There was a person I met in high school I still think about. He was an assigned male non binary person (he was using he/him pronouns at the time so that’s how I’m gonna refer to him) and he had a huge impact on me. Not because we were friends. I didn’t even know him and I can’t even recall his name now. But he introduced me to a concept that to this day I have only ever heard come out of his mouth but it still sticks with me.
He told me that in the trans/nb community there’s what he liked to call “assigned female privelage”. He told me that people born female are sort of allowed to play with gender. Even in the most conservative households there are tomboys and women wearing pants. It seems that women and people that are perceived to be women are allowed a little more freedom in playing around with gender, even in the most conservative settings.
Before I came out I bought t-shirts in the men’s department and walked around the house with my hair stuffed into a hat. And nobody batted an eye or became suspicious. He, on the other hand, was not in a position where he could do similar things. He couldn’t try makeup or wear women’s shirts. Even dressing in more feminine colors like light greens, yellows, and pinks made him nervous.
If an assigned male person wants to experiment with gender expression it’s difficult to do it subtly. Those of us assigned female can wear pants and t-shirts and even if we can’t cut our hair, pony tails pulled through a baseball cap are a sign of masculine womanhood and can at least give us something. We get something before we come out usually. We can refuse makeup and shaving in the name of feminism, find women’s clothes that resemble men’s, and go into the men’s section to buy soap while complaining about the pink tax.
But if someone that’s perceived as a boy or man wears makeup, puts on women’s jeans, or grows their hair out, it’s suspect. It’s funny. It’s shameful and needs to be put to a stop in the eyes of society.
I don’t know where that kid is now, if he ever came out to his family, or if he’s finally wearing what he wants, but I’m grateful to him. I’m grateful that he brought my attention to this. I had the ability before I came out to ease some dysphoria by wearing masculine clothes and baseball caps and hanging out with boys. And he and so many others never had anything like that.