From the moment I accepted how I feel, I began diarying. Privately, of course, as I only went public with my transition yesterday. So today I thought I'd trawl through my diary and put a list of observations about myself or transitioning that seem even slightly interesting, but too short to flesh out into a full post at this time. (If you want to read more detail about a certain observation, feel free to pester me on twitter or something.)
These are in no particular order, and are, as I will keep repeating, my own experiences and thoughts.
- When I still presented as male and overtly masculine (a defence mechanism), bearded & leather jacketed, there was a certain kind of reaction / relationship I could expect from most male bartenders. All it took was me shaving that off, ditching the more macho attire, painting my nails and just ditching the machismo and everything changed. I began to notice a more cautious behaviour from many bartenders. It felt strange. Some were fine, of course, but within months it became obvious I wasn't imagining this: some (maybe most) men are simply more comfortable when you conform to very set rules of masculine behaviour.
- I very quickly found myself noting which bars and restaurants had unisex bathrooms. Public bathrooms have always been stressful as hell for me, even when I was in denial. I very, very rarely worked my way up to using urinals. I can't describe how 'wrong' and uncomfortable it felt easily. But now, it's these places with gender-neutral bathrooms that I will be frequenting most, for my own sanity.
- I think I began to suspect things about my gender identity about two year before I came out. But I told nobody - not even my closest friends and family. It wasn't out of shame by this point - I was just over 30 years old - but out of a desperate need for it not to be true. I recognised how tough transitioning would be, and so when I read articles or blog posts or listened to trans people talking about their experiences, I mentally latched onto the differences rather than the commonalities. In short: I looked for confirmation bias that no, I was, in fact, cis, and something else was wrong instead. Anything but confronting the truth.
- I used to be insecure and uncomfortable around trans people. Seriously. It was deeply shameful to me. As someone who considered themselves progressive and tried to avoid any kind of bias or prejudice, I hated the idea that somebody already dealing with so much would even get a level of discomfort from me, a person who considered themselves progressive and supportive. In retrospect, it makes sense - it's harder to ignore your own suppressed feelings when you're confronted full-on with reality. But I'm still ashamed of how I felt, even though I don't think I ever made anyone other than my self uncomfortable as a result.
- I used to think I 'got' trigger warnings. I really did. I'd read about a specific instance of discrimination or worse, and I'd be angry. Really angry. I thought I got why people wanted to be informed if media or an article covered topics which might trigger them. It wasn't until I first saw a trans woman live-tweeting her awful experiences being harassed and detained by TSA and felt absolute fear, knowing this could happen to me, that I think I suddenly even began to get it - and this isn't even something which caused me to flash back to an event I lived through. I think for me it was a bit like the Dunning–Kruger effect. I now know juuust enough to realise how little I really understood about some of this stuff, and what a truly personal reaction of fear can be to hearing something.
- I don't "wish I could have accepted this earlier". I'm so fucking happy that people can accept this more easily these days, and transition at a younger age. So wishing I had that same option, or just that I had figured it out at their age is not productive. Anyway, it took until now partly because I needed to develop the emotional maturity to be honest with myself. Even if the world was a different place, I just wasn't ready to accept this when I was 20, 25 or even 30. It took until now, and I am just glad I did figure it out.
That's it for now. I'm sure I'll find more, but I don't want this to go on too long.