When I was a teenager I told my mother I was a transvestite. I said it lightly. It was true and light. I did not hide it, I did not try to pass as a guy, I was not in pain around it, there was no sexual angle to it, I just liked wearing men’s clothing and for some periods I was repulsed by women’s. My mother’s reply was a nervous “Don’t say that.”
Luckily for me, my choices were not painful to execute. They did not take me to places that caused me shame, or social discrimination, or were hard to manifest. I was already on the outskirts of society and I was weird and in pain, but not over that issue. While support would have been nice, my mom’s response didn’t really snag me that hard emotionally. I wasn’t confessing or looking for approval, more amused by my realization.
At the time I particularly hated the skinny shoes made for women. I wore motorcycle boots, which were fat and round and perfect, with a steel toe. I searched the earth for a pair that fit. I was obsessed with finding the perfect boot for years. I wound up wearing a pair into the ground that almost fit but were still a bit big on me.
The funny thing was that I had obsessed about the perfect shoe, a girl’s shoe, many times before in grade school. My feet were always small and it was hard to get grown up shoes in 7th and 8th grade. Those same small feet made it hard to get men’s shoes in 9h and 10th grade. So, I was not strictly into guy’s clothes, but periodically.
For my whole life I have cycled through periods of really feminine appearances, in the draggy glamourous sense of the word, and then masculine periods of appearance. It is just who I am and I am fine with it. I have had short crew cut type boy hair and long Brigitte Bardot inspired hair. As a teen I had a soft spot for Wayne County, the punk legend, prior to their full transition into Jayne County, transgender pioneer. I particularly adored the long hair with a black ski cap look. An odd choice, since Wayne and Jayne had so many amazing looks, but I related to that look, thought it was the coolest, and I copied it all the time as best I could.
Anyway, I have always attracted and have been attracted to those who embrace a non traditional place on the gender spectrum. I am particularly fond of women who have a hyper masculine look , superlegend Trash, from the Jackie 60 scene, Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, Lea DeLaria, or Big Boo on Orange Is the New Black, and of course the first one, my gay aunt Mary Faye, who was named after a male gangster (Faye) and looked like Roy Orbison with her leather jacket and jeans and dark shades. The masculine female sensibility often epitomizes cool to me. One time in my wild youth I was eating at a Japanese restaurant and I was in awe of the waitress, who was incredibly masculine. She looked so cool that I asked when she got off and if she wanted to hang out. Later as we were walking down the street I started to realize she was a feminine guy I was all of a sudden not interested and ditched him fast.
Anyway, I write this because I just LOVE that the idea of gender fluidness acceptance becoming more prevalent, which creates a safer world for every person who is a little different than those who do the traditional men and women stereotypes. One time when I had my crew cut I was assaulted in a fratty type bar with a gay friend and another short-haired female friend. Somehow the situation was diffused and we got to walk out of there. That was the worst of my fear and pain. Clearly life can be very hard when you look or act outside the box and it is about time that the modern movement of intelligence and acceptance around the gender spectrum vs the binary is moving into the wider world. I, too, am learning and expanding. It is an exciting start.
As a mom I see just how unattached to gender so very many little kids are, how very normal it is to move along the spectrum according to your own tastes. I am excited to watch the unfolding new attitudes of the world my kids will inherit.