Then there was my mother, who, upon hearing that my online beau and I were officially an item, blurted out, “Does it even work?”
Transmen are used to these queries, invasive and inappropriate as they may be. This is still a man’s world—men earn more, control more, are valued more—and what makes a man is nothing less than the key to the cultural castle. If the only true definition of manliness is “one who possesses a working penis,” that poses an interesting dilemma for the guy who’s suffered, say, an unfortunate lamb shearing accident. And what about men with negligible penises? Are they only 10 percent male? How about men who require pills to make their penises elevate? Are they men only when medicated?
“But Ali,” my mother says, lowering her voice to a whisper, “you’re not gay.”‘