Once I came out as a woman, I had to decide what kind of woman I wanted to be
Before and after I made the transition from living outwardly as a male to presenting and living full time as me, I was in a constant battle within my mind on how to present and live my life. This ranged from how I looked (How to grow my hair out, what makeup suited my face shape, outfit choices), how I did things (voice work, mannerisms) to what to do with my life. Before I came out, I wasn’t what society would define as feminine in my outlook, appearance or interests, but that was mostly down to unfortunate genetics and a desire to conform. On coming out, I found that I was torn between what I perceived as two different worlds, with no idea how to address this imbalance.
On the one hand, I was desperate for the world to easily identify that I was female. I wanted my expression to be so obvious, that they would instinctively use the correct pronouns. This may have lead to a lot of questionable clothing choices and make up decisions that I look back on now and blush at.
On the other hand, however, a lot of my favorite activities were looked upon as masculine, and I was loathe to give them up. Gaming, for instance, is one of my great joys, and I can and will to this day be found multiple times a week planning heists with my friends over Skype on Payday 2, taking over the world on Age of Empires 2, or simply plugging away at grotesque mutated specimens on Killing Floor 2.
So I felt torn between two worlds, and for the longest time, I could not resolve this comfortably. I initially tried cutting out as much of the masculine energy out of my life as possible. I forwent gaming and watching rugby. I ignored action and violent films and focused on “chick flicks.” I spent as little time with men as possible, and surrounded myself with my female friends. And while I didn’t hate those things (in fact, I learnt a lot from them, and am profoundly grateful to them for sticking with me through such a difficult time), I was still left feeling unhappy and uncomfortable. I was ignoring a large part of what made me, me.
So, I veered back the other way. I rejected most feminine things, and turned into quite the tomboy. However, this was barely any better. I faced more struggles, with people constantly questioning my identity and its validity, both strangers and friends. This lead me onto a long, painful journey over the next few years, having me question everything about myself and what kind of person I was, let alone what kind of woman.
While those years were uncomfortable, awkward and difficult, I would not wish them away, as they taught me some incredibly important life lessons. Namely, that my interests and passions, my outward appearance and voice, my clothes and my face, these things have absolutely no bearing on my gender identity.
I came to this conclusion with the help of a lot of very valuable feminist friends, who showed me I was letting outdated societal views of femininity and women define me. I began choosing clothes based solely on how comfortable I felt wearing them. I continued my gaming with relish, and I regularly delight in correcting the sexist and homophobic attitudes I receive from online players. I have become stronger, happier and healthier through the long journey I undertook to discover what kind of woman I was. I want to let other trans women know, those that still find themselves on that journey, that no matter how hard it is, you will find your own comfortable place. All women, cis and trans, do eventually.
Sally Higginson is a writer, amateur adult and professional Quidditch player (no, seriously), finding life in all the weirdest places.
[Image via iStock]