So There’s This Man

I. What Would I Do?

After I had finished reading Darin Strauss’ memoir Half a Life, I told him that I was contemplating writing about my own “thing” – the one thing that characterizes most of us (as determined by ourselves or by others).

He responded with the following words: “Don’t write it if you don’t feel like it. It appears to be incredibly personal, so if it makes you uneasy, listen to your instincts. It took me twenty-eight years to even begin this book. But thank you for your kind words.”

One may ask, what would Darin do? He figured out a way to get his project done. However, he also told me I had the option to put mine off or not do it at all. That might have been the approval I needed to begin typing the Roman numeral I and find out if I actually could.

I really don’t want to talk about this particular issue of mine, but I may have to in order to prevent it from being something that follows me. I’m aware that this could potentially result in a lot of regret, much like the regret I’ve experienced in the past after being too candid. Nowadays, everything we say can remain online for a long time, so even my kids may stumble upon it in a few years.

This is why I must be so careful with my words; as my candor may be filtered through someone more powerful and the consequences could be dire. Therefore, I’m taking the initiative to be my own filter, which means that I have nobody to blame but myself if things don’t go as planned.

I and Darin Strauss have one distinct difference- he was able to obscure his traumatic experience (being involved in a fatal car crash at eighteen) for quite some time following leaving his home. On the contrary, I cannot pretend I have never been anything other than the person I am today.

When I meet new people, most don’t know my “secret” (or history more accurately, which some take as a secret if I don’t tell them everything). There will always be people who know the truth about me, from family to colleagues to that girl from second grade who used to eat soap powder at break.

Even if I were to change my name and disown my past, it would still be almost impossible for me to totally avoid the fact that I wasn’t born male, not in a traditional sense at least, not according to science.

II. A Plan to Present a Letter to my Parents in a Men’s Magazine

I had considered writing a letter to my parents and publishing it in a magazine aimed at men.

Greetings to my parents,

You might be taken aback and disheartened when you hear what I’m about to say, so please take a seat before I tell you.

It is not my sexual orientation to be attracted to the same gender.

I just said it and there’s no going back.

But before you panic, I have some good news. Not only am I not homosexual, but I am engaged and have taken on the role of stepfather to my fiancee’s two lovely blond children. We all live in a pleasant four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath abode, and own two hybrid vehicles, two adopted pit bulls, and a gray and white feline that I do not favor very much.

It’s what you’ve always wished for me! I’m doing work around the house and driving people around. I’m totally typical now; there’s nothing to be ashamed of when you’re with family and friends–no more bleached buzz-cuts, no faux-hawks or combat boots, no showing up with dates with septum piercings who only eat vegan food.

No more homosexual anything at all! So feel free to take those PFLAG pamphlets and use them for someone who really requires them.

Unfortunately, I must also share some bad news. It’s not ideal that you are discovering this about me in a magazine, but I’ve been afraid for a long time that if you knew I wasn’t gay, you would reject me and even stop speaking to me. I was taught by you to be honest, so here I am being truthful – I need to “come out” to you more clearly.

I identify as solely attracted to the opposite sex.

Allow me to take a trip down memory lane. How could I forget how skilled I was at football? And how I was riding motorcycles when other kids were still learning to ride bicycles with training wheels? You had to bribe me with numerous pairs of shorts and pants just to get me to wear one gauzy dress to Spencer Presler’s bar mitzvah. Fast forward to 2002, Mom.

You remember when you came to one of my readings for my first book, and a poster bearing my picture referred to me as “he”? You were so startled that you brought it to the bookseller’s attention.

But you never discussed it again. And Dad, that time we were at a restaurant in Santa Fe, and you thought I was the maitre d’ and asked, “Sir, when will our table be ready?” I simply said, “Dad, it’s me”, and you replied with a cheerful “Oh”. Then we sat down and enjoyed our Tex-Mex dinner.

Doing a simple Google search will reveal a lot of evidence that your beloved daughter isn’t always referred to as such. As an author, I’m happy that my work is being mentioned and featured in different media, and it’s very likely that you’ve noticed that they usually refer to me as “he”. For a while, no gender pronoun was used, while other times, a writer would make sure to indicate that “T is a she” (although they were incorrect). I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of this, since you are always supportive of my work and you enjoy being part of it. What I’m trying to say is, does this news even come as a surprise to you?

I’m not one of those who believe they were born in the wrong body, like you often see on television. I’m happy with the body I inhabit, even though it is different and doesn’t fit into the gender binary. I think you have known this about me for some time. I strive to be a good person, creative at times, and a bit hardheaded, yet usually pleasant to be around. I’ve not been tortured or had a hard time due to my life experience, in fact, I’ve been rather fortunate. It hasn’t always been easy, such as the time I encountered a knifepoint on the subway, but, for the most part, I’ve been lucky.

The greatest difficulty I have faced as a heterosexual person is my concern over how you would respond. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t imagined you passing away before having to explain everything (which would undoubtedly cause you distress). Therefore, returning home for the holidays this year may be a bit challenging. There is my moustache, for a start. Additionally, my children recognize me as their stepfather, and they will have no idea who you are talking about when you continuously refer to me as your “daughter,” repeating it to all and sundry as if repeating it more often will make it true again.

No longer having a daughter, you now have granddaughters who are eager to come into contact with the individuals who shaped me into the person I am today, one who realized that I wasn’t what other people characterized me as, but instead underwent a transformation into something different.


The holiday season is a special time for many people. It is a time of joy, reflection, and celebration. For some, it is a time to reconnect with family, while for others it is a time to give back to the community. During this period, people take part in various activities, such as decorating their homes, exchanging gifts, and gathering for meals. Whatever the tradition, the holidays are an opportunity for people to come together and express their love for one another.

III. Extracts from the Final Version of the Correspondence I Sent to My Parents after Evaluating Multiple Drafts

I’m sure it’s not a surprise to you that I don’t identify as female. Sexuality and gender are two distinct concepts, although they have some overlap. You’ve likely always assumed I was gay, based on who I was in relationships with, but it’s more complicated than that. I was just me, and this is who I’ve been with, but I never felt gay, so I never said the words. The term lesbian has never been used to describe me, and I’m probably the most lesbo-phobic person on the planet. I haven’t seen The L Word, never been to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, don’t even know who Dinah Shore is, and certainly never worn a thumb ring or ear cuff….

For some time now, it’s been plain to see that my gender expression does not follow the traditional male/female binary, but instead falls somewhere in the middle. Over the past decade, I have gradually moved more towards the male end of the spectrum. To put it simply, I am essentially a man now.

My love for you has not changed and never will. This has nothing to do with you, whatever you do or do not do. I am the same person I have always been, no matter my gender, who I have relationships with, my hairstyle, the books I write, where I live, or who I spend time with. I am not “a man trapped in a woman’s body”; that’s not a valid explanation. I am in the body I was born into, not stuck, but I am a man. You have heard me say this before, in private and in public, and it has been in my writing, questions from the audience at readings and in interviews. You have been with me when people address me as “he”, and you have caused confusion for waiters when they call me “she” or “my daughter” when there’s nothing at the table except what looks like a son.

I ask that you try to listen to me and not what you may have seen or heard about this topic; it isn’t like what has been broadcast on Oprah or Maury. It isn’t what you read in PFLAG brochures or read about on the internet about so-called “roid rage.” I don’t become the Incredible Hulk at random times; I haven’t been enduring a difficult life, with a hidden secret I’m scared will be revealed and ruin me and my family. This is an experience that is unique to me and it’s not a tough life, it’s simply a natural thing for me. This may be impossible for you to comprehend, but there’s no need to worry—it’s simply the way it is.

IV. It Seems to Me at Times that the Entirety of Contemporary History Could Be Elucidated by Testosterone

It has become apparent that certain facts, even if they may be seen as clichés, have emerged recently.

( 1 ) In comparison to the past, it now requires much more to bring me to tears.

I find myself becoming infuriated more often. It takes only a small amount of provocation to arouse my ire.

My attitude is more upbeat than it once was; in other words, I’m generally in a good mood.

My tolerance has diminished.

My communication skills are not as advanced.

It is my aim to maintain a close connection with my spouse at all times, no matter the circumstances.

I am given more respect than before.

My strength has increased.

( 9 ) My endurance on the treadmill has increased.

When I’m around unfamiliar people, I’m less likely to talk.

An illustration by Alex Petrowsky depicting a man with a large level of testosterone is displayed here.

For Esquire’s “How to Be a Man” Issue I Was Interviewed, Yet My Replies Were Overlooked in Favor of Nick Tosches and Tom Cruise’s Views

E SQUIRE : What example do you think best displays someone exhibiting exemplary behavior as a man?

T COOPER: An exemplar of this idea is Johnny Weir’s behaviour. Additionally, being truly honest is admired and appreciated, regardless of gender. ‘Stepping up and being a man’ is about striving for honour and if one fails, then being open about it without being harsh. It is about being mature rather than masculine.

At the age of eighteen, what understanding of manhood do you have now that you wish you had known then?

TC: (1) It is often the case that men are not correct in their beliefs or decisions.

No need to put on a show of being correct if you’re aware that you’re in the wrong; in anything but terrible movies, there is no loss in confessing your error.

It is possible to embody the qualities of a man without having the physical characteristics of one.

ESQ : What would you say is the best part of being a man?

TC: I can’t take for granted the fact that I’m a man, since I didn’t come into this world as one. Nonetheless, I realized that no one is born a man. Of course, there are those among us humans who are born male, but only a small percentage of them end up becoming men.

My absolute favorite thing about being a man is that it was an accomplishment. It was not something that just randomly happened to me; it was something I had to strive for. I had to go against what society was telling me I should be since the day I was born.

In no particular order, I really enjoy my sideburns, my libido, not constantly worrying about other people’s emotions, and my amazing wife’s unwavering acceptance and affection which I believe has contributed more to my manliness than anything else, including testosterone.

VI. My Nearest Attempt at Writing a Poem, Besides Being Forced to Do So in Grade School

Anxiety is an emotion that can come on suddenly and with great intensity. It is typically caused by a perceived threat or danger and can lead to physical responses such as a racing heart, sweating, trembling, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause cognitive responses like worrying and dread.

She has me exposed and defenseless, playing around inside my ribcage as if it were a geodesic playground. With her hands full of bright paint and rust, she is scaling up with joyous energy, both of us feeling like playful children and magical creatures, as if each puppy ever in love with a young girl’s knobbly knees. The atmosphere is perfect, even though the walls shake and cells divide, somehow regrowing with her genetic identity.

Whenever she departs a space I occupy, I can’t help but feel a sense of dread that she may never return. It’s a sensation that’s akin to a person behind the wheel of a car in long-term parking, grimacing as the clock ticks towards another day’s fee. To be even franker, it’s not just when she leaves a room, but whenever her gaze shifts away from me (to drive, to walk, to read, or to observe something else).

Ahead is the signpost that reminds her and the world that you need to be the person they want you to be.


It is my strong opinion that when authors write about their dreams in any type of writing, they tend to embellish them. This being said, and with full understanding that the story may be modified to some degree, I will attempt to recount accurately a dream I had two nights ago: I was being confronted by a few policemen in an unfamiliar area. When requested, I presented them with my driver’s license.7 Although I was still quite certain the law enforcement officers were going to let me go, I recall feeling a sense of relief that I had the necessary documents. I think, but am not certain, that I was also asked for my passport,8 as well as other random paperwork.

At one point, I was taken into custody without warning. I had no idea what I had done wrong, but I soon found myself in an unmarked van with other prisoners (both men and women with our hands bound and resting in our laps). We were driven to a prison that resembled San Quentin and the many Midwestern facilities shown on Lockup. When we arrived, there were more vans of prisoners, and we were all led in one line toward the prison. Then, the guards divided us into male and female lines which went into two separate doors. I was placed in the male line and I couldn’t help but compare the whole experience to Buchenwald, though I felt I had nobody to share this thought with.

The line was moving at an incredibly slow pace, and for a moment, I felt at ease with my situation. I was just trying to accept the fact that I had to endure this and eventually I would be released. I didn’t believe I had been wrongfully accused or that I didn’t belong there, which is usually the case in my dreams about being persecuted. As I approached the front of the line, though, I started to become anxious. There was a female guard with a rifle standing between the two lines of prisoners and I tried to get her attention. I was the smallest person in line and nobody had paid me any attention before, but as soon as I started trying to get her attention, a few people in both lines started to take notice. I coughed a few times until she finally looked at me and I tried to give her a kind, open look. At first, she seemed indifferent, but it seemed like her opinion was starting to change. I thought she would ignore me, but as I was getting to the front of the line, a male guard asked me to pull down my pants, and then the female guard finally came over to me and leaned in close. From the panicked expression on my face as I started to lower my pants, I think she had seen how scared I was.

At this point, the dream transitioned into a movie-like sequence, where I could watch myself among a large group of characters. I saw a small man, who was me, talking to a guard, while various people from both the men’s and women’s lines noticed. Even though I was the one speaking, I didn’t know exactly what was said. But I had a general feeling of what I conveyed to the guard—that I couldn’t completely undress for the strip-search, because then others would recognize that I was different. I would then be subjected to physical and sexual assault when I entered the general population on the other side of the male and female admitting areas.

As soon as the guard saw me, it was obvious she had been alerted beforehand. It was not in a compassionate manner, but rather it was as if there had been a notification or a lesson about “types of people that might be found in the prison system” and she was just doing her duty to ensure my safety. She was simply executing her role.

Amid the watchful eyes of some of the other inmates, the guard escorted me to a private chamber and instructed me to take off my clothes and put on an orange prison uniform. The male guards looked away as the guard gave me supplies and my cell number. Feeling scared and alone, I stepped out into the general population, where people were carrying blankets, towels, and soap to their quarters. I walked by rows and rows of open cells, four people per cell, with a stainless-steel toilet in plain view. I was fearful of having to use the toilet in front of everyone, but I reminded myself that the female guard had been understanding, so I continued to search for the right cell. Soon, two women inmates in orange jumpsuits approached me and spoke to me in a comforting manner, as if they were aware of my worries and wanted to protect me from the men in the prison. They then directed me to the common area with the gym equipment, ping-pong table, and television.

The woman who saw my documents directed me to a compartment resembling those found in Japanese airports or business-commuter hotels. It took some effort to climb up the wall to get to my small space but I was the only person occupying it so I had some privacy. I had a bedroll and a cement surface to place my few belongings such as a notebook, pen, and an alarm clock. The woman then informed me that another person with “concerns like mine” had been there the month before and had their own private, small bathroom for their use. I was relieved at this thought but also anxious that it wouldn’t remain a secret and that someone would eventually find out that I was different.

I had asked one of the girls how long we would be in confinement, but they said it was not certain. Dinner and the free time before bedtime was normal. When it was lights-out and the barred door closed me in the pod, I felt secure, however, I was deeply concerned about the morning. I figured I had to act tough and not show any signs of uneasiness. I was hoping that I had enough tattoos to blend in and that my lack of strength would not be noticed. I was trying to do complicated calculations in my head to work out how many people would see me use the toilets and showers, how quickly this information would spread and how many days I could last. I was aware that ultimately something bad would happen, I just didn’t know when.

VIII. The Small Surfer Female

The diminutive wave rider was standing there, ready to take on the waves. She was a determined individual, ready to challenge the ocean, and show her strength and skill. She was a small surfer girl, eager to show the world that she could take on whatever was thrown at her.

A reporter from the LA Weekly, Los Angeles’ major alternative paper, interviewed me face-to-face recently. The article was to be featured in the front column with a maximum of seven hundred words, similar to New Yorker‘s “The Talk of the Town.” My book had been on the Los Angeles Times best-seller list for two weeks and I had been in town for bookstores events shortly before that.

When the reporter arrived at the house of my family, (where I was staying at the time), she seemed to be a pleasant person. It was my last day in the town and speaking with her was the last thing I wanted to do. However, I agreed to it and we spoke for 3 hours. I don’t need to explain everything but it’s safe to say I enjoyed her company. She had a sympathetic attitude, was easy-going and laughed at my jokes. This was confirmed by a follow-up email she sent me telling me that it was great talking to me since I was not caught up in my own hype and spoke whatever was on my mind.

About a quarter of the way through the conversation, the reporter expressed shock at the fact that I had not been born male, and asked me when I had undergone surgery. In response, I explained that there is no singular procedure for transitioning genders; it’s not a case of going in for one operation and leaving the following day as someone different. I clarified that this was something I was not secretive about, however it was not the focus of my book, and I would be uncomfortable if the majority of the interview revolved around it. I gave a few examples of other publications that had only briefly mentioned that I was trans, and then continued with their review or interview. The reporter seemed to understand that none of the transgender-related matters we discussed were intended for her story. I argued that it is nearly impossible to accurately and completely depict the nuances and intricacies of gender identity in a six hundred word piece; even more so if the interviewer had not brought a tape recorder.

The article I encountered began with: “So, there’s this man who used to be a woman, who wrote a novel about a polar bear who moves to Hollywood and becomes best friends with Leonardo DiCaprio.” Not a great start, but if that was to be the reference to my gender identity, then I decided to proceed. To save you from reading a narrative that was only half-correct and mainly snarky, I will simply mention that this scribe managed to bring up my gender identity nine times in the course of 650 words.

When the interviewer referred to me as a “little surfer girl” in my youth, I was taken aback. I had answered her questions about my past experiences with surfing and other ocean-related activities in the affirmative, but I had never employed the word girl throughout the course of the interview. I don’t even use the term in my day-to-day life, and I felt it was important to explain this to her. The phrase does not accurately sum up my experiences, and I find it uncomfortable when I am referred to with words such as “she” or “her” connected to myself. It is much more complex than that, and I wanted to make sure she understood.

When I was described as a “little surfer girl”, I felt like it was inappropriate. It seemed like the interviewer was fixated on my past weight issues, and was constantly bringing that up, despite my request to stop. It would be the same if I had an obvious physical disability, or epilepsy, or were of a different race. It would also be wrong if I were a gay person, and the interviewer was using the same joke again and again. Additionally, my Jewish faith wasn’t mentioned dozens of times either.

I am not the first person of a different background who gets frustrated with being known only by that difference. I recall an experience in 2007 where I read with Chris Abani and went for coffee afterward. He had read a review of my novel in the New York Times Book Review, which pointed out that I was female. Chris was fed up of people focusing on his physicality rather than his work. He even remarked at how strange it was when this wasn’t the main topic during interviews and reviews about his work.

I am a writer, a defender of pit bulls, a fan of early-20th-century jazz, hip-hop, and vintage aircraft, and a happily married father of two. However, I am not just a transgender person who is also all these things. The term transgender implies a constant state of transition, but all people are in a state of transition in some way, regardless of gender identity. This is part of the human experience, as we are constantly growing and evolving.

When I interviewed Dr. Marci Bowers, who is popularly known as the rock star of the transgender-surgery scene, she indicated to me in Trinidad, Colorado a couple years ago that she considered herself simply as a woman. Not as a trans woman or even as transgender. It is similar to when you remember where you were born, or were orphaned at age eight, adopted, experienced a severe illness, attended Harvard, became vegan, lived overseas, or, in the case of some, had the misfortune of causing a fatality with a parent’s Oldsmobile. It is all part of the journey of becoming who you are today, regardless of gender or in-between. As each day is filled with transitions – from trivial to monumental – for some, transitioning gender is the biggest of them all.

I’m a bit hesitant to be deceitful or withhold information, yet I can’t help but to contemplate if and when I will ever be considered as an adult in this society.

IX. Regarding Pronouns

A few words can be said about pronouns.

When a woman is expecting, what is typically the initial question people inquire about?

What is the gender of the baby?

Often people are most interested in finding out the sex of the baby. On the other hand, there are those who want to be surprised and thus, ask the doctor not to tell them. I can personally attest to the fact that you can be surprised at any time with the gender. Just look at my family for an example. Of course, the obligatory polite question of “Is it healthy?” is usually asked as well.

A few years ago, if I had to illustrate the challenge I faced when referring to myself with pronouns, I would have created a pyramid with the most arduous at the peak and least troublesome at the base.

An image of a pyramid is depicted, with its recognizable triangular shape, in the figure below.

I’m absent from the pyramid because I was embarrassed about my situation for a long time. To prevent making people feel uneasy, I would never correct them when they used the wrong pronoun to refer to me. This was especially true considering I had been a member of a boy-band called the Backdoor Boys, so acting like a guy was just part of the show! After that, I tried to be diplomatic when it came to gender pronouns and asked for none to be used when speaking about me. But this led to awkward sentences like “T said T wanted to stop at T’s house before we go to bingo.”

My closer friends shifted to using the pronoun he when referring to me, which was very agreeable to me. However, when others got it wrong, I would just tell them it was okay, jokingly adding that they could even address me as “asshole” if it was too hard for them. For my parents, I remember pointing out to them once that I would understand if they couldn’t bring themselves to use the pronoun he, but I asked them to please refrain from using she.

I regret having spoken those words. If I were to draw the pyramid again today, this is what it would be like (most days):

An illustration of a pyramid can be seen in the picture. It is a structure with a square base and four triangular sides that converge at a point.

When I switched to using he and made it known to my loved ones (in a humorous manner that left the responsibility on me), I quit asking for forgiveness. After being told countless times “It’s difficult because I’ve known you as she” and “I understand it’s not a big deal for you, but it’s really hard for me,” I ceased being so agreeable and began kindly correcting people, even if it made them slightly uncomfortable. Because you know what’s really uncomfortable? Not being recognized for who you are, especially by the people who should know and love you. You know what else? People who persistently claim that you are something you are not and probably never were. Meeting someone who has been told you are male and then hearing them refer to you as she within five minutes of meeting.

I cannot comprehend why it is so difficult for people to refer to me by the name I prefer. For instance, when you meet someone named John, it is inappropriate to decide to call him Sally or David instead. Let’s say you have a close friend you have known for years, who you used to go out with and partake in activities such as taking drugs and going to strip clubs. But if this individual is now five years sober, happily married, and has perfect children, it would be wrong to call them up and ask them to get some cocaine and go with you to a brothel. This isn’t their world anymore, even if you think or wish they still lived in it. Perhaps it was never who they were, and it took a while to reach the content and rainbow-filled place they are in today.

If basketball was something that you used to do with a close friend, like playing for the high-school team, at the Y, on the corner, at Chelsea Piers, or in a demanding adult league with a required uniform and postgame bar, what would you do when your friend was in a horrendous accident on the Staten Island Ferry, leaving him unable to walk? Would you, seeing him in the wheelchair, make the mistake of asking if he wanted to go play some pickup? It can be hard to get accustomed to such a change.

No, it’s certainly not easy. Consider the man who will never have the ability to walk, play basketball with his friends, or engage in sexual activity again. This is who life is hard for.

No matter if it’s done with the best intentions or if it’s clear to those around that I am male, I still feel terrible when people refer to me as she. Even if they are talking about me in the past, I still feel the same way. My wife has a way of understanding and expressing this issue better than I ever could and better than anyone else I’ve ever heard who is trans or not.

Sometimes I ponder what it would be like to be addressed as “sir” while I’m out on a date, wearing a dress, high heels, and cherry lipstick. It’s a disheartening experience to have the outside world disregard all of your cues and misidentify you. It’s a common misconception that being transgender is all about pretending to be something you’re not. But in actuality, being transgender is about embracing your truth so deeply that it’s impossible to hide. It’s a brave endeavor to rebel against what other people expect you to be, and I didn’t have the courage to do it myself.

X. Perceptions that I Am Supposed to Have of Women but Don’t13

The physical agony that accompanies menstruation

The agony that accompanies menstruation is an emotion that many women feel.

(3) Offering constructive feedback on someone’s outfit, hairstyle, footwear, cosmetics, or clothing can be tricky, but it is possible to do so in a respectful and helpful manner.

What is the optimal quantity of sexual activity?

It is not unusual to feel contradictory emotions at the same time.

It can be an unpleasant experience to be disregarded or ignored by others. The feeling of being overlooked can be disheartening and hurtful.

The feeling of stubble against a more delicate area of skin is a sensation that is difficult to describe.

People’s opinions of you can vary if you decide to stand up and advocate for your beliefs.

It is a common occurrence for certain tasks to be typically delegated to women, whether this is due to custom or historical conditions.

( 10 ) Hormones holding sway over us

XI. A Chat with my Spouse14

I had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview with my wife recently. We discussed a variety of topics ranging from our family to our future plans. She expressed her enthusiasm for the upcoming summer vacation and how it will give us a chance to spend quality time together. We also discussed our hopes for our children’s future and the kind of environment we want them to grow up in. It was a great opportunity to reconnect and share our dreams and aspirations.

TC: What was your initial reaction when you saw a photo of me before we had ever encountered each other? I usually say you thought I was “some writer guy.” Is that an accurate description?

AGC: It was confusing to me. Initially, I assumed you were a guy. However, there was something more; something that drew me to you in a manner I had never experienced. I don’t believe this is related to you being trans (it has more to do with my feelings for you), but I can see how it may have affected me in the sense that something about you seemed to hold an endless potential.

TC: Was it apparent to all who attended our wedding that I was a part of the picture?

AGC suggested that the reason to tell our closest friends was threefold. Primarily, because of their familiarity and closeness to us. Secondly, as the information would inevitably spread, it was better to be informed than uninformed. And lastly, as it was such a heavy topic, it was comforting for our parents to have an open discussion in a secure, sympathetic environment, especially during a traditional event.

TC: Is it possible that my biology is different than the norm for someone classified as female at birth? Could I potentially have a chromosomal setup that doesn’t fit into the XX standard?

AGC: That is a great inquiry. I am aware that you do not agree with the perception that biology is fate. I am in the same boat. Yet, that may just be due to my stubbornness and pride. I’m telling you, genes, you don’t get to decide who I’m supposed to be; an addict, a depressive, with a sloping chin and acne, a cheat, a girl. But then I read the medical journals.

TC: After how many minutes in a public men’s restroom would you start imagining me being sexually assaulted and murdered?

Generally speaking, AGC requires three people in order to have a full view of the line. If the conditions are ideal, the number can be increased to five. However, if the situation is not ideal, such as being at a questionable truck stop, then only two people are needed.

TC: How often do you fear that something violent could occur to me? Does being trans add to that fear, or would you be concerned regardless?

My constant state of worry is only interrupted by other, lesser concerns, like reality TV or my job or what to make for dinner. However, the fear remains in the background. On some days, it’s not too bad, but other times, when I read the news or a report about rape involving young women or witness unpleasant events, I’m reminded of how quickly everything can change for the worse. As a trans person, I’m already more likely to face abuse and as someone who has been a victim of violence, I’m not at ease with the idea of sending my kids out into the world. Nevertheless, there isn’t much of an option, so we just have to do the best we can, wishing and praying that everything will be alright while being aware of the reality of the situation. There aren’t enough fingers to cross.

TC: Name five behaviors that are commonly attributed to males. It’s acceptable to employ stereotypes and if the first five don’t seem enough, feel free to include a sixth.

AGC: (1) It appears that you are extremely focused on yourself.

( 2 ) Sitting in front of the television, your hand is in your pocket.

(3) No concerns about the amount of food consumed.

( 4 ) You feel possessive and envious.

(5) Don’t apologize for yourself.

In addition, you defaced the pavement with saliva.

Is there a man that you are secretly longing for who possesses all of the qualities that you desire: being taller, bigger, smarter, richer, tougher, better-looking, and having more talents, particularly being born as a male? Are you planning to abandon me for him?

AGC’s response was a negative one.

Does your mother have a favorable opinion of me as your potential partner?

The answer is affirmative.

Considering the possibility that one of our children might be transgender, even though I don’t wish for it to happen, what do you think?

AGC: The fault lies with you.

TC: What are your thoughts on this being the final query?

AGC: No way.

XII. What is the Impact on Children?

I’ve been considering whether to relate an amusing tale about the kids, such as the time I had to describe periods, cramps, uteruses, and vaginas to my stepdaughters on an urgent late-night run to the pharmacy for their mother.15 Or, I could recount a touching moment, for instance, when the eldest girl confided to me that she was not uncomfortable with my being “a different kind of boy,” but rather worried that it made me sad if a waiter misgendered me when we were out to eat.16 I could also include some sort of sociological observation, like how being with the children allowed me to pass more effectively in the world: for instance, at Disney World, where nobody would question that I, despite not having a voice that matched my body, was just a regular father standing in the scorching sun with his family in queue for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Right now, I’m feeling especially protective of the children, and I’m sure that feeling will always be with me; so, that’s all I’m going to say about them for the time being.

Thirteenth Excerpt from the Final Letter that Ended Up Being Sent to My Parents

I’m not sure how to go about keeping you from this information, which has been around for a while. I do take responsibility for my part in not providing you with all the details; it has been easier to just give you the information I know won’t cause any kind of an emotional reaction. It has been tiring for me to always be on the brink of disappointment. I’m sure it is just as hard for you to deny it. In the past, the reactions I have encountered have been fear, doubt, and anxiety instead of understanding, acceptance, or joy at the fact that I am able to be true to myself. Life is brief, and one never knows how much of it is left. You taught me to be independent and smart enough to know who I am and to live my life to the fullest.

XIV. Six Fearful Situations (not listed in any particular order)

(1) With the intention of inhabiting a body more suitable to my current self, I am considering exchanging it for a new one within the next few years when I am still young and healthy.

( 2 ) The fear that my children will despise me when they become aware that I’ve misrepresented myself to them, even if I haven’t actually done so–similar to how my brother was infuriated with my parents when he came to know he was adopted, though they had been informing him of this since he was able to communicate.

( 3 ) Fear of being deserted by my spouse and facing a life of isolation with no one to comprehend and care for me in my latter years.

In the same way Sarah Kurtin was in high school, where her only wish was to not be known for her excellent SAT score, I too am aware that my defining characteristic will be something I would rather it not be.

I fear that if I were to be injured in a severe motorcycle crash, I would be rendered unable to communicate and would require the heroic efforts of the EMTs to bring me back. In the process, my clothing would be cut with those special scissors that can cut through any material, even a penny.

( 6 ) It seems that I can never get a firm grasp on a certain topic–it’s ever-shifting and unpredictable. I’m aware that my perspectives and emotions towards the entire subject (not just my gender identity) can change from one day to the next. Additionally, I’m aware that even if I do manage to capture my thoughts on the matter, I won’t do it justice and, thus, have missed my chance to do so completely. It’s audacious to think that I could sum up my life, no matter if it’s in six hundred or sixty thousand words.

An illustration of this can be found in part eight of this essay.

  1. Examining the entirety of history.
  1. It was wrong of the reviewer to affirmatively state in a newspaper of record that I am a woman when there was no female gender pronoun on my book or press materials. It’s not accurate and has been a source of distress for me ever since. I considered writing to the Times to ask for a correction, but I’m not sure what good it would do. I wish I could stop caring, but unless I get a correction in the review and a letter of apology, I don’t know if I ever will.

My wife can attest to it: it’s not uncommon for us to have experiences like this when we are in public or meeting new people (which she is not shy about).

Although I understand the principles of these three concepts, I am not adept in applying them or recall them constantly.

Six months after I encountered my partner, I had written something.

  1. In my dream, I am listed as a male, just as I am in reality.
  1. As previously mentioned.
  1. The Beaufort Diaries, a graphic novel, tells the tale of a polar bear trying to evade extinction by becoming a celebrity. There is no reference to transgender issues in the book.

I will not allude to it again, but it is a fact that someone of African origin, born in Nigeria, is relevant to the narrative. I will try to abstain from mentioning it another nine times in the course of this small section.

  1. I used to frequently hear the same query coming from youngsters, usually in women’s bathrooms, but it was always in regards to me. This was several years back, when I didn’t present as male as evidently as I do now and thus utilized about 70 percent men’s and 30 percent women’s toilets, contingent on the safety of the location–and also when I almost certainly did not know what I was doing.

My wife was recently asked to compose a longer essay for O, The Oprah Magazine about her experience of being in love with a trans man. Although my name was not mentioned in the article, some pictures of us were included. Unfortunately, the hair stylist had the misfortune of making my hair look bad by trying to pouf it up.

My better half has commented to me on more than one occasion, especially during those times when I had been a bit of a jerk: “It’s shocking how little you understand about females.”

  1. I’m holding back on asking her a number of queries; a great many of which I’m uncertain I’m ready to hear the responses to. Chief among them: “Do you ever desire I was a ‘true’ man?”

The seven-year-old voiced their opinion that it was not just for the boy to be excluded from the experience of menstruation.

I replied to the situation by saying that it was not something that should bring sadness, that it was typical for mistakes to happen, and that she should not be concerned. The last part was the only truthful statement.

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