Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Becoming real

It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder...
—Regina Spektor, The Call

Not so long ago, the female version of me existed only on the internet and in the confines of my bedroom. "Ashley" was a name I used here and in a crossdressing forum. I would dress as a girl in my room, but I was still in the closet to my housemates, so I couldn't even open the door. I would snap some photos and post them online so that I could be seen by someone, somewhere.

But as I've been coming out to more people and going out into the world, that has been changing. Now, as Ashley, I've felt sunshine on my face, and grass beneath my feet. I've been smiled at by strangers (and once pointed and laughed at, but I won't dwell on that). And last Sunday I had two more important experiences as part of this gradual process: I introduced myself as a girl to someone I'd just met, and I visited my mother.

According to the website of my local Pride Centre, there's a trans social mixer that meets there the last Sunday of every month. I'd been wanting to get involved in the community, and to interact socially as a girl, so I decided to go. And oh my goodness was I nervous. Meeting new people and being in new social environments just scares the shit out of me. I parked my car around the block and spent nearly ten minutes sitting there just convincing myself to go through with it. But I when I finally walked through the door I discovered I needn't had been so nervous: I was the only one to show up.

The only other person there was one of the people who run the centre. He told me that the guy who organizes the mixer was running late, and that he doubted anyone else would come. "Now that it's summer and the weather is nice, the number of people attending this thing has dropped," he said, "but you're welcome to stay and see if any one else shows up."

I decided I'd wait for a bit. "I'm Steven, by the way," he offered. (Not his real name.)
"I'm Ashley," I said. We shook hands.

I'm Ashley. It was the first time I'd said those words out loud. The first time someone had known me by that name outside of the internet.

I chatted with Steven for about fifteen minutes before I left, but no one else came. It was kind of disappointing. Having made the effort to look like a woman I didn't want to just go home. I texted my mom saying I could stop by for a visit if she wasn't busy, and gave her the heads-up that I was in girl mode. (My dad was out of town for work.) She said I should come over, and that my brother and sister-in-law were there too.

And the whole experience was actually very normal. We all just hung out like we usually do: our regular, goofy selves. The only time the subject of gender even came up was my ma noting how the dogs made no distinction between boy mode and girl mode, which lead to my sis-in-law and I wondering whether animals would notice if someone were on HRT. I'm so glad to know I can be myself around my family.

I wore my locks in a bandanna: sort
of a transy pirate look, I guess? :)
Like Regina said, it started out as a feeling. At first my female self was nothing more than a vague sense that something was wrong. Then she was a hope, then a reflection in a thrift shop mirror, then a girl in a photo with an unspoken name, then a smiling stranger passing people on the street. At last she's meeting people and hugging her mother. She is becoming real.

At first my male self was nothing less than an unquestionable reality— all I knew and thought reasonably possible. Then he was a weight whose absence I could imagine, then a prison whose walls I had walked briefly beyond. At last he's rapidly crumbling around me.

And I look forward to a day when he is nothing more than a memory.


  1. What a lovely post, full of justified optimism. Speaking of lovely, what a lovely young woman looking out through those beautiful eyes!