I spent this last weekend playing poker and drinking with “the guys”, a group of men I’ve known for several years at a beach cabin owned by one of them. Some are friends and some are acquaintances. An annual event, I used to look forward to this time just hanging out enjoying the beach and the banter, but this year was different for me.
It started with the realization that I was going to be in close quarters with men, and I had to pack accordingly. This caused me some consternation as I’ve become so accustomed to integrating certain pieces of women’s clothing into my day to day life, that selecting clothes to pack filled me with an anxiety I’ve never had before.
The thought of wearing exclusively men’s clothing over the weekend fueled the anxiety, but I was able to keep it at partially at bay by including a cozy, fuzzy pullover top that, short a close inspection, could muster as male. This group has known me over the years and saw me in my “long hair” days of the past, so I figured I could pull it off.
One thing I’ve promised myself is that I have to be more open about myself with those I encounter. This doesn’t mean I show up places and introduce myself, “Hi! I’m transgender!” but it does mean that my default position is to be more open than closed, and to try and trust in the generally good nature of the people that I surround myself with.
But I found myself worrying, “What if someone says something?” The chemistry of a group event, particularly one of long standing repetition, is delicate, and while I’ve known some of these men for decades, I also know that transgenderism can strike a raw nerve in some people and convert otherwise sane, rational people into insane, irrational, and dangerous people. I mentally shrugged decided I’d be honest if anyone asked and see where it went from there.
Like many things about transition that I get worked up and anxious about, (is that person staring? what if someone laughs? will I be able to handle the rejection?) wearing my fuzzy top all day was a non-event and no one commented. I even wore it out to dinner at a local restaurant.
It was a good reminder that even when I’m feeling anxious about how I’m presenting, others can see me as mundane.
Next year I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m invited to attend again. The future isn’t here yet and I have no fixed timetable for transition. I don’t know how far I’ll be towards presenting as my true self. I’ll probably beg off as I found that the camaraderie I used to feel at this event just wasn’t there for me this year.
In a few instances, I was even uncomfortable with the banter and at a loss for how to respond or react. These events mostly revolved around “proving” manhood and such and seemed very silly to me, and I know from past experience that statements like that tend to be precursors to extraordinary dumb masculine exhibition behaviors, sometimes including violence. I kept my mouth shut and the party rolled on.
I also found that the activity, while a group one, had such strong overtones of individual competitiveness and ranking that it just didn’t resonate with me much. The more I accept and embrace the feminine within myself, the more male social competitiveness irritates and annoys me. It all seems so silly to me.
So guys, I had a great time on the beach and enjoyed the quiet times and solitude. Maybe next year we could do a book club weekend instead?