Just keep smiling

I have these days, a year and a half after transition, where I feel like a fraud.

‘Do you have a towel I can borrow?’

‘Of course; I already put one in the bag for you.’

‘Thank you!’

My girlfriend is the bestest.

This body I’ve changed the shape of, the hair I’ve removed and grown out, the smoother skin, the clothes, makeup, and jewelry I wear, and the purse I carry feel foreign when I feel like a fraud. They’re like things I picked up thinking they were a good idea at the time and now I wonder, ‘Why do I have these things?’

‘This is the first time I’ve been swimming post-transition. It’s been at least a couple of years now. It took me forever to find a suit that worked for me.’

‘I like your swimsuit, Heather. You look good in it.’

It feels like I’m carrying these things to an unknown destination for an indeterminate amount of time and everyone is looking at me asking themselves, ‘Why is that person carrying those things? I can’t tell if they’re a man or a woman. They look ridiculous.’

The swim skirt feels extra-short on me, but we’re driving to the pool and it’s only a short walk from the parking lot.

Then I feel like a ridiculous-looking fraud and I think everyone sees I’m trans and I think if they’re being nice to me it’s only out of pity. That makes me feel depressed.

‘Two please.’

‘Thanks for paying.’

‘My pleasure, Heather.’ Her smile warms me.

Then I feel like a depressed, ridiculous-looking fraud who has the haunted look of someone with a backhoe digging deeper into the hole of existential sadness. That makes me feel doomed to spend the rest of my life where it’s easy to kick dirt over me and make me disappear.

There’s no one in the locker room and we put our stuff in a locker and head to the pool.

Then I feel like a doomed, depressed, ridiculous-looking fraud.

I get into the pool as fast as I can. We paddle around for an hour or so with some kisses thrown in for fun and pleasure. The lifeguard announces the pool is closing. We climb out and head to the locker room with the other women.

That exacerbates the self-pity, and I feel pitiful. Those people who took pity on me? They must be right because I’m pitiful in my dysfunction.

My girlfriend and I take our towels out of the locker and rinse off in the shower. Still in my suit, I’m drying myself off and trying to ignore the other women around me changing when a woman and her toddler daughter, both naked, come out of the shower together. The daughter says something funny as they pass by us on the bench. I smile at her and make a funny comment back. The girl and her mom smile back at me and the mom says something about little kids to me.

I’m a pitiful, doomed, depressed, ridiculous-looking fraud and I wonder why in the world anyone loves me and how in the world I’ve escaped the wrath of society.

We’re driving back to my girlfriend’s apartment. I sitting on a towel, but I’m still soaking through, getting the seat wet. My swim skirt and bikini bottom underneath it hold more water than I expected. ‘That was my first time in a women’s locker room.’


‘Yeah. I think it went alright. I was kinda anxious.’

‘It obviously wasn’t a problem. That mother and her daughter talked to us.’

‘Yeah. It wasn’t a problem at all. I’ve got to stop over thinking things.’

©Heather Coldstream

Please consider supporting my writing by sharing my work with others or buying one of my poetry collections from the Kindle store. Thank you!

2016: Poems from a Year of Change

Uncertain: Poems About Gender Transition


About cistotrans

A Seattle-area trans woman seeking a happy spot to stay at along the path of transition.
This entry was posted in coming out, gender transition, LGBT, personal history, self-acceptance, transgender, transition and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Just keep smiling

  1. bethanyk says:

    You did it though!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Willa Patryn says:

    I think many overthink. I do. My Mom told me more than once, ” you’re too oversensitive!”. We feel deeply, and must stifle, hold back make much of what we feel, be still. The adage: “tis far better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt” pertained to me all too often. This too shall pass.

    I admire your courage and prose. You are not a fraud, I am, because I am unable to transition, and not w/o difficulty continue to live and work in drab, inspite of my inner truth. Peace be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cistotrans says:

      You are not a fraud either. Most trans people have to subsume themselves until they can be themselves. It doesn’t make them any less trans or any less in any way. It’s just circumstances. A swimmer in a desert is still a swimmer. ❤️


      • Willa Patryn says:

        Bless your kindness and thank you so much. My acceptance of who, and what I am, wavers @ times. I was born on the ides of March during a thunderstorm, and swim both directions concurently, in the dry sands of this high desert, turning once soft skin into hard tough scales, growing older with less and less time to get to be me


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