Or at least I feel like a hypocrite.
As I’ve previously mentioned, the fact that I present as quite feminine, but identify as male is a source of confusion for a lot of people. And even though I constantly say that I think it’s important that I be allowed to identify how I want to, regardless of how I look, I don’t always put that principle into action in my life.
Honestly there’s a little bit of entitlement and stubbornness behind my decision to continue using male pronouns for the time being (although it’s definitely not the biggest motivation). People see me and assume that I’m a female and I feel like it’s a really necessary thing for me to correct them and tell them that I’m a male. In a way, I feel as though I’m helping the cause of gender non-conformity by showing that people don’t always identify as you’d assume them to. Because it would be the convenient thing for me to identify as female since everyone assumes that’s what I am. But why should I?
For most trans people, life isn’t that convenient. And just because I have a “pretty privilege,” doesn’t mean I’ll always use it to make my life easier as the expense of others. Okay, that all sounds very dramatic but this is honestly my mind-set towards this issue.
But there are a couple of situations where I get tired of doing so. Because, as honourable as everything that I just said is, it gets extremely tiring to constantly feel like you’re justifying your existence to every person you encounter.
When I’m in a nightclub on the dancefloor, I’ll often attract some clingers. Clingers are usually girls (although occasionally boys) who I don’t know but who are very overfamiliar with me. They’ll dance with me, link me, put their arms around me, or try to step into my friend group. Most of the time I just kind of smile at them, feeling sort of uncomfortable, but occasionally, when I’m feeling charitable (and I’ve had a few drinks), I’ll dance with these strangers for a song or two.
There’ll always come a moment when these clingers will stand on their tiptoes to shout into my ears over the music and ask me my name. And I’m ashamed to say that I always crouch down and shout back “Laylah!” I’m sure that you can understand my desire to just move these people on and get back to my friends without having to launch into a tangent about my name and my identity but nevertheless, it is hypocritical of me.
I go out with a lot of pretty girls, who often attract the male gaze when we’re in a club. Groups of boys will often try and engage us in conversation and although most of the time we’re not interested in expanding our group, occasionally we’ll talk back. The boys will look into the eyes of my friends and ask them their names and then, almost as an afterthought, they’ll look up at the giraffe in the pretty girls’ midst and ask her name too. (Of course I’m exaggerating. They’re always incredibly polite. Also, I’ve been known to catch a boy or two myself on a night out if you can believe it).
When they ask the giraffe’s name, I’ll usually just say Laylah again. These boys are on the prowl and I’d hate to take up their precious hunting time by talking about my gender identity.
I use a taxi app (like most Dubliners) to navigate my way home. On this taxi app, my details are in as David Beattie (obviously because that’s my name). But a lot of the time the drivers will pick me up and ask me is David my friend or my boyfriend. And instead of saying “no that’s me,” I’ll just nod.
I’m a spoiled brat who likes to treat my taxi drivers like chauffers. I figure that if I’m paying for the service of a taxi, it should be as luxurious as possible. This means that I don’t really like to make conversation with my drivers (unless I’m extremely drunk). I’ll sit in the back, leaving the passenger seat empty and I may even listen to music with my earphones or read my book.
I’m not generally a rude person and it’s nothing against the taxi drivers, it’s just that I’m used to getting the bus and I don’t have to make conversation with anyone when I do that. It’s my preference to travel in silence because I like to think while I’m travelling. I would estimate that about 75% of my ideas for essays have been thought up while sitting on the bus. So you could call my silence a creative process (if you were really pushing it).
I contemplated changing my name on this taxi app to Laylah, but I decided that was going too far. My name isn’t yet Laylah and registering myself as such would be too hypocritical for me. But when taxi drivers in the future ask me who David is, I can’t really see myself giving them an honest answer.
Look I’m not stupid. I know that none of you are going to hold this hypocrisy against me. I know that the majority of people will understand and forgive my need to do this. But I thought that it was important to divulge this information to you.
I’m not perfect. I can’t stand on a moral high ground. In fact, sometimes I’m even a hypocrite.
But I am trying my best and I hope that you can all at least see that.
For more about my pretty privilege, watch Transgender and Naked below:
If you liked this essay, you may also be interested in reading I’m Transgender, Not Unreasonable here.