There were a lot of decisions I had to make when I began HRT. One that occurred to me pretty early on was a practical one. I figured there'd be a point where I found myself slightly uncomfortable presenting too femme and still being misgendered with some frequency. I had no idea how long that would last, and even when it'd occur, but I used a lot of blog posts and questions of other trans women to guestimate when it might be.
I ended up being wrong. Quite wrong. I didn't expect HRT to affect me so much and so quickly. But either way, I was kind of right about one thing: around now, six months in, I am still getting used to some of the less comfortable aspects of being a woman in public.
How I dress / present is a huge factor, but while I'm getting used to it, one of my original ideas about the timing proved true: it's winter, which means when I'm too uncomfortable or anxious to cope with the bullshit that comes so often from presenting particularly femme in public... I can hide.
It's a luxury I have. It makes me feel shit wearing a baggy top and even presenting kinda masc, but on some days it's so stressful just imagining being on a crowded train or wandering through the city that I choose to take the shitness of potential dysphoria.
I hate those days, and I feel like I've failed... but they're an option I have.
The other day, our I-can-wear-really-kick-arse-jackets kind of winter briefly subsided with a yawn, spitting out a 24 degree day. Warm enough that while I was out in public I really, really couldn't deal with wearing a jacket.
So that came off and I was a t-shirt. A tight one, because I love how they feel. But it still meant more looks than usual, guys staring at my top and various other things that were just enough to raise my level of discomfort throughout the afternoon.
Today it was raining and the temperature bottomed out again, but it still sticks in my head.
In six months, it'll be summer, I'll be a year into HRT, and if six months is anything to go by I'll be looking even more feminine.
This is good, of course, but there is still this building dread in me that for several months I will be presenting in a way that should be comfortable for me (and is, in theory) during months where layers are potentially problematic.
Where I can't hide my body, and I'm going to wander around with that gnawing fear that I might get either horrible sexual comments at best or transphobic comments at worst.
It's not like this is some once-off, either.
I live in Australia. I'm going to have to deal with this like most women do.
But it'll be the first time for me, and it's actually kinda scary, even six months out, to contemplate.
It really amazes me how many times I've heard men refer to women dressing in specific kinds of clothing as 'attention-seeking'.
Like low-cut tops the like.
It's a bit insane because I don't think much thought went into it. Ignoring the sexism and assumption that our bodies are for public consumption generally, there are simple facts about women's clothing & undergarments that you have to factor in.
For many women, it can be impractical or flat out uncomfortable - even painful - to not wear a bra. It is for me right now not due to my size, but due to hormonal soreness.
The result is I tend to wear padded bras. Anything else and it's too easy to hurt myself. It needs to be tight, but not too tight, and with enough padding to stop bumps or mis-judging the distance to a fridge door or a corner from leaving me wincing or cursing.
I don't do it for attention, although certainly in the right company I do enjoy how they make me look.
But even if it's not padded, in hot weather bras are still another layer.
It's sweaty and hot.
So low-cut tops, or sleeve-less tops with room to breathe in the side? Jesus hell, that slight breeze can make a huge difference to how comfortable it is in hot weather.
So, yeah, guys? Just because a woman is wearing a low-cut top doesn't mean she's looking for attention. At. Fucking. All.
It was bad enough in the few warm-ish days we've had so far.
I am not looking forward to summer.
The second one will be easier, I'm sure. And the third. And the fourth.
But right now I just have to work up to Summer #1 as a woman.
(And don't even get me started on swimwear.)