Today instead of “male-presenting” I referred to “male-perceived”. It was a moment of exhaustion and missing the intended word, or so I thought until I reflected later and realized that this is why I’m not fond of “male-presenting”.
Because I don’t “present” as a man. I don’t wake up in the morning and make choices so that people will interpret me as a man. I don’t want to be doing that. My fear of being my full self should not be taken as a deliberate presentation.
My worst misery, throughout my life, has been from “presenting” as a man. Of trying to push myself into that box that society has constructed for me. Of trying to ignore that feeling of not quite fitting. Of hoping and overcompensating and preening and PRESENTING as a man.
I don’t present as a man. I am perceived as a man, because my culture is so set on putting everyone into one of their two buckets, and I fit closer to “man” than to “woman”.
But that perception is not an active presentation. It is a straitjacket that I ease myself into every morning. And every day, I tug at another buckle, hoping that soon, maybe tomorrow, I won’t have to wear it anymore.