Becoming more comfortable
posted | about 4 minutes to read
I'll preface this post with a note - I am still writing for No Novel November! There is a bug in the Markdown formatter that my website uses that's preventing me from publishing a batch of microfiction right now, though, so instead you get this. It is Transgender Awareness Week, so I suppose it's appropriate to have written something for this anyway.
A little over a year ago, as I may have mentioned, I was struggling a lot with gender identity. Like, having a lot of trouble coming to terms with who I was, even - a lot of “well, am I really a woman?” Even that took a decent chunk of time and therapy to process and accept. But after a couple months, I had at least accepted and embraced that. In fact, once the ball really started rolling I found myself getting really impatient to move forward with presenting and living as a woman.
What has been, I think, more difficult, is getting comfortable with being a visibly trans woman. When I finally got to the point where I was able to say “yep, I'm definitely trans”, my thought at the time was absolutely that I'd transition and then try to fade into the background and just live quietly as a woman1. What I've found in the last few months, though, is that I feel much less like I want or need to do that second bit.
It took me a while to get to that point. There were definitely a lot of days in the time between when I started presenting as a woman and now where I was really anxious about people staring and thinking “oh gosh a (insert transphobic slur here)” or about not being perceived as a woman. But as time has passed and especially as I've come out to everyone and started living as a woman full-time, I have found two things. First, just being unambiguous about my presentation all the time has generally ended up being enough of a social cue for people regardless of whether I “pass”4 or not in their eyes, and second, just doing that has been enough for me from a self-confidence perspective5. The thought process has gone from “what if someone notices I'm trans” to “if they do, why should I care?"2
Another thing that I think went into that decision was that I had been doing some thinking, and ended up settling on my transness being important to the core of who I am. There are very specific experiences and formative stuff that I've gone through because I'm trans that inform how I live my life, and I think it's important that I recognize those things and acknowledge them in order to be genuine3. Authenticity is important to me, I think, at least in part because I wasn't living as who I was for so long (whether consciously or unconsciously).
I realize this might not be something that every trans person is comfortable with or even able to do. In some places, it's unsafe to live as a visibly trans or gender-nonconforming person. There's a lot of privilege tied up in my ability to live openly as who I am, and I get that. But I'm still glad that I can - and who knows, maybe just me being out there as myself will help someone to accept trans people or help someone who's hiding or scared on their own journey. Maybe it won't. But I'd like to think that it might.
I still think about that, sometimes, when a particularly terrifying news article comes out regarding trans rights and acceptance, but it's much more just a passing thought now.
I mean, getting misgendered still hits me hard, don't get me wrong, but like, at least it's a matter of “oh no this person doesn't actually see me for who I am” and less of “oh god, everyone's laughing at me”, which is, I guess, positive?
As part of memorializing those experiences, I actually am getting a tattoo later this year. Not something I ever thought I was going to do, but for this, I felt it was important enough. It may be a bit stereotypical - without elaborating too much, it's a butterfly - but to me it's meaningful and symbolic of transition, and fit exactly what I was trying to convey with it.
It should be noted that “passing” is an extremely bad benchmark to hold trans folks to for a number of reasons. It certainly shouldn't be expected of people. I have a lot of thoughts about this and how I look at it through an intensely personal lens but it's best saved for a separate post.
This is different from “triggers for dysphoria” - like, yes, comfortable going out, great, but that doesn't mean there aren't still things about myself that cause me significant distress. Again, a separate post.