I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how my expression and identity have changed over the past few years since I started exploring my gender more publicly. How with time, I have started affirming my identity with binary gender identifications and aligning my presentation more with traditional gender stereotypes. I find myself feeling a sense of guilt for desiring to get FFS (facial feminisation surgery) or breast augmentation, with both the intention to relieve my dysphoria and to be read more as a woman. I worry that becoming more binary in my presentation will be read as being ashamed of my transness instead of simply affirming myself in the ways I best understand myself.
It’s become increasingly more difficult for me to leave the house without shaving my face and putting on some sort of make up. without ‘tucking’ under several pairs of shapewear, and without putting on clothes that are distinctly read as feminine. So I’ve been asking myself if the way I’m choosing to present myself is for safety? Or because being visibly trans is so incredibly taxing? Maybe it’s become increasingly clear that there are already a limited number of acceptable ways to be a woman, and even less acceptable ways to be woman who is also trans?
It often seems that society’s extremely narrow range of acceptance is based of our ability, as trans women and femmes, to perform a specific version of femininity, one that is usually very exclusionary, binary, and centered around wanting to look cisgender. That as a trans woman who had gender norms forced upon her since birth, I must remove myself from the idea of masculinity as much as possible. While at the same time, when I choose to affirm myself with a stereotypical expressions of femininity, I’m accused of feeding into harmful tropes of womanhood. And when we don’t, cisgender people question why we transitioned in the first place. I guess, I’m writing all of this to say I’m tired. I’m tired of having to prove myself to be seen as the person I am. I’m tired of being called brave for existing. I’m tired of not being believed when I say I’m afraid. I’m tired of being forced to choose between wearing a dress and risking my safety, or wearing pants and battling my dysphoria. I wish visibility did not come with such a cost.