Somewhere in my teens I was told that if I continued to dress masculine it would make it impossible for me to find a partner. That I couldn’t be loved if I didn’t look like the gender I was assigned at birth. (This was LONG before talk of gender binary or the word “trans” entered my life on a daily basis. The late 90s, amirite?). And because I was told this by someone I loved and trusted, I believed them.
I spent the next 15 years of my life wearing makeup, obsessing about body hair, collecting dresses, and dressing to “flatter my body type” and “accentuate my curves.” Because this was how I could earn love.
Then RA set in; my hands were unable to grasp the tools for the job. I gave up makeup and shaving my legs. This was a struggle as I grappled with the thought that I would no longer be a viable partner to the person I love, because I was no longer as feminine as I was when we met. I was convinced my value and validity would decrease with my inability to perform “my gender.” It was a real, literal, drag.
Anyway, today I dressed as Dustin from Stranger Things for the celebration of Halloween in my office. I dressed like Dustin because when I saw him on the screen, I felt like I was looking at myself. I felt represented in media – regardless of gender.
And after the costume competition ended, and I removed the tooth-black and hair pins, I looked in the mirror and saw myself in the t-shirt and hat. Throughout the day, I repeatedly catch glimpses of myself in the mirror…. and I feel good. I feel like I look good. And my incredibly supportive office mates keep offering me comments like “I don’t know if you look really Dustin, or if Dustin is so you.” And I am practically moved to tears by the acceptance of me looking and feeling like myself in a t-shirt and hat.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t still feel feminine sometimes, today or in general. Heck, it doesn’t mean that this outfit (or any outfit of t-shirt, pants, hat) isn’t feminine.
What it does mean is I can’t let this feeling pass without documenting it.
I feel so incredibly me and so valid and so incredibly lovable.