Recent validating experiences

posted | about 4 minutes to read

tags: gender identity presentation

Over the course of the last three or four weeks I finally decided to bite the bullet and present as female nearly 100% of the time outside of work. (I’m going to discuss coming out at my workplace sometime in the next couple of weeks, which, uh, yes, nervewracking, but also that’ll be literally it, I’ll be done with the “coming out” bit in its entirety which is super super exciting.) This was a really hard decision to make - honestly, the first time I went out probably wasn’t for the healthiest reasons, and I felt like I needed to reclaim that experience for myself as a positive one. Said first time was essentially out of spite, because my endocrinologist originally was really gatekeepy on my first visit, and I kind of went over the top presentationally (well, as much as I felt I could, anyway) for the follow-up visit. Of course, I saw the nurse practitioner on staff instead and she was super positive and everything was great so all that energy kind of drained away.

Anyway, it was after that that I kind of just asked myself what I was waiting for, and thought about being able to do this in a more positive context, and started ramping things up. Going to church presenting as female, running errands, so on and so forth. And it felt good! I mean, awkward for the first few times, sure, like…have you ever felt like everybody is staring at you, all the time? Because that was definitely a thing that I felt for a while. Of course, folks at church were and have been accepting and validating and so forth, but I couldn’t help but feel a little like a fraud while going out elsewhere, just because I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my head “well, they have context, they might just be being polite and considerate folks, what does everyone else see”, and so on.

It was maybe a week or two after I had pretty much leveled off at “every time we plan to leave the house, present as female” that Sarah and I went out for dinner with her dad and sister who were in town. We went to a local Chinese place, Sarah and I showed up about 10 minutes early, and when her folks walked in the server said something like “you kept these ladies waiting!” and well that was it, I was stuck smiling for the rest of the night. A couple of weeks later, I got mistaken for my mother at church, which was another pretty great experience from a validation perspective - and then tonight, I was out with Sarah and my grandmother for Sarah’s birthday dinner, and I had not put a lot of effort into my appearance (no makeup, boy pants, etc.) and the server who brought our food just walked right up, put the tray down, and said “here we are, ladies!".

It’s the little things like that that have just been really good for me, realizing that yes, people outside of my usual social circles can see me as who I am too. I think the voice coaching I’ve been getting has helped a ton, but I think even more than that has been just the confidence boosts from the little things like that that have helped me really carry myself better. Like, if I go run errands now, I can just…run errands. I don’t feel like there are a million eyes boring into the back of my head. It’s really nice.

I guess, for me, that’s really important - I just want to be seen as a woman consistently and have that be the end of it. There are folks out there who can Do Activism and Be Visible and so on - I don’t feel like I have the mental or emotional capacity for that. Like, as I understand the discourse, the concept of “passing” is A Bit Outmoded from a community discourse perspective these days, but honestly, that’s where I want to end up eventually, where I can just kind of fade into the background from a presentational standpoint. These last few weeks - I think it’s only been a month since I started taking estrogen, even - have really given me a lot of hope for achieving that.