By: Tynan Power/TRT Reporter & Columnist-
In the last issue of The Rainbow Times, local activist Bet Power suggested that it might be time for the paper to add a column by a trans man–a female-to-male (FTM) transgender person. As he pointed out, there are two columns written by trans women-male-to-female (MTF) transgender people but the experiences and issues faced by FTMs and MTFs are quite different.
I agree. Bet mentioned a number of differences, but I’ll add one more: we have different relationships to the other groups in the LGBTQ community. MTFs and FTMs may share in the struggle for transgender rights, but what we embrace and what we leave behind is often very different.
Sometimes when transgender people courageously share their experiences, educating LGB allies and the general public, putting their lives on stage or under a microscope-I find that even as I applaud and learn from them, I feel like my own experience has been misrepresented.
Then I remember something important: representing me is not their job. Instead, when I feel misrepresented, that’s my cue to get out there and represent myself. As I see it, we are all responsible for sharing our own unique and personal truth. We are also all responsible for truly listening to each other for those unique and personal truths-not so we can generalize what we hear to all people who share a particular identity, but so we can understand the breadth and complexity of the human experience.
In taking on this column, it is my hope to portray some of that breadth and complexity. Some of what I hope to share will be my own perspective-a perspective that is intentionally left out of my reporting.
However, I am only one person. I have one example of an FTM experience. There are a thousand aspects of my perspective that make it uniquely mine. I can speak as a 40-year-old who transitioned at 30, but not as a 20-year-old transitioning in college or eschewing transition in favor of gender-neutral pronouns and breaking down the gender binary. I move through society as an English-speaking white man with two university degrees, yet I lived through my early formative years as a woman and I am the biological mother-a term many FTM parents would never claim-of two nearly grown sons. I’m a religious, feminist, disabled, bleeding-heart liberal whose ethics are vegan, but whose eating habits haven’t caught up. There are many people I can’t speak for-and so I hope to let them speak for themselves, here, as well.
Whenever possible, I hope to draw on other voices to reflect viewpoints that differ from my own in transition status, age, race, class, religion, dis/ability, sexual orientation or politics.
Each of us can only tell one story: our own. Yet that doesn’t make sharing my story mere irrelevant navel-gazing that only matters to me. As Frederick Buechner, the American writer and theologian, said:
My story is important not because it is mine…but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is yours.
I hope that you recognize something true here in this column. I invite your questions, comments and concerns.
*Tynan Power is a parent, a writer, a progressive Muslim leader, an interfaith organizer, a (very slow) runner, mostly a big goof, sometimes taken too seriously, loving, gentle, FTM, queer-cultured, a pen geek, often dehydrated, full of wanderlust. He also happens to be a transgender man. Tynan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.