Smile like you mean it.

As some of you may already know, I came out as a transgender bisexual via social media roughly two months ago. I’d like to post a quick recap of what it was like then and what I’m going through (experiencing) right now (presently).

An overwhelming number of people were hugely supportive of me. It was very unexpected. They were, to use just three words: loving, affirmative, and validating. A precious few made a concerted effort to treat me unkindly (both directly and through covert means), and I shed quite a few tears over those bruised relationships, but all in all, I have no complaints; people have been very accepting of me and I am eternally grateful to the souls that were. I honestly thought that acknowledging and announcing “myself” to the world meant that I would finally be able to move past this “fear zone” (and that this would be where the great, big facade would meet its end), but – unbeknownst to me – coming out was actually, precisely where the hardest and most confusing part of life was scheduled to come in. Fancy that.

  • Shopping.
  • Public restrooms.
  • Haircuts.

Just a few of the things that have gotten me down recently.

Here we go. I’ll start with shopping.

When I’m not wearing my “work attire” (aka business/casual button-up shirts and dress slacks), I exclusively enjoy wearing boy shorts and t-shirts. I like to dress simple, and these clothes are both comfortable and representative, but whether it’s Nordstrom, JCP, Target or elsewhere, the women’s clothing section is nothing but disappointing when I’m shopping around and looking for “my type” of casual wear: the shirts are sheer and designed to be form fitting, and the shorts are just way too freaking short. In times past, when Chris would tag along on a shopping trip with me and decide to take a detour to the guys’ section, I’d follow along behind him, lovingly letting my fingers trail across the rows of V-neck T’s, plaid button-ups, and knee-length shorts that were meant for him. Not for me. Him. So I would handpick the shirts that I thought were the coolest and present them to him, living vicariously through him and feeling completely and totally envious of his effortless existence: being biologically born as a man and carrying around, in his body, a heart and soul that perfectly matched his physical description. What a lucky guy.

But recently, I’ve gone clothes shopping solo. Twice, actually, and both times, I’ve ventured to visit the guys’ section.. for me.

“Maybe people will think that I’m shopping for a spouse, father, or brother,” I whispered to myself encouragingly as I meandered off from the old beaten path of pencil skirts, shimmery tank tops and jeggings. Once I had settled myself into a somewhat deserted area of the men’s clothing section, I let out a breath, finally loosening up enough to enjoy my search for anything black, cool, and size XS. Sure enough, after like a minute and thirty seconds of pure bliss and ease, a guy and his wife walked up to where I was standing, and the wife immediately began browsing through the same rack that I was. I could feel myself turning red as I desperately summoned the coach inside me. “HELP! THIS IS SOOOOOOOO AWKWARD. Why can’t I just LOOK LIKE A BOY who is shopping for BOY’S CLOTHES and BE DONE with it already?!” I casually lowered my head and moseyed over to the dressing room, trying on the one, single item that I had been able to find and that I thought might fit: a jet black and super sharp-looking suit jacket, men’s size small. The sleeves ended and dangled at my fingertips, and the the bottom edges of the jacket fell halfway down my thigh. The jacket felt heavy, far too large, and I tried not to cry as I unbuttoned it and returned it to its hanger.

I’ll admit that it helps — wearing a 36A bra, short hairdo, and shuffling around in skate shoes and oversized t-shirts. But I still, despite the 100% lack of effort, look distinctly feminine, and it is the absolute bane of my existence. It is the worst. It is terrible and it is horrible, and I honestly wish that I was exaggerating.

While I was shopping (again, solo) at Von Maur last weekend, quietly and happily rummaging through a clearance rack full of men’s t-shirts, a sales rep who was working the floor approached me. “Can I.. get a room ready for you?” She smiled slightly, successfully leaving off the “ma’am” but failing to fully mask her confusion. “Oh no, I’m just perusing.. but thanks!” I returned her smile and then looked away quickly. Please go away please go away pleaseeeeeee go away.

She nodded and (mercifully; thanks, Universe!) walked away. Moments later, as I stumbled awkwardly into the women’s section (altering my mission from finding a cool t-shirt to wear on the weekends to securing something more practical — a dressy work shirt), the same floor worker passed by me. “Or,” she paused half-way down the aisle and gestured her arm dramatically, “I can get a room ready for you in this section — hahaha!”

…Seriously, lady? I felt like crying.

“I’m not a confused person,” I wanted to scream; “I am an untransitioned, transgender, bisexual, married and regretfully FEMALE human being who just wants to look and act and talk and be perceived as a boy, and you STANDING there, laughing AT me, and cruelly (but ignorantly) pointing out the worst contradiction of my existence is hurtful. Downright hurtful.”

So I laughed along with her. “Right?! That’s sooooo funny.”

Restrooms

I just don’t have the energy to draft a detailed comment on this. All you need to understand is that it only makes things more complicated; dressing, talking, and acting like a boy – aka, finally giving up the charade and all of the stupid freaking pretenses and finally relaxing into myself – and then having to walk into a women’s restroom.. it’s just another punch in the gut. Another sad and lousy letdown. Nothing I can do about it. Just a bummer, is all.

Haircuts

You know how it is. Men’s cuts: $14. Women’s cuts: Starting at $40. “Oh — okay. So I’m, in almost every aspect, a dude, and more importantly, my hair is already cut LIKE a dude’s, but because I possess the sexual organ of a female human being, my haircut is going to cost 3x the price of Johnny Boy’s haircut. Gotcha. That’s totally reasonable and perfectly rational and makes absolute f*cking sense.” It’s not even the exaggerated cost of the haircut that bothers me — it’s the poking needle, the phantom crying, the buzzing reminder that I am a living, breathing contradiction. It hurts. It literally, physically hurts.

Some days are better than others, definitely. I have a fierce love of life and, on most days, I am so happy. Truly. Life is full of magic and there is so much to be grateful for. But there are also difficult days, and depressing, lonely nights — evenings where it’s so incredibly hard to think and talk and breathe and function, and tonight, I just want to go to sleep and forget about myself for a while. I glaze over these feelings constantly and try to move past them like they aren’t real and don’t deserve my attention, but I’m probably doing things wrong. Sadness does matter. Pain is real. Loneliness that creeps along slowly and then nestles itself all the way down into the core of your being is a pretty big deal.

So if there is anyone out there who feels sad for any reason, or who feels like they’re out of energy and inexplicably at a loss for words.. I am too. You’re totally not alone. Things will get better soon. Hang in there. You’re in the cycle; you’re sad now, but that’s okay. It’s normal. THIS is normal. You’ll move past it and then you’ll be more defined, more brave, and more content and at peace with yourself than you were before. Wait for it. In the mean time..

Smile

Aun Aqui

2 thoughts on “Smile like you mean it.

  1. My dear friend. I almost couldn’t even finish the article because it made me want to cry and scream and do all sorts of unmanly things.

    It triggered me.

    I can’t as yet put it into adequate words, but you touched on some things that are the same for me. The same, and yet different. Nevertheless, I could relate and empathize with your struggles.

    Each day is a step. Understanding yourself is the first, next comes conformity to self. “Being true to self” as it were.

    Please, walk with pride and self assurance. It’s hard at first, to retain the peacefulness of aligning to the person within. Especially when the world and environment keeps challenging that peace and alignment both directly and indirectly, in a diversity of ways. I imagine serenity in the face of challenge comes with time. But hold that precious nugget of truth within yourself, you are who you are. A strong beautiful soul. Don’t underestimate yourself. 🙂

    I am saddened by the imperfection of the world.

    I…*exhale

    I wish I could physically stand with you, and tell all those who judge to keep their rocks and let you be comfortable being yourself. I wish I could be there to help you feel at ease. I wish I could do more than just type inadequate words.

    Pens and swords.

    I don’t believe in “fake it till you make it”, it instills false habits. But embrace your confidence and take it with you when you return to the clothing section that speaks to you and reflects who you are. Look that next salesperson in the eye with a look that says “Yes, I DO belong here. Got a problem with that?”. Comfort, ease, security, confidence, assurance.

    Rome and days. Time and strength.

    Don’t knock yourself, you’ve taken a long path to get to the present. There is life and light within you that just seems to get stronger with each passing day.

    I want to say I’m proud of you. Very proud.

    Each day is comprised of moments. Let the moments build the day. Let the steps pave the way.

    Tones: understanding, a warm hug, encouraging, empathy, love, support.

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