halfthoughts

A gender journey

Tag: clothes

Ace Halfthoughts #2

Sometimes I wonder if some of my past mistaken crushes were actually just a result of aesthetic attraction to the clothes they were wearing. And I wonder if it was not so much that I was attracted to being with them, but that somehow the genderqueer part of me was attracted to their gender expression because of an unrealized desire to dress like them.

Affirming Flashbacks: Dresses

Sometimes it helps to be affirmed by other people. Especially other people who knew you before you started transitioning and coming out.

When they say something that translates to: “oh yeah, now that you mention it, this thing you used to do makes a lot of sense now”, I feel this wave of affirmation wash over me.

Maybe it’s euphoria. Maybe it’s just a sense of consolation that I’m not crazy. Simply knowing that other people can “see” the real me, too, helps me ease more and more into the confidence that this IS me.

Affirming Flashbacks is an ongoing series about those moments.

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My friend M is not trans. But she has her own disphoric relationship with clothes. She comes from a very conservative family. So when she’s living at home there are certain clothes she can wear, and certain clothes she can’t.

I remember we met up once on the east coast, and she told me how excited she’d been to pack for the trip. She was so happy to finally unpack the “can’t wear” box, that sits in her room, and give some of her favorite items a chance to air out.

She recently moved to her own apartment in a new city, and she just loves being able to wear all the clothes she wants. She was describing how much more free she feels now. Whereas before,  there was a mismatch between her outfits and her insides.

The way she described this feeling reminded me of the definition of disphoria. Or at least how I understand disphoria. As I understand it, disphoria is that uneasy feeling you get when how you feel on the inside does not match how people see you on the outside.

I feel this a lot when I get complimented for being “beautiful.” I know that I’m not bad looking, so theoretically this should feel good to hear. It’s not a lie. But whenever I would hear it, it would make me squirm. I never understood why. But recently I’ve begun to understand this squirm-y-ness as a symptom of disphoria.

It’s as though  when people would call me “beautiful,” I knew what they meant was  I was a beautiful girl. They saw me as a girl. But since I’m not a girl, I did not want to be perceived as a girl. Therefore I did not want to be seen as beautiful. There was a mis-match between what I felt on the inside, and how people perceived me to be.

This is all background for the part of the story where I explained to my friend M why I was experimenting with a more gender neutral style of clothing. After I related the story about putting on a tie for the first time, she told me she understood because of her own relationship with clothes, as described above. And then she said, “Yeah. Whenever you would wear a dress, I would definitely notice that S is wearing a dress today.”

Something about that sentence sent a wave of affirmation up my spine. I’ve never liked wearing dresses and I was relieved to know other people could see it too. There was something about me wearing dresses that stuck out. Now that I identify as gender queer, I realize the thing that stuck out was some sort of underlying mis-match between gender norms and my gender identity.

I can finally stop wearing those dresses without feeling guilty. From now on I can feel free to wear all the ties I want!

 

Fuck You World

I’m at this meetup wearing my new outfit. Collared shirt, tie, fedora hat, men’s style pea coat. I receive a few compliments on my style which feels super affirming.

After the meetup we all head out to dinner and I’m conversing with a guy. We’ll call him D.

D asks,  “So what’s the reason behind your style of clothing?”

I immediately freak out. I turn my head away, look down furtively as a million thoughts race through my head. Oh my god he knows. I have to come out. Should I tell him my new pronouns? Wait get a hold of yourself. I don’t have to come out if I’m not ready. I don’t have to out myself to a stranger if I don’t want to.

I settle on, “It’s a new style I’ve started experimenting with recently.”

D realizes he’s caused some discomfort and quickly says, “I was just wondering.” He leaves it alone and we move on.

Later on in the dinner we are chatting some more, and he brings up the outfit again. (It was relevant to the conversation somehow, so I want to clarify he wasn’t being an asshole about it.)

“You said this was a new style you were experimenting with. Why did you decide to start?” D asks.

“I dress this way to feel badass.” I reply with confidence, happy I have a smoother response this time around, now that I know I don’t have to out myself.

I mean what I say. I’d recently watched this youtube video by Ari Fitz about dressing in an androgynous style. My favorite part of the video is when she offers this advice:

Take an extra minute every morning and remind yourself you’re a badass and you can have everything you want. Then put on your favorite pair of shoes, your favorite jacket, whatever that thing is for you- put it on and walk out the door, cause now no one- no one can take that feeling away from you.

“Do you look in the mirror every morning and say ‘Fuck You’?” D asks.

We all laugh.

“Well, I don’t say, Fuck You. That would be kind of weird since it’d be like saying Fuck You to my self. But I do look in the mirror and say ‘I’m badass'”

He tries to explain his slip up, “I meant more like a fuck-you-world.”

At first I’m a bit offended. Why can’t a girl wear a tie? Why does it have to be a statement?  I feel like he is reacting this way because of cisnormitiviy. But when I’m debriefing with a friend later, she gives me another perspective. “Maybe he just admired you for having a fuck the world attitude,” she suggests.

I like that way of looking at it. Because that’s how I feel a lot these days.

My very existence. My gender expression. My choice of clothing. Every minuscule act feels like a revolution against society. Everyday I’m fighting a war in my head against the conditioning of culture. FUCK YOU WORLD gives me a sense of empowerment.

Fuck you world, I can wear what I want. Fuck you world, I can use whatever pronouns I want. Fuck you world, I can be a gender that you’ve never even heard of. Fuck you world, I don’t have to live up to your expectations of what a girl wears, how a girl acts, or what a girl looks like. Fuck you world, I’m not even a girl in the first place. Fuck you world, do not tell me how to dress, how to cut my hair, or how to control my appearance. Fuck you world, I’m gonna do what I want and be true to who I am. Fuck you world, I will not be ashamed of my identity. Fuck you world, I reject every expectation and constraint you try to shackle me in. Fuck you world, I’m gonna be myself and no one is gonna to stop me.

 

 

The First Time I Wore A Tie

How to tie a tie.

I typed the words into google and clicked through the links that popped up. After searching through a few articles, I settled on a simple explanation with pictures and followed the directions.

It took a couple of tries to get it right. The thin end kept being too long, or the noose kept being too loose. Frustrated, I gave up looking at the directions and just made up my own way to tie a tie.

Finally, I managed a knot that seemed right. I stepped into my bathroom and glanced in the mirror to see how I looked.

I remember the moment distinctly. Suddenly, my heart opened up. It’s as if my heart had been locked in a cage my whole life, and I hadn’t even noticed. But the tie was the key that unlocked the door. And suddenly I was lighter inside.

It wasn’t until weeks later, that I discovered there was an actual name for that feeling: Euphoria. As in the opposite of disphoria. As in it felt right.

That feeling was my body telling me, “Yes”.

This tie is exactly what I needed. And I had no idea how much I had needed it until I slipped it around my neck.