Being transgender is like walking a tightrope. What you say and how you present yourself are always an issue. And it’s hard to know where that line is sometimes.
For me in particular, clothing, appearance, and presentation are things I struggle with. In order to even have a chance at passing, I have to wear makeup, do my hair a certain way, and be careful of my body movements and speech. I wear pigtails (even though I’ve been criticized online by the trans community as trying to capture my youth back) because they make me look the most feminine, and I don’t quite pass otherwise. It’s an unmistakably gendered style. I don’t have these luxury of going out in “around the house” clothes and still being gendered correctly. The more feminine cues I have, the better. It takes an average of 4 female cues to overcome 1 masculine one. I personally like presenting as feminine as possible. I love pink. I like lipstick and dresses. But then the risk is being accused of upholding the gender binary or playing a chariature of a girl. And a much as I like to tell people I don’t care what they think, it’s hard not to.
Balance also comes in the form of knowing when to defend your rights and needs, and sucking it up to keep the peace. Insisting someone you will probably never see again use your pronouns when it will make them resent you is fruitless. Insisting people you interact with regularly use your pronouns is much more important. Some people are just transphobic, and no amount of convincing will change that. Some people are just ignorant, and need to be educated. Knowing the difference is hard sometimes. Getting my name changed at work was been a hassle. As is trying to keep everyone using the right pronouns. I try to pressure, and try to let my bosses know what’s important without making them push everything else aside, but I also know they have things going on that are higher on their list of things to do. And it’s hard to know how far to push and how much to pressure when I’m not very good at either in the first place. Getting people to change your information, call you a different name, and use different pronouns without rocking the boat too much is a balancing act.
But even balance among your support network is important. Most of the major events in my life for the past year have been trans related. Facebook is a place to share important life events with friends, but how much is too much? I worry that my page is just something people get sick of reading because it’s all pronouns this and trans rights that. But that’s what I care about. That’s what I want to talk about. That’s what my main focus is right now, and having the people I care about try to understand my journey is important to me. I need them to know that I haven’t changed, but I’ve changed a ton, too. I am trans, so my experiences are trans. When I go to the bathroom, I go to the bathroom as trans. When I apply for a job, I apply as a trans person. When I make friends and try to date, it will be as a trans person. Being trans colors everything in my life. When I’m not thinking about it, its a rare moment of relief. But usually I am, because it literally shapes every interaction I have in public. Thinking about how I’m being perceived and what’s safe to do and what’s not, and whether I’m sketching out the other girls in the makeup aisle or the girls in the clothing department think I’m a pervert or not, and worrying about legal issues most people don’t think of like which box to check when something asks for gender but only gives choices for sex. So finding a way to tamp that down is hard.
And I understand finding a balance is part of everyone’s life, but this is just a little picture of the quest for balance through a trans lense.
I’ll keep fighting like a grrrl, but sometimes I just want to relax like a girl, too.