TW AND CW: Rape and Sexual Assault – Before and After Coming Out as a Trans Man
Written by Jules

I remember when I was in grade 11, I wrote a poem about being sexually abused as a child and raped by multiple people once I became sexually active just over a year before.

My grade 11 English teacher was fantastic. He is one of the people I attribute to saving my life because he told me I had worth and would listen.

On the back of this poem, he left me a very personal message. It was one filled with sadness and grief; not only for me but the 1 in 4 girls in his classroom that he looked at everyday who are victimized. Those were the statistics at that time. He also gave me messages of support, telling me I was not alone in what I was experiencing and that I had someone I could confide in, outside of using class assignments as a way of coping, if I ever wished to talk to him about it.

When I was struggling with other things that would pop up in my assignments, he always left a long note on the back, sometimes sharing his own personal experiences to reassure me I was not alone.

To this day, I still have every single one of those assignments filled with notes that helped me to not re-attempt suicide.

But, there is a little bit of a rub to that whole thing, which I’ll address later.

I’m going to share some very graphic details. They will be TRIGGER WARNING AND CONTENT WARNING (FOR DRUGS AND ALCOHOL) AS FUCK! All of these stories are from when I was living life being assigned as female.

There was the time I was 15 and still a virgin and I was making out with this guy. He was in his early 20s. As we were standing on the side of the road, kissing each other like tomorrow would never come, next thing I knew his hand was down my pants and he was fingering me.

There was the time that right after I lost my virginity shortly before my 16th birthday that I was getting beyond hammered on all the alcohol I could swallow with a bunch of peers. This is when I used to drink excessively. At the time, I thought they were friends. But, nope. They were just my peers. I went to lay down in someone’s bed. My boyfriend’s best friend and other friends came into the room. They thought I was passed out. My boyfriend’s best friend took off my pants and underpants, while others watched, and began to finger me. Next thing I know, he is taking off his pants and is about to penetrate me with his penis before I heard him say, “I can’t do this to my best friend.” All the while, people watched. He put his clothes back on, left me half undressed, and left the room.

There was the time I was homeless. A friend was letting me stay at her house for awhile. Her dad got me drunk and rolled me a cigarette laced with pot. I didn’t know about the pot. He told me to go sleep it off in his bed. I woke up with his naked body rubbing against mine.

There was the time I actually had to sleep on the street and some guy molested me while he thought I was sleeping.

There was the time I was in the video arcade and some guy came up to me, pushed me against a machine, started to kiss me and grope me.

There was the time that I was in foster care. My foster parents were off on their honeymoon. I had just broken up with a person who worked with my foster dad. While my foster parents were away, he broke into the house, came down into my room, started to grope me and remove my clothes, while my foster sister was in the room. Thankfully, she made a noise and scared him away. When my foster parents came home, I told my foster dad what had happened. He confronted the guy. The next day, the guy was in what supposed to be my safe space away from abuse. When I asked my foster dad about this, he said, “He was man enough to admit that he was going to rape you, so he is man enough to come back into my house.”

There was the time my husband raped me multiple times. And my common-law husband. And pretty much every long term relationship that I was in.

The above stories are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my history of rape and sexual assault.

I seriously cannot count how many times I have been raped and sexually assaulted.

Before I came out as a trans man, I could openly talk about these things. I had support. I could talk about misogyny I faced and how patriarchy allows this type of shit to occur, every single fucking day, to millions upon millions of people who were born with a vagina.

Before I came out as trans, stats were kept when these incidences were reported.

Then, I came out and have been repeatedly told to STFU.

Part of that comes from a society that does not make it safe for men to talk about being raped.

When my grade 11 English teacher gave me stats, he gave me stats of girls. If I were 16 in today’s age, I would have already been out because my local school district is very supportive of its trans students. But, would my teacher be able to give me stats for boys? For sure my teacher wouldn’t be able to give me stats for trans boys because they don’t exist. Why? Because unless that trans boy’s parents have agreed to allow that child to change their sex marker, that child will be added to the stats for girls/women. What about trans boys who, even after coming out, continue to face a world that ogles them as a pair of walking boobs with a vagina?

STFU also comes from some circles in the trans community and some circles in feminism.

You know what I’m tired of hearing? That I have never experiences misogyny because I have always been a guy, even before I came out, even before I knew that trans masculinity was a thing that existed.

Well, fine. What the fuck do you want to label it then when multiple people rape and sexually assault you because they only see you as a girl/woman and refuse to see you as a guy? Transphobia just doesn’t cut it. It’s like how transmisogyny and transphobia are two separate things, even if there can be overlap. Tell me what language to use and it better not be something that diminishes my experiences; experiences that helped contribute to years of depression and multiple suicide attempts.

It also sends the message that because I’m a guy, I’m not affected by these experiences as deeply as others. I’ve actually been told that.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

I will admit, that there is a whole other level of surviving this because I am trans, but that should never be used as a reason to diminish my experiences.

Don’t ever presume that each time I was raped, that I was not deeply traumatized. Every time I was raped, the message I got was, “Well, I guess I just need to be quiet, disassociate and move on. It will all be over soon. This is just what happens in life.”

One thing I do wish for—and this is one area that I sometimes find myself thinking “I should never have come out as a trans man”—is that one day, it will become safe again for me to truly talk about my experiences of rape and sexual assault, outside of conversation with my trauma therapist and a handful of real friends.

When I listen to cis women share how being raped has affected them, their experiences feel like my experiences. Yes, I knew from a very young age that I was not like other girls. However, I still received and internalized a lot of how young girls are socialized because it wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I even knew that trans men existed. I knew about trans women. But, for my side of the spectrum, tomboy was what I was.

Because of all the STFU messaging and being told my story is not at all welcome, way too often I don’t voice my advocacy in regards to rape and trauma. I’m a survivor and I shut up about it because I’m now open about being trans and people think I can’t possibly know what women experience in regards to men viewing them as if they are objects that exist simply for men’s pleasure.

Well, I do know. The last time I was raped was in my mid-30s. These aren’t some distant experiences from the past.

There are three things I hope people take away from this:

1. To my fellow trans men: You are definitely not alone in your experiences. How you process(ed) those experiences is perfectly valid. How you have internalized the messages from those experiences is perfectly valid. Sure there will be differences based on age, culture, town you grew up in, socio-economical factors, etc., but you were still affected by it.

2. To cis guys who have experiences rape and sexual assault: Please share your experiences more. It’s hard, especially when you are most likely to be faced with dismissal and ridicule and “jokes” about how you probably liked it. You too are victims of patriarchy. We need to work together to change the messaging male victims receive.

3. To people who really want to honestly and openly talk about rape, sexual assault, and consent: I really want to be able to talk about these things. I very well know how patriarchy has set assigned female bodies up to be objects of desire and personal pleasure. I’ve been a victim, multiple times, as a result of this messaging. We need to actively work on a way to include all assigned female bodied people into these conversations, without saying things like, “Well, you’re a guy so you’re part of the problem.” No. Oh hell no. I’m more aware about issues around consent because of my experiences, because I live in a physical world where, on a daily basis, I’m perceived and treated as a women. None of that magically disappeared when I came out as transgender.

I don’t know where we go from here. I don’t know how we start changing how conversations are framed as to not ignore certain voices, or to dismiss other people’s experiences.

It’s not easy.

One thing I do wish for—and this is one area that I sometimes find myself thinking “I should never have come out as a trans man”—is that one day, it will become safe again for me to truly talk about my experiences of rape and sexual assault, outside of conversation with my trauma therapist and a handful of real friends.

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