As I hope readers of this essay can see, these videos have documented
the ways in which T therapy has radically changed the very bodies of
some FTM young men. This is a physical change, one which I have read
it here as a form of social constructivism in which performance of
gender is facilitated through very physical means including both T
therapy and surgery to allow the FTM subjects of this essay (and many
more I've documented) to create a richer performance of gender than
changes in behavior alone (important as they are) might manage.
Most of the men in these studies describe their passing/performance as very successful. This is usually expressed by
the term "100%" which means no failures in which the gender performance
was challenged even in extreme situations as when Charles urinates
publically in a bar with no one even noticing, a claim he makes with evident pride in several videos.
This use of physical tools—though I still maintain that they are a form
of social constructivism—may require us to modify what we mean by a
construct, though in no way do I wish this essay to be read as a nod
towards any kind of essentialism. As a queer man, I resist the idea of
biological determinism, though the changes detailed in these videos
challenge me (and I hope others) to think through the boundaries and limits of constructivism.
As Lynda Birke noted in her Feminism and the Biological Body, "[. . .] opposing determinism
is one thing; throwing out discussion of biology altogether is quite another.
In the zeal to reject biologism, the embodied subject and the biological body
seemed to be forgotten [by some feminists]" (21).
surgery and T therapy as one means (but only one means) to gender construction since it is clear from
the vlogs produced by transmen that getting access to hormones, to the operating room, and to
required therapy is not something that comes easily to transmen. It is—depending on an individual's situation—expensive
and the battle to get it time consuming.
Nonetheless, these physical changes, though solidly in the realm of gender as performance, still transform the body
in ways that are at least as significant as is dress or changing the way one moves.
Further research here is necessary—the tension between the need to affirm constructivism
(ultimately the biological cannot trump the social, especially without universal access to transformative treatments such as T) and the
need to affirm the real changes caused by hormone therapy is a difficult queer position to maintain but is rich territory to explore.