For transgender people, a life without binary norms
on March 6, 2012
As a child, West Oakland resident Jack B. Pierson, 27, hated wearing the pink and purple outfits his mother chose for him. He craved the sensible, utilitarian clothing his older brother got to wear, the kind that permitted a more rough-and-tumble lifestyle.
Pierson was a girl back then. He came out as gay when he was a teenager and in his 20’s became trans-identified, his gender identity veering away from society’s conventional gender roles.
Pierson started taking testosterone two years ago. Since then his body has changed in numerous ways. “It’s pretty exciting to have a beard,” he says. “Although all I ever wanted was a moustache and it’s taking a while to grow in.” Pierson’s got one tattooed on his index finger, so it’s standing in for now.
Though Pierson is transitioning by taking hormones, he’s not sure about the procedure that many female-to-male transgendered people undertake: top surgery.
“If I could not have top surgery and be on a beach topless without feeling seen and it being a big deal that I have boobs, then I would do it,” he says. “But I don’t think the world is going to change so much in my time that it actually makes sense to hold out for that.”
Pierson lives his life in a way that society isn’t really set up for. If he’s in public, going to the bathroom could be uncomfortable, or, he worries, potentially dangerous. The mainstream gender norms, which are binary, often leave people like Pierson in an awkward position, people who don’t consider themselves to be male or female, but rather something in between.
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