This year I will approach having lived ten years in my truth. That’s a remarkable number to me as they have always been. Like when I acknowledged 6 months and 1 year then 4 years and 7 years and so on. Each bench mark ,it comes back to me that for ten years I have undergone massive changes , for 10 years I’ve had to learn and unlearn and relearn so many nuances of gender and myself. For 10 years I have said to myself and the world, I know myself best.
I have an image in my head from 10 years ago . I was at my supermarket job and had been assigned to do carts. I recall that I had debated with my boyfriend whether I should keep the nail polish on my fingers that I had applied. He told me ,” Baby ,you are a woman”. And I kept my polish on. It was orange polish and I had applied it the first night in my new room when I left my mother’s home. It is such a little thing , nail polish. But I had not the foolishness or heart to have ever worn it before I left home. Keeping the polish on at work was my first real step to being myself in public at all times. This doesn’t negate the wearing of eye shadow and mascara, the feminine hairstyles I adorned, or the nights of leaving work in sleepy suburban towns dressed in feminine attire before I kept the nail polish on. But it did begin a more deliberate nod to transwoman and less gender fuck. I was a girl blossoming in the shadows, in quiet, in dead streets and serene Connecticut nights. This of course, was only the beginning, those first little new born/ infant steps. Cause identity is far greater than the physical form or any adornments. And it is a wonder, how I managed for two years after that baby step to grow under the weight of my publicly old name, my old life? If I could offer any advice to transwomen ,it is to move away if you can. In a better world, we could be allowed to be ourselves and grow up amongst and remain where we are from and people would respect us and see us how we see ourselves. But there is just something that is just so impossible at times and that is for people to un-see us how they have known us. Those slips of tongue and inability to call us as we are is not always malicious even though it hurts. People’s wiring just be slow to catch on.
That first year was about learning. It was very much infant stage but like as though I had been here before. It was my first weave, the establishment of a wardrobe, buying female jeans(i’d started out wearing skirts ), dismayed by Payless being the only place to have women’s shoes my size. And then to be even more crushed by the poorly made, ankle damaging options that there were. It was cheap wigs brought from the Beauty supply store and wearing them till their texture changed. It was the first weave put in my head by a customer from the store I worked in for free. I still recall her words till this day, “Switch ya shit up” ” And I like mines wild”, to describe our shared affinity for curly tresses. It was men actually talking to me in public, public flirting, public kissing. It was the elation and the feeling of finally when someone told me I was pretty or sexy. Woman was very familiar but still so unknown and so esoteric. What I couldn’t know and maybe should have known was that ,I do myself a disservice by trying to align with standards. The looks , ways and attitudes of cis women could and should never be my objective because I am uniquely created. It was a lesson that came to me in doses and growing acceptance as the years go on. Woman means many things.
I’m not sure when I got the idea or directive really that I should pursue hormonal changes. I do think the roots were planted on nights in the Village and seeing other transwomen with feminine bodies. I was surprisingly confident about my body pre-hormones. I think there was just this immense euphoria at seeing myself with a feminine hairstyle, in feminine clothes, that matched my inherent fem-ness. I won’t lie, feedback from men gassed me up. Had me feeling that I was a hot lil mama, I wore the shit outta some skirts. I didn’t know what great legs I had till I wore them . Everyday was mascara and eye shadow and wigs or braids. But I was self conscious and aware that I didn’t have big breasts. My soul food- fed lumps helped a bit but I knew I wanted breasts. I also didn’t want facial hair. Hormones were the way it was going to be.
I remember watching videos on Youtube with transwomen marking their time lines and talking about their body differences at different times. While I can appreciate them for their worth, I found it a bit obsessive as well. I decided to just let the hormones happen to me versus obsessing over them and my changes. To be on them is not to become a new person but more like an enhancement, a more pronounced way of being comes out. Feelings became much more important. And I noticed women more and femininity which even to me sounds weird sometimes. But truly it probably inspired a sort of endless gravitation towards other women. And looking at myself and wondering how I measured up, how well did I appear to be apart of the tribe, what is she doing so delicately and much more “nicer” than I? Over time I have also looked at other women and sized them up how I’d imagine a man would. And of course my internal said ,” She’s better than you. She has a bigger ass and bigger breasts and longer hair and a vagina. ” It was a brutal internal conversation that I confess at times still having . I know that the roots of these thoughts are not just the ramblings of a hater but of someone who has been conditioned to embrace her self-hate by a society invested in my demise.
It’ll be 10 years of living in my truth this year. I love the woman I see in the mirror. I know that this is my ultimate mission. To keep loving myself and taking the best care of myself that I can. Transitioning hurts like hell. Don’t let no one tell you any different. It’s such an esoteric experience and while similarities abound, no person’s transition is ever the same. I often felt in the past like I physically didn’t do enough. I feel like my face is still very much the face I had 10 years ago. My smile is unchanged. My eyebrows look the same albeit slightly less bushy. But I had this understanding moment then because while physically maybe I still did look like me of before, but emotionally , mentally and socially these were different versions of the same person. It’s exciting to me , to reach these milestones when I think of where I was and where I am. When I remember those portions of my journey that are buried by other noise and faces once meaningful that have been forgotten. I always think of life like one’s own movie. And how it develops, how you get different plots, different casts, different voices of the protagonists and different antagonists at all these different points. There’s a million little sub plots and twists and turns. I look back on these 10 years with pride and awe. I know that I was joining a legion of bad assed renegades, that T tribe , those tough ass, torrential energy bringing trans people. I look forward to the next 10 years and stay tuned to the direction of the plot.