Paris Lees

What It Feels Like for a Girl

Is Michelle Obama really a man?

There’s a rumour about it. I saw some gay friends ‘lolling’ about it on Facebook recently. Cue ‘hilarious’ YouTube videos fuelling the conspiracy – “Michelle’s a man, Obama’s gay!” – showing America’s First Lady at her shockingly ‘manliest’. ("Grounds for Impeachment- Michelle Obama Is A Transvestite!" is a particulalry popular one.) I don’t see it to be honest. That’s irrelevant though. What bothers me is that my friends didn’t understand how a question like that might upset a person like me. And no, by ‘person like me’ I don’t mean ‘party pooper’. I don’t party poop, unless you steal my man. So if we’re friends and you say something like “I swear Cher is really a man!” I won’t get shitty. Cher would laugh. She’s a glamorous gay icon. She dresses like a drag queen and knows she does. It’s an in-joke.

But what does “so and so is REALLY a man” actually mean? Even if Michelle (or Cher) was born male, she clearly identifies as female. So at most you’d be ‘accusing’ her – and it’s almost always presented as an accusation – of being a transgender woman. That’s what I am. Do you tell people that I’m “really a man” too? I’m not. It’s kind of like asking “Is Tom gay?” versus “Is Tom really a faggot?” – i.e. majorly different.

These ‘man’ jokes usually depend on the woman being tall. Or husky. Or muscular. There’s always a ‘giveaway’. Big nose? Man! It’s a joke, yes – but just who is laughing when, as a transgender woman, you’re on the bus and a group of drunken blokes humiliate you by shouting “that’s a man” and “see the shoulders”? It’s the blokes. And, anyway, what’s so funny about a woman with big paws? I am such a lady and, truth told, I’m still waiting for the punchline. I often feel uncomfortable in public for fear of people looking at me and wondering if I’m “really” a “man”. It’s happened before. It’s horrible. You get insecure. So here is some fresh gossip for you, boys, a little rumour I’m spreading. You know all those “really a man” jokes? Well, they’re actually “really” shit.

Follow Paris on Twitter: @ParisLees

Photo credit: Ryan Harding Photography

More from Paris Lees