I have heard stories that once upon a time, when a trans-woman attempted to do something about that "being stuck in a male body" problem, she was expected to take on a façade of ultra-femininity. On top of that, if she was attracted to women, not men, that was a sure sign that she was really a "he" and, well ... end of story. In other words, once upon a time someone like me was doomed to live her life as a man; which, by no coincidence, is what I did up until the world became a kinder more reasonable place, for people like me, quite recently.
Part of learning how to be a real man so very long ago had to do with how I naturally walked and moved. Around the age of ten, my grandfather took me aside and told me that I used my hands way too much. The same instruction session included, "Point your toes forward and take bigger steps. You look like a GIRL!" Not coincidentally, from then on, my parents joined in - making fun of the kid who waves her (sorry, his) hands around when talking and walks like a girl. Before long, I was walking in a very manly way while holding my hands at my sides (with the exception of the times I was biting my nails down to the quick).
Happily, I don't seem to have any trouble now with my walking style or use of my hands. Hormones have changed my balance for the better and surgery has definitely helped.
So passing is not an issue, right? Well, my hair is too thin and looks awful, but what woman loves her hair at my age? The real thing about being me is - I'm not a girl, I am a woman - and a woman of a certain age, too. Being really attractive to others is not my goal. It makes me happy to be me - far from ultra-feminine. Looking around at other women my age, what do I see? It turns out that most of them put on little, if any, makeup and wear blue jeans most of the time, even in warm weather. So, should I dress like other women my age? Given that they look like women dressed that way, and I look like a man, that is a silly question and the answer is clearly no. If being like the other women my age isn't a good strategy, then what is? The answer to that sometimes gives me fits. I want others to see me, the way I am inside.
Recently, the videos of Natalie Wynn - CONTRAPOINTS - have captured my attention. In one titled The Aesthetic, she has a discussion with a character of her invention she calls Tabby about the importance of appearance. The Cat Lady is giving off the vibe of a drag queen, but insists that she is a woman who has her own style; why should she fall into stereotype? Here is the sticky bit ... when someone calls you sir, should you get into an argument or fight with them, or should you realize that this has to do with how much effort you are giving to letting others know you are who you say you are? As usual, Natalie explains the issue much better than I, so have a look at the video if you have twenty minutes to spare.
Back to us - women who transitioned later in life. If dressing in blue jeans with no makeup is going to immediately clock me as a man, whereas wearing nail extensions, false eyelashes, mini-skirt, and sky-high heels is going to immediately clock me as a man, then where on the spectrum between should I be? The debate rages on in my head, along with a healthy dose of who am I dressing for anyway? and didn't this whole thing begin with abandoning a façade that was driving me crazy ... so why would I choose to create a new façade just to make others happy now?
At the moment, my choice is to dress in a way that makes me happy and then go a bit farther into femininity. A bit more makeup than I think, a frillier top, or a nicer skirt instead of slacks, or slacks that are sexier than I might think is right. In other words a balancing act; look good, but avoid having those who see me do a double-take.
What matters more, the way things are, or the way things look?
Feel free to select captions in a language of your choice.. Blogger won't let me make a post with a full transcript of this video.