Friends give you strength -- which is especially valuable when facing new challenges. This weekend two close friends, Suzanne and Patti, ushered me into a new world.
It took some deliberation to say yes. Could I muster the courage for this? What if... what if a dozen bad things happened -- which, of course, they could. Not all members of society understand or care about transgender people. And because I can't "pass" (a TG term meaning pass unnoticed as a person of the presented gender), my breach of gender rules is manifest. Sticking out in public areas can dangerous regardless of what causes you to be noticed; add intolerance and life can be precarious for folks like me.
Then again, when else am I going to get an opportunity to live authentically? At my age I don't want to die without experiencing feelings of walking down the street in a dress, adjusting its hem, checking my makeup. I want to have common female experiences so badly that I'm inclined to throw caution to the wind at this point in my life. Even if I have to brave discomfort and opprobrium to get them.
Jamie), put on pretty clothes, visited a public park, took lots of pictures and capped festivities off with a delicious dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant. And you know what? Nothing bad happened. Yay!
There were two reactions I got which were completely unexpected. One was from another person, the second was from myself.
We went to a nail salon (Suzanne's regular one) and ordered mani-pedis. I was dressed in normal male clothes and asked for bright purple polish. The 50-year old Asian woman getting ready to do my feet was so surprised at my request that she started giggling. She quickly looked down to suppress her laughter but that only made it worse. Soon she was laughing out loud, still avoiding my eyes, concerned about offending me. I reassured her that her reaction was fine; I wasn't upset at her response and said I understood how, from her cultural perspective my act could be considered comical. After that she calmed down and we got on with our business. Perhaps our encounter opened her mind a little.
The second unexpected reaction occurred within me. After the makeup session and putting on a dress, we went for a walk in a nearby public park. It was a beautiful Summer day and the park was crowded. We walked among other visitors. The weird thing was... I felt naked. NAKED. Outdoors. In front of other people. It was seriously disconcerting.
I examined the feeling and realized it came from my brain. I kept checking my body and confirmed there were clothes on it. Female clothing, but clothes. Finally I realized what was causing the feeling -- the absence of a physical sensation. When dressed as a man, I always have a belt holding up pants or shorts and the belt tightens around my waist. Wearing a dress that hung down from my shoulders, there was no constriction around my waist -- which communicated to my mind that I wasn't wearing clothes.
I'm deeply grateful to Suzanne and Patti for encouraging me to move concretely in this direction. There's an ancient saying that "when the student is ready, a teacher will appear." Stepping out made me very happy. And enjoy a rare sense of freedom.
I have deeper thoughts which I'm developing for later but now I just want to share this momentous news with you. And thank Suzanne and Patti for assisting me in my life's journey.
That Suzanne -- she's a force of nature! Fortunately she uses her power for good, not evil. :-)