If I thought I could get away with it, would I?
You know, I probably would.
I would go and be a cougar at the local meat market, I would sashay like a tech entrepreneur, bang on like a transcendent pastor.
I recently read a post where a transwoman my age was pleased that some guys checked her out at the mall. I am impressed with her belief system, with her lack of doubt, with her confidence that she is getting away with it. When someone checks me out in the mall, I find it impossible to assume that they are interested in romancing me.
I have no idea what people think when they see me. “What an amazon!” has come up in the past, maybe “She has such pretty eyes!” or even the more conventional “She would be so attractive if she just lost some weight.” On my best days I can try to imagine “In her prime she must have been a real hottie,” but on most days “What the fuck is that?” is all the imaginary monologue that I can muster.
My life is not camera ready, which seems to be the goal of those who offer makeup videos on YouTube, showing you how to spend an hour getting ready not for life but for some internal stardom.
It’s amazing how much of life is about political identities. Rather than being about effectiveness, competence and feelings, it is about shoulda, woulda, coulda, the enforcement of clear boundaries that we hope keep us anchored and walled in. Are we straight or gay, spiritual or commercial, professional or compassionate? Those are all false binaries of course, but we love to hang onto them.
It is those political boundaries people hold which convince me that I can’t. I may know how to be very good at what they need, but what I don’t know how to be is politically correct in what they expect. That’s the part I can’t get away with, the single mindedness, the separations, the political ease. They will see I am more than what I am asserting in the moment and get freaked.
Even transgender is a political identity for many who hold onto beliefs about how transpeople should be, act and think. I know that these people usually find me politically incorrect when I show my own independent, individual thoughts, claiming my own queerness rather than assimilating into the group think.
Revelation comes easy to me. Concealment, though, comes very hard, and concealment is what helps you get through the political filters people put up.
Bob Hope trained his first woman partner to do the Dumb Dora role in vaudeville routines, the kind of role that Gracie Allen played so well. He was clear that she was a smart cookie, but on stage she could hide her intelligence, play to stereotypes and pull off a kind of wicked innocence. With his help, she could get away with it, so she did, and she got laughs, applause and a paycheck.
If I thought I could get away with it, I probably would.
It’s that kind of support and assurance that I was looking for in a performance coach, someone who could help me both shape and trust my performance enough to believe that I am able to get away with it.
I know how to package up just what you want to show people and hide the rest. I know that is the key to effective marketing, a kind of wholesale oversimplification. I just also know that I can’t get away with those tricks, know that my integrity and sharpness are not something I am really willing to hide.
Conceptually, I know that most people aren’t quite as sharp as I am, didn’t have to learn to be as an acute observer as I did, that they take things at face value rather than examining the meta, but it is hard for me to really understand that viewpoint.
Who would you be if you didn’t have to carry the baggage you have now? Or maybe, more to the point, what would you do if you thought that you were attractive and compelling enough to get away with it?