Over the last year I’ve been given all sorts of helpful advice:
“I know you’re trying your best, but can you try a bit softer”
“You were more direct before you transitioned… You shouldn’t lose that women can be direct too”
“You were more feminine before you transitioned; You’re a bit scary and direct now; Can you be more like you were?”
“You should try and do something about this” (reaching out and touching the 5 o’clock shadow from the remenants of my facial hair that was now barely obscured by my fading makeup )
“You’re going to need to learn to sneeze in a more feminine way”
“Try and practice moving in a more feminine way. Maybe have a go at opening doors differently”
“You still laugh like a man”
“Try and raise the pitch of your voice and modulate more”
“You sound odd when you talk now”
“When you raise the pitch of your voice you sound defensive”
Every single one of these things was said with good intentions and in almost every case from people that are quite close to me.
The thing of it is – It’s hard just keeping it all together; I’m doing my best. Most people just get up put on their clothes and go to work. Most people don’t have to fanatically remove and cover up remenants of facial hair with layers of concealer. Most people don’t think about their voice at all. They aren’t constantly evaluating it and trying to push it to a different place whilst simultaneously trying to hold down a conversation or make a coherent point. Most people aren’t afraid of the phone, because of the near certainty of being misgendered. Most people don’t feel anxious when they go to a public loo. Most people can go swimming or go to the gym without anxiety about changing rooms. Most people don’t have to try and navigate almost every social situations with almost complete ignorance as to what is expected.
Oh and I’m a parent and have a job too.
I’m sorry if this makes me seem defensive and maybe it is; I know the suggestions are well meaning and could help, but they invariably just make me feel shit about myself.
There are those that say that I should reject other’s perceptions of what it means to be a woman and define my own femininity and there are those that say I should be less anxious about all of the above. Both are true, but regardless of that, the point I’m making is I may be failing at being a woman in your eyes, but give me a fucking break; It’s really not easy. Just turning up is an achievement.
That is all.