On expectations from a weather forecast of mid-to-upper seventies and partly sunny, I wore a dress to work today. The weather didn’t cooperate. It was cool and even rained for a bit, and I was happy that I had decided to throw a light cardigan on before I left the house.
Banal, huh? Woman wears dress to work on promise of warm, sunny weather. Happens all the time, right? It’s unremarkable, really.
Except this was only the second time I’d ever worn a dress to work and I’m still in the low tens around the total number of times I’ve ever worn a dress in public. That’s what makes this remarkable in the sense of being worth remarking about.
Years ago, decades ago, I dreamt of wearing a dress in public. It seemed to me the most feminine clothing and I wanted that. I had happy thoughts of going about my day in something light and airy and being oh so carefree that I couldn’t help but smile. (Spoiler alert: depending on the length, you’re worrying about gusts of wind and where and how you sit down, and there are often no fucking pockets, which forces you to juggle stuff between hands all the goddamn time.)
Flash forward to the interregnum around my transition. In the lead up to transition, I made it a point to wear dresses some weekends when I didn’t really have much to do in order to get used to being out and about dressed that way. The last thing I wanted was to show up at work and try to figure out how to carry two phones, a laptop, power cable, mouse, water bottle, a stack of papers, and a pen without being able to stuff half of those things into pockets while also stressing out about my hair, makeup, and wondering if my boobs are crooked because I had to crawl underneath my desk for the power cable.
Still, even though no one raised an eyebrow, I still had some twinges of fear and anxiety about it. While I did wear a dress to work over a month ago, I noticed I’d been justifying not doing it again by holding out for warmer weather.
Really though, it was fear.
Fear of having people on the street point, or laugh, or smirk. Fear of the stony tolerance from some at work. Fear of unwanted attention. Fear that I looked fat with a muffin top showing. Fear of a crotch showing that doesn’t quite fit some people’s idea of what it should look like and getting harassed because of it. (Pro tip: if the control undergarments muffin top you, try tight bikini underwear with some spandex in it. A good dress will disguise some extra pounds as long as they’re not squeezed up into places the dress isn’t cut for.)
Then I reminded myself that I hadn’t turned part of my life upside down with a divorce, endured hundreds of hours pain with electrolysis, and committed myself to a lifetime of maintenance medication just to be afraid of being myself and limiting my behavior because of it. So I took a deep breath, put on my black with white polka dot dress with a white cardigan, and slipped on my white Keds and went to work.
So what did I encounter today that could be put in the negative experience column that fear could have fed upon?
The worst thing that happened was that I dropped my work-issued transit card because I didn’t have any fucking pockets to put it in. Luckily, I retraced my steps not long after and watched a man pick it up and examine it as I was waiting for the light to change. He was nice, if not slightly condescending, about giving it back.
Lesser-grade annoyances included a wolf whistle, (which might have been directed at a woman walking her dog near me,) a few blatant stares by older men, (creepy, but they’ve already turned into background noise for me,) a head-to-toe-to-head-to-toe side-eye examination by a teenage girl as I walked by her, getting sweaty in my light, airy dress because I had to run for the bus, and…that was it.
After today, I realize that it’s time to update my advice to a younger self with a new piece of advice: be less afraid, and don’t let fear rule your world.
Dose: 8 mg/day estradiol via tablets, split into AM/PM doses of 4mg/4mg.
[Looking for detailed information about male to female hormone replacement therapy dosing and effects? Read my Brief Overview of Feminizing Hormones post. You might also be interested in The Trans Woman’s Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Tracking Chart I created.]