I used to think living a completely stealth life would be awesome.
You know, the kind where no one knows I’m different, where I am just another guy, where no one looked at me differently. I have all these kids though, and an ex-husband, and I live in town of 30K people, so it doesn’t really seem all that possible. Most of the people around me know I’m sans penis, ask questions about my menstrual cycle, and are straight up curious about how I pee in mens bathrooms. I used to be super squirmy, but now, well now I’m just used to being asked super personal questions. I’ve come to expect it even. Don’t get it twisted though, this is not an invitation to ask me how I have sex. Perv.
Then I went to LA, to this thing where only about 10 of the 300 people there knew who I was. It was my chance to try on just being a dude.
First let me say it was swell for my self-esteem. I “passed” with no qualms at all. No one looked at me strange in the bathroom. Our roommates didn’t suspect that we were anything other than this nice white heterosexual couple. (Oh how wrong they were.) There was even a joke about if I had gotten Anna knocked up, which we both thought was hilarious because, well no dick, no sperm, no accidental baby. Winning?
So back to the point at hand. I just looked like a nice cis dude with my femme wife, and our cute kids back home. So when we were hanging out in one of the cabins with a group of women (cause I don’t really know how to make guy friends yet, and let’s face it women have all the most interesting conversations anyways) the conversation drifted to childbirth, as it often does among women who have had or are thinking of having babies. At one point I made a comment about how although the shoulders are also pretty wide, once you birth the head it’s all gravy from there.
And let me tell you. The one other mom in the room (aside from my wife) was unimpressed with a man telling her how hard or easy any part of childbirth was. I got a very quick eye roll with a sassy, “Oh you found that did you, Nick?!?” with a look at Anna that communicated some sort of “get your man in check.”
Looking back, I walked right into that one. But I didn’t know how to answer. I personally had actually birthed more children than her so YES, actually I did find that. But was that the time and the place to out myself? Did I want to out myself? I knew that having my experiences be minimized didn’t feel good, but I wasn’t sure I felt the need to share my gender history either. So instead I took my tongue-lashing and sucked it up and carried on.
After those 4 days in obscurity I did however realize that I don’t desire to live stealth mode anymore. I’m lucky enough that I am safe as an out transman. Although I’m safe, it does means that sometimes things will be more uncomfortable. It means that people will continue to ask me questions about how I pee, what’s in my pants, how my wife and I have sex, and if I still get a period. The truth is that I’d rather some awkward questions than minimize my life, taking away my experiences. So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m probably going to keep mansplaining childbirth to people, because 4 of them grew and then exited my body, and I’m better because of it.
My experiences as a woman don’t make me less of a man, they make me a better one. I’m way more sympathetic when my wife is crampy or teary that time of the month. I understand her frustrations as she walks through the world as a woman, rather than telling her she’s imagining sexism or sexual harassment. I know exactly what Mommy guilt feels like. I get what it’s like to be made to feel small just because of your gender. I get so many more things than the average dude ever could. Instead of trying to hide those things, I’m going to use them the best I can because I think it’s what makes me the very best man.