Did you ever have one of those mornings where you tried to get dressed for work but everything you put on just looked disgusting and wrong?
Yeah, I had one of those.
Everything looked horrible. Sure, I have no waist, but I never really have and I know how to dress to hide that. But humans don’t get fat between the elbow and fingertips, and even my hands looked bizarre and huge to me, big paddles that just flapped in the wind. I looked like a guy-in-a-dress, and what the hell is the point of that?
I haven’t tried to get dressed for work in many, many, many months. There just didn’t seem to be any work worth doing. There was an event where I might meet people yesterday, an LGBT Law Day, so it was almost worth trying, but no, I couldn’t get past the mirror between the work being less than surefire and the image in the mirror.
I have long said that I dress for work. I dress to show my nature when there is a work reason to do so, but in everyday life, I wear my casual clothes. androgynous outfits that make my trans nature invisible. It’s just easier, because when I have no reason to stand up and fight for presence, I don’t have to stand up and fight.
The reason I dress for work, the reason that I have identified my being visible as trans as part of my shamanic work, is because, being visibly trans in the world for me always takes work.
There has to be a reason to justify that work, that fight. Maybe it’s committing to your own Eros, or standing against bullies, or something else, but you have to want to take the hits to be visibly trans, and for many transpeople who went though puberty male walking in the world as women, we have to know that we will always have a passing distance, always be visible.
The reason I like most to justify my dressing is that it tells the truth about who I am on the inside. I am much more comprehensible if you know that my operating system at this point is much more womanly than anything else. I think like a mom.
Communicating that truth, though, is very tough. Most people still love to essentialize people by binary birth sex, still see expression as layered onto a kind of fundamentalist truth. To them, I am just a male — a man — dressing as a woman for my own carnal purposes and that is all I will ever be. If my body is visible, they pin my truth to it and not to the choices which reveal my character.
If we could actually change sex, I would have done so long ago, even if I had to keep my same bones. For many transwomen who dream that hormones and surgery will do that trick, they are often disappointed, coming to the same conclusion I came to so many years ago, that the best we can do in this heterosexist culture is to appear trans.
I know that the best I can do is appear trans in the world. It’s not what I want — who the fuck grows up dreaming of being a tranny? (2006) — but it is the limit of my possibilities.
We are visibly trans in the world to do the work we need to do. For many of us, who see that work as only internal, we work as hard as we can to blend in, becoming invisible and unremarkable, building our own defenses against that dreaded third gotcha.
I want to tell my truth in the world, want to walk in my own authenticity. If almost no one is going to engage that truth, going to comprehend my authenticity, then doing the work to be visible is just a very heavy lift.
This leaves my truth invisible in the world, erased and un-mirrored. It leave my heart profoundly alone and lonely. No matter how well or how much I share my truth, it just doesn’t connect with other people. I’m within a month of ten years sharing myself on his blog and I know that I have never built any audience who engages me.
If I look in the mirror and I can’t see pretty, and I haven’t found anyone else to see and affirm me, what the hell incentive do I have to do work that will bring only a distant and ephemeral return?
Becoming visible takes so much energy that transpeople often just decide to live within the very limited expectations of others, keeping their beauty hidden and invisible.
If a transwoman sings her heart in the Walmart will anyone hear?
In my experience, no, probably not.