If You Are

““If you’re out there and, to be honest with you, if you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable. So the first thing I can do is try to present myself well. I want to dress well. I want to look good. When I go out, as Kim says, you’ve got to rock it because the paparazzi will be there.”
— Caitlyn Jenner, Time Magazine

In my experience, if you are out there and all people can see is a guy-in-a-dress making claims, it can make them uncomfortable.

Any notion that somehow, your expensive and highly polished exterior makes you not look like a man-in-a-dress to some people is just your entitled fantasy, a kind of arrogance that you are different than those other, uglier queers.

No matter how slick their packaging, every transperson has a passing distance (1998), a zone within which their biology and history is revealed.

Do people like looking at people they see as pretty more than people they see as ugly? Sure, but does that make the pretty people somehow better humans than the people with a rougher appearance?   I’m guessing that if you spent millions of dollars on your looks you want to believe that it does.

Thinking that somehow, your expensive and contrived packaging makes people more comfortable with the idea that you are trans, that you were born and went through puberty with a body that doesn’t match your gender presentation, that you break the rules of God and decent society as some see it, is just masturbatory arrogance.

Is pretty easier for people to take than ugly?   Sure.  But does pretty change the underlying truth?   Only an image manipulator, a marketer, a televisual dweeb would make that claim.

The Guy-In-A-Dress Line (1999) is where the cutting edge around trans has always lain.  What makes you a woman, what keeps you stuck as a guy-in-a-dress?

Some people want to believe that it is their cosmetic intervention that makes the difference, be that expensive padding, facial manipulation or reconfigured genitals.    This is what sets them apart from those fake, ugly, queer trannys who embarrass us all.

“I have spent everything to assimilate, to fit into social expectations,” they seem to say, “and those people who failed to make themselves pretty to others eyes, well, they make people uncomfortable with the way they let their queerness be visible.”

In my experience, though, the real transformation is always inside.

Transvestism is about changing your clothes.
Transsexualism is about changing your body.
Transgender is about changing your mind.

It’s not about claiming that you didn’t express yourself well, that the media took your words out of context.   It is about actually understanding the meaning of deeper connection, of seeing what is happening and not what you want to be happening.

Trans is challenging to people who love walls, comforting binaries which support their worldview.

And no matter how much you turn yourself to plastic to hide beneath pretty, your truth is out there.

And embracing it can set you free.

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3 thoughts on “If You Are”

  1. Women come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of attractiveness. It’s the same lame line of BS women have been fighting since the beginning of time. That somehow our level attractiveness equates to our acceptance into society. It’s not just a slight against transgender women-it’s a slam to all womankind. Hair, make up, clothes or nails are a matter of personal taste, skill, and discretionary income. I personally don’t do makeup on a regular basis. and my favorite clothes in the winter are oversized-Man sweaters and leggings. that doesn’t make me any less of a woman or more of a man. Bless her botoxed heart, behind the facade of make up and cosmetic procedures, she’s still just insecure human clinging to old fashioned values on gender. She should know better.

    1. While I believe that the issue mirrors the challenges women face around attractiveness in the world, much like Ms. J mirrors the women around her, I think the essential issue is different for trans women.

      For us, it’s about assimilation and camouflage much more than about status and value.

      Women certainly have the choice of leaving the battle of polished appearance, but they do so without losing the status of women.

      Transwomen who are struggling to pass, whether they are actually passing or not, feel that they have much more to lose by failing to maintain their appearance. This attempt at cloaking drives them intensely.

      As one matures in expression, we often learn that less is more, that struggling too hard for polish sets us apart from most women. As we understand the nuance of women’s expression, we can become more nuanced in our own looks.

      I used to say that the easiest way to pass is to look like you are poor working class, because those women are not scrutinized in the same way women with power and influence are. They are invisible because of their lack of status.

      To say that the issues around appearance for transwomen are the same as the issues around appearance for women in general is to miss a big piece of the challenge. In some ways, transwomen will never be seen as “real women,” so we attempt to mask our history and biology in an attempt to erase our challenge. We self-police and believe that the virtuous choice is playing small and pretty.

      This also means we erase our power in the world, both the power of coming from all of who we are and the power of opening the world to wider expression so that the world is more embracing of trans expression.

      Sure, all women share issues around appearance, attractiveness and status. Transwomen, though, have other layers of challenges that women born female who don’t feel the threat of having their gender, their reality, their standing stripped away never do.

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