So in the first, I showed the actual science and research that shows it is not a life choice. In part deux, I showed how the costs involved can be unbearable. In part drei, besides showing I know how to count in different languages, I introduced you to the many mental gymnastics that a transgender person has to go through. In part four, I want to revisit the mental gymnastics, but from a different perspective. I want to share probably one of the most talked about issues in the transgender community, passing.
For most people they live their day just accepting that they will be accepted for who they are without having to do anything. For a transgendered person, it gets a bit complicated, especially in the early days of transition. A transgender person wants the world to see them as the person they see themselves. Unfortunately, for many, their features betray them. A transgender person can become hypersensitive about their looks. This can also lead to higher anxiety levels as well as thoughts of depression. If you are male to female transgender, those harsher male features can make it harder to pass.
Let me take as step back for one moment and explain that term passing. To pass means that you are able to go out into the world and not get “read” as your former gender. Sometimes transgender people will go to extremes to ensure that they will not have those uncomfortable moments when out and about where they are misgendered or outed. Hmm, maybe a glossary is in order. Misgender is when you are presenting as one gender, but they use the terms for the other; ie calling a transwoman a he.
A female to male may feel the need to bind their breasts. A very uncomfortable process where they wrap their breasts so as to flatten them as much as possible. A male to female might even go as far as to have surgery to reshape their skull bones to soften their features. So not quite just clothes and make-up. The last thing a transwoman wants to be seen as is a guy in a dress.
There is a lot of thought and anxiety over presentation. While a cis-woman, a woman born with their genitalia and mind in alignment, doesn’t have to give a second thought to her presentation, a transwoman often has to check and recheck their image to ensure they are presenting the right image to the world. The same can be said for a transman. While a cis-man or woman can just be, transmen and women often get to the point of overthinking their appearance in the desire to be accepted.
I have heard from some transmen that they feel they have to do all this macho stuff, most of which they don’t even like to do. They believe this is just expected. I have to admit, when I had to live as a man, I often watched other men and tried to emulate them even though I didn’t like it. I was really uncomfortable at times, especially when they started talking about women. Some of the talk could be really crude. I am sure that a transman who is in process of transition and had up until now been shielded from this might also find it offensive. Of course, any civil person would also find it offensive. I digress.
The point is to show that besides the dance I spoke of in the last blog, there is also the mental gyrations wrapped around just being accepted. Isn’t that what we all want in the end, to be accepted? Being a very tall and large woman at 6’2, 230 pounds, my biggest worry was passing. Though, I started to note other women around me at the market. Sometimes we would pass in an aisle and I would note that they were as large as I was. Then one day things clicked, Just OWN IT!
I found that the biggest help for me was to first and foremost accept myself. Once I started to do that, the idea that I had to go full out all the time started to fade. I would go out and watch other women and see plenty out there without makeup, wearing yoga pants, basically just being themselves. While I really like nice clothes, I found that I could just go out in a T and sandals and yet, still be accepted. I would dance between dressing down and just being while all my credentials were being moved over. Once the last credit card and all my Ids were transferred over, then that was it. I am Emma. I am owning who I am. I have gotten to the point where I am just going out as any woman would do. Best part yet, I get ma’amed. If you really want to make a transpersons day, ma’am a transwoman or sir a transman. That in itself is a confidence builder and empowering. As you grow in confidence, it just becomes more and more natural until it gets to the point where you just are.
To me, that was my arrival. The day I decided to just own it. I am Emma Morgaine Croft. I am a transgendered woman. I am living my life full time. To those who have accepted and respect me by referring to me as a she/her or ma’am, many, many thanks. To those who are not accepting and insist on calling me him/he, you can move on because I have no use for you. I am Emma, love me or leave me.
Let me repeat that last point. If you really want to help a transperson to feel accepted and empower them to be their true selves, just address them by their preferred pronouns, he/him, she/her. Just that one little act of respect can make someone’s day.
I related a story on Facebook about how a few weeks ago, I had gone grocery shopping at the local Trucchis. On the way out, an older man who was working collecting carriages followed me to my car and helped me load my groceries. He noted the hay in my trunk and asked if we had horses. I told him that we had started an alpaca farm. I explained to him all about the alpacas and told him where the farm was. He smiled and said, “You go girl!” Needless to say, I waved as I left the parking lot and started bawling my eyes out. I felt accepted for who I was. That was so overwhelmingly empowering.
Of course, you get the Readers Digest version of what goes on, but the point is to educate and show that the idea that this is a life choice is ignorant and mean. All that I have opened you up to should also help you to understand why there is such a high suicide rate. I could have been one of those. I chose to accept that I am an Amazon woman. I am who I am. Love me or leave me.
I plan on doing two more in this series. I think in the next I will look at the gyrations that others have to go through in dealing with transpeople. My sister-in-law actually inspired that suggestion when she asked what she was to call me now as sister-in-law didn’t seem right. I don’t propose to have the answers, but it would be an interesting discussion.
My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.