Monica Roberts Essay Contest 2022 Runner Up
Con·tra·dic·tion: (noun) a proposition, statement, or phrase that asserts or implies both the truth and falsity of something.
I started testosterone hormone replacement therapy five months ago, and I’ve never felt more confident in expressing my femininity. This is not what most people would expect to hear, but I’m not the only transgender man that feels this way. We live secret little invisible and erased lives. People certainly see us, but they don’t fully realize what they see.
I am a walking contradiction. Two (or sometimes more) things that shouldn’t coexist but find a way within me. I am Indigenous and white. Colonizer and colonized. I am transgender. A man and a woman. Some might call me non-binary, but I prefer anti-binary.
The white colonial project has painted quite the fantasy about a binary world, including our understanding of gender. According to them, femininity and masculinity are opposites. The existence of one cancels out the other; you are either a woman or man. A man cannot also be a woman, and a woman cannot also be a man. Aesthetics and behaviors that have been deemed “feminine” cannot be displayed by a man, unless he wishes to jeopardize his claim to a masculine identity, and vice versa. Femininity and masculinity are defined by comparison to, and rejection of the other. Neither exist in their own right… which I suppose is actually one aspect they got right.
My Indigenous ancestors, the mountains, the skies and the stars have taught me that truth exists in duality and its contradictions; in the questions just as much as the answers. Very few things in life are black or white. They have taught me that masculinity and femininity cannot be separated, because they are intricately connected. Not in competition or envy, but in love, richness and beauty.
Masculinity and femininity share the most beautiful dance, flowing together and apart and back together… as lovers, relatives, strangers. They move through me to teach me things, and in exchange I show them around the playground that is this physical world. My femininity doesn’t make me any less masculine, and my masculinity doesn’t make me any less feminine. Rather, they both make me more whole.
But the white colonial project does not want me to know this. They do not want me to be whole. This is why they broke my lineages, and gave us false cisgender identities. They have not only hidden people like me from the world, but they have also tried to hide me from myself. And when that doesn’t work, they have tried to make me hate myself, too.
Bas·tard: 1. (noun) usually offensive – something that is spurious, irregular, inferior, or of questionable origin; 2. (adjective) of mixed or ill-conceived origin.
I am a bastard child. A mixed race mutt. Unwanted and outcasted. White skin, with dark brown hair, Indigenous eyes, and an unmistakable nose. Born to parents from different lands who raised me in another. I belong to no one and nowhere- or so they’ve told me.
Detribalized diaspora kid. My existence alone starts fires everywhere I go. I’m not supposed to be here. And I’m definitely not supposed to be queer. Some people say transgender folk are mentally ill and traumatized. I say, how could we not be? Rejected by those who are supposed to love us most.
I have found healing in Pachamama. She is the mother and father I never had. She teaches me what it means to be a man, in a patriarchal world with few other examples. She has shown me the true meaning and sacredness of being transgender.
It’s funny that I was introduced to queerness through whiteness. I was told I must hate my body and want surgery to be transgender, as if transition does not begin in the mind, heart, and soul. As if my body is the problem, and not cis-ciety. As if being transgender is not just a likeness to nature, and a more natural way of being than the colonial construction of cisgenderhood.
My relationship to Earth was stolen from me, and therefore my sacred connection to god, spirit, creator. But when I looked to Her for answers, I finally found myself. I finally saw myself, like the moss and vines that line the city streets. She embraced my mutant body, and loves me all the same. A cyborg child of her (r)evolution.
Tran·scen·dent: (adjective) 1. exceeding usual limits; 2. being beyond comprehension; 3. transcending the universe or material existence.
One of the most powerful tools of oppression is to strip people of their identity and expertise. Make us believe we are stupid. Take away our knowledge, and any memory of having had that knowledge in the first place. When physical death is not successful or enough, this is how they attack our spirits.
I was born in a body that they insist is “female,” yet still found my masculinity. This is why I believe I am a god. My physical existence could not stop me from transcending. I can see beyond their self-imprisoned binaries, and all the richness that exists in the inbetween. My existence creates new ways of being, just like the roots that sprout through the concrete.
The white colonial project does not want me to know that I’m a god. It’s much more profitable for them to keep me as a victim and perpetrator of their violence than someone they should worship and learn from. Their oppression is rooted in fear of my spirit and power. Transgender people are closer to true femininity and masculinity than they are, despite our bodies, despite a hateful society. We can see them better than they can see themselves, and this scares them. This is why they killed my ancestors, and why they want to keep me quiet. This is why they want me to hate myself and my body.
I didn’t choose to be transgender, but I chose to transition. I chose to cause others a necessary discomfort in order to free myself of my own. Sometimes liberation is jarring when all you’ve ever known is chains, but trans people are not just here to teach you about us, we are here to teach you about yourself.