Refreshing My Wardrobe (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

If you regularly take time to purge clothing and accessories you no longer wear and/or to add new items to your collection, do you first pause to consider your goals in doing so? I did in recent days and decided my first priority was comfort. After settling on this goal, I was then empowered to make decisions that fit for me.

Since starting T, I have gained a bit of weight. As a result, some of my clothes have become uncomfortable. I wear a binder when I attend public events and at work, so I need the rest of my attire to be loose-fitting. I want to be read as androgynous which fits along with my physical needs. To achieve this, I purchased pants that are a size larger than the ones I had been wearing and have the old pairs set aside for donation.

Comfort, for me, involves selecting clothing that reduce my body dysphoria and that do not trigger my eating disorder. I am in the process of adding fleece pullover shirts to my closet. I own one of them currently and it is the coziest shirt that I can wear as “work clothes” that I’ve ever owned. I ordered a variety of colors and a few styles so that it doesn’t feel like a uniform.

Appealing to other people’s tastes and making myself look nice are not my top priorities in terms of what I wear. I want to appear well-groomed and to have my clothing be in good repair, but I do not need to have expensive, on-trend clothes to feel good about myself. Removing any requirements to attract the male gaze from my clothing choices feels freeing. I also love the idea that part of what it means to be free is to acknowledge that people can dress in whatever way matches their top priorities; their choices do not need to be about comfort first if that is not what they value most. If you want to look sexy, go for it!

The longer I consider the topic, the more I realize our style of dress is a weird tangle of our personal insecurities, the lived realities of the prejudices people in marginalized groups face, and self-expression. I hope for a world in which what we chose to adorn our bodies is a matter solely of individual and collective expression and not the result of discrimination and/or internalized norms that do not fit our truest being. I’m grateful to be able to make choices for myself in this area. If you could choose, what would you set as the goal for your wardrobe? What pieces would you toss and/or add? How much does the way you dress each day reflect who you really are?

Trans-Androgynous, Non-Binary and More

As it’s the end of the year and I’m engaging in a lot of internal processing, I decided to spend some time reflecting on my journey thus far being out as a trans and non-binary person. I will be discussing my current way of conceptualizing my gender. I will also talk about both social and physical dysphoria and how they affect me.

Self-Understanding

It has taken me some time to find language to describe my experience of gender and I still don’t feel that I’ve quite come to a perfect phrasing. I label myself as trans and non-binary. In terms of being trans, even though I am on T, I feel that trans-androgynous fits me better than trans-masculine. I want my gender and sex to be read as non-binary, not as a man or a women. Although I connect with both masculinity and femininity, my primary experience of gender is outside of that framing. I don’t yet have a complete ability to describe what I consider this to be, I just know that it exists.

Community

I have significantly more social dysphoria than I do body dysphoria. For me, this means that I am affected by being misgendered more than I am by looking the mirror. What makes cis-centric viewpoints especially painful is that most cis people in my life try explain away the pain I feel when I’m misgendered, rather than validate my perspective.

Because of my social dysphoria, I find non-binary affirming spaces to be places where I feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, the only ones I’ve been able to find thus far are online. Many people in the queer community still divide trans people into trans-femme and trans-masc perspectives only, leaving those of us who don’t fall into this fuzzier version of the binary with limited places into which we feel we fit.

Gender is a primary way humans sort themselves, so, in interactions with people who don’t understand my gender, I tend to feel a sense of invisible alienation. Most people will place me on the binary without my consent and then react with shock or surprise when I remind them I don’t belong there. I am hoping my continued advocacy and attending pride events and such will help me connect IRL with others who can relate to my experience.

Embodiment

I’m taking both low-dose T as well as combination birth control. This isn’t a recommended HRT plan, but is necessarily for me because of the medical conditions I have. I feel quite a bit of conflict internally about being on T, as I don’t particularly want hair changes. I have gotten some but they are not yet past a point where I feel totally uncomfortable.

Even though I have issues with some of the physical changes associated with T, I absolutely love how my body feels on it. My physical stamina has dramatically increased and my chronic pain has diminished. I am quite short but have always seen myself as a bulldog; T is affirming my sense of strength and allowing my natural abilities at being handy/mechanically-minded to come through more fully. Many people describe a narrowing of their emotional range on T; mine has actually grown and I’ve been able to cry in situations where I would not have before. My viewpoint on certain situations has shifted and I feel more certain of myself.

Conclusion

On the whole, I experience a bit of ambiguity about some of the physical changes I’m undergoing. I have a decidedly stronger reaction to the social issues that affect me as a trans and non-binary person. I feel excitement about continuing my journey of self-understanding and coming to a more complete understanding of myself in terms of my gender.

Authentic Living (In the Cards)

For today’s card draw, I used the In an Open Hand deck I am developing and drew the authenticity card. This card focuses on self-expression which is perfect for this moment in my life as I recently took a big step legally in relation to being trans and changed my name. The process itself was extremely stressful and took much longer than anticipated. Because of this, I haven’t felt much cause for celebration or “newness” of self as of yet, but I anticipate an internal shift will arrive.

One of the prompts that comes with the authenticity card invites a reflection on what it means to move across the boundary of self. Someone I know was diagnosed this month with a terminal illness, which brought up a lot of internal reactions for me as to the finite nature of each of our lives. I was surprised to find myself having an intensely spiritually-centered response in that I view death as a sacred transition, just as transitioning in terms of embracing my gender has a sacred quality to it for me.

As I experience them, both changes are embodied; they cannot be separated from the physical states to which they correspond (other people may of course transition in terms of gender without making physical changes). Life experiences that are wholly embodied are, then, an opportunity for knowing that cannot be taught. There is another side to which we are moving that is undefined and which we have not known consciously but yet which we know in our bones. Having traversed new waters, we are never the same.

As I connect these concepts, I wonder if part of the reason I get so frustrated with those who misgender me again and again is the fact that their actions belie their stilted grief for who I was and their state of denial of the movement I’ve undertaken as a person. What does it mean, perhaps, for their sense of their gender if someone else can “leave” or “change” what they believed to be permanent? What if the lands we declare our own are themselves constantly shifting? What if we box ourselves in so that our true voice is hushed?

In the same line, I observed others who got news of the terminal illness diagnosis shut down and seem stalled out by it, likely because they hold tightly to an idea of how things “should” happen, whereas I found myself filling with a sense of expansiveness as to, if there is no other path but the one unfolding, what do we make of ourselves and the situation? (I fully acknowledge that I could be engaging in spiritual bypass and would never bring these reflections to the person who got diagnosed unless she went there first). I am stressed by decision-making–the pulling up of the anchor–moreso than the arrival on new shores. I want to know in my body what it is to be human; these being-in-body journeys depart at different times and to different locations for each of us, but the living-with instead of in-spite-of or in-denial-of is where I want to be. What is an embodied experience in your life? How did it shape your spiritually? What do you know of life that you didn’t know before?