Sitting down to write an account of the last two weeks as Andrew has been a difficult task, so much has happened in obvious ways, like changing my clothes and my hair cut, restyling my apartment, being reborn on social media and simply calling myself Andrew. But then these are only the surface actions. Beneath this there have been a multitude of subtle differences, many of them so hard to express or put your finger on why you feel different or why it feels the same. It has been a blurry process of adaptation but I will attempt to elaborate on a few elements.
HELLO, I’M ANDREW…
By now I am getting used to being called Andrew and those around me have been quick to adapt to the new title, in fact they seem to revel my new name, saying it far more than usual or perhaps I am just so much more aware of it. My family have been happy to welcome their new son, even if my dad did jokingly add that he ‘hoped Andrew would be gay’ but I’ll leave that topic for another day.
Introducing myself to strangers, however, is a whole different process, to what extend I can pass as a boy visually is debatable but one thing is for sure that when I open my mouth any ambiguity I had created is destroyed, so I keep my intros short. A colleague spoke to me just yesterday asking ‘How was I feeling so far?’ and made the observation that Andrew in much more introverted than Abigail. It’s true that now (at least in public) I really only talk if I have too often leaving me biting my tongue, however I am also enjoying this new more aloof detached persona, just sitting back in my chair and watching things around me unfurl rather than jumping in.
MAN ABOUT TOWN…
So how much does Andrew really look like a male? If I am a male I am very young, what I have created is more of an ambiguity and I am definitely not Abigail. My first step was to I have my hair cut at a proper Turkish Barber shop (a hyper male environment that was a foreign experience to me). The barber asked a couple of times, if this was really the hair cut I wanted, before he set about with his scissors and Andrew started to emerge Style wise I have stared off fairly conservatively, it quite hard to pick up a style over night especially when you are trying very consciously to minimize your hips and bum, and at 157cm tall and wear size 37 shoes, I would not say I was of the ideal stature to pass as a man although I give a good stab at a precocious 16 year old!
But after two weeks and a few different ways of wearing my hair and experimenting with glasses I feel pretty conformable dressing as Andrew. Although I do feel like my trousers are falling down half the time and realistically you can not call a binder comfortable, but am really happy about how flat it makes my chest, and t-shirts look 100% better with it.
In adapting and embracing my new male identity there are some crucial factors that won’t let me forget I am female. In preparing for the project I had decided to come off the contraceptive pill that I have been taking for the past 9 years so not to be adding any female hormones to my system and instead switched to non hormonal copper coil.
I had tried to time it so I would get my period a week or two before the emergence of Andrew, that way I could have at least a few weeks of becoming male before I had to deal with the reality of being a natal female again, but no such luck. Instead my period was a few weeks late, which led me in my first week of Andrew to do a home pregnancy test, which was thankfully negative and obligingly a week later my period finally emerged. Boxer shorts are definitely not designed to accommodate sanitary products and I have found myself feeling a little like a man with an underwear fetish wearing my usual black lacy thong underneath my boxers.
FIRST NIGHT OUT ON THE PULL…
Although I don’t feel that uncomfortable as Andrew, I do miss Abigail, especially on a Saturday night in a crowded party. Walking through a bar as a girlish boy or a boyish girl is definitely not the same as it was as Abigail. It is hard to get used to not feeling attractive or not being looked upon as attractive by those around you. Also getting used to basic social mechanics, how do I dance now? How do I act when I order a drink at a crowded bar? When I move through a crowded dance floor who do I exchange smiles with? The first night out is hard but then again I am just finding my wings. I am having to learn a whole new way to interact. Although I did have one triumph, after being observed dancing with a friend of mine, a man commented to her what ‘So you’ll choose that 16 year old over me’ I may seem young but at least I passed!
Words and visuals by A. Liparoto