Through the course of my transition one item that constantly came up was my appearance and how well I ‘pass’. Within the community there are many people who have transitioned who feel that the only way to transition male to female is to try to pass as much as possible, spend a lot of money on hair removal, breast enhancements, facial feminization surgery and more. The attitude is one of “be the best woman you can be as long as it meets what I say a woman is.” A good critical look at this from one woman’s perspective is I’m A Trans Woman And I’m Not Interested In Being One of the “Good Ones”, For others how they present in their gender is a lot more fluid, or they lean more towards the masculine. So what to does that mean in my own journey?
Early on in my transition I encountered a number of people who fell under the “there is only one way” camp. In some ways my gender therapist also was looking for definitively female presentation at sessions in order to be willing to provide a referral for hormones. At the same time I was working through a lot of my thoughts and evaluation of who I am and how I wanted to be in the world. At one point I very much embraced the idea that makeup was necessary and forking over a lot of money for hair removal was an important priority. I also came to a decision early on that I would accept whatever I ended up with in terms of breast size.
Over time, and as I became more comfortable and at home with myself as a female my thoughts on presentation, make-up etc. developed and changed. I realized that in terms of clothing and how I wear my hair I am much more comfortable with a femme presentation. I don’t like trousers and wear skirts or dresses instead. I have let my hair grow and it is currently reasonably long. I don’t think I’d colour it if it started to go grey, but it is also not something I’ve had to deal with to this point.
I’ve also had decisions to make around hair removal and the use of make-up. I decided that make-up would be for special occasions, not a daily requirement. For me, make-up is not necessary for me to be comfortable in my own skin. I also have not had the financial resources to pay for electrolysis or laser hair removal. Both are costly and have been outside my budget and will be for the next few years at the minimum. So, I shave daily and I’m continually grateful that my light hair colour and slow growth mean that I don’t end up with a five o’clock shadow. Will I have hair removal? Maybe at some point if budget and circumstances allow for it.
Overall, as my mum teases, I am a “girly girl”, but at the same time I’m not a high maintenance femme. I have some days where I’m spending the day at home and do not bother to shave, let alone put on make-up. I feel good in my own skin and in how I present to the world. Except those odd days we all get where we question ourselves much more than others question us…
For those who are transitioning, transitioned,those who cross back and forth in their gender presentation as well as those who are cis-women I offer this advice:
Be yourself and find what makes you the most comfortable in your own skin. Neither I nor anyone else can tell you what that looks like, we should only listen and provide a means to help in your self discovery.