This is the full follow up to the post “Worth a Thousand Words.” Saturday was quite a day. I was on the edge of glory, hanging on a moment of truth. I did not know If I would crash and burn, come out like a shining firework, or something in-between. I was expecting the something in-between. I was super surprised when I came home to say to my husband that it was ‘the most amazing day of my life, with one flaw.’
He, of course, being the loving husband he is wants to tackle the problems first and get them fixed and make me the most happy woman on the planet. I wish it were something else… “That you weren’t there to share it with me” His work schedule is such that I do not have a great deal of time with him and I can almost never include him in last minute weekend events, which this was. That was the ONLY flaw of the day. I knew this was going to happen; there was no way around it. My husband took the picture of me in that post and then went straight to bed. That in some ways overshadowed the day.
I was ready to go and the blog post was ready about an hour before I had to leave. I was so anxious about how long it would take me to get ready that I was ready too early. For half an hour, I sat at home in my dress getting more and more anxious. It was my first dress, at the tender age of 29… When do most girls get their first dress? Certainly, they would not wait this late in life. I have gone so many years confined in clothing I just did not like. I just did not like. I have dressed in public in women’s clothes one before. However, that was as a man in woman’s clothes. That day, was just a little hint… Today was an amazing slap in the face.
Even before the first test of the day, I knew there was something on the right track. I have not seen this smile since I was around nine… However, could I pass the first test? As I sat there waiting for the appropriate time to leave I had to just do it. I could not wait anymore. I went outside… My heart was pounding so fast. It felt so awkward to look externally the way I have looked in my mind this whole time. Twenty-nine years of what society expected me to wear was unimportant in that moment. I took what I needed to my car and was off; the first big moment was under my belt. I was able to leave the house.
I had so much going through my head that the drive took a little longer than normal. I drive slowly when I am thinking; at least I am smart enough to stay right when that happens. I sat in the car for 15 minutes or so trying to psych myself to go into the same mall where I had my major shopping defeat. My course of action is always to face down my demons. The policy and ability to face demons is a new policy within the last year and something hormones have allowed me to do. I always ran before then. I am finding it is though facing down my daemons that I can be happy.
Therefore, I got up, walked into the mall went to our meeting place looked at my watch… Oops, I was still 15 minutes early. Therefore, I took the time to see how people were looking at me. I was so afraid that people were going to look at me as if somehow I did not belong. I was afraid of being the odd person out. Just like, I was in 6th grade…
It did not happen, nobody treated me a like a monster. I observed people observing me; it seemed like nobody even noticed or cared about my past. Someone even smiled at me and asked me to take a picture of the family! Looks like I passed test two… The test I like to call ‘Man in a dress syndrome’. I wanted so hard a ‘drag queen’ this is part of why I have avoided female clothing so long. I was afraid something would out meet me immediately. That was not happening. I win! While it is still my fear, to an extent if I go out in female clothing perfection is required. Since then, I have gone back to work in male external clothes and it feels more confining than ever. I warned my boss and HR that the permanent change is probably no more than a month away….
That is when my aunt arrived. The first person to know my past to see me in the dress (other than my husband)
“You’re so beautiful.”
A beaming smile probably slipped across my face. It became the three most important, well actually four, words of the day, to me. That is all she needed to say. It was what I wanted to hear for 29 years. Somehow, I could tell it was from her heart. My heart has wanted to say it looking in the mirror, and at the blog picture. Since the blog picture, I have made it my profile picture and gotten so MANY compliments. Who would have known the positive reinforcement of compliments could work? They never worked for me before. The fact that it was the first one has to make it the compliment of the day. However, many people, including ones I did not know, repeated it so many times throughout the day, and each time from the heart, it has to be real.
For the past 29 years, I have always been uncomfortable in my own physical appearance. It was like looking at myself and saying, ‘really? That’s what you look like?’ For the first time in my life how I would describe my physical appearance matched the way someone else described my physical appearance. Test 3 passed… I like to call this test ‘Validation of self-image.’ I know validation is shallow but sometimes it is so helpful, it made the rest of the day go easier – It really did.
We went to eat, just a quick salad, and it was right into test 4. Maybe everyone else was comfortable, but I sure was not. It was so abnormal for me to wear a dress in many ways I was so embarrassed. Test number four… Forget the dress. Oh, god this was tough. Although once we sat down at the restaurant and started, talking it did not take too long. When I was walking, I kept feeling the dress brushing around my ankles and kept thinking about how weird it was. I am so used to wearing pants; pants do not flow like that! These little things about the transition are the things standing out to me. I would have never predicted that wearing a dress would feel different because of the way it brushes around the ankles.
My aunt and I sat down at the restaurant and had a nice afternoon of chatting one of which was about me writing a book in the future. She is a published author and I wish to be one so I thought talking to her would be a good first step. I quickly forgot the dress and thus I passed test four. This was climax of the day for me, in terms of the dress. I knew if I could get past this, it would be a big moment. It was downhill from here. I do not remember how, but something reminded me that I was wearing a dress while we were sitting and I realized, this was more comfortable to me than any outfit I have ever worn before. A dress from my birth mom now had become my favorite outfit. I wanted to go straight home and throw out all my male external clothing. In some ways, I still do but I was ready to do it right then… That would have been Overkill.
Anyway, there was a lot more to do on this day. When we got up there was that brushing at my ankles again. This time instead of being weird, it was familiar and comforting. I felt like I could take on the world. We decided to walk around the mall. I got some questioning looks but mainly when people came up behind me and saw me before they heard me. There is a mismatch my voice and my appearance at this point, my voice is quite deep although someone recently described it as ‘the deep sexy woman that wants to have a good time and you can tell if it is innuendo or real.’ Since I was wearing a scarf people did not concentrate on my neck.
I was ready to be confident, to be sure, and have some fun… So we went shopping, however, we went to a gaming store. The type of store frequented by the male geeky me. I was instantly getting stares, but it was different. It was the ‘what is a woman doing in this store‽’ stare. I went to pick up one dominion expansion and ended up getting two (in one box) BOGO FTW.
It cost the same as any of the other single expansions. When I checked out, I had a great big smile probably. I was on top of the world, not only because of the deal but also because I felt comfortable. I made it slightly uncomfortable for everyone in the store but not because I was transgender… but because I was a woman. Any woman in that store would make it just as uncomfortable at first. Geeky men have a tenancy not to know how to talk to women that same awkwardness occurred with me. YAY!
Then a problem started… I needed to use the washroom, and a dilemma occurred…. I did not know what to do. I really had three choices:
My aunt and I walked across the mall as I struggled with decision. Really, the decision was between the last two. At this point, I have resolved never to use a men’s room again. When we got to the other side of the mall, there were only the two classical choices and now I was opposite the mall to the only shared restroom I knew… I had trapped myself, completely intentionally. I gathered my courage and off I went to the women’s room. I half expected to be called out the moment I turned the corner away from the men’s room but I wasn’t in fact I even entered the woman’s room with another woman. It did not seem like anyone noticed, or if it someone noticed, that person did not care.
The minute I walked in it was clear that the differences where not many from the men’s. It was a rundown washroom, but to me it was like heaven. It did not have the space waster’s people call urinals. I have used one maybe three times in my life… and that is a stretch. I only remember using one once but I expect there were other times when I was younger… Urinals are far from private even in the best of circumstances. However, more than that, the bathroom itself was a place where I could finally do my business and not have my heart pounding. It finally felt like I was not intruding on others or feel like others were intruding on me.
Public bathrooms are just that, public. However, for some reason this one felt more private than any public bathroom experience I have had before that was not its own single stall room. It was, like many other things during this wonderful day amazing. I am sure that this part of the story creeps some people out; there are women out there that think males become transsexuals so that they can go into the washrooms and ogle the women. I cannot speak for all MtF trans* people but for me at least that could not be farther from the truth. I went into the women’s room because that was the only place I did not feel ogled and objectified. I really do not care about the other people in there with me. For a while, I will use gender-neutral washrooms where available and wait if I can but at least now, I have a backup plan…
Then it was off to dinner, but before dinner, I met up with my birth mom. Last time I saw my birth mom she commented that I needed to start wearing bras soon… This idea of course made me cringe and on this particular day, she provided me with some bras. That started a fiasco that I will cover by another post… That is not the purpose of this post. We headed into the restaurant and it was not long before our two dining companions arrived.
My dad and step-mom originally came to meet my birth mom, but now I am here in a dress too my dad can finally see his daughter’s smile. All three of them concluded that I was beautiful, just as my aunt had done. That compliment built on a word that I have always wanted to use to describe myself. Dinner was, for me a huge success. I again forgot the idea that I was in a dress and it was just natural. It was just clothing not anything amazing. However, the night was amazing for me. My birth mom and adoptive dad and step-mom got along. I mentioned at dinner my adoptive mom’s feelings about reunion and realized that was bitter for my birth mom, by her reaction. It was one of the little blemishes of an otherwise amazing day. Dinner was nice; conversation was awesome.
As dinner ended, I realized again how lucky I was to have all these wonderful people in my life and particularly from my birth mom’s past and my past how lucky we are now to have each other and to have survived to 2015. There were many times that my survival was in doubt. However, standing there in my dress, with people who helped me feel comfortable with who I am and never questioned if it was real, was awesome. They may have questioned what it was but never if it was real. I felt proud of my life. My birth mom wrote this blog post, Meet the Parents, about her experience at dinner.
Today was a rousing success already! As we parted ways from the restaurant I felt fulfilled and amazed by my luck. Yet, there was more to my day from there, I was off to a friend’s place. The intent was to play some board games, meet his fiancé, little brother, and friends. His place was going to be my ‘safe space’ to try again with the dress. I am happy to say it was unneeded. The bag of male clothes in my trunk remain untouched, in fact, many days later it still sits in my trunk untouched since I packed it… my mind was full of ‘what ifs’ when I packed it. My fears never happened.
As I drove from Schaumberg to Evanston, I realized how much I had grown in just one day. From wearing a dress to being comfortable in a dress to going to a women’s room to being seen in a dress by family that has known me my whole life… However, to me, the most important growth came with the overall self-confidence increase wearing female clothing. It was amazing to me how much that alone changed so much within me. Looking in the mirror provided confirmation of my self-image instead of the discrediting of everything that I thought about myself.
I went to my friend’s house and felt comfortable. I tried not to filter; I tried to be myself. Which sometimes is still quite a hard for me. I felt like myself. I had fun, not just any fun, but the kind of fun I had as a child during the days when gender did not matter. I laughed, played games, and got into debates from my core. I said what I really thought and was truthful to them and myself. I am finding that honesty is the best policy. Finally, at the age of twenty-nine I can be myself. I am an Eagle Scout, and therefore will not only be one of the few Eagle Scouts but one of the even fewer women Eagle Scouts. What does that mean? I at least have a core to start with. I am…
I was trying to struggle with what to name this post. I finally settled on the name I chose Headstrong; Self-Confident what came out of the day more than anything was the idea that the me inside was validated. I can now be sure. I can now be strong. Joe was wrong. He always tried to show himself as the person that was always correct. Today I can headstrong; I know I was right. I needed to be myself and I have been picking a fight. Clothing was his last battle, and he again, lost. I am becoming more self-confident. I will take on anyone that dares to stand in my way now.