When I started this post, I’d just finished running a session at a small conference for a leading counselling organisation. You might say this is the best place for me given last week’s crash, but I’m assuming you’ll be kind enough not to 😉
|Stock images FTW|
Given the event, I did give it some thought about appearing in Lynn mode, but logistically, that wasn’t to be. Getting ready might have been possible but the just after 10 o’clock start put the pressure on, and I was worried that if the traffic was bad, I’d be late, and I felt that wouldn’t be acceptable. Given that I stayed behind – having been offered lunch – I did have to leave to get back to work, so much as it felt like I’d missed an opportunity, it was simply more practical and – I can’t believe I’m saying this – I think it was the more sensible choice. Plus, it was rather warm in the room, so wig + shapewear + nerves would not necessarily have helped me keep cool. 🙂
The organisation in question got in touch with Chameleons a few months ago. Today was the day to take a deep breath and go and present to about 40-odd professionals. My brief was to give an hour or so plus Q&A. I put in some warm-up information around trans history in the UK and the old school language of TV or TS (transvestite or transexual) not being applicable to many of us… hence, quite possibly, the seachange in language to address the different ways there are to be trans.
There was also a bit of personal history because they wanted to hear about the issues I’d faced and therefore what other trans folk (at least like me) might also encounter. I spoke about coping mechanisms and what they – as counsellors – might encounter and, with careful listening and coaching, help a T person and/or their family with. We talked briefly about terms, longer on experiences, and they asked some great questions. How does it feel when you’re able to be your other look? or Do you think your struggle in the early years was more internal or external issues?
The first question really made me think and there was a follow-up after I’d said dressing in my other appearance means I feel okay about myself. It somehow resets something within me and I’m okay to go back to Richard mode for a bit. I think it was Nicole (at Chams) who said for her, the stress – if you will – felt like a dial turning slowly ticking up to eleven and by expressing who she is, that returns to regular levels. There was a further question asking if – hypothetically – if I had to present as Lynn for a long period, would the same stress ratcheting occur? I think for me, the answer is no, in that I wouldn’t feel stress at wanting to back to my Richard appearance, but the shaving, clothing, make-up etc, would get tiresome. Not the same, but perhaps close. For me, it’s a lot easier to get out of the house in bloke mode, than it is to ‘convert’ myself and get
The question around internal/external; as ever, extra ideas came to me after the session ended. At the time I said it was a combination of internalised transphobia (not passing, not being trans enough, not being ‘normal’, etc) that was a particularly toxic mindset that did me no favours. Society plays into things a little, but really the answer is it’s both. You need to be okay with who you are and I think you need to be safe where you are. You can feel okay but if you’re getting the side-eye from colleagues/family, that’s not going to help. Equally, having accepting family/colleagues helps, but if you keep telling yourself you’re not okay, well, you know the rest 🙂
There were some dark moments when we talked about eating disorders, body hatred, and depression. But despite those low moments, I’ve met some great people through Chameleons and this blog. I’ve had some adventures and seen things from another point of view that not many do. I may not pass, but I can say I have – and will – continue to walk in the shoes of both men and women. 😉 I’ll not be a woman (not that trans women are not women, let’s be clear) and while I’m ‘assigned male at birth’, in my head and in my heart, I feel I’m somewhere between both. Sometimes I appear as Richard, sometimes as Lynn: but they are just names. I’m always me.
In other news, I took to plunge and epilated my legs. I feel, well, normal again. Not up or down, but that a weight had been lifted and I am not troubled by how I look. This has helped me feel okay and last week’s low mood seems to be rolling back. Fingers crossed this helps keep the dysphoric demon at bay. It’s now the weekend, I had some great feedback from the conference, Chams are now slightly more well off than they were before I started, and it’s nearly time for a Thursday night out.
I’m feeling pretty good…. and compared to this time last week: good is very good 😉