Don’t get me wrong, girls! You’re rockin’ it! But like all slightly more mature trans women—that is, any T girl who realized she’s transgender before the word even existed—I have to point out that despite your very real struggles, you’ve got it made.
Before you get your panties in a curl, I’m not discounting all the crap you’ve had to deal with: depression, anxiety, dysphoria, dysmorphia (perhaps), cognitive and behavioral dissonance, self-loathing, feeling like an alien, suicidal ideations, and so on; I’m simply jealous!
It’s not like my Mormon parents are any closer to accepting their “new” daughter now than they may have been 15 years ago when I originally wanted to tell them. But in 2017, there are most definitely countless more parents out there who are open to the idea of having—and accepting (integral)—their trans child(ren). Even some Mormon parents have been able to wrap their minds around the possibility that some spirits are born into bodies that don’t match their gender identities. (And gender identity is such a crucial aspect to the Mormon Faith.)
Had I tried to tell my parents about my whole identity back when, say, I was in high school—puberty made my life a living hell; I even missed a whopping third of my junior year—I’m not even sure I’d have had access to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). And if I didn’t even know the word “transgender” existed back in the late ’90s, I most certainly had no idea what HRT was. And here’s the real hangup: When you’re 16 or so, most pubescent adolescents don’t necessarily know themselves well enough to be able to articulate to their parents that they may have the wrong sex organs/genitalia.
Don’t get me wrong! I knew damn well that my body didn’t match my heart and mind. I knew damn well that growing up in your standard Western white, Christian culture that I didn’t fit in with my peers (not really my peers after all). For example, when it came time in high school art class to work on my self-portrait assignment, I painted an alien—true story. I also consistently felt ostracized and/or unaccepted by the boys my age in school and at church. I had friends; but they were always girls or fellow pariahs, or both.
That’s enough about me, for now, though. I want to talk about you superfabulous millenial trans girls who are escaping the clutches of boyhood, deepening voices, and all the other testosterone-induced tricks that puberty plays on us. All you need do is a YouTube keyword search, and you’ll find any number of beautiful young women who seemingly ooze femininity, despite nature’s cruelest intentions. There are young ladies such as Transmermaid (Maya) and Stef Sanjati; and everyone knows Jazz! I’m not calling you ladies out because there’s anything wrong with your game—y’all are on top of it. I’m just green with envy.
You’ve grown up in a time when transgender is a thing. It’s not a widely accepted thing—not by a long shot! However, the incredibly closed-off conservative religious bunch seem to think it’s “popular” to be transgender. That’s right! I wanted to be popular. That’s why I came out. Yikes!
But no, seriously. The bottom line is, I’m pissed that I couldn’t start HRT at a time when my body was still somewhat malleable or pliable—when my face, my chest, my hips, etc. were all still forming. In the realm of passability—that is, being able to interact in public as a woman without giving anyone any reason to think you’re anything but female—the trans boys and girls who begin therapy in puberty are lightyears beyond where we older trans women will ever go.
My therapist, of course, has reminded me that it’s not about fitting into any socially constructed more, that I should derive confidence merely by being the real me. I agree with this to a degree; and I thoroughly enjoy going out as Whitney; however, a big part of that confidence could come from simply fitting in. Instead, I turn heads everywhere I go. Whether people are staring, gawking, sneering, smirking, cringing or admiring, the double takes abound.
People are for the most part nice. I’d say it’s about a 2:1 comparison of positive to negative reactions. I often get oodles of compliments, on all sorts of things, from my headbands or earrings to my chokers, skirts, makeup (basically any accessory or adornment that is ostensibly feminine in the collective mind of Western Society). And these compliments definitely boost my morale, but I usually wonder what motivates people to speak up. I think Is this person saying they like my two-dollar Walmart headband because they want to show support? Even if they are, I should still appreciate all nice things that people say to me. My point, though, is that if I passed as 100 percent female, would I receive half as many kudos?
I know women generally tend to stroke one another’s egos in public, as a sort of social lubricant. Why not? We go through so much trouble on a minute-to-minute basis just to look good—or to look merely presentable—thanks to the mountains of social pressure we’ve evolved to as a species. Even if we aren’t necessarily worthy of being complimented, we do so as a show of solidarity. And yet, I still wish I could just fly under the radar, totally passable. A girl can dream, can’t she?
Should I get myself so worked up about these younger millenial trans girls and their superchic ability to look so feminine, and in a way that appears to be practically effortless? (Again, I don’t intend to undercut the trials we’ve all gone through and will continue to experience.) Or should I stand up tall—all 6 feet of me—and proudly strut down the sidewalk in my 5-inch, pink polka-dot, patent-leather pumps, thinking You can do this, Whitney! You aren’t just female, you’re trans female, and that’s OK!?
For now I have to. After all, I’m only a month into HRT. I know there are many positive changes to come, many hurdles to leap over, and undoubtedly a few hangups along the way. This journey is mine, and I’m here to take it.
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