“Hear your song and dance your soul”
I have many friends who were dancers growing up. I admit that I stole the belief from them that life is like dancing. We hear the music…we move and adjust our styles to match the music being played…just as we must change and adapt how we are living our lives to meet the circumstances it has given us. Sometimes we fall off beat, we stagger or miss a step. Just like in life. And just like in life, the important thing isn’t that we faltered…it’s whether or not we pressed forward. It’s whether or not we continued working at it until we got it right. Life and dance are both a case of pushing ourselves to improve until we get it right and move through it all with grace.
Now, let me say right here that I am a horrible dancer! lol I have no rhythm and two left feet. But when I dance around my house like a fool as I listen to the music playing through the stereo, I am dancing to the harmony of the music and my soul…much like a teenage girl…but I’ll take it. 😉
As I mentioned yesterday, for all of the joys and successes of the past month, there has been pain, loss, frustration and self doubt. I am not criticizing anyone looking from the outside in who thinks this time should be a time of celebration and joy. It should be and there has been a great deal of joy over the past month. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t come at a cost too. Does that mean I am going to stop this dance? Of course not.
Just before I had my surgery, I had a long phone conversation with a friend of mine who transitioned about 20 years ago. I’ve written about her before. She was a dean at the university where I did my clinical internship and has been a key supporter of me on this journey. She knew that both because of my body build and the shape of my face prior to starting HRT, I have had so many concerns about my ability to pass in day to day life.
As she and I spoke, she shared a lot of her experiences with me about what it was like for her when she began her “real life” experience. The two biggest pieces of advice she gave me were to dress my age and to carry myself with confidence. She reminded me that those two things were two of the biggest factors in getting through this initial time where there is so much anxiety about how the world will perceive you. I mean, if you thought I was anxious going out during my “ugly duckling” stage, it doesn’t even compare to the anxiety I have felt some days going out since my surgery.
It has been interesting going out in the world as me since surgery though. I haven’t been able to get out much. As I mentioned yesterday, I have struggled with a great deal of light sensitivity and so I have spent far more time at home than I expected. Even on cloudy days, I have needed to wear sunglasses just to go out and run the most basic errands. Despite that though, I have gone out to get my nails and hair done. I did a little bit of clothes shopping. Basic errands, of course, and an unexpected trip home for a couple of days.
In my journeys out, there have been days I have been misgendered and days where, if anyone can tell I am transitioning, they haven’t acted like they know in the least. I have discovered that drive thru’s are the bane of my existence. No matter what, I am almost always referred to as “sir” when going through a drive thru. I won’t lie…on many of those occasions, I have had to take a moment to compose myself and stop the tears of being so quickly misgendered without even the simplest apology at the window. I have also found that make up does make a huge difference in how I am perceived.
I think one of the hard parts with all of this is I had hoped that with the fat grafting and the eyebrow shaping that was done with my surgery, I wouldn’t be as dependent upon make up to be accepted out in the day to day world. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Now, I acknowledge I am not everyone and some people pass very well without much in the way of gender affirming surgery. My friend, the dean, never needed any gender affirming surgeries for her face and she always passed well. But then too, she has always had a less angular face than I do. Her brow line was never as prominent as mine. She also responded to HRT with breast, hip and butt development better than I did. BUT…despite this fact, she fully understands why so many seek gender affirming surgeries, especially bone work. She understands why I still hope that one day, I can have some bone surgery done to my face to soften the curves a bit more. She understands why it hurts when you do everything in your power to be seen a particular way and people still just see the you that isn’t really you. It’s hard.
Does that mean I will stop going out as me or reverse course? Not at all. I can’t. I can’t go back to that old me. The surgery did help ease some of my dysphoric symptoms. I don’t get quite as nauseous when I look in the mirror as I once did. Seeing a bit more of an upper lip than I once had and a softer jawline with fuller cheeks has helped ease the physical symptoms of my gender dysphoria some, but not completely. But I also know that until I am able to, at the minimum, look in the mirror and see myself with breasts and a vagina, the symptoms will still be there. I mean, not everyone needs to go all the way through SRS like I do…but until I reach that point where I have had SRS and am able to at least see myself without certain parts and with breasts, not breastforms shoved into a bra, that I will still struggle. I will still have days that I curl up in the fetal position and cry because I have bumps and curves in places I don’t want them…and am missing bumps and curves in places I ache to have them.
But, as I stated previously, it hasn’t all been bad experiences. I shared the other day on Facebook about an experience I had at a local gas station. After filling my car up, I had to go into the store to get something I needed at home. I had left my purse in the car and just had my keys and wallet with me as I approached the door. A young gentleman, couldn’t have been more than 30/35, opened the door for me and with a smile said, “After you, ma’am.” I had to fight back tears as he did this…except this time it was tears of joy. I don’t know what this young man saw when he first caught sight of me, but regardless of what he saw, he respected me enough to treat me the way I was presenting to the world. That simple act, something I think a lot of people, especially women, take for granted on a day to day basis meant more to me than that young man will ever know.
It gave me faith…hope…that the world is becoming more accepting of people like myself. It helped to push back the memories of those painful encounters.
It reminded me to stay with the beat of my song and to continue to dance the way only I can. ♥
See it on Flickr.
Xan Pose – Pack 78 – Dance 8
Signature Speaker – Brown Leather
Photo Booth – Dance Hall
Grey Tabby Cat Sitting – Mesh – Full Perm
Fenwin Sidetable – White
Varsity Days Water Bottle #21