Last week I wore a short dress for the first time in public. I want to tell you that I felt powerful. I want to tell you that I felt sexy. I want to tell you a story about reclamation, about confidence, about triumph. But the truth is I felt terrified. But the truth is I felt exposed. But the truth is I felt ugly. I was hyper-aware of my broad shoulders, my hairy thighs and armpits, my chest hair billowing out. The dissonance between my bold lip and my beard.
Which goes to say I hate the way we talk about gender dysphoria as if it's my fault that these clothes weren't made for bodies like mine, as if it's my fault that the more visibly gender non-conforming I look the more they will stare at me, as if it's my fault that they wiped us from your history books and TV channels. As if it's about me being insecure, me not loving myself enough. Me being wrong. Me being wrong. Me being wrong.
Every story about feminine people begins with the premise that we were wrong. It's not my fault that I grew up in a world that scripted my disappearance so well that I do it to myself.
When I started my transition it felt like something I had already been doing my entire life: erasing myself in order to fit in. At what point does femininity become synonymous with apology?
Which goes to say I hate the way we expect trans women and trans feminine people to be heroines, to be brave, unapologetic and perseverant. As if we only exist to inspire you. As if its our own responsibility to undo hundreds of year of racist (trans)misogyny. As if its our responsibility to liberate everyone else from gender binaries. As if of our safety is not on the line every time we do something so simple as reclaim the femininity that was stolen from us. As if this is our fault (and not yours).
I have learned many things from wearing dresses and beards and the survival strategies that go with them. One of the most important lessons I have learned is how deeply and religiously our world hates femininity. And often trans women and trans feminine people have to bear the burden of that hatred. How not only do we have to get dressed in the morning we have to wear all of your insecurity, all of your projections, all of your anxiety, all of your loss from the feminine part of yourself that you had to destroy in order to get by.
So I got up on that stage and performed anyways. And I didn't do it because I felt powerful or victorious or strong. I did it because I recognized that the reason I feel uncomfortable in my body is not my fault. I did it because the reason you feel uncomfortable with my body is not my fault. I did it because I am not triumphant -- I am tired.
I am tired.
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