All my former friends were bad boys.
They were all like Tyler Durden: handsome, very athletic, and extremely multi-faceted in their competence. Many of them were extremely rebellious, made their own rules, and were good at sports, fixing cars, and hooking up with women. Another words, they were studs.
But the most interesting aspect of my friendship with these friends would have been the fact that our interactions were more like a relationship between a boyfriend and girlfriend than 2 men hanging out as homies.
Even though I was presenting as a guy when I hung out with all of these friends, the dynamic resembled the frequency typically found being broadcast by that of a heterosexual couple.
Other people, including my friends themselves, thought of our interactions as a very close and tight knit friendship, almost like “homies,” or family.
But I knew. The entire time I was friends with these individuals, I knew deep down inside that I enjoyed the attention and care I got from these men. I appreciated feeling needed, and being a good listener for these friends. I also was caught up in guy privilege with these friends, but even in my most masculine moments of disguise, I was still aware of the man and woman dynamics, the undercurrent of their masculinity shadowing over my femininity in a caring manner, packaged and labeled as friendship when shown to the world, but visible to some of my gay and transgender friends who knew my real identity or to those who were meticulous in their scrutiny.
Take my interactions with Sal, for instance. I knew him for many years, and we even ran a martial arts dojo together. He was probably the closest guy friend I’ve had in my post adolescent years. We did everything together, from chasing after women, crashing parties, sparring, working out, and doing other activities of questionable legality.
During the times we hung out, he was typically the one driving, or he’d be driving my car. I was almost always in the passenger seat, and he almost always came up with the idea or activity we were going to do for the evening. I was just the gal that hung onto him, and supportively stood by his side. I was always agreeable with whatever he decided we’d do for the evening. I was Bonnie for his Clyde .
I also constantly called him out on things he forgot, reminded him, and groomed him when he was a mess. I would pick up specks of dirt or lint off his jacket, feed him, and take care of him emotionally. He grew up without a mother, and the energy and support I provided for him touched him on numerous occasions.
Whenever he would argue with his girlfriends or break up with them, he would call me and we’d go to 7 Eleven and get some sunflower seeds, and loiter in the parking lot while talking things over. The dynamic between his latest long term relationship with this girl named Patty further emphasized how much my relationship with Sal was a girl interacting with a boy.
Patty absolutely hated my guts, but she could never put her finger on why. She just knew she hated me, and wanted me to stop calling and to stop coming around. She wanted nothing more than me to leave him alone. But because I was still presenting as a guy, she couldn’t outright tell me to leave, and she had no words or tangible way to explain why she didn’t feel comfortable with me around.
And despite me having no attraction to my guy friends, she was incredibly jealous when I hung out with her boyfriend. Sal was very caring towards me, and there was a bond that I had with him that Patty couldn’t understand, that Patty wasn’t privy to. She could never be in the circle with the boys, and I, at the time, wasn’t truly allowed to mingle with the girls yet. But I did have more access with the girls, enough experience being myself, with odd nights here and there in Hollywood or San Francisco, and I had been Natalie long enough and often enough to know what it felt to be a girl around the presence of other men. And I knew how to be a guy better than anything else at that point.
I had a double pass and they only had one pass. I had more access.
So here I was, with a huge advantage that all of my friend’s girlfriends didn’t have: I was allowed to be one of the boys, to hang out, privy to all the conversations and interactions that their girlfriends were cut off from. I always had a legitimate reason to “steal” the men away from their girlfriends for the evening, and because the assumption was we were just homies, there were no rebuttals available for these women to use against me. We obviously weren’t going to have sex, and in order to appear as a secure and supportive girlfriend, they would have to let their boyfriend go out with the other boys and homies for a guys night out.
Eventually, when both genders were mingling in group outings, the girls usually either despised me or loved me. They would either feel my energy and sense something wasn’t right about me, and call me phony, or they would interact and talk with me, creating intimate conversations and form a bond and deep friendship.
“You’re the easiest guy I’ve ever talked to, sometimes easier to talk with than my girlfriends!” one of them said to me.
The girls that were involved in a truly loving, inclusive, and spiritually aware relationship with my friends were almost always supportive of our friendship and really close with me. They shared conversations with me, allowed me to stick around in their group of girlfriends during intimate conversations, and called me often to talk. They were happy when their boyfriends spent time with me, because whatever made their boyfriend happy made them happy.
The possessive, jealous and immature girlfriends who came from their ego always despised me. Patty was a good example of a possessive, manipulative, and immature girlfriend who wanted Sal all to herself.
Looking back now, all of it was so funny: how all of my former guy friends fit a mold and class of men that Natalie would have dated; how pre-transition MtF transsexuals can straddle both sides of the fence and benefit from having access to both teams; and how the area where the girlfriends were limited in their access to their boyfriends is how I am now limited when I’m around guy friends.
Giving up guy privilege had its price, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
At least before I gave up my guy privilege, though, I made the most of it and captured some awesome memories that will forever serve me and be with me.
Sal, Adrian, Rigo, Ryan, Alistair…
Thank you guys.