Penny was having her surgery with Dr. Menard the next day, so I drove to Montreal and took her around a bit to keep her mind occupied. We ate bagels & souvlaki on St. Urbain, bought some souveniers to take home to the cat sitter and walked through Centre-Ville.
Penny saw a woman standing in stylish high heeled boots who had kicked ker ankle out and was standing on one leg, a charming gesture that lengthened the line of her skirt.
"I do that!" Penny said, with a bit of glee. This was the gesture of a woman, someone who wears heels with a feminine manner, and something Penny could now do after decades of denial.
A woman is someone who makes the choices of a woman in the system of communication we call gender. To her they are choices that feel right, choices that work, choices that resonate. She may have developed them through instinct or learned them though training, but they are now her choices and just work for her.
Random Hearts was on WE last night. In the last scene, Kristin Scott Thomas meets Harrison Ford at an airport bar, and while beaming at him, takes his beer and has a drink. It's a very girl thing, connecting with a boy.
I looked at that scene and thought how I wanted to feel that connection. I looked at her choices and thought I can do that. I should have done that.
Penny, well, after her surgery she got back to Richmond and she's spent amost a decade struggling. She knows she isn't one of the trannies, but she also knows that women's choices feel dangerous to her because she might slip across the guy-in-a-dress line at any time.
Part of this is having to be stealth at work, even though she knows some know her history. She has always worn pants there, dressed down, hidden, just to be safe. And going to ballroom dance classes or just connecting with guys as Ms. Scott Thomas does? That feels dangerous.
Her heart calls her to simple choices, like feeling safe in heels, but her mind reminds her that those choices leave her vulnerable in a way that no woman born female can ever understand. It just takes one person with their own internalized denial to see her as a man-in-a-dress, a freak with perverted motives, and she may suffer an attack that women don't know how to support her though.
But, oh, those women's choices are where her power is, where her spirit is, where her heart is. And denying them or being denied them feels like her heart is sliced apart, even if she knows that is the safe and appropriate move.
I can do that. I should do that. My power is in doing that. But I don't do that because I know how easily it can be misread.
And that leaves my heart in tatters.