Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas in the closet

The past two months have been a time of very rapid progress for me. In a short amount of time I've advanced from peering out of the closet to taking my first tentative steps into the world as my real (female?) self. And I felt comfortable as me, and it was like fresh air and sunshine.

And then, with its great clattering of tacky songs, comes Christmas. Suddenly I am hurled back into the suffocating darkness of the closet. The door is shut and latched, and I am forced to contend once more with the absurd fact of hiding my identity from people I love.

This is because, of course, all the progress I made stopped short of coming out to my parents.

In my previous post I wrote of walking to the grocery store and buying lunch as a girl. That day also happened to be the first time I spent an entire day as a girl, which was lovely. I hoped that with all that girl-time my gender might stop bothering me for a while and I decided to be a boy the next day. But it was just as difficult as ever, and this more or less confirmed for me that I will probably have to socially transition.

A couple days later I was a girl again. This time I put gas in my car, got a bunch of groceries, talked to the cashier with my first attempt at a female voice, and went Christmas shopping at an antique store. What I've learned from all this is that either I pass, or people in general don't give a shit about crossdressers— and to be honest, the latter sounds more likely— because no one gave any signs that anything was out of the ordinary.

Christmas is a huge deal in my family, and in general I actually enjoy it. We had our celebration early, on the 22nd, because my brother and his wife, (henceforth known as Carson and Jamey), were planning on spending the 25th with her family. My family always spends the day before Christmas together as well, which meant two days of pretending to be a boy. And not the effeminate boy I usually look like when I'm presenting male either, but a "typical" boy.

And so Christmas was fun, but it was also hard. It helped a lot having Carson and Jamey there, as they at least know about me. After we finished unwrapping the presents Jamey nudged me to follow her down the hall and gave me a small container of makeup from MAC: a clandestine Christmas gift. It wasn't much, but what it meant— an affirmation of my gender at a time when that's exactly what I needed— was huge. I ended up having to lock myself in the bathroom until I stopped crying, silly me! Sometimes the tears are just one more thing you have to hide...

I went home that evening thinking I had made it through a Christmas in the closet. But as I mentioned, we did Christmas early. And since I was still in town over the 24th and 25th, my parents suggested I spend those days at their house too. I didn't have a good reason not to, and resigned myself to continue the charade.

On the 23rd my brother and his wife were making the ten hour drive to visit her family in British Columbia. Someone turning left onto the highway didn't see them coming and pulled out just in time to cause an accident. My brother texted me from the ambulance. No one involved seemed to be seriously hurt, but they were going to the hospital just to be sure. Their car, however, was totalled. In the end Jamey had some minor whiplash, but that was the only injury. They actually made it to their destination that same night, somewhat later than intended. Carson asked me not to tell mom and dad about this incident, and I understood why: we all know my father is a chronic worrier. Still, this meant one more secret to keep.
Their car. Yikes...
The next day I returned to my parent's house. And even though I love my parents, I hated being around them. I'm very bad at pretending to be happy when I'm not. After two days of this they were fairly certain that there was something wrong with me that I was keeping from them. I would have liked to have said, "Relax guys, I'm just trans, it's not a big deal." But I was in no emotional state to have that whole conversation, so I left with the source of my malaise still (mostly) unknown.*

They've been pretty worried about me since then.

The ironic thing is that, with the exception of the last few days, I've actually been doing very well lately. I am, in general, happier than I've been in a long time— taking the first small steps toward living in the right gender has a way of doing that, I suppose. But of course that's not the part of me they saw. How could they have?

I suppose I ought to come out to them, and soon. Not just for my sake anymore, but for theirs too. It's unkind of me to let them worry so much when there's really nothing wrong. I'm kind of annoyed to have had my hand forced in this way, but I guess that's life. And in any event, I've been thinking about telling them for a long time.

I hope all goes well when I do.

* My mom did pick up on a hint that it was gender-related, but I won't go into that now because this post is already really long.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Another little milestone

Today I left the house as a girl for the second time. But unlike last time, when I walked around a quiet neighbourhood in the evening, this time I strode down busy streets in broad daylight. In fact, I walked right down to the nearby grocer and picked up something for lunch. So now, not only have I left the house as a girl, but I've also accomplished a real-world errand, even if it was just a small one. That, I feel, counts as another little milestone on the road to... well, wherever this is going.

I dressed very casually, of course. It warmed up above freezing today, so I didn't have to bundle up. I made sure to walk with confidence, keep my head up and make eye contact with people.
I'm sure if anyone had looked closely, they would have read me as male. But people at the grocery store aren't walking around thinking about gender; they're thinking about bread and milk and eggs. At a quick glance people probably assumed I was a woman and didn't pay the matter any more attention. In any event, I didn't notice any stares or double-takes, so I must not have stood out; (though maybe folks are just polite?). I went through self-checkout, so I didn't actually have to speak to anyone.

It wasn't overly thrilling or exciting, nor was I particularly nervous: I just felt like an ordinary girl buying herself some lunch. It's funny: just eight months ago I went to a different store, dressed as a boy, and bought a single tube of cheap mascara— my very first purchase as a crossdresser. And I was terrified. I went through self-checkout then too, and my hands were shaking so bad I could barely enter my PIN on the Interac machine. I've certainly come a long way these past eight months! :)

Saturday, 7 December 2013

I came out to my housemates!

After months of thinking and worrying and hoping, I've finally come out to my roommates! And their response, as I suspected it would be, was very positive. Yay!

I moved into this house last May after responding to a roommate wanted ad, so I didn't know any of the people I was living with at first. They were all cis hetero guys in their early twenties. At the time I had no idea how significant crossdressing would become for me: the only girly things I owned when I moved in were a tube of mascara and a pair of women's jeans. But as I began to realize just how trans I was, I started to wonder if I should tell my roommates. Around this time I also came out to my friend AT, the first person I ever told.

Of my four roommates at the time, I thought three of them would be more or less okay with it. But the fourth guy I knew would not be. Well, that fourth guy turned out to be a thief and got himself kicked out of the house. AT just happened to be looking for a place at the time, and moved in to fill the empty room. It was totally serendipitous: the one housemate who I was sure wouldn't accept me was replaced by, at the time, the one person in the world whom I was already out to. After that minor miracle I pretty much made up mind that I would tell them.

That was back in July. Either because coming out is so hard or because I'm a coward, it took me till now to finally get around to it.

Yesterday evening I went down to the basement where they were playing billiards on our pool table. "Hey, can I talk to you guys about something?"
And it was so simple and so easy. I told them I was transgender and felt more comfortable dressing as a girl. I clarified that I'm attracted to girls and that crossdressing isn't a fetish for me. And they said, "Yeah man, that's totally okay. You gotta be yourself."
"So like, if you saw me in, say, a skirt or something, that wouldn't freak you out?" I wanted to be sure we were on the same page.
"That would be fine," they affirmed, adding that they appreciated my talking to them about it nonetheless.
"You guys have probably already noticed some stuff anyways," I suggested.
"Yeah... we had pretty clear idea already."
And that was it. I thanked them for being so accepting, and the conversation turned to something else.

I still can't believe I spent so much time worrying about something so small. And I'm free now! I can dress how I want around the house! Yaaaay!! (I should add that one roommate still doesn't know: he returned to his native Deutschland for the holidays and won't be back till January. But I'm sure he'll be just as accepting as the others.)
Eff you, closet!
I am now out to five people in total, four guys and one girl. I suppose mom and dad should be next on the list, but that conversation's going to be a lot scarier...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The fear of needing to

"Wanting to be a woman isn't what I'm scared of. Needing to be a woman scares me juiceless."

I read that, or something like it, on a crossdressing forum back when I was first beginning to try and make sense of this stuff. The speaker had recently begun crossdressing herself, and she, like I, was recovering from a case of fundamentalist Christianity. Her words, and the fear they represented, stuck in my mind.

Do I want to be a woman? Maybe, but I don't want to need to.

I sat on the edge of my bed, paralyzed. It was last Sunday and there were a bunch of errands I needed to get done. I was dressed as a boy. At that moment it seemed like the only reasonable thing to do would be to laugh, Ha! I look like a boy, better fix that!, make myself up as a girl and be on my way. The thought of doing anything else seemed completely insane. But I couldn't go as a girl, and I couldn't bear to stay a boy, so instead I just sat there. Eventually I started crying. Then I got angry: Why am I transgender?! I never fucking asked for this!!

Do I wish I'd been born a girl? No, not really. I'm happy to have had the experiences I've had as a boy. I'm grateful for the perspective that being trans gives me. I don't hate my body, though there are some changes I might consider. Most importantly, I'm happy with the person that I am, and that's not who I'd be if I'd been raised as a girl.

Do I wish I were "normal" boy? No, not at all. I love my femininity. I love that I love heels and skirts and nail polish, and I would never want to lose that part of me. I just wish I could enjoy that stuff while still being comfortable as a boy— lots of crossdressers do, after all. Or I wish I could switch my gender on when it's convenient and off when it isn't. But gender doesn't work like that.

Do I want to be a woman? More than anything I just want to have some say in the matter.

[EDIT: In the time since I wrote this post I've come to realize that some of the terminology I used is problematic. Especially, I should have written "assigned female at birth" rather than "born a girl." But even so, I've decided not to change it because it reflects the understanding I had at the time.]