On “Going Full-Time” – Movement 3: An Unreturnable Gift

Part 1: Prelude
Part 2: Moving Towards
Part 3: Seamless

My birthday was January 30th. As a kind of gift to myself, I wore all women’s clothes to work for the first time. A pair of simple black boots, jeans, a sweater, accompanied by two rings, small but visible hoop earrings, and just a bit of makeup. Nothing so overt as to serve as dramatic declaration, but feminine enough to truly satisfy my own sense of self.

There were many looks from strangers, and I felt them all. Most were neutrally curious. Some were inappropriately overt, but nothing confrontational, and I was genuinely shocked to discover how unequivocally the comfort in my own gender presentation outweighed the unwanted attention it elicited (in moments when I doubt my trans-ness, which are still frequent, I sit with that feeling).

The next day I did the same.

And the next.

Somewhat to my surprise (and a fun rebuke to insidious narcissism), the world didn’t end. No one really cared. More importantly, I cared less and less if they did.

On the fourth day, I tried wearing my old jeans and blazer, a go-to outfit that had functioned as a kind of uniform for years. Suddenly these men’s clothes looked . . . ridiculous. The quiet, pervasive awkwardness that had accompanied me for so long it had been rendered invisible was now visually evinced by the sight in the mirror, a girl doing a poor imitation of a boy.

I couldn’t go back.

This little gift I had given myself, just a day dressed how I wanted, couldn’t be returned. Sorry miss, this item is nonrefundable.

But wait, does this mean I’m “full-time”?!

Surely not. That’s a big, obvious moment, and one for real trans people. It’s accompanied by trumpets too, right? Or at least balloons? Or, unfairly but all too often: scorn, abandonment, firing? Some kind of drama, surely. Is it really possible to have gone full-time inadvertently?

I had been pursuing a seamless transition. Despite the widespread avowed support for what I was doing, I had been going to great lengths to avoid causing anyone any anxiety or discomfort. It was with the small gift to myself, and freed by a new sense of possibility, that I began considering what I actually wanted. If, IF, I did want to be gendered female, would I be served by the seamlessness I had cultivated? And if I really did want to keep others at ease, were they served by this slow, subtle transition? By my gender neutral name and total lack of pronoun policing? Had I really been acting mindfully, or was there a far simpler explanation: I was freakin’ terrified.

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5 comments for “On “Going Full-Time” – Movement 3: An Unreturnable Gift

  1. February 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    No Jen, you can’t go back :)

    The universe has smiled on you and caused you to push yourself* right where you are supposed to be. Congrats. Continue to feed your soul and quench your thirsty spirit.

  2. March 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    My transition in work was a similar process, it just sort of happened, gently, without whirlwind, heat and flash :)
    Slow and subtle worked for me and gave me the confidence to be able to apply for other jobs, as myself, and even better, actually get them!

    ( also, LOVE the new blog look :) )

  3. April 1, 2012 at 2:27 am

    my transition at work had to kept to secret and then it got delayed by my employer, in the end it got so painful, i could not write about it, the worst bit was i had no support and no one to talk/ turn to.

    the more we get these stories out there though, the easier it will be for new adopters to transition..

    xxx L

  4. Kimberly
    July 18, 2012 at 6:23 am

    “All my best ideas were stolen by the ancients!”

    This series only proves that again. I too was in the “slow transition,” and you have described my process completely. It is both uplifting and demoralizing to hear about this.

    Uplifting in that it is always helpful to realize that you have an other, and equal, a potential friend who **understands exactly** what you are going through. Someone who you can start any sentence and they will know from their own existence what you are feeling/have felt/are continuing to feel. A friend to whom no explanations are necessary.

    Demoralizing in only the tiniest sense – knowing that there is someone who is exactly like you, someone who has already done what you have done, somebody else who has thought your thoughts, felt your feelings, cried your tears, laughed your joy. You are therefore, not unique, not “special.” In parts of Western society, we seem to put more weight on being “special” than anything else, desperately holding on to the idea that even with millennia of billions of humanity, there is nobody **exactly** like you. The idea that you may not be so special, so unique, is shattered.

    Only a little.

    My ego is rather small (despite the ugly rumors you might hear) – I am more overjoyed that there is somebody out there that **completely** identifies me, than upset that there is yet another confirmation that I am not as unique as I try to delude myself.

    And thusly, I welcome the thought that I might be able to call you “friend.”


  5. Dianne
    January 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Jen, this is glorious! I love that you were able to slide gracefully around something that can be an insurmountable obstacle. I am very literally someone who was a guy on Friday and a woman in a (nice) wig and a dress on Monday, though that was the last time I wore a dress to work. I live in a painfully blue state where it is expedient to be decisively on one side or the other. And that was fine for me! Being unambiguous made it clear that I was making a change and allowed me to stake my claim. And my non-returnable gifts came before transition and broadened and smoothed the path for me. It is trans-formative when you find clarity to guide you. This web site will bring clarity and confidence to others and it is beautiful. I tried to transition the first time at the very end of the “destroy your life, move, start over, deny your past” era. I tried it and lost myself. The more fluid choices of today are liberating and wholesome.

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