The Genderqueer Narcissist

or: I can't possibly transition until my hair looks better

I recently decided that I wanted to start taking testosterone because of an incident involving Dungeons and Dragons; more on that soon. For now, the important thing to know is that the Planned Parenthood can see you relatively quickly and on an informed consent basis in most states, meaning that I am suddenly on the cusp of doing something I’ve been meaning to do forever, but have put off for various reasons over the years. Someone’s father was always dead or dying, or I had a new boyfriend to impress, that sort of thing. And so, as often happens when I am about to realize a desire, I find myself inventing endless reasons not to do it.

The most popular excuse in my mind right now is that I feel like I already look too masculine. In pictures recently I have the air of a butch lesbian in her thirties, a look I’ve never really cultivated but that seems to happen whether I would like it to or not. I scream at the sight of large bugs, and should not look as rugged as I do. It’s false advertising.

“But Auntie Screwtape, if I can indeed call you that in these politically correct times,” you might cry out, “What is the point of transitioning if you do not want to look like a man?” Oh, but I do: I hope that testosterone will flip me over into looking like a boy, and that the shift will make me come across less as a scrubbed woman who leads outdoor expeditions and more like an indolent youth of the landed gentry. But I do worry that I will suddenly find myself hirsute and butcher than ever, a diminutive Bear Grylls, yelling at wasps in my new throaty timbre.

Still, even if this happens, even if I find myself suddenly needing electrolysis to battle my enormous beard, I think it will have been worth it. It’s hard to say exactly what this feeling is based upon, other than desire. I have always desired that quality that makes men into men. I’ve watched all kinds of male life progressions with ravenous envy, like when my male partners crowed over their mutual obsession with Fooly Cooly and went on about how having a giant robot erupt from your forehead is such a relatable teen experience. “I want to understand that!” I said to myself. Pity me, that this is the kind of mystery I long to be inducted into.

My desire is amplified when the men in question are, like myself, AFAB. The small trans man who used to work at my grocery store probably wondered why I was grinning at him so much, listening to his voice crack as he asked me if I was paying by credit card. When I met an effeminate trans man with a pierced bellybutton I nearly died of anger that someone in the world should be so glamorous and that someone was not me. The feeling big same resonates through me when I look at certain men. Daniel Ortberg writes compellingly about identification, and how one does not always realize that that’s what’s happening until much, much later.

Anyway, so I’m very excited and this is a truly happy decision, but I am plagued by the following doubts, which I will enumerate here so that you can get a lay of the silliness of my internal landscape:

  • My haircut is too short; ideally, I would go overnight from looking like a woman with short hair to looking like a man with long, flowing locks worn almost always in a high bun

  • Worried that my claims to womanhood are already a little tenuous and that I will lose my eligibility for dual citizenship

  • Not sure I can handle being any hornier or angrier than I already am

  • “Rose” might eventually start to seem like an odd name for someone that looks like me, in which case I will have to change my e-mail addresses, disused Twitter handles, etc.

  • Hoping I don’t outgrow my collection of tie-neck poet blouses

Overall, though, I feel exhilarated and ready. I will, of course, keep you posted, as your Tiresian correspondent from the borderlands. Yours affectionately, Auntie Screwtape.