Growth, Not Reinvention
BY KYLE WEITZ
Writing about reinvention as a transgender man, you’d think the words would come easily. I’d talk about my transition into the man I’ve always been – how I emerged from my cocoon as Kyle.
But “reinvention” doesn’t suit my story, both in terms of my physical transition and my personal philosophy. I’d call my gender transition more of a restructuring, and my personal philosophy one of continual growth.
In fact, I’m even going to be so bold to say this article argues against the concept of reinvention.
In connection to my gender, it’s an ongoing struggle to resist the temptation to conform to societal (and personal) expectations of manhood, but one I believe to be pivotal to my journey.
For me, coming out as transgender meant an alteration of my exterior body. I wanted to look in the mirror and see the person I saw in my mind’s eye. It just so happens the person I see has what’s generally accepted as “masculine” features. Flat chest, facial hair (one day, fingers crossed), muscles... You get the idea.
The purpose of my transition was not to become the man I’ve always been. It was to restructure my physical exterior to satisfy my internal vision.
However, people don’t generally take on male physical characteristics without some sort of public declaration and changes to their lifestyle. I’m talking new pronouns, clothes, a name change and a leg up in the gender hierarchy.
And so I entered the good fight against social constructions of gender. I wasn’t reinventing me when I came out, but I did have to rethink how I wanted to fit in to this world.
For example, if I wanted to look like Kyle, did that mean I had to act like him? And what does that entail? Did I have a bro-y alter ego, begging to be released?
Not even a little bit.
I often wonder if it would be easier if I did. I wonder if I would fit in more if I could naturally do the greeting men do where it’s half-handshake, half-hug. The man-shake. Sounds delicious.
But these societal definitions of manhood do not line up with my authentic self. I talk with my hands, I cry at commercials, I hug everyone and my hips sway when I walk.
Every day I have to tell myself these things don’t make me “bad” at being a man. When I have these moments of worry, I remind myself I don’t have to be anything to be the man I am.
In fact, I question if anyone truly and completely fits their gender. But in moments of ambiguity, most cis-gender people probably don’t worry they’re “bad” at being a man or woman. Isn’t it trendy, risqué even, to toe the gender line?
Why I am fighting this internal battle many people can brush off as a fashion choice or rebellion? With my transition I learned I never needed to be reinvented – it’s societal constructs of gender that need to change and I’ll be there to help the process.
I think we must look at reinvention from a different angle and recognize we’re all in this adventure of self-discovery and growth together. My transition is a part of my story, but it didn’t reinvent me into the person I’m always going to be.
I argue against the concept of reinvention because I think it was naïve of me to think or worry about “reinventing” myself. Life isn’t like leaving high school and deciding to be called by your middle name to sound more mature.
The best I can hope for is an open mind and a thirst for growth. There’s no good or bad, wrong or right way for me to be me, or live my life. All I can do is live authentically and forgive myself when I don’t.
And I also try to keep in mind: nobody else knows what they’re doing either, but at least we have each other.