My ego still bruised, my heart still tender. But I was starting to feel The Pan again, newly emerged from the cold, dark crevasse of recent heartbreak, another Wendy fled. Writing and hustle my remedy, surrounding myself with folx that are able to see me. Half-dressed for the joe-job, in medias res, just in jeans, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. There was The Pan. Slim and boyish, faint shadow of a six starting to form across my torso, beautiful ink my talismans of moments and friends, jeans hanging baggy and low. I saw a Prince gazing back at me, the blend of the masculine and feminine that I am. Both and neither. Me. I felt beautiful. I framed the shot from the side, around Baudelaire and snapped. I posted it with the caption, “boi,” sans hashtag. I posted it for me. To show you: this is me, my gender. I am a boi.
I felt safe doing so. Confident knowing that those that would see it, that would choose to look, would know. Because whether in real-life or virtual, I have declared who I am, I’ve told you, I’ve opened myself in the hope that you’ll understand.
I wasn’t surprised by the sparse response, the photo is bold. I’d intended it to be. A handful of likes and shy comments from a couple of my straight boy friends.
That familiar ding. And then, “Totally saw side boob in my feed this morning,” dipped down into my home screen, then faded away, into the grey. I opened the text and there it was. From one I’d considered a brother, a friend that I’d shared things with — falling in love, Wendy’s fled, my discovering myself here, The Pan, and everything that means to me. There it was. Staring back at me in black and white. An attempt to erase all of that. I was sick to my stomach and swiped it away before composing mine, my hands trembling and heart sunk. “um. i seem to recall having gone over this sorta thing with you before.”
It started innocently enough. Immature comments, jokes that riffed on the typical straight boy fantasy of seeing two women together, requests for photos, that sort of thing. It made me uncomfortable, but I let it slide. I shouldn’t have, but I did. I wanted to give him a pass. Because I thought of him as a brother. Every comment brought on a litany of questions in my mind: Did he joke the same way with his guy friends about their wives and girlfriends? How would he feel if I asked him to send me photos of his partner? I pondered, thinking I would never disrespect them that way, cross their boundaries or make them into an object. I finally said something not long ago. After yet another comment. He chalked it up to being comfortable with me and I let it go. He was my friend.
I knew, this time, that I’d go off on him if I let myself. I was angry and hurt. And still am. Gaze at me blind and see what you see. But do not misgender me. Do not erase my identity because my androgyny makes you uncomfortable. I am not here for your gaze. I am here for my own and for others like me, for those who are able to see who we are and who celebrate that. So I typed, “please stop coming at me like this” and hit send.
I haven’t heard from him and I doubt that I will. And, at this point? I’m not even sure that I want to. Life is too short for those who won’t see.