major parts of my transition this year.
Thanks to all the women in my life for filling it with music & love, for sharing compassion & vulnerability with me, for helping me truly appreciate femininity. I’ve inevitably hurt people along the way as I’ve figured this out. For times I wasn’t sensitive or kind, I’m sorry. I was full of a lot of hurt from years of transphobia & transmisandry. I’m not going to let that hold me back anymore. I’m going to make a presentation for myself, as a man, & remember to make room for those who have to deal with misogyny all the ways I can.