How would you define a successful emergence into the world as transgender?
What are the things you want out of announcing you are trans and changing your own gender identification and expression in the world?
Sure, having the power to wear what you want to work is a fine thing. We can be much more free, assured and emotionally comfortable when we believe that we look good and feel congruent in the world.
Is just being able to wear certain clothes all you want, though? Is there more?
Do you want to be able to be seen as something other than a guy-in-a-dress (1999)? Do you want to feel affirmed in making the choices of a woman? Do you want to connect with women as another woman?
Do you want to be a hot chick, a powerful businesswoman, a tender mom?
In other words, do you want to shift the way people see your gender, not just the way that they see your clothes?
What does success look like to you? Is it being able to wear what you want and demand that people use the pronouns of your choice? Or do you want something different than that, something more than that?
You can’t tell people how to properly see and think about you. Would you let other people tell you the only correct way to think about them? Do people just get to claim to be whoever they want and you have to believe them, or do you require something to back up their assertions, some kind of substantiation (1997)?
People see what you show them. What you show them is the sum total of your choices in the world. Humans have come to understand that the essence of other people are revealed by their choices, especially the choices that we don’t consciously make.
Your choices, even the choices you make by habit, expose your thoughts, your feelings, your concerns and your priorities in the world.
It’s not the big sweep of an outfit that tells us who you are, for example, it is how the details come together, the fit and finish, the quirks and counterpoints. Are you wearing the outfit, beauty coming from the inside out, or is it wearing you, a kind of costume that attempts to conceal parts of you but that may reveal much more than you expect?
Women learn how to be women by observing other women, by cribbing choices to build their own unique feminine expression. Until you can see the tricks and techniques other women use to build their expression, you don’t have the tools to build your own.
Women learn to be women in a sea of social pressure. They get feedback from everyone around them, formal comments and informal views of how others react to them depending on their choices. Going through high school can be brutal for girls who learn early the costs and benefits of facing the judgements of those around them.
What would make your emergence as trans in the world successful for you?
Do you want to be seen as queer, boldly claiming a role past gender? Or do you want to be seen as something other than that? What is it?
If you want to be seen and accepted as a woman, understanding how the choices of a woman are shaped and seen in the world is vital. Those are the cues you need to take to shape your expression in the world.
Our gender expression advertises who we are to the world, what roles we are trained and willing to accept (1999). What do you want to advertise with your new gender expression? What roles are you trained to play, what roles are you willing to play?
“It is truly a lifetime job, this learning to be a woman,” as May Sarton said. You will never have mastery of every womanly art you need on your first day. It takes years of practice to become centered and powerful.
Taking the time to do some of this work, polishing your act so it begins to get you the results you want before you emerge as “full-time” can be important. It’s much better to fail in front of wise, forgiving, transient audiences before you tke your show on the road in front of paying crowds, like your current workplace.
Girls learn early that you have to try on a lot of different looks, attitudes and choices before you can consistently be a winner. Trying and failing leads them to wisdom and mastery.
What kind of success do you want to have from your transgender emergence? Where you you want to fail first to begin to own the skills you need for that success?
Is it enough for you to wear what you want and demand people use appropriate pronouns?
Or do you want something more to mark success? If you do, what are you willing to polish to make that success happen?
When we fail to prepare, we prepare to fail. Don’t do the work and you set yourself up for failure.
What do you want? What will make you satisfied enough, make your emergence successful?
Once you know that, you can start to do the work to prepare for the success you desire.