Nine months post full-time, my days have settled into familiar repetition. This period of time is savory to me after threading the variable treacle needle of transition so many of us pass through.
There are the days I do not leave my property and I am free to ignore the expectations that others place upon me with regards to hair, makeup, and clothes to claim my rightful place. Some days my pajamas are my couture, especially if I don’t have to do any dirty tasks around the house. On those days I save thirty to sixty minutes a day, and I prowl around my lair free, but with an invisible fence of presentability keeping me in.
I chafe at this confinement some days, yet for others I am content to wear pants with pockets and not have to wear underwear and shapeware that sausage in my crotch and midsection, scrub makeup off my face before bed, or inhibit my breathing with a bra.
The other days I spend thinking about what clothes I’m going to wear, (jeans or a dress? will those work skirts I bought ever see the light of day?) how I’ll tame my hair into presentable shape, which earrings I want to wear, how I really should level up my makeup even though I know it’s already presentable enough, and which shoes or boots will work with my outfit.
There’s a happy satisfaction to pulling myself together well that I try to capture in selfies that I post to Twitter, and my friends buoy me with likes and supportive comments. That makes me feel good and helps my confidence.
My beauty ritual is mandatory, not optional. It’s an invisible jail around me, and I move through the world worrying that someone will break in and drag me out to the stockade in the town square just for the spectacle of it.
When venturing out, I buttress myself with steel. It’s a superstructure bolted on top of my rush job exoskeleton with gaps most women grow from childhood to protect themselves from men. My armor now easily deflects the glances, the stares, and active ignorings that unexpectedly pop up like prairie dogs across the landscape of a day.
It also absorbs the now less-frequent misgenderings and I pray it will give me the strength to resist an active bigot should I encounter one.
The predictability of my daily experiences are in a way a comfort.
I’m no longer a timid mouse fearing the shadows of foe and friends alike. In pre- and early transition every situation seemed to require immense, conscious analysis, (‘Did they read me?’, ‘Oh god, these shoes don’t match.’, ‘Is she expecting me to hug her in greeting or not?’) that left me exhausted and often wondering if I’d done the right thing.
Some social rituals still flummox me, but on the whole I do okay and the certitude of my path becomes more solid with each passing day. Looking back, I’m amazed I was able to wait as long as I did and made it out alive without going barking mad.
While one of my deeper fears of transition from years ago has manifested itself–trading one gender box for another–I am mostly at peace with the confines of my new box. Unlike the other one, I see the way to remodel and expand, and even venture beyond should I choose to.
For the first time in years, I have plans and goals for my future. I’m glad I’m here to make them and begin working towards them. There were days I wasn’t sure I’d make it, and after the chaos of the past few years I’m fine with some dull predictability for a spell before things get complex again.