Like most trans men, I’ve often fantasized about what I would look like if I were born genetically male—not blond, not six feet tall, not sporting a ten inch cock—what I’d really look like. Same family, same everything, but instead of being born female, I’d have been born male.
50/50 chance, and I’m turning the coin over.
Naturally I turn to my brother to use as a template. My brother is a bit darker than I am. He has brown eyes; I have hazel. He has dark brown hair; I have light brown. He’s olive-toned, and tans like a dream, while I have two colors: pasty and pink. We have something in common, however. We’re both short… really short.
My mother is 5’1” and my father is 5’5”. No matter how the dice fell, they weren’t going to have tall children, and in fact none of us got any taller than they did. I’m 5’0”, my sister is 5’1”, and my brother is 5’4” (probably less).
Yes, my brother is five foot four inches. He’s really short.
And that’s how tall—er, short—I’d be if I were male. That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, right? Better to be short and cis male, than be short and trans, right? Maybe.
A conversation with my friend:
Him: You’re so brave. (About coming out as trans.)
(I wasn’t sure what to think of that, so I instinctively turned to humor.)
Me: Yeah, it takes some bravery to be a five foot man.
Him: OMG. You’re going to need a Hummer.
Me: Fuck the Hummer. I’m going to need an aircraft carrier.
Humor aside, growing up male would have definitely been different, for better or for worse. My dad spent more time with my brother, teaching him the rules of sports, even though my brother seemed just as interested (or in most cases as uninterested) as I was. My hand-eye skills weren’t horrible for a girl my age, but compared to my younger brother they were crap. (They still are crap. I played catch with my dad the other day, and somehow managed to catch the ball with my head.)
In high school my dad invited me downhill skiing, just the two of us. I was so excited and had been looking forward to it for days. I was going to do something with my dad! Outside! A sport I didn’t suck at!
The night before the big day I got my period, so while I was supposed to be enjoying time with my dad, instead I spent the entire day trying to put on a good face, not bleed through my snow pants, and not throw up from the pain. And my dad had no idea why I looked so miserable. Despite all of it, we made good memories. He pointed out a group of guys who were smoking pot, thus teaching me what it smells/looks like (valuable knowledge), but I couldn’t help but feel as if we would have had more fun without the estrogen.
Parts of my life would have been easier if I were male, that’s a given, but being short wouldn’t have. Right now, presenting as a chick, my first impressions with people are usually pretty good. They think I’m adorable, I don’t set off any of their alarms, and that’s quite useful in many situations.
In high school I slept with more women than my brother, and I could (and did) kick his ass until he got into college. He’s not dumb or ugly or anything—he’s pretty fucking funny and charming, actually*. But he’s short, and therefore he’s exposed to people’s prejudices against short men, including women’s prejudices against short men. Had I been male, I’d have been exposed to them too, and I may not have had any girlfriends. That wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing—I’m pansexual—and I can only imagine the fun of being a tiny guy in the gay community. But again, even in that setting, there are stereotypes against short men. The scene isn’t really about inclusiveness, as you all probably well know.
My brother and I both complain about people not taking us seriously, and while for him it’s a shock, for me—because I look female—it’s a way of life. It’s fair to say that my bro has a small chip on his shoulder (ha) because of this, and is always trying to prove himself.
Since transitioning, I’ve been getting a glimpse of what I was missing as a short man. I have to buy boy’s shirts (which I get reminded of at the dry cleaners), and I’ve been told that my husband and I look gross together (as if he’s a pedo). I may be an embarrassment to cis men everywhere, and I may never feel like a “real man”, but as I’ve seen, there are a lot of male born who don’t feel like real men either. It’s a shame that our culture does that to people.
If I had been born male, then I’d have wanted to be taller. If I had been taller, then I’d have wanted to be better at sports. If! If! If! Male, female, short, tall. I think the lesson here is that the grass is always greener on the other side, and it’s very human to fantasize. In the end, no one has the perfect life. Change what you can—what’s important to you—but be yourself.
*My bro does fine. He was president of his frat house, currently works in law enforcement, and has a very tall girlfriend. I like to think that he grew into himself, though my mother says that he has an unhealthy obsession with guns.