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Image: Jenn Nauss

“AHHHH!!!  No! Why???”

I’m doing that panicked thing where I sweat a bunch, and my heart races and I do my very damn best to stay cool under pressure because although sound and audio check went swimmingly just an hour ago, now my keynote presentation isn’t working with the big projector thing and the A/V guy seems just as confused as I am about why it’s not working.

So in a last minute panic I move my presentation to a different computer and I install the fonts and JUST AT THE VERY LAST MINUTE it works, and here I am standing in a theatre full of women giving a talk about “How to ‘Talk Like A Girl’ and Get What You Want” which could go amazing, or well I could put my foot in my mouth, because I’m a guy now, and although yes I have birthed 4 children and lived my life as a woman for 30ish years, people in this room don’t know that version of me.  They only know the young looking guy standing in front of them.

To say it was slightly nerve wracking is an understatement.   But then I walked into the room and was all “OHHHHH it’s my people!!!”

It turns out that a room filled with talented, brave, amazing women is where I feel most comfortable.

A room full of men?

Now that’s scary as fuck. What with them and their perceived superiority and their dicks and their muscles and shit.

Feeling nervous in a room of men is a pretty common experience for many women, I think.  Men have long been the source of most violence, harassment, and assault towards women for as long as time can remember it seems.

But it’s sort of a problem when you in fact are also a man.

I don’t feel much loss about having left my life where I was perceived as female.  In almost every way I feel more like me, more confident, more secure in who I am, what I believe, what I like and dislike.

Except I feel like I’ve lost my community.

I’m the only dude in my book club, all my best friends are women, and I don’t play hockey or football or build things with tools.  I’m sort of bad at technology and I can get lost in a paper bag. I do not fit with most of the stereotypical dude things.

Although my wife and I identify as Queer, we are read by most people as a typical, cis, heterosexual couple.   Which is both super nice, because being seen as just a regular guy is awesome, but also super uncomfortable because well so many things. Like mansplaining childbirth, being that creepy dude who talks to strangers’ toddlers a little too long and wants to hold your baby, and the inability to do things like “the bro hug” which is some form of hand shake, back pat, chest bump thing that I have yet to figure out.  Also there’s the thing where we are out and about and we see our “people” the other super fun queer couple, but they don’t know we are their people unless I’m all “hey I’m trans so we’re gayish too wanna be friends”  which hasn’t quite worked out for me so far.

Instead I’m working harder than I’d like to admit to make guy friends, and the truth is it’s not really working.  I’ve always been good at making friends but suddenly, I’m that guy at climbing lessons trying to fit in with the 40 year old men who are all calling each other some form of nickname that revolves around their last name or maybe their hockey number. I’ve got to tell you, it’s not working.  I don’t really know what I’m supposed to talk about, because seemingly guys don’t talk about much of importance, I know it can’t be true, because it just can’t right?  Maybe I just need to put in more time talking about football and tools and software and things before I get into the inner circle where we get to talk about the real deep meaningful stuff.  Maybe I need to stop making so much direct eye contact. (Have you ever noticed men don’t stand in a circle and talk to each other like women do?  Nope they stand in a line looking out at something, making comments about that thing.  Watch, it’s fascinating.)

Maybe I won’t ever really fit in with a group of guys, and maybe that’s okay.  Maybe I’ll always be the guy hanging out with his wife and his lady friends, drinking wine and getting weird looks from servers because we’re talking in depth about birth, moon cycles, intersectional feminism and attachment parenting.

Or maybe I’ll overcome my secret fear of not being manly enough, and I’ll morph into the kind of guy who’s comfortable in a room of men, standing in lines commenting on podcasts and gadgets and tools and things.

Until then I’ll keep working on my bro hug, my muscles, and trying to be the very best man.