It’s officially ready!! Check out the final installment in my zine series below!
Coming Off of T: Transition as Cycle
At 50+ pages, Coming Off of T is the third and final installment of my zine series about transitioning with testosterone. In this one, things come full circle and I delve into the process of stopping hormone replacement therapy: the why, the how, the what, and the when. I am still non-binary. This is not a zine about detransitioning, but rather, going off of hormones and exploring my new relationship with my body and everything that entails.
Finally, it’s here! My second zine about transitioning as a non-binary person is now available!
1.5 Years on T: My Non-Binary Body, Transition & Ambivalence
1.5 Years on T is a 40+ page zine about transitioning as a non-binary person. It continues from where One Year on T left off. In it, I grapple with lots of questions and plenty of confusion, showing that my transition has been far from straightforward. I open up about my relationship with my body, navigating all-male spaces, gender expression, beauty standards, privilege, pronouns, next steps for my transition, and more.
I attended a queer zine fair in Tio’tia:ke/Montreal last weekend. There were so many people in attendance expressing gender in defiance of the binary, with beards and glitter and leg hair and lingerie and jewelry and shaved heads and colourful outfits. It was really affirming. Seeing so many gender variant people made me want to vary my gender expression more. I’ve been getting boxed in by the binary again, this time on the other side. I recently started “passing” as male and so have been leaning into that more, but I realized that I don’t want to move through the world looking like a straight, cis man. I’m uncomfortable with that. Sure, the targets that come with being read as female, as queer, as trans, and as gender non-conforming may be gone, but walking around looking like an average straight white guy isn’t for me—that isn’t who I am and it’s not how I want to take up space in the world.
My friend, after reading my first zine, suggested that my gender may be like a bent spoon. I have wanted to be read as male because I’ve been unbending the spoon. In order to “straighten” (no pun intended) the spoon out, I’ve needed to bend it in the other direction. I’ve needed to be misgendered as a man in order to compensate for being misgendered as a woman for so long, but even now “he” pronouns are starting to feel uncomfortable. They don’t upset me the way “she” pronouns do, but they also don’t fit perfectly. “They” fits best. It always has, ever since I first learned it was a viable option.
Seeing the rich array of gender nonconformity at the fair made me ask what my ideal expression of gender looks like. The answer is complicated. There is a part of me that loves presenting masculinely and being read as male, but even then I still like things that are colourful and cute, outside of what’s typically deemed masculine. I like blue-and-pink t-shirts, flower patterns, and quartz-stone necklaces. I like adding a touch of non-normative masculinity to what I wear, even when I want to be read as male.
I also like dresses. I bought a black lace dress from Value Village the other week and it’s absolutely adorable. I haven’t worn it out anywhere, though. I feel nervous. The people who know and are used to the more masc version of me might not “get” it. I’m worried that some may assume my wearing a dress means I’m “not really trans” or that I’ve “de-transitioned”. I’m worried that people will use it as another reason to intentionally misgender me. It’s tough. I feel like I’ve given up the ability to wear dresses, which wasn’t the point of my transition at all—I wanted more options for expression, not less. It’s easier if I wear a dress as a “costume,” like at a themed party or drag event. That feels easier to justify, not that I should have to justify it, but somehow, I feel like I do.
I worked at a summer camp after I’d just come out in 2015 where I presented almost exclusively masculinely. Near the end of the season, I threw on a dress because I wanted to and missed wearing dresses. The people I’d worked with all summer were mostly polite about it, but it did draw a lot of attention. There were many smiles, surprised expressions, and compliments. One individual, however, became distressed and confronted me, saying, “I’m sorry, I want to be supportive, but I’m really confused right now because you’re dressed as only one gender”. I can’t remember what I said in response, only how I felt: disappointed and frustrated. The implication of their words was that clothing is inherently gendered, and also, that my wearing men’s clothing was me somehow “wearing two genders,” the one I was assigned at birth being one of them. I’m not cross-dressing when I’m wearing men’s clothing. Neither am I presenting as a “single” gender when I’m in a dress. I’m just me, Sage, not more or less of one or another gender. Dresses are dresses, pieces of fabric cut in a specific way. You don’t have to be a woman to wear them. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say that, that it shouldn’t be a radical statement these days, but I do and it is.
I want to wear my black dress but I don’t want to deal with people’s reactions. Even if they’re not negative, I don’t want the attention: the surprise, the stares, the compliments, the questions, the opinions. Masculinity has afforded me the privilege of invisibility and I’ve grown attached to that. I remember what it was like to leave the house with long red hair and a summer dress. I remember I couldn’t do it without at least one catcall, stare, threat, or physical invasion of my space. That was before I grew facial hair and lowered my voice through testosterone. I know the added element of my genderqueerness will only make it worse.
In my ideal world, the world I hope we are slowly working towards, I could leave the house in a dress and not be met with shock, accusations of de-transitioning or being a “fake” trans person, invasive questions, misgendering, confusion, anger, or catcalls. I could leave the house in a dress and be met with not much more than a smile or, “Hey, nice dress”. In my ideal world, I could leave the house in a dress with a beard and not be met with violence. In my ideal world, I could play around with masculinity and femininity in whatever way pleases me and still be called “they”. I could be read as male, female, or ambiguously and be “they” regardless.
This 30+ page e-zine is about being non-binary and the politics of passing, transitioning, and sex. The poems and essays within capture different stages of my transition, beginning with my coming out process in 2015 and then focusing on my first year of hormone therapy. Much of the content is raw, painful, and difficult to share. I open up about my struggles as a non-passing non-binary person with the medical system, dating, sex and desirability, taking hormones, transphobia, gatekeeping, gender expression, and more.
I have set the price of this e-zine at $5.00. If this is a barrier for you, please contact me to work something else out. Preference will be given to other trans folks and people looking to use it for educational purposes.
Disclaimer: I don’t feel like this all the time. There are multiple sides to every story, to every experience. There are lots of wonderful and exciting things about my transition. It has opened up new doors, allowed me to access a happiness and freedom I was unable to before. There are also many supportive and lovely people in my life.
But there is a less glamorous side as well. There is a difficult side, a challenging side, a painful side. There are shitty people, as well as the broader transphobic society that is slowly changing but still has a long way to go. Sometimes, it’s necessary to express this side of things. Having a creative outlet for darker feelings is important. So, if you don’t want to read something heavy right now, please feel free to skip this. Just respect my right to share it.
Also, YES, the whole concept of “passing” is problematic af. Doesn’t mean I don’t get caught up in and affected by it.
CW: transphobia (internal and external), mild self-loathing, general sads
When you don’t pass:
You feel like a failure,
A fuck-up who’s constantly “getting it wrong”.
When people misgender you,
Sometimes you think you deserve it.
Because you’re the only one who can see
Who you really are.
You’re accused of
“Not being real,” of
“Following a trend,” of
Being otherwise “illegitimate”.
You are dismissed,
You are waging a war against your body,
Constantly disappointed by the mirror,
By the reflection that feels like an insult—
The cruellest thing anyone could ever say.
You ask yourself, over and over,
What am I doing wrong?
What is wrong with me?
You ask yourself, again and again, When will it happen?
Will it ever happen?
And how much longer do I have to wait?
You look around you and see
Other people’s radical transformations.
You contrast & compare.
You come up short.
You feel fucking exhausted.
What is(n’t) happening?
Why isn’t this working?
You’re not taken seriously.
You’re not respected.
You’re left asking,
Who am I?
Who am I?
And why am I stuck here?
When you don’t pass
Every day takes a little more out of you,
While you work towards the day that you do.
But more importantly,
You work towards a world that doesn’t require you to.
I’m not looking for sympathy by sharing this, it’s just something I wanted to express. Thanks for reading.