Added: Aletha Dillow - Date: 31.10.2021 05:29 - Views: 46477 - Clicks: 3713
For the first time in my life, I was aware that my legs had hair on them, and I was at once irritated by that hair and a little anxious about it. Even though I had a perfectly good razor I used to shave my facial hair, I felt strongly that I needed something pink or purple to tackle the thicket on my legs. So, standing there in a Target razor aisle looking for something functional but also cute, my anxiety growing as I was sure people were looking at me and seeing my secret true self and judging me accordingly, I found myself torn.
I wonder why? But this was my first encounter with it in the wild, with the fact that you could want so badly to feel a sense of belonging that you would let capitalism gouge you over and over again. I wanted so desperately to indicate my essential woman-ness that I was willing to pay extra for it.
Screwing up my courage, I grabbed the razor, keeping my head down at the cash register, ready to say that it was for my wife, should anybody ask. That pink razor was a piece of crap, and within six months, I had to replace it. In the months thereafter, money seemingly poured out of me. It was so, so expensive to be a woman.
I needed new shoes. I needed makeup. Buying all this stuff in aggregate was expensive, of course, but each individual item was expensive in and of itself. Can a man spend a lot of money on clothing? Of course. But he also has many affordable options. It was as if I was experiencing the market pressures of being a teen girl in the space of about three months instead of over several years. There are regular sessions with a therapist who specializes in gender dysphoria.
There was a crash course in voice training, in an attempt to coax my old rumble into a reasonable alto. There are so many expenses to come, including surgeries and more documentation of my identity, and so on and so forth. This outfit would not seem out of place on just about any woman in her 30s who works in the media. I have a more expensive wardrobe for when I do. The Catastrophist, or: On coming out as trans at Even if I am invisibly trans in a crowd of people on the street, I am visibly trans once you know who I am, because unlike so many trans women, I was already visible when I transitioned.
Still, my transition has gone much, much better than I expected it to. I had certain advantages in this regard, from economics I have much more money than the majority of trans women to race white trans people have the same built-in societal advantages as white people in general to geography California presents few structural barriers when an adult wants to transition.
I also had advantages when it came to my genetic code. My testosterone level has been low my whole life, so my body was already fairly androgynous. See also:. Same dress, same mirror, 7 months apart. Many trans women have few or even none of my advantages. They cannot escape the fact that when they go out into society as themselves, they are constantly, visibly trans, with all the horrors that can bring. And not all trans women are traditionally feminine. Many prefer looks that might skew toward androgyny or butchness.
Our goal as trans people should be to normalize all of these identities and in so doing push back against an unfairly limiting gender binary that hurts cis men and women, too. That binary imprisons all of us within a limited set of ideas of who we can be and what we are capable of, and many of the rules that govern it are arbitrary and invented by a society built by cis men for the benefit of cis men.
I agree with all of the above. But I also love to be a traditionally feminine woman. My attempts at male bonding over the years glistened with flop sweat. The gender binary makes me feel more like me. I want to eliminate it. I also want to hang on to some of it. It feels like I just got here. The first time I went to Sephora, I spent way more on makeup than I ever thought possible, because the salesperson who helped me made me feel so good about myself. From the second she learned my name, she called me Emily, even though I was in full guy mode.
She told me I was pretty. My wife saved me on that one. None of it is my fault, either. This is just how society is deed to function, and to come out as trans later in life is to suddenly start careening downhill into a newer, truer gender, without some of the guardrails that snap into place when you grow up cis and figure out the ways society tries to exploit you on the grounds of gender.
We can be aware of this manipulation, can even roll our eyes at it, and still be susceptible to it. The problem, I suppose, is that I like being an assimilationist. This makes me feel more affirmed as an individual, but it also makes me feel like a shitty member of the trans community. The larger political project of dismantling the terrible structures of the capitalist patriarchy continues apace, and here I am cooing over my friend giving me a bracelet that spells out my name in Morse code.
Give her jewelry that involves her name somehow. I cannot ignore that in my attempts to slide headfirst into womanhood, I am more or less appeasing a society that is set up to favor cis people. I am a safe version of transness, corporatized and commodified, fit for mass-market consumption. I do not challenge you to rethink the gender binary in any real way. But affirmation is not a thing that can be given to us. It is something we nurture and grow from within, and it comes in as many shapes and sizes as there are people.
Men do this, too, of course. Maybe I run so hard toward becoming that idealized girl because I know I can never be her, due to the circumstances of my birth. Maybe I wear so many dresses because I really love wearing dresses. There are reasons to blend in beyond self-acceptance. Namely, the world is already cruel, and being trans only ramps up that cruelty.
Let me give you an example. While riding the train from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica recently, I became dimly aware that a man standing right in front of me was shouting a homophobic slur at someone sitting behind me, over and over. This other person, whom I could not see, begged him to stop, in a voice deep enough for me to assume masculinity.
I was wrong. She had long messy hair. She windmilled down the aisle of the train and tried to land a punch or slap or something on the man. She failed, while he dropped her to the floor, flailing at her with his fists and feet, mostly failing to connect. Eventually, they were separated by others on the train. As the woman pulled away, I felt the lurch of recognizing a fellow trans woman, albeit one who does not pass for cis, whether she wants to or not.
They were oblivious to my presence and to my transness. I passed, because I assimilated. But I did none of these things. I simply quickened my pace and walked on to my appointment. Assimilation affords me the privilege of not getting involved, of doing the easy thing instead of the right thing. It also afforded the teens walking behind me the privilege of laughing at a cruel joke, rather than trying to push back against it.
And it afforded all of my fellow passengers the privilege of rolling our eyes when the man started yelling slurs at the woman, rather than trying to get him to stop. Assimilation lets me be seen but also not seen. I can disappear. And in disappearing, some part of me evaporates. Could I have said something? Should I have said something? I keep wanting to call myself a coward, but I am also right to feel scared. What if everybody had found me out? What might have happened then?
This is insufficient as an apology to the woman on the train. I hope you are okay. I have no excuses. I blend in because I love to wear dresses. I blend in because I love to go out with my women friends and have no one bat an eye when they see us together. And I blend in because I feel a power in living as my true self. Assimilation is powerful and affirming, but it is also a bind that traps me, tempting me into closing the door behind me to all of the trans people who cannot assimilate or do not want to.
Early in my transition, a trans guy friend told me that sometimes trans people are so aware of their individual privileges that they become all they can see. I do now. Assimilating, blending in, is not a choice I made for safety reasons or even aesthetic ones. I am an assimilationist not because I have failed to examine my choices or the options afforded me under capitalism, but because when I find myself affirmed by family, by friends, by random strangers, I realize how deeply intoxicating it can be to love your life.
What a novelty this is! To fight and fight and fight and discover the simple beauty of actually living the life you merely occupied before. She ly weighed in on the 25 all-time best episodes of television for The Highlight. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower through understanding. Financial contributions from our readers are a critical part of supporting our resource-intensive work and help us keep our journalism free for all.
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The Assimilationist, or: On the unexpected cost of passing as a trans woman