Stella Maxwell
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Visible Bodies: Transgender Narratives Retold

Visible Bodies: Transgender Narratives Retold

VisibleBodies BJ

My goal is to reach my idealized self and not let anybody prevent me from achieving that. My own happiness is at stake and nothing is more valuable to me than my own life. Goofing around, not staying at jobs — that didn’t help me reach my goal. I wish I had been more mature, but I was too busy being punk rock. I had to learn how to set milestones and persevere. If I wasn’t trans, I would have had a much longer adolescence.

When I was young, I loved reading Conan the Barbarian. He was the man; he always got the girl. In my dreams, I was on the horse, saving the princess. What did the girls get to do? They got to be rescued. And that was just not me.

Growing up in a multi-racial household, it didn’t register that there was any real importance to my ethnicity. Kids at school let me know that I didn’t fit in. I was doused by the cold ice water of rejection. I became uncomfortably aware of my hair texture and skin color. I was penalized for being smaller than the others.

I felt eroded, frustrated, and angry. I was a bookworm and a nerd; I wanted to exist in the platonic realm of the mind. When I realized that the physical envelope that contained my mind needed to be changed, I began working toward that goal. I felt like one of Michaelangelo’s statues, chipping away the unnecessary marble to reveal myself beneath.

Shrimpy guys need to have mojo to make up for height. I’m compensating. I know this. How I dress, as a metalhead or goth, is linked with the holy grail of masculinity — the knight who saves the princess. It challenges the question, am I man enough? Presenting this way, I’m more comfortable and connected to myself than I was. However, people have some interesting perceptions of me. I’m never sure how much of the adversity I face is related to my presentation or my ethnicity.

BJ, age 47
Assigned Sex: female
Gender Identity: male
Pronouns: he/him/his 


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