Recently, I had the change to sit down with Gauge Strongarm. I’ve know Gauge for awhile now, but when he won the SF Leather Daddy Contest and in his acceptance speech described what the title met to him, I knew there was a story I wanted to share with you. I asked Gauge last year a Sac Heat if he’d be willing to sit down with us, and he of course replied yes. Unfortunately, with our crazy schedules that sit down took awhile.
Gauge was born intersexed, he self identified as a male, but his family raised him as a girl. Gender identity is challenging in the best of circumstances, but to be forced into an identity that conflicts with your own natural self identification, well I’ll let Gauge tell you the rest . . .
What was it like growing up as a female?
I always identified as a male. I used to hide clothes in my bag to change into when I left the house.
Tell us a little about your background
I was a military brat. We moved around a lot when I was a kid. While my parents knew about me being intersexed, I was not told. I just felt like I was in the wrong body. At age 11, I was diagnosed with GID – Gender Identity Disorder.
In my teens, I lived in Germany and came out as a Butch Lesbian. I identied as Queer and the butch lesbian role allowed me to embrace my masculine side. The Queer Community, particularly the lesbian community, treated me as a male.
At the age of 17, the concept of being transgendered popped into my world. I began to research everything I could find on the subject – particularly the Harry Benjamin’s Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorder. I began to identify what I was struggling with and quickly realized I wanted to transition. I also had a great therapist at the time that worked with meet and really helped me find my true path.
At the age of 28, I started testosterone and began the transition. And interesting side effect was that I went bald – so I went straight to Daddy!
Beyond the transition, you’ve done a few other things to your body, eh?
I had my nosed pierced at 13 and got my first tattoo at 14. As I struggled with my gender identity, I quickly came to realize I didn’t want to be a part of polite society. Body Modification was a way that I could control how my body looked.
And the leather community?
In the 80’s, I was living in Seattle. I wanted to embrace and be accepted as a male. The leather community embraced my maleness and when I played, I played as a male, with one very obvious exception. Seattle Men of Leather were very inclusive, I finally felt like I belonged.
And the titles?
Billy Lane was the first to win a men’s leather title. He went on to compete at IML and even placed in the Top 10. I was in the audience, and it was great. He was an individual who had transitioned FTM and was now competing for the manliest of titles – Mr International Leather. And while the crowd knew there was a transgendered contestant, they didn’t know who it was. It was hysterical listening to them speculate – I think it’s him, look at his hands LOL!
In 1989, I ran for the Seattle leather Boy title. The following year, the rules were changed to state you had to have a penis to compete. (Note the leather community has struggled with this – for example – In 2006, the Powerhouse refused to host the LeatherSIR/boy competition due to controversy surrounding the contest’s policy prohibiting transgender men from competing.)
But my friends have always been supportive and welcomed me into the leather community. BDSM is another way in which I can control my body. I can choose what I get into. I feel like I fit into the Leather/BDSM community.
And SF Leather Daddy?
A friend of my suggested I run. I decided 24 hours before the contest. I am the 1st FTM to win the Daddy title. It has been a great experience. I think it demonstrates the community is moving forward on inclusion and the realization “It’s not all about what is between your legs!”