The past several months I’ve just been going about my life and trying to find comfortable ways to integrate and express my transgenderism. I still present as male, albeit on a sliding feminine/masculine scale depending on how I’m feeling that day and how I’m dressed.
I’ve continued with laser hair removal, which I’m generally very happy with, I wear earrings every day, my hair is now so long that I have to sweep it out of the neckline of my shirts when I put them on, hardly a day goes by that I’m not wearing at least one article of women’s clothes and oftentimes I’m fully “crossdressed”.
As my overall presentation has shifted, I’m starting to enter the ambiguous gender role zone. It causes some to do double-takes on me in the men’s bathroom – one guy thought he had walked into the women’s room when he saw me at the sink and started to back out in shocked horror until he noticed other men in the background. Other people whisper or talk disparagingly about me in public – the worst was on a date night with my wife in a bar and some drunk yahoos that went on loudly about the Kinks song Lola. I also receive double-takes from both sexes – as both postive and negative attention.
I don’t know about you, but being out in public just trying to be myself generates a whole range of feelings for me. Some days, I fell very put together and satisfied with my look, and the world can take a leap if I make them uncomfortable. Other days, I hate how I look and I want to crawl under a rock so no one can see me.
What I’ve noticed is that part of my transgenderism expresses itself as a very strong desire to generate a positive emotion of feeling attractive as judged by myself internally and by word or deed externally by others.
The internal desire seems pretty straightforward: who doesn’t want to feel good about how they look?
The external validation piece is more complex, and the deeper I dig into it, the more it feels intertwined with external validation in general, sans gender, sexual signaling, gendered social roles, and my wife’s level of acceptance of me. In a nutshell, it leaves me very, very confused some days. On good days, it’s an annoyance that I’m able to set aside. On bad days, it makes me feel hopeless that I’ll ever achieve happiness, no matter which gender I inhabit.
I’m happily monogamously attached to my wife and her tolerance of my changing appearance has increased over time. There is definitely some acceptance and support on her part, but we both occasionally stumble into situations where it’s clear that she’s still closer to tolerance than she is to acceptance. There are still parts of me that I’d like to express around her but it’s been made clear to me that I shouldn’t because it would be crossing the tolerance line into the rejection zone.
This creates a dynamic tension for me. If I push the boundary for myself to increase self-acceptance/self-expression and comfort, I receive rejection from the person I love the most. This leaves me in a frustrating spot.
She’s still generally supportive of me finding a space and time for that self-expression; it’s just that she wants no part of it. This leads to the conundrums of where at, from who, and in what manner I can get the external, intimate emotional and physical validation that I crave.
On the whole though, I’m trying to stay and look on the positive side. My wife and I still love each other very much. I have great kids. My wife has accepted part of me as time has gone on. I’m able to live a slightly genderfluid life. I have my health. And so on.
My life could be much, much worse.