Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter will know that, on Tuesday, I publicly announced the official first date between me and Marie – a beautiful and talented anthro artist (check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and commission her if you get the notion) and out-and-proud transgender woman. We’ve been chatting for some time now without ever being face-to-face due to several states worth of distance between us. But, an overnight trip to Connecticut allowed us to meet and I was introduced to her circle of friends. It was a great time and I feel we got to know each other a lot better – an impressive feat since this appears to be one of those rare relationships where both parties seem to know each other before they even meet.
But, more pertinent to this essay is the fact that she, knowing that I recently came out as gender fluid, helped me rediscover and feel more confident in my newly freed identity. And because I know she wants little more than to see her fellow trans men and women be happy and confident, I’d like to share the teachings she passed on to me during those magical two days together.
‘Transgender’ means more than you may think
This is less something Marie taught me than it is something I always knew, but I was reminded of it several times over the course of our trip. So I feel the need to establish it here.
But yes; even though I identify specifically as “gender fluid,” you’d be TECHNICALLY correct to call me “transgender.” You see, transgender is a rather large umbrella term that goes far beyond transgender man or transgender woman. It’s meant to be a sort of catch-all term for anyone whose gender identity differs from the standard identity that’s prescribed to someone’s biological sex.
Of course, while it may be TECHNICALLY correct to call a non-binary, gender fluid, etc. person transgender, it’s worth it to go the extra distance to refer to someone as the gender they identify as. It’s similar to how you should respect a person’s preferred gender pronouns if they have any; not only will you get a better understanding of them as a person, but you demonstrate that you care enough about them to get it right – thus strengthening the friendship.
Trans-people are just like cis-people
Again, something I already knew. But meeting with Marie and her friends (a few of whom were also transgender) and talking about life experiences re-confirmed it and it’s something worth noting to the public.
Talking to trans-people since college has taught me that there’s actually very little (if anything) different personality and lifestyle wise between a transgender person and a cisgender person. We both have shared experiences, feelings, and insights. We fall in and out of love the same way, work similar crappy jobs, enjoy watching the same movies and rocking out to the same music. Hell, we even have the same sweetheart-to-scumbag ratio between the two of us.
The only thing that separates the two is that incredibly minor difference in how we identify ourselves. And let’s be brutally honest; if you’re going to let something as minor as a personal identity separate you from an entire swath of humanity, you are missing out on a lot of potential good times. Yes, you’re likely to meet some duds here and there, but you were going to get that with the crowd you were with anyway. So why not broaden the friend search?
You don’t need hormones to feel sexy
One of the many exciting moments I shared with Marie was when she, knowing I had a limited wardrobe to choose from, donated some old hand-me-downs she was planning on getting rid of. Miraculously, almost all of them fit. And when I first put them on, I couldn’t stop striking poses in the mirror for how much I loved the way I looked.
For most trans-people, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is one of, if not the most, crucial choices in their lives. However, seeing me strut about in pants that ACTUALLY made my butt look cute for a change reminded me that you shouldn’t feel pressured into jumping into it ASAP. Much like the initial process of coming out, you get to decide when, how, and even if you decide to start HRT.
Don’t get me wrong, I’M still probably going to do it. In fact, I’m going to try talking with an endocrinologist on my next day off to set up the initial meeting and go through health risk, planning, etc. But the point is that only I, not anyone or anything else, gets to dictate that.
Having trusted friends makes all the difference
I had only been out in public twice in feminine attire before this trip and always in smaller settings. This trip was a big deal; I was in crowded restaurants and malls where anyone could raise a fuss. But having Marie by my side really did make it all seem like less of a problem. In fact, both she and I were stunned by how casually I strutted about without a single f*** to give out like business cards.
This bit of advice goes out to friends of trans-people as much as trans-people themselves; If you care about the well-being of your friends, be there for them. The little things like helping them shop for clothes or escorting them to the bathroom may seem like small potatoes to you, but they give them all the confidence in the world.
And speaking of confidence…
As in all things, confidence is key
I was pleasantly surprised with just how many people seemed unbothered by the six-foot-four, 250-pound Scots-Irish amazon idly traipsing through the food court in a pair of hip-hugging stretch jeans as I downed an energy drink and nibbled on my bland but passable sweet and sour pork from the Chinese food place. That’s when Marie dropped the biggest truth bomb of the entire trip on me; no one cared because I didn’t care.
In the back of my head, I knew this for some time. My years as a stage performer in college taught me that the slightest weakness in your ego will give everyone something to criticize. But when you step off the stage and into the public eye, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that truth. Whatever you do, trans-related or otherwise, you need to go into it without hesitation and confident that you have this locked down tight.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go shopping for a new purse because woman’s pants pockets are even more bulls*** than I gave them credit for and I am NOT going to carry my phone around in my adorable new bralette.