My question is two-fold:
1. What are some of the social things that you have learned? I just started exploring the trans space and could benefit from someone who knows some of the blind spots.
2. To support the FTM community, are there any male socialization blind spots that a person socialized female would benefit from being aware of?
I understand that this is a lifetime of learning that is not easily put into a pithy 3-point reply, but any thoughts are greatly appreciated.
So let's start with 1, yeah? A lot of my learning about what I was socialized to believe, say, do, and be really comes from deciding to.. not.. do that? Being trans isn't just a construction project where you grow into this beautiful butterfly person, it's also deconstruction, you know? It requires you to look at everything you've been taught and to make decisions about where those things fit in your life. I don't think that's a normal experience that cisgender people have.
My biggest blind spots as a woman have been mostly about how I'm treated by people in general. I wasn't prepared for the increase in attention I'd get as I became more passable. It came on really suddenly and I spent some nights crying into my girlfriend's lap because I didn't know how to manage it. Also everything I do now has a subtext to it that it didn't before, and I find myself trying to manage that a lot with my language. I have a sort of comfortable way of speaking with people personally, and sometimes the way I say things gives off impressions I didn't mean to give.
I think for folks who are socialized as men you learn that your words and deeds are what truly matter, that you can more or less dress however or look however within certain parameters, right? And part of that is just because the fashion/beauty world for men is SO limited culturally (it shouldn't be) so as a "guy" I had a very limited color palette and the colors I wore were.. more or less the same as the colors every other socialized male person wore. So the vocabulary for personal presentation in men is more limited and communicates less. As a woman literally everything I put onto my body whether it's makeup, hair products, or clothing is language. It's not always meant to be language, but people read it anyway. It's hard to describe the differences but people look at and approach me so differently based on what I'm wearing and whether or not I've done any makeup. I don't think this is a thing you can be taught though I think this is all trial and error and you'll learn as you go what fashion communicates the things you want to communicate. I'm still learning.
As for point number 2. I care so much for my trans masc brothers and my biggest tip for them is to be very, very careful about the media they consume and the men who are put on pedestals. There's a real shortage of worthwhile, wholesome men in media. Media for men tends to promote feelings of entitlement and gamesmanship/competition and unhealthy and unrealistic senses of duty and communication. I think the most common toxic personality I encounter is the "asshole genius" who thinks that being a jerk and being intelligent are somehow correlated. So to my trans masc brethren I'd say please actively seek out media and personalities that show dignified, whole men in a positive light. We always uphold Bob Ross, Steve Irwin, LeVar Burton, and Mister Rogers as examples of this. Just be careful, is what I'd say. Masculine culture is a toxic hell stew and it's very easy to get lost in it.
P.S. So really quickly I don't really love acronyms like FTM and MTF because I don't think they're very honest. I was never a male. I have a body that, if we're going to phenotype it, is male type (somewhat) but I have never been a MALE. The honest thing that happened to me is that I was assigned male. A doctor looked at me, made some decisions based on my body, and that was that. So the acronym that's a lot more honest is AMAB (Assigned Male at Birth) or AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth).