Of the 40 or so unfinished blog posts in my drafts, one is titled “not trans enough to be trans.” It was a post venting about how the stories that are told about trans people’s lives leave many of us out of the narrative, and why this is problematic. This was not an academic question for me when I was younger. My attempts at getting through the medical system to start transition have for the most part been utter failures, and one of those failures was the refusal of a therapist to write me a letter for hormones because I didn’t quite fit what he thought a trans person was supposed to be like. One of his objections was that I never “crossed-dressed” as a child(which is to say I never wore clothes associated with my gender, why this is called cross-dressing is beyond me). So this stuff matters. I have never understood this expectation. I understand the symbolic power involved, but clothes are cloth, and why I ought to have sought out women’s clothing in a mystery to me. If it gives you comfort, more power to you, but it’s never done anything for me.
The flip-side though, is that I’ve actually never presented as female. Like in any context, ever. Not until a few days ago when I realized that after months of hormones and whatnot, I look radically different. I have spent the last few days staring at myself in the mirror in an unambiguously vain “holy shit I’m actually kind of cute” kind of way. For the first time in my life I can bear to look at myself in the mirror. The relief is indescribable. Encouraged by this I decided to take the baby step of presenting as female for the first time somewhere online. I put on one of two women’s shirts I own* and hopped on a glbt webcam/chatroom I found.
Three minutes later some guy is perving on me. Umm, fuck. This is not the welcome I was expecting either for being perceived as a woman or for liking how I look and thinking that someone might possibly find me attractive. I got off and spent the next few hours recalling conversations with an ex who was so often harassed that she said she wanted to claw her face so people would leave her alone. I had a sleepless night wondering what’s in store not living as a man anymore.
So I have since showed my face in various glbt communities I hang out in. More creepy sexual attention. Boo! Lots of people think I’m cute. Yay! This has inspired a lot of guilt over whether I ought to want to be attractive, whether I’m buying into a standard that says women are only for sex and so this is validating my identity as a woman in a fucked up way, and whether I’m a horrible person for wanting to look “cis” so that I can keep the privileges attached to that. But mostly I have found this so intoxicating that I had to well deservedly be told to stop fishing for compliments on my minecraft server, ahaha. This is very out of character for me, but a lifetime of frustration has expressed itself these past few days and it’s been difficult not to seek validation like this.
My sexuality is mostly mystery to me. I have never felt like I own my body, so I have never been able to explore it. I feel the question looming now, though, and moving forward in transition is raising a lot of other questions for me. I don’t know how much I want to “perform femininity”, as it’s often called. Like a lot of trans women I’ll probably do it far in excess of what I’m comfortable with out of fear, but to the degree one can separate how much of it one wants to do versus does for practically, I honestly have no idea what of it I’ll enjoy. It’s been so odd to me that everyone expects me to have this question figured out by now, and I’ve gotten no end of “you must not be trans” comments, but I’ve never figured out what clothes, fashion, hair, makeup blah blah blah have to do with me feeling like a woman. That I get this from other trans people is perplexing.
All of the previous adds up to me being very emotionally exhausted right now. But things are heading in a good direction, and I am excited.
*If anyone can tell me where to reliably find shirts with sleeves that are long enough to fit my 5’10 arms, I’d appreciate it.