This post is the sixth in a series.
I did quite a bit of journaling through the time when I was coming to recognize my reality. I would like to share some of these entries with you as a window into what it means to come out. Please come back to read through the rest of the journey. If you haven’t read the first, you can click here to be redirected to that post, called Truth. From there, at the bottom of each post you can navigate to the next.
Feb. 15, 2020
I have always wanted a deeper voice.
My “ideal” body – the one I’ve always wanted, is that thin, male body, like Barry when we met, or Jasper now.
I like going to Grant [my hairdresser] to get my haircut because of how he makes me feel. I’ve always been uncomfortable getting my hair cut because it’s a space that requires declaration of the polarities of gender. I present as a woman, so I know I’m expected to act as a woman and it’s one of those situations where I am very aware that I don’t know how to woman properly. I not only have dandruff, but I don’t know how to style my hair or use products and that feels exposed. I don’t necessarily chat easily, but I feel like a “real woman” spills all to her hairdresser. Most women seem to have distinct ideas of what they want and don’t want done with their hair and I don’t usually. Women apparently feel good being pampered in such a setting. I don’t. I realize that some of this can be chalked up to being an introvert. But if gender is cultural expectations, these are my senses of cultural expectations of being a woman, which has effects on my identification with that concept of “woman.”
Every time I have explored being more feminine, or more precisely, expressing or presenting more feminine, it hasn’t lasted. Even dressing for work where for the last couple of years I have worn skirts, I only do that for maybe 3 months of the year. I’ve said it’s because I don’t like being cold, but is there some sense of renewed comfort in getting back to pants? When I dress more femininely, it can feel like I’m playing dress up with a costume.
I have often looked in the mirror and wondered whether strangers wonder if I’m trans. I think my face has a look that seems to me to look like a male face trying to pass as female. This is intensified if I try wearing make-up. But I can’t get away from the sense that my face doesn’t seem truly feminine. Is it the large pores? Is it Dad’s eyes? Is it lack of cheek definition? Eyelids that make make-up complicated?
I have often, especially when younger, envied boys because the expectations seem more in line with where I’m comfortable. I don’t think it was/is purely about privilege and status. I think it’s more a sense that I could fulfill those expectations more comfortably. Except, perhaps, the not crying/being emotional!
In all this, I keep hearing in my head that you don’t have to like dolls to be a girl, you can like dresses and be a boy. So, you’re not non-binary, you’re an unconventional woman. But then I think about gender being a cultural construct, so it is entirely about those “conventional” and “unconventional” ways of being. Being “unconventional” puts me outside that cultural construct of what it means to be a woman, which is exactly my issue of not feeling like I belong there.
Although I feel like the expectations of maleness would be more comfortable in many ways, I know there are aspects of that that aren’t me, either. I don’t feel comfortable with dominance, over-confidence (or just confidence sometimes), relational distance, indifference to others’ feelings. I know these are stereotypes of masculinity, but to a greater or lesser degree are the cultural expectations of being male, which is what gender is about. So, although I envy some aspects of maleness, I don’t want to, nor feel that I do live there entirely, either.
Thinking about the Summit meeting a couple of weeks ago [a meeting of LGBT organizations here in Regina], I realize some things. Saying out loud, “I’m not part of the community” [the LGBTQ community] was like nails on a chalkboard internally. One of the people who attended the Summit has that thin body type that I wish I had. Thinking about her makes me realize that I had that thin, androgynous body until I was in my early 20s. Perhaps I found it easier to just live as a non-binary person (without the label because I didn’t know it then) with that body. When I gained weight, it was obvious to all (me included) that I am a woman and I began to feel like I needed to inhabit that role more. Thus began my growing discomfort with being a woman. Until then, I could just be what I felt comfortable with, pushing the norms of being female. I think it was being forced to inhabit a much more overtly feminine physical body that made it more and more uncomfortable. Jasper talks about his last fling with dresses and make-up as trying to convince himself and others that he was a girl. Maybe these last few years especially have been my last fling with being a woman.
When I talked to [my sister-in-law] on Tuesday, she asked for specifics – What are you thinking of when you say you’re not comfortable being a woman? (I don’t remember if that’s exactly how she worded it.) It’s a little like being asked for specifics of why you love someone. You know the love is there, and you can name some specifics, but they all fall short and feel like they cheapen the whole feeling into transactions. But the bigger, fuller love is there – greater than the sum of its specifics. I feel the same about this. I’m trying to capture some specifics as they come to mind, but the interior experience is so much more than any external explanations, examples or rationale I can present. As my mind wanders (especially through memories of my youth), I have so many moments when this lens, this way of seeing myself, makes sense of thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Speaking of my youth, I told Barry that I think my latest Spotify playlist (Supertramp, Elton John, ELO, Simon & Garfunkle, Barry Manilow) has had a role to play in this exploration and discovery. The free association of experiences of my youth has brought to the forefront how long I have felt and experienced some things. Thank you to the Spirit for this consolation.
Speaking of the Spirit, I find myself shying away from acknowledging Her presence and work in this process, like I think God isn’t part of this. Those are vestiges of old beliefs and feelings. Perhaps I feel like God won’t condone this, wouldn’t lead me down this path, or has something to say about who I really am and this isn’t it (I fear). I acknowledge, however, that the Spirit is not absent, that God is intimately and passionately interested in who I really am and bringing me to where I recognize and can live as my True Self. Do I believe in my heart that transgender people, non-binary people, queer people are living the life they were made for – their True Selves? Do I truly believe these identities are valid and good in the eyes of God? I say so, and increasingly have become invested in believing so. Now it comes to my own self. Can I still believe? Will I still believe? Yes! I choose to keep the Spirit with me. I choose to acknowledge Her work in bringing the pieces of the puzzle together so I recognize there is a puzzle and then put it together to get this picture. I choose to know that God loves me. I choose to acknowledge that being non-binary is part of my True Self and that exploring that, inhabiting that, brings God joy and me into truer relationship with the Divine. This is not made up – it is who I am and God says, “It is good It is very good!”