This is the most difficult story to write about and it is also the one I’ve been doubting to write the most, though, as it turns out, it is the one that I have finally decided to put into words in the most spontaneous of ways.
I will divide the story in two topics, which far from being distinct from each other, they are rather homogenous: my gender identity and the look – or image -that I give to the outside world. So let’s begin.
For all my life I’ve always been this kind of effeminate and “delicate” guy, so I have always been looked at by people who judge every movement I do: from how I speak, to the way I move my arms when I walk, to the way I try to cool down a mexican tortilla with my hands or to the way I hold a spoon (THIS IS FOR REAL!) , random people and even my own family sometimes, were always there to remind me that I didn’t look manly enough and that I was putting them in an awkward situation by moving, talking or behaving in the way I would do. What I’m trying to say is: for the majority of my life, I’ve been living with constant anxiety, because I had to be aware of how effeminate I looked and then try to act more masculine (which I hardly achieved), so that people wouldn’t judge me -that much- or not to put my family in an awkward situation. It was like being a child star followed by paparazzi everyday; the difference is that I was not famous and the paparazzi was, sometimes, even my own family, so… it was worse!
I began to explore with fashion when I was in my high school senior year, when I would wear very colourful trousers and I believed that I was going to be a hipster (Ha!). Then, I went back to Mexico City for about two years, my sense of fashion got wider and by the time I went back to my hometown, I would dress, well, very different from the rest.
When I went to university in my hometown, I was quick to call people’s attention because I looked different from the rest. There, people tend to be more dark-skinned, shorter and some, I dare to say, vulgar in the way they dress, since there is a huge influence from reggaeton and some sub-cultures that praise organised crime. This is not generalized, of course, but in my hometown, it is the big majority. So it was normal that, whenever I went out or whenever I used the public transportation, people WOULD stare at me, because I was a “rarity”, this super tall (compared to the rest), effeminate, skinny, “white-mexican” dressed with nice clothes, which would of course call people’s attention. For me then, it was like “Well, I don’t blame them”.
It felt good to be stared at of course, but at the same time, not everyone who stares at you is doing it because they think you look great, some of that people are doing it because they are judging you; because you look different, because you look fem… and that was the time when I was not even wearing heels yet! But my hometown is such a close-minded one that, the fact that a boy wears some nice skinny trousers is enough to call him “jotito” which stands for “fag” in spanish. When I was in primary school, I was called fag by a classmate because I was wearing a scarf in the winter and “only girls wear scarves”. Imagine.
During 2015-2016 I became a news presenter and, even though I loved it, I had to act as manly as I could on camera, because the producers didn’t want to face backlash by having a fem guy presenting the university news program on regional television.
Funny thing is that, the producer was in fact gay! He was like “Eduardo, I wouldn’t mind if you’d want to wear feathers on camera, but you know how people are here, so just act masculine, please”. We would joke between commercial breaks, but when we went live, I had to act like someone I never wanted to, someone who wasn’t me.
I did that for about a year, and then I quit because that was not the life I wanted for me. I think, if I had stayed there, I could’ve had a secured career in television and make it big, but that would’ve meant to deprive myself from being myself! I am happy I made that decision.
It was around this time when I started to grow my hair, I was a bit worried, because I wondered how much people would judge me and be constantly staring at me in my hometown once my hair got longer. Luckily for me, when that happened I wasn’t even in Mexico anymore, I was in Europe and starting a new life in the UK, a place where I thought nobody would stare at me in that way because, this is a “first world” country where people are much more open-minded.
I was so wrong. It only got worse.
Before I go on, I just want you to know that the following things I will say, I mean them in the LEAST pretentious of ways. But I need to say things as they are. Being real is accepting what we are not, but also accepting and being very much aware of what we are.
I would’ve never thought that I would experience so much transphobia in this country. My body is very slim, my hair got longer, I have nice long legs (thank God) and I wear natural make-up to make myself look better or to hide my acne. I also began to wear square heel boots and coats that would make the very Duchess of Cambridge feel envious (lol, sorry Kate). Yes, I know that I look good, I know that I am a beautiful attractive person, and I know that I look different from the rest, but one thing is for people to stare at you casually because they think you are attractive, and a very different one is for them to look at you with a disgusted face, or laughing, and stare at you CONSTANTLY while you walk down the streets of Liverpool, or when you are minding your own business having a coffee, or when you are having dinner with your boyfriend, or when you are walking across the cafeteria of your university. If you live this situation every single day of your life, trust me, you become exhausted and sick of it.
But I always give people the “benefit of the doubt” (as my father would call it). I would think “Well, Eduardo, they probably stare at you because of your very long dark hair, which can be very exotic here where most people are blonde” and then I thought “Well, Eduardo, if you are walking down the streets wearing heels of course you are going to raise some eyebrows, so it is your fault”.
Every single day at university I would go wearing some nice outfit in which I felt comfortable and happy in, though it got a bit awkward to go all preppy while the big majority of students would wear more comfortable clothes like sweatpants or hoodies. I felt like when Elle Woods gets into Harvard and goes everyday looking fabulously, so everybody stares at her and many important people don’t take her seriously because of that. So I tried a little experient.
For a few weeks I tried not to wear any make-up and wear only blue jeans and a regular jacket or a normal coat, dont brush my hair and walk into uni with just a pony tail. I thought that nobody would stare at me because I was not being “extra”. I thought I would pass unnoticed, but it was the exact same thing. People would stare at me at the cafeteria, aswell as out in the streets. I thought something like “for the love of God, can you please just stop!” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind people staring at me, the problem is that they do it in such a shameless way that they don’t even try to dissimulate that they are staring at you and making you feel uncomfortable because of it.
I was very frustrated and then I thought “What if nobody is staring at you and it is all in your imagination?” It was like “Eduardo, why do you think you are soooo important as to have people staring at you everywhere you go? Chill” but then of course you hang out with friends and they notice that there is, in fact, people staring at you, so you are not crazy! That was exactly what made me feel ready to write this.
Yesterday, I was with a friend at Café Tabac, the first coffee shop that I discovered in Liverpool. At some point I got up to the bar to order two slices of cake for me and my friend, where I noticed that the man who was sitted next to the bar was staring at me. Later, as we were paying our bill at the bar, the same man could not stop staring at me with this, not disgusted but, weird look on his face, as if he was trying to decipher what I was. Another group of people sitting in a different table were also staring at me. I thought to myself “stop imagining stuff, stop being so paranoid, nobody is watching you”.
Later that day (yesterday as I write this), we were walking down Bold Street, where another man even stopped, stared at me and followed me with his eyes as we passed next to him on the side walk. Those kind of stares are the ones that have made me avoid making eye contact with strangers in the street, because I really don’t want to see “that” look on their faces, which I know will eventually make me feel bad.
When we got to my friends apartment, he said something like “I was just about to ask that fucker what was his problem with you” to what I asked “Who?” and he said “the man who was staring at you when we were paying at the bar and then the other man in the street”. I should not feel happy for that, but I immediately jumped almost smiling and said “RIGHT??!!!” because I knew that I was not wrong or imagining stuff, I knew that I was right. I knew that people were staring at me.
Apart from this, many other things have happened such as: being asked by men “Are you okay?” in the men’s toilet because they think I am a drunk girl who got confused and walked into the wrong toilet; hearing guys in the street say stuff like “shit man, I thought it was a girl” as I walk pass them; being called “Fucking tranny”; or even being directly asked “Are you a boy or a girl?”. Trust me when I say it is exhausting… and that I totally understand Britney Spears shaving her head back in 2007 after being chased and scrutinized by people.
My looks are, of course, part of me and they are also a way to express who I am and how I feel, but regardless of how I feel inside, my style is the one that brought the question mark concerning my gender identity. Which takes us to part two.
I already wear heels and have long hair, so trust me when I say that, if I wanted to be identified and /or live as a woman I would have no problem admiting that and actually changing my name and asking people to call me by that female name. So, no, I do not identify as a trans woman nor do I ever want to be a trans woman.
The problem with this is, of course, people’s unwanted opinions. “Yeah, right, you don’t identify as a woman, but you do wear heels and have long hair”. Even gay people and trans themselves have told me stuff like “You are trans, honey, you just can’t admit it”. To me it’s like, why do you want to impose something on me? Why do I have to “admit” that I am trans, when I identify as male, just because I don’t look “male”? I am a man.
Don’t get me wrong, but there are many trans women who try to look femenine, but it is hard for them to achieve it and to demasculate their bodies, even while taking hormones, going through face feminisation surgery, wearing wigs, dresses, and doing elaborated make up. I have to do nothing and I already look like a woman sometimes! But I don’t look this way because I am trying to achieve to look like a woman. I look like this because this is just ME! This is who I am.
I wear high waisted jeans, because they just happen to be much better than low waisted ones, they cover your belly and they make your legs look great. Did you know men used to wear high wasted jeans decades ago? I have long hair because I just think it adds more personality to who I am and because I love the way it looks. I wear square heel boots, because heels enhance your posture and body shape which makes you look even better. And did you know that heels were actually invented for men and not for women? It is all history, but society creates paradigms which then lead to prejudices, which then try to control the way a man or a woman should look like, or worse, they try to make you “admit” something that has not even crossed your mind in the first place.
Years ago, because of my self-expression, I tried to label myself as “Non-binary” which is great, whatever works for you, go for it! But I just couldn’t really commit to that term because I am biologically a man and I identify as a man. Mentally I have no gender. Whenever I think about anything, I don’t think from a male or a female approach or perspective, I just think as ME! But regardless of that, I am a man who happens to be – and this is the correct term- androgynous.
The way I look, also changed the way my single life would work, because now very few gay men were trying to date me, but many “curious” or men who were interested in trans women were the ones who tried to take me on dates. There was a point in which, I thought I could give those men a chance even though I wasn’t trans, so I would make that clear to them. But then as soon as we were on those dates they would, at some point, call me things like “pretty girl” which would totally make me feel awkward and want to be over and done with that date ASAP.
Being an androgynous man, from the aesthetic perspective, is understood as being partly male and partly female in appearance. A man who wears make up, or a woman who has masculine features, a girl with short hair or a slim guy wearing a skirt. Androgyny is a wonderful spectrum which does not define what a person is. A fluid person is the one who defines what androgyny is. Androgyny is defined by US. We can say that, someone who is difficult to tell if is male or female, can be labeled as being androgynous, but this has nothing to do with being transgender or being transexual.
So that is “My Trans Story” because even when I don’t identify as trans, I have experienced first-hand the hate and prejudices that trans people have to deal with every single day of their lives and, since I am not changing my hair, nor my jeans, nor my heels, it is most likely that this is something that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.
It is already difficult to be a gay man, it is even more difficult to be an effeminate gay man, but to be an androgynous one is even more difficult, because you are not only facing the hate and/or prejudices from straight close-minded people, you are also facing the ones from your own LGBTI community.
This situation of being constantly scrutinized by people, stared at or analysed, has put me in a constant state of anxiety because, while there is people who only limit themselves to stare at you with a disgusted expression, there are some others who will not hesitate to cross that boundary, call you names, physically assault you or even kill you.
I think it is important for people to understand that human beings aren’t born to be limited by other people’s ideologies of what is right and what is wrong, of what a man should be or how a woman should look like, because if you do that, then I am afraid that, in this world, there is no such thing as freedom.
For all my life, I have been criticized and tried to be limited to other people’s ideas of what is best for me to be, but I’ve learnt to break those barriers and do the things I want to do in life, such as letting my hair grow or wear my favourite pair of heels. I’ve learnt to ignore the people staring at me everyday, from the moment I leave my room until the moment I get back. I don’t know, maybe this kind of scrutiny that I’ve had to face all my life is preparing me for something much bigger. I like to think of it in that way.
Regardless of that, I am lucky, because I am strong. Though it can be difficult, I tend to face things and challenge people, because even in the hardest of times I thrive. But let’s remember that not all people can handle this kind of pressure and scrutiny and judgement, and are taken to such a deep state of anxiety from which they can never escape, and the only exit they think they have is to put an end to their lives…. and the only ones responsible for those lives are the same kind of people who today judge, criticize, denigrate or try to censure me for being who I am.
I was not born to be masculine enough to be considered a man by other people or effeminate enough to have to consider myself a woman. I was simply born to be ME!