By Amber-Rose Kelly

From the moment we are born, doctors ascribe us a gender by exclaiming, “It’s a Boy!” or “It’s a girl!” and from then on we are expected to suit that role. However, social scientists today draw the line between sex and gender, and for good reason. Sex is purely biological, while gender is constructed in such a way that it defines the way we speak, act and go about our daily lives. These strictly defined roles leave a minority of society’s members on the wayside, either itching to cross the line into their intrinsically desired role or to simply find a gray zone in between. In that neutral zone, you would find Chris Murphy, a junior at Cal State University, Los Angeles.

As long as Chris can remember, there was never a desire to be a girl—make-up, dresses, gossip. On the same chord, Chris did not desire to become a boy either—Chris just wanted to be Chris. To fit into these norms Chris has to appear one way to feel safe, and in an attempt to do this Chris began taking testosterone. With this new appearance of facial hair and body changes Chris appears to be a normal man in society.



Shot of Chris by Amber-Rose Kelly



Unisex: Chris is a strong advocate for gender neutral restrooms, pointing out the necessity for not only gender queer individuals but single fathers and others who may prefer them. Chris also advocated for the first gender neutral bathrooms at Pierce Community College, which they esablished as a result of Chris’ tenacity.


 OB-GYN: Getting a pap smear when you appear to be male can be an extremely awkward situation for trans men, Chris explains. Not only do you face apprehension and confusion from medical staff, but the intake forms leave little room for those who can’t easily check “male” or “female.”


Testosterone: Chris said,  “I’ve been taking testosterone since August 12, 2008, so as of this moment it has been two years since my first injection.”


Kate: Chris talks about Kate and their relationship. “The difference with Kate is that I don’€™t feel like I’m settling. There are things that she sees in me that I don’t like, but seeing them through her, it makes it easier to start accepting those flaws that I have. All of a sudden I have four hands instead of two and if I need help I can ask her. I think we have a beautiful relationship and I do not want to let her go.”


Passing: To pass as a man, Chris will at times “pack,” or wear a prosthetic member. However, Chris doesn’t feel any connection towards the object as some assume. “Usually if I need to pass as a guy I will, but it’s a really weird situation because I never know where to put it so that it doesn’€™t touch me. I just don’€™t feel a connection with it at all and that’€™s what I think surprises people the most.”


In-Session: Though Chris’ first few experiences of therapy were unenjoyable, it is now seen as an important tool. The trick for Chris is finding a balance between someone professional, as well as someone that is empathetic. “One session I remember I was really upset and angry because the therapist was trying to tell me I was hiding behind my gender identity. I was so mad because you can’t tell me who I am. I have to seek that out myself.”


Chris in 2007 before taking testosterone.Photo by Chris Murphy