I am guilty. Let’s get this out right now, during the time I hid behind my mask, I acted in a way in which no person could question my wrong-headed manliness. I once convinced a married woman to cheat on her husband, it took me all night, lightly touching her, whispering in her ear, gently kissing her, to cajole her into having sex. I was determined to do it, not because we had an equal desire to have sex, but because I didn’t like her husband, he had questioned my masculinity. I am guilty.
Being trans doesn’t give us some secret insight of both men and women. In fact, I would say it gives us a warped view of the gender we are trying to portray, the mask isn’t a reflection of who we pretend to be, it’s a fun-house mirror. I look back and cringe at the things I have done to other women. While I have always wanted love from either a woman or a man, I was perfectly content to use women to satisfy myself. I kept telling myself that this is what you are supposed to do, all the while never actually being satisfied. It was about my own issues of not being me, it was about holding some kind of control in my life. If I could convince a woman to have sex, I felt briefly in control. I didn’t think about what that meant for the other woman in the scenario. I told myself that I was a romantic. I read them poetry and whispered sweet nothings. I was a predator. I maneuvered them into situations where they felt loved or safe. I never forced sex, but I’m sure that for some of them it was just easier to have sex than to deal with me by saying no.
As I hid behind my mask I didn’t feel the helplessness a woman feels when encountering a man who is intent on making his conquest. I didn’t understand the lack of voice, if faced with a man taking advantage of me. I wasn’t shamed into keeping quiet about the things a man might have done to me, because somehow his appetites were now mine to explain. I didn’t feel these behind my mask, I was insulated. I suspect that many women are frustrated that many transgender women like me were “able” to hide behind a mask to avoid what they deal with daily. I’m not going to make excuses for that, it’s not fair, I agree. We all have our own reasons for hiding behind our masks, but I know that it never crossed my mind that I was avoiding sexual harassment.
It took this MeToo movement to look back at my actions and not see them as “wins” but as failures at being human, at having compassion. Not every sexual encounter was harassment, but it only takes one encounter to be guilty. I acted badly at what I thought was supposed to be representative of a man. My wife came home from the store yesterday and told me that the man behind the meat counter addressed her as “Babe”. My wife was upset when she got home, she was angry at the guy, and so was I. However, I was angrier at myself for my part in perpetuating this kind of attitude. It would be easy to hide behind my femininity, that by coming out I have somehow absolved myself of the issue. But the truth is, the damage I did was long ago when I showed boys/men that harassment of women was a birthright by example. Now my wife, my daughter and women everywhere, including myself are collecting on the fruits of my past misdeeds.