It has been some time that people have been telling me that I lack confidence. That I lack the pazzazz and strength I once had. That’s unfortunate, because when was this mythical time that I was confident and secure in myself? Was it before my mental illness busted over me like a water balloon? Was it before some awful trauma happened to me?
No. It was before I realized I was transgender.
Mind you, I still had intense body issues then – I was just busy ignoring them. I was non-functional but I would readily argue everything and anything with all my breath. I was proud of who I was – and willing to defend myself.
And then I realized I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I wasn’t ‘who’ I wanted to be. I confronted my bodily issues, and instead of covering up and hiding what was there, I tried to ‘transition’ towards the body that I wanted. I tried, an esoteric person would say, to ‘manifest’ it.
Well bummer. I’ve never been more insecure as all the years since then. And people have noticed. Yes, I am more comfortable with my body. I feel truer to myself and like I am actually reaching for goals that are true to my soul. But… was it worth it?
Before, in my ignorance, in my bliss, I was confident and brave. Now, I am not. I actually consider giving up on my transition and just living the rest of my life in drag and just ‘being a woman’.
Why? What made such a dramatic shift in me?
I think the answer is inherent to the way that ‘transgender’ is viewed in the public, and of many things that are inherent to it.
See, in the public perception, we see transgender as being these super beautiful people that ‘pass’ super well. Super hot guys are held up as models of FTM success, and super beautiful women with makeup on perfectly as models of MTF success. So that, inherently, is how a transgender person feels they should be. But, incidentally, that’s exactly the opposite of how transgender people naturally look. Because let’s face it. A lot of us probably look like the sex we are born into (I look like a woman) and maybe we’re not hot, so we look like frumpy and dumpy versions of that sex. I, quite honestly, am fat. A fat woman with big breasts and big hips and yuck. I don’t like myself. I’ve been constantly gaining weight ever since discovering my trans identity and guess what? I’ve gained so much weight now it’s getting to be a health concern (in my opinion, not a medical one). I’m quite sure I am technically obese now.
The point is, were I a beautiful trans advertisement of what awesome trans-ness looks like -> I would be this awesome epically buff buff muscly guy with a shaved head and busting biceps. I’m not. I don’t pass no matter three years of intensely trying to pass. No matter my trendy man-styled hair and mens’ clothes and trying to lift weights -> I. Don’t. Pass.
Where does this leave me? It leaves me feeling like I am not trans ‘enough’. That I need to get in shape, that I need to become more and more masculine! That I can’t wear eyeliner.
And the problem is, when discovering a new identity, when unveiling something so private and close to yourself, you want to be the truest to it -> and everyone tells you how to do it. Because ‘this is what trans looks like’ apparently. Super successful ‘passing’ people.
And you know what else? There’s a majoy shift in something else when you are transgender. Suddenly your gender depends not on you, but on other people’s perceptions of it.
WHAT? What do I mean? Trans-ness is all about self-identifying!
Yes, but getting people to identify and respect it is all about their perceptions of you. And because this is something you really care about, you want to succeed. You want to nourish this new part of yourself. For me, I want people to call me ‘he’. So how do you do that?
Well, trans-ness is not visible. So who knows if you’re trans unless they just take your word for it? Who will suddenly start calling you by your proper pronouns? The people who can see the results in some way. Strangers to whom you ‘pass’.
And don’t just tell me that wearing the proper clothes will do it. I’ve been wearing men’s clothes since about ten years now in general and can count the number of time I’ve been gendered properly on one hand. I don’t know if this is a particularly FTM problem, but I bet it’s fucking difficult for MTF’s too.
So clothes doesn’t do it. And you know what? Telling people doesn’t do it either, half the time.
Because you’re not enough. Because, if you don’t fit their perception of masculinity, you bet they’re going to question it. I’ve had very accepting and loving people challenge me on it, because I’m too ‘feminine’ in my presentation. Most people believe that it has to do with how I present, therefore they’re waiting for me to magically (with hormones) appear masculine enough for them to address me as ‘he’.
It doesn’t work that way. I’m feminine. I like high heels. I feel like slaying when I wear eyeliner. Does any of this help me ‘pass’? No. So you know what I’ve tended to do? Throw out my eyeliners and heels. Heels have started giving me massive dysphoria simply because of people’s perceptions of them.
And you know what else? The concept that trans people are going to magically transition into a socially acceptable version of their gender is ableist. Because you know what? You have to be mentally stable in order to get on hormones. Which I am not. Which many people are not. Which really hurts, because I don’t see myself as ‘completed’ or ‘there yet’ or ‘truly myself’ until I get on them. But will I ever be stable enough to do that? Will I ever get there? Who knows?
What I do know is that I have a lot of self-work to do. I’ve been repressing myself, unknowingly, by trying so hard to be true to myself. Isn’t it weird? Ugh.
So how do I start fixing this? With eyeliner, apparently.
Bitch, I’m slaying.