On “Going Full-Time” – Movement 3: An Unreturnable Gift
by Jen • • 5 Comments
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.