Tag Archives: anthropology

I’m a Freak

* This entry was posted, pulled, and revised. We all make mistakes.

It still hits me over the head sometimes when I have a moment of shock and I think, “I really am a freak.” I’ve got a slew of friends and a paid therapist who consistently tell me how normal I am but hey, they all live in California. I know better; I’m from New York.

I spent my childhood struggling to be seen as normal (read: “like everybody else”) despite feeling trapped in a body and a role I despised. I didn’t look any different from the other girls but still, everyone could see that I was a masculine person in a girl’s body, which was not okay. The boys made fun of me: “To a girl who’s really built — like a Mack truck!” My sixth grade yearbook was littered with these. Even my friends took shots at me, paying the cutest boy in class to sneak up and kiss me on the cheek one day. “Where’s my two bucks?” he demanded, almost before his lips left my face.

Incidents like these aside, I really did and do feel normal most of the time – that is, until someone points out to me that I am not. Formerly, when I identified as a butch lesbian, I had a community and a history to fall back on at such moments. I never felt alone and, once I accepted myself, I never felt odd. There were so many others like me. Now that I identify as a transgender man, I feel utterly alone. There is no comparable community. There is no history. In terms of the medical options available to me, I am a new thing on this earth.

In my last post, I responded to the new North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use the restroom associated with the gender listed on their birth certificates. Some of us look so much like the men or women we identify as that following the law creates its own set of problems. No woman wants to see my mustached face in a ladies room.

The post elicited a strong response from a friend of mine; he’s not wrong in asking me to be realistic about the way politicians think:

“In the eyes of the NC legislators, who are older straight conservatives for the most part, there is a very real fear of perverts emboldened to barge into women’s restrooms AND LOCKER ROOMS [emphasis his] unrestrained. Whether that is a realistic fear or not is neither here nor there. It exists.”

I suppose I have to accept this. No amount of reason can shake an irrational belief. If men who try to look like women are allowed into the ladies room, then men will try to look like women in order to get into the ladies room. It doesn’t matter that it makes no sense; belief rarely does. And it’s strong enough to withstand critiques against its discriminatory effects.

The human psyche makes it acceptable to hurt other humans by dehumanizing them. In the eyes of the NC legislature, I am a freak, and freaks pave the way for rapists. As my friend implicitly reminds me, that’s a fact whether I accept it or not. I don’t want to be a freak.

I don’t want to be transgender. It was hard enough coming to grips with being a lesbian; being transgender is a whole other order of weird. How messed up am I, to be so at odds with my own biology? What went wrong in my head or in my life to detach me so completely from my body? No matter what I do, I can never be a “real” man. It’s crazy to think otherwise. I need to deal with reality.

Reality’s a funny thing, though. It keeps changing. It turns out that being transgender is not the same thing as being a man. It doesn’t try to be. It occupies its own legitimate place along the spectrum of human biology and identity. Whether people understand it or not is neither here nor there. It exists.

Something happened in my brain, in the womb or early on, that created disagreement with my body. And while I laid claim to masculine style and identity a long time ago, the disappointment of a mirror has always been profound. Finally denial was more painful than acceptance. Forty-five years of self-hatred is more than enough for anyone.

If that makes me a freak, then so be it.

Woman + Fire = BOOM?

gas fireplace

When I met my wife, she was already a homeowner and used to taking care of things by herself; some would say self-sufficient, others might say a mild control freak. I learned early on to leave her to her projects. She might mutter her way through fixing the sink but she’d get it done just fine without me. After 14 years of living together, I got a small place closer to my job to spend a few nights a week. Until I started working on it, she had no idea that I had any skills at all.

Unlike me, Tess is a master of all trades. She can build a fence, lay a floor, and put up dry wall. There’s very little to be done around the house that requires outside assistance. You wouldn’t know it to look at her, about a hundred pounds of hummingbird energy in a pencil skirt and heels, but she’s a one-woman Amish barn raising. She and her ex bought and renovated, by themselves, a series of increasingly more valuable homes which gave her a lifetime of know-how that I don’t possess. I leave things to her.

Our gas fireplace, which burns out some part or other with clockwork regularity each year around Christmas, is one of the few things that she can’t fix. We call a service tech, typically a guy thick with grease who likes fire enough to make me feel grateful that he channels his energy legally. Tess made the call this year and since I wasn’t at home when he came out to the house, he dealt exclusively with her. When Mark came back the second time, I happened to be at home.

I was in the back of the house when I heard him come in. He spoke with Tess for at least five solid minutes before I emerged and from that moment on, he spoke mostly to me. My wife was instantly demoted to the status of a semi-responsible teenager while I was promoted to man of the house. He related to me like I knew more than she did about operating the dangerously explosive gas bomb formerly known as our fireplace; it was my responsibility to make sure that she didn’t blow herself up with it. I felt this extension of male privilege immediately and was offended on her behalf; I made a mental note to apologize to her as soon as it was over.

I followed Mark to the fireplace at the back of the house. It was the first time I’d had an interaction longer than a minute or two alone with a man who perceived me not just as another man, but as a husband. I felt him drop a rucksack of masculine responsibility onto my back.

He lay down on the floor to better access the control panel as I stood over him. I’d already noted that he was at least six inches taller than me, so this situation inverted our perspective. He initiated a conversation which wavered between two disparate themes: Make sure your wife doesn’t kill herself with the fireplace and, to distill it down to its essence, a guy can only take so much from another guy before he gets physically violent, even if the other guy is his brother.

“I love him,” he said, “he’s my brother. But there’s only so much. . . I mean, if a guy just dicks you over and over at some point you gotta take that motherf—er by the balls and slam him into a wall.”

“Just break him in half,” I agreed, hoping it sounded like something another dude would say. “I get it.”

“I mean,” he went on, “it’s one thing to f— me but when you start f—ing with my family I gotta deal with it, right?”

“F— yeah!” I nodded, sneering. “I mean,” I said, searching for another statement, “yeah!”

This went on for as long as it took him to do whatever he was doing and establish that he’ll need to come back again.

“How much time do you spend back here?” he asked, which struck me as a funny way to establish how long I could wait for the part to come in. “Can you live without it for a month? I mean, you don’t want her to turn this thing on and. . .” he trailed off, miming a mini explosion with his hands.

“No, no, no,” I insisted, “we’re fine. No problem. We don’t need to turn it on. Other ways to heat the house, dude.” In other words: I have it under control, Mark.

“Okay then, you make sure she doesn’t -”

“Right,” I assured him, “I know.” The feminist guilt was scorching my brain.

We rejoined Tess in the kitchen. She stood beside me as he summarized his points before leaving, addressing me exclusively. At some point I burst out: “You can tell her too, you know. She’s smarter than I am,” but he continued unfazed; something in his eyes made me think my statement was dismissed as sex insurance for later.

As soon as he left, I embraced my wife and apologized deeply. “I am so, so, sorry. I really am just so sorry.”

“For what?” I was shocked at her surprise.

“That disgusting male privilege. The way he talked only to me as if you weren’t there. I’m sorry.”

“Oh, that?” she shrugged. “I don’t care about that. You can be in charge of that.” And she bounced off, relieved that she has one less thing to worry about.

Now I’m looking into disaster preparedness. Apparently that’s what men do here.

No longer anonymous.


You can follow my FTM (female-to-male) transition on Twitter @LWHasten; I’m also on Instagram.

The blog and podcast will resume after the summer.  While the focus will still be on culture and politics, I’ll certainly be seeing things through a new lens.

The Transgender Anthropologist

Drag King Mo B. Dick, photographed by Del LaGrace Volcano

Drag King Mo B. Dick, photographed by Del LaGrace Volcano

I’ve been away from here for a very long time. My attention was focused elsewhere. Now that everything is sorted, it’s time to unify these multiple identities I’ve been carrying around into one fully integrated person who is free to be exactly who he is. My voice, this website, and the podcast are coming back loud, strong, and fearless.

No more anonymity. No more secrets.  I am L.W. Lucas Hasten, formerly known as Lauren Hasten. I’m an anthropologist, a professor, a writer, a podcaster, a photographer, and an all-around decent human being. I’m also transgendered, and I’m done hiding.

Follow me on Twitter @lwhasten, #theroadtolucas #thetransgenderanthropologist



I know it’s been a long time.  I’m sure you understand that life can be like that.  You, too, may have a side project that you love, but no time to dedicate to it.  You, too, may have a dream to pursue that is a borderline fantasy and a job that is real enough to keep you from making it happen.  You, too, may know what it feels like to start something great and get stopped in the middle.

The hiatus is nearly over. I’m two months away from removing the obstacles in my path.  The podcast is returning.  The format may change a bit, but Episode 16 is finally on the way.

If you listened to the show, then please write to me.  Ask me some questions.  Give me some feedback.  Toss out some topics.  It’s been difficult doing the podcast in a vacuum.

My goal, to be clear, is radio.  National distribution, AM or XM, broadcast or podcast. That means I need people to talk to.  There’s a new voice mail line coming soon where you can leave me a message to play and respond to on air.  One day those calls will be live.  Send me an email or tweet for now.



Stay tuned.