So last night was the first time I went dressed fairly in femme amongst my philosophy friends at a causal drinking get together at a local bar near campus. I was just wearing skinny jeans and a feminine-cut t-shirt with ballet flats. I decided at the last minute to not bring my purse inside because I dunno I don’t want to make this grand transformation in front of people – I’d rather slowly transition through a kind of fem androgynous zone before I fully embrace my feminine identity amongst my department friends. I know they wouldn’t have reacted any differently if I brought in a purse but it’s really about my own comfort levels. Like, I don’t feel comfortable yet presenting as if I have boobs, either by wearing a bra or my breastforms. It just feels…weird. One step at a time though. As I spend more time in a half-way transition state I think I’ll feel more comfortable taking bigger steps.
At the bar people didn’t even blink an eye though for the most part, it was great! They were totally respectful but didn’t ignore it entirely either bringing up related anecdotes or offering support and advice. It was a great experience – I felt totally comfortable and accepted.
In other news, I just scheduled my first appointment for laser hair removal on the ol’ beard! I am tremendously excited as my beard shadow is a pretty big source of frustration and anxiety on my part. My beard is thick and dark and grows very fast so I have noticeable stubble only a few hours after shaving. Which means I can never really present as feminine in public for very long before I become noticeably mannish. It sucks! Makeup helps to a certain extent but it’s hard to apply makeup when I don’t have a totally smooth canvas.
Big news. I came out to my parents yesterday about being transgender. Since they are very conservative Christians I expected the worse but it wasn’t all that bad. I softened the blow by first just sending a text message and then later they called me on the phone. They were surprisingly calm. No yelling. No loud voices or getting upset or calling me names. They were mainly just confused. I was surprised I didn’t have to explain what the term “Transgender” mean – they were already familiar with the term and in fact already knew a transgender person. I told them they didn’t have to understand why I am transgender – they just have to support and love me.
Their main concerns were my mental health, safety, and whether this was just a phase or “How do I know I am trans”. The question of “how I know” is complex and not easily answered. I think self-knowledge of trans-ness comes in degrees. Some trans people know they are trans from a very young age. They know that something is wrong. That they don’t feel like they were born in the right body. Other people such as myself never experienced intense dysphoria as a young child and still doesn’t experience super-intense dysphoria. The dysphoria is more targeted towards particularly features like my muscles, shoulders, and my beard shadow. I’m still happy with my genitals for the most part. And I have slight dysphoria about my chest – I kind of wish I had breasts. But my dysphoria has been intensifying since I self-identified as transgender. I may not feel 100% like a woman but I intensely desire to be more like a woman. I don’t know how far my transition will take me right now but I want to stay open minded and not make any big decisions right now.
Part of my knowing has come in stages. It’s been a gradual process of self-exploration. Two years ago I was married and my wife asked me if I wanted to transition or if I was just a crossdresser. At the time I tried to reflect and answer honestly. I said I didnt want to transition. That it wasn’t for me. Was I deluded? It’s possible I was just saying what she wanted to hear. But for years I just thought I was a crossdresser. But I entertained thoughts of dressing feminine more and more. These thoughts become more or less intense over time but starting a few months the intensity really ramped up as to where I was thinking about crossdressing and transitioning quite a bit. And then I watched the Bruce Jenner interview with Diane Sawyer. What an inspiration! That really got me soul-searching. I started asking myself. Am I trans like Jenner? Why did I never realize it until now? Am I a fraud? Am I less trans than other trans people? Does trans-ness come in degrees? Where do I fall along the spectrum? I started asking myself these questions and soon enough I started become comfortable thinking of myself as transgender. It’s actually way more liberating than just calling myself a crossdresser. Transgender is a better explanation for my behavior and my feelings. It makes me reexamine all my memories in a new light.
There is more to say but I will leave it for another post.