On his first Trans Visibility Day as a trans man, Felix Desmarais shares his story of coming out and losing his domain name.
Today is Transgender Day of Visibility, and it is my first. It just so happens that it coincides with my first man-flu as well. Milestones.
My name is Felix and I am a trans-man.
One day in November last year, I just sort of… realised. I was trans. I just was. A lot of people seem to assume that I and other trans people ‘know’ from day one. This may be true for some trans people, but I find the idea that we are all keeping a ‘secret’ to be pretty damaging. I hear a lot of talk from other people about my own experience – that I was battling for years, trying to keep the truth from being known.
For me, it wasn’t like that. As a child, I ‘knew’ I was a boy because I didn’t realise that I was not a boy. Puberty is pretty good at telling you what sex you were born with. I (subconsciously) went along with it as my body ‘showed’ me, under no uncertain terms, that I was a woman. I tried to go along with it. I gave it a bloody good go.
Coming out is a process, and it never really ends because we usually come out to a new person every day. I mark my ‘coming out’ as Boxing Day last year (on reflection a hilarious day for a female-to-male trans person to come out) – when I came out to my parents. I was pretty nervous about it, but less nervous than when I came out to them in 2008 as a lesbian. That was a surreal image: in Paris, eating pizza, I said “YOUKNOWMYFRIENDRACHAELSHE’SNOTMYFRIENDSHE’SMYGIRLFRIENDI’MGAY” and burst into tears.
I cried because then because it was embarrassing. Coming out with your sexuality to your parents is such a weird thing. It’s so exposing and personal, like it’s saying HEY MUM I’M INTO FURRY KINK. Okay, perhaps that’s an unfortunate example in the context of a lesbian coming out (lol, women’s pubic hair, lol). I was worried when I came out as trans that, having come out as a lesbian ten years ago, people would think I had simply upgraded. Like being trans is Koru club gay.
I’d dropped heaps of hints that I was trans on social media hoping my parents would notice (my mum stalks my posts as though she personally gave birth to me or something.) My parents live in Melbourne, so my sister and I were over there for Christmas, and I wasn’t even sure I was ready to come out to them, but on Boxing Day morning it felt right. I sat on the end of their bed, petted the dogs and said “you know I’ve always been a bit of a boy… I’m starting to feel more and more like that’s who I am, I’m a boy, and I’m pretty sure I want to transition.”
My mum said immediately that she loved me. Dad was worried that my life had been hard enough, ‘struggling’ with sexuality and mental illness. I kept my lol internal since I am one PRIV-I-LEGED middle-class white boy and, despite those things, my life is kind of a dream. Yo Dad, the hard stuff is over because now the struggle is over. I know who I am.
Let’s not ignore the fact that white, middle-class trans guys like me often have the privilege to say that. A few years on hormones and I will probably pass as cis. I might be a little like Chase Ross and still look queer, but I’m still white, still middle class, still educated and people will read me as cis and male and I will get a whole lot more privilege. It isn’t so easy for trans women, or trans women of colour. The former often have less of a chance to benefit from passing as cis. The latter as well as being trans and women also have to battle against systemic and overt racism. A staggering number of trans women of colour are murdered each year in the United States. It ain’t right.
Not every trans person wants to transition, but I want to. It’s mind boggling I know, but we’re not all the same. There’s really three types of transition – one is social, one is hormonal and the other is surgical. Socially, I have transitioned. Everyone knows to call me Felix and use he/him pronouns. That part is done and it already makes me feel a lot better.
To feel really right, I want to start hormones and I want top surgery. I’m currently waiting to see an endocrinologist to get my prescription for testosterone that will, among other things, lower my voice, redistribute the fat in my body and make me hairy AF. I reckon that was one of the ways I knew I was trans – that I am prepared to have a hairy back and butt. Gross. But whatever, it’s just part of being a dude.
Top surgery is the removal of breast tissue for a flat, more masculine chest. It’s not a mastectomy as such, where they take all of your tissue. In New Zealand, chest surgery is currently a DHB responsibilty, often with limited funding or none at all. For a lot of trans guys this is a life or death issue, by the way… the attempted suicide rate for trans people is 41%. FOR.TY.ONE.PER.CENT.). I am partially crowdfunding and self-funding my top surgery because waiting that long would probably destroy me.
Bottom or ‘lower’ surgery is also a possibility but it’s very personal and none of anyone else’s business, and I hope people know that it’s not cool to ask any trans people what is going on in their pants. Also, don’t assume you know. Beyond that, I’m also really concerned about my SEO. I paid for my domain name for a whole year and it’s got my name birth name on it. First world trans-guy problems huh? So relatable.
A lot of well-meaning people seem to want to say that trans people are “born in the wrong body.” I’m not really into this. I don’t need to feel any worse about my body. My body is not wrong, and I think it’s a little harmful to imply that there is anything wrong with trans bodies. My body is fine – it just doesn’t reflect how I feel inside.
If society didn’t put me in a box (lol) for having boobs, there probably wouldn’t be as much of a problem. I am a dude but society doesn’t see that, and I get called ‘ma’am’ or ‘lady’, because people assume. What would be great is if we didn’t assume anyone’s gender, but that isn’t currently the way the world works. We get gender dysphoria (basically, feeling shit cos our gender didn’t align with the sex we were assigned at birth) because the world doesn’t see us as we are, and when we look at ourselves sometimes we don’t see it reflect who we are.
The binary we got going on with gender doesn’t help much either – the idea that you’re either a man or a woman. Personally, I’m a camp lady boy man child, and why the hell not? I’m not comfortable with my femininity as a woman, but I love it as a guy. Some people say if you’re feminine why not stay a woman? I say, can you tell the difference between a camp man and a feminine woman? They’re different. Sex, gender and even your gender expression are not the same thing.
And sexuality is a WHOLE OTHER THING.
But I digress.
I made this video in January, and it feels like a million years has passed since then. I’ve learned a lot and grown heaps in just three months. I was planning on making regular videos like Chase or Ty (so dreamy) but I haven’t had the time, so shame at that “Like, comment, subscribe” at the end, but whatever (but please note the hilarious hotdogs I put on the thumbnail).
I am so proud to be trans and visible – I want other trans people to see me and see that I’m confident and okay and they can be too. I want people who are not trans to see that trans people are just people. We want you to get our names and our pronouns right but all we really ask is that you try, and if you mess it up, just correct yourself and move on.
I’m trans, it’s a big deal. But it’s really not that big a deal.
The Society section is sponsored by AUT. As a contemporary university we’re focused on providing exceptional learning experiences, developing impactful research and forging strong industry partnerships. Start your university journey with us today.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed, free daily curated digest of all the most important stories from around New Zealand delivered directly to your inbox each morning.