There are a clutch of people in my life who despite being supportive, are struggling with my coming out…or rather, what they thought I was is different than what I am.
I love to talk about the “how” of life being the most important measure of our impact, of our selves, of who and what we really are. After all, it is the only thing we really control. Everything else is a lottery. In other words, had these people focussed on the “how” of me rather than outward appearances or their own expectations, they would have discovered that I am still me, perhaps even more so.
A very dear friend, and one of the only people from my professional life who crossed the boundary from colleague to friend, has become one of my greatest emotional cheerleaders. I need him in life, desperately. He is a frequent professional reference, as we have known each other and worked together for 20+ years. When I need to give a professional reference, he is always on the list.
It was such an important role for me as I face future income uncertainty, that I hesitated to come out to him, putting it off for the longest time. When I finally did, I was blown away by the support. He was more than anything I could have ever imagined.
“We love you. And now we finally see you. We’re just going to love you more.” I still cry when I think about it. He also said, “you’ve been living your whole life for other people. That has to stop. You have to live for you now. This is your time.” This lesson/message came in handy the other day when my wife was writing me a bossy message telling me to make sacrifices (for her) and for (her) way of life, and that of our children. The irony is that she was arguing why she wasn’t going to do the same.
She called me a narcissist. I think it is rather choice that the two people in my life who have levelled this charge at me are two people who evidently embody narcissism. In her case, she calls me a narcissist for coming out, and for needing to be out, for needing to dress in the clothes of my chosen gender, for being so “in her face” about it…And no, we never see each other if we can help it. My being out, however, is horribly inconvenient for her it seems. Poor thing.
I asked a friend, a new friend, one who knows me from the outset as a trans person, and who has been wonderfully easy and fun to be with about my encounters with breast fondling by salespeople and other random “strangers” in my life in Italy.
“We’re just curious,” she said. Later that evening, as she watched me compulsively clean my kitchen as a way to dispense with nervous energy as something which comes to me when I am near a woman I am attracted to and who is putting out energy of her own, we laughed about submissive men who “like” to clean, but do a bad job.
“If your kink is pleasing, or if its cleaning, then clean,” I remarked.
“They just want the attention,” she said.
“And to wear the cute little outfits. To be dressed as a maid.”
She smiled and cocked her head, “I can see that.” She’s organising an evening where I cook for her friends and teach them how to cook. I’m quite excited about it, as it is a way to make a living which is not tied to the professional world which may or may not accept me. It pays well too, perhaps not as well as vanilla work, and though intermittent, could become a decent source of funds.
And as we talked she noted my movements. “You move gracefully,” she said. “I think this is why you don’t need makeup to present feminine energy. You give off femininity naturally. I think of the cross-dressers I know, and they seem to use makeup, wigs, as a way to hide aspects of their masculinity. That’s why this works,” she said, gesturing up and down my body as she said ‘this’. Boy, she sure knows how to sweet talk me!
I am gradually finding my style. I haven’t bought too many things I would never wear. I do seem to have a penchant for elegant clothes, especially dresses, and will struggle to find occasions to wear them all unless I make such occasions. D’you know what? An excuse to party? I’ll take it.
There are a few family members who are struggling to come to terms with my presentation. Mostly about how it inconveniences them, or means people ask them about it, or they are fearful that people might, or might joke with them. But they are coming around. They see me natural, dressed in a nice way, and see me in the world. One of my children stared at me in wide-eyed admiration as two women, separately, just walked up to me and said how good I looked. I don’t say that to convey a sense of vanity, even if I did and do love the affirmation, but more because seeing me as a stranger sees me was clearly helpful to this particular child. Normally they are swayed by the bile of their mother. They were impressed. And more importantly learned that judgement of others is not a necessary part of life.
Separately, my children seem to have lost their hesitation to say when something looks good on me (or doesn’t…believe me, that part comes easy to kids). I am learning some great new slang terms. And this process is as important for them as it is for me.
In celebration of an important occasion, we went to a fabulous restaurant. The host and I recognised one another from a visit a decade earlier. That I recalled a dish that was served in its flavours and constituent assembly brought the chefs to our table to talk about their philosophy in the kitchen, and later generated an invite into the kitchen. The best part of the evening, though, was that my kids thought I looked ‘cool’. I know its uncool to want to be cool, but to get an affirmation like this from my children who are no doubt struggling with the idea that a parent is not only a different gender than they thought but is now preparing to have a life-changing and serious operation, was very precious.
Plus, it helped that the restaurant staff treated me like a celebrity. You should have seen my outfit. I mean, if she’s dressed like that, surely she must be a player! Let’s just all live the dream.
Count the blessings when they come.