Thursday, 25 July 2013

A big step in an out-of-the-closet direction

Yesterday evening I walked to my car, got in, and turned the key. My heart was pounding. I took a deep breath. I told myself, "Okay Ashley, you're a big girl, you can do this."

I was about to drive to my brother and sister-in-law's house. And I was going to tell them about who I am. And I was so nervous about it that I went the wrong way and got there late!

I had been wanting to come out to Carson (my borther) and Jamey (his wife) for a while now. I had had several perfect oppurtunities to do so, but I couldn't bring myself to just say it. Countless times the words "hey, can I talk to you guys about something?" died on my tongue. So I decided I would put myself in a position where I had no choice.

Thus, last Sunday I texted my brother asking if they were home and if I could stop by as there was "some stuff" I wanted to talk to them about. I hit send and knew I was committed. But the way our three schedules worked out it ended up having to wait until Wednesday. So they spent three days wondering what great secret I had to tell, and I spent three days worrying about it.

During that time I was really depressed and experieced a lot of gender stress; (I can't dress as freely as I'd like due to my roommates, so that doesn't help). I kept thinking of reasons I didn't really need to tell them: "I'm not that transgendered; is the closet really so bad?" But I knew I'd be better off with them knowing and I knew I couldn't back out now anyways.

So, eventually, I got there, we had dinner, we sat down for tea, and after a bit of an awkward preamble I simply said, "I am transgender." I then clarified that I wasn't gay and I wasn't transsexual. I told them I felt like my brain was half boy and half girl. I told them I had spent most of my life supressing and denying the girl half, and that this had resulted in a lot of depression and some bad habits I had used to help me cope. I told them that earlier this year I reached a point where I finally had to accpet my femininity, that I had started expressing my girl half, and that as a result I had been much happier and much psychologically healthier. I told them that expressing that side of me included crossdressing. I told them I felt more comfortable in girl clothes than boy clothes. I told them I was born this way. And lastly I told them "I just wanted you guys to know; I didn't want it to be a secret."

And their response was absolutely amazing. Better, by far, then I had hoped for. You see, Carson and I both come from a very conservative religious background, and Jamey, remarkably, comes from an even more conservative religious background, so I had cause for concern. But they were totally accepting, totally supportive, and, best of all, really quite comfortable with the idea. Carson told me that he already suspected something like this anyways. Jamey told me she was really happy for me. They made it clear they didn't think there was anything bad about crossdressing. We talked a lot about gender as a spectrum, unrelated to one's biological sex and one's orientation. And I was continually sursprised by how well they understood these concepts when I had spent most of my life struggling with them. They asked a lot of really good questions, too: how long have you known? which pronouns do you prefer? are you going to tell mom and dad? All in all I was profoundly grateful to have such wonderful people as siblings.

And then, as if that wasn't enough, Jamey went and got out a bunch of her makeup stuff! And as my brother turned his attention to some boring video game, me and the sis-in-law played around with mascara and liner and eyeshadow! She tried to teach me how to do a smokey eye look, but I'm really bad at it.

Jamey is the first girl I've ever told. Before yesterday the only person I was out to was a close male friend. I deeply appreciate him as well, but being out to a girl opens up a whole world of useful makeup advice and possible shopping trips! Especially a girl like Jamey, who actually works as a sales assistant at a clothing store and as such has helped plenty of crossdressers put outfits together.

One of the best parts of this whole thing is the huge boost in confidence I've recieved by having the support of two of the most important people in my life. I now feel like I could tell just about anyone! I am so lucky to have those two in my family, and I am so glad I told them, and I am so thankful they accept me as they do.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Three years of matted hair!

[EDIT: In the time since writing this post I've come to recognize that it's problematic and culturally appropriative for someone like me to use the term "dreadlocks" to describe my hairstyle. However, I've decided not to change the wording of the post, (except for in the title), because it reflects the understanding I had at the time.]

Three years ago today I sat in a chair for seven hours while my friends backcombed my hair with a metal flea comb. And I haven't touched a hairbrush since! This was the process of beginning my dreadlocks, and since then they've grown thick and started to actually look pretty good.

Here's what they've looked like over the years (most of these pics are boy mode):
One month - still just kind of a mess

Eight months - starting to take shape

Two years

Now (and in girl mode!)
Because I've had dreads for longer than I've known I was trans, I've never had a chance to wear wigs when I crossdress-- (I can barely fit a bicycle helmet over these things, I'm pretty sure wigs are out of the question!) On the one hand I love the idea of using my real hair, and it's convenient that dreads are a unisex style. On the other hand, I'm missing out on playing around with more feminine styles.

Three years is a long time to have the same hairstyle. I'm not ready to cut them off yet, but maybe soon I'll try dyeing them pruple or something crazy like that!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

My queer-ness is showing!! Yay?

It's only been a few months since I accepted I was trans-something-or-other and started cross-dressing properly. Almost immediately I noticed a whole bunch of areas besides dress where I had been forcing myself to conform to the masculine gender norm. Things I say, how I walk, talk, sit, etc. I determined I would start just being myself in those areas, too. The result, I suppose, is that even in boy mode I now come across as a lot more feminine than I used to.

Last Friday I was making small talk with a co-worker, (a straight male), and he asked me casually, "So, do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?" It was the first time in my life someone has made it explicitly clear that they're uncertain what my orientation is. (For the record, I like girls). I smiled and said, "Nope, no boyfriend, no girlfriend!" Which, you know, didn't exactly clarify things.

At first I was quite pleased by this. I liked the fact that someone had noticed my "queer-ness," even if they misunderstood its exact nature. I told myself I would rather people mistake me for gay than mistake me for cisgender.

However it slowly dawned on me that perhaps everyone I work with thinks I'm gay. And the more I thought about it, the more it started to bother me. I'm honestly not even sure why. I really, really hope it's not due to some latent homophobia buried somewhere deep in my psyche. I'm ashamed to admit that I used to be quite homophobic back in my days as a fundamentalist Christian, though that feels like a different lifetime now. I will have to take some time to think about what this means.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

The Obligatory Introductory Post (that no one reads)

[EDIT January 2016: If you're going back and looking at older posts, I hope it's obvious that this one, being the oldest, was written very early in the process of me questioning my gender identity and does a poor job of reflecting the understanding I have now.]

Ahoy! My name, or at least my boy name, is Tyler, and I am a tomgirl! You may be unfamiliar with that term, but, as you can probably figure out, it means just the opposite of tomboy. I'm a boy that likes girly things. The terms transgender, transvestite, crossdresser, dual gender, non-binary, androgyne, and numerous other labels probably apply to me with varying degrees of accuracy as well. I like the word tomgirl in particular because it seems vague enough to describe something as vague as my gender.

This is my third attempt at starting a blog. The last two slowly withered and died, so we'll how long this one lasts. Currently, it's titled Fjärilar och Zebror. This is Swedish for "Butterflies and Zebras," which is itself a Jimi Hendrix reference. Why would I choose so unwieldly a title for a blog? The answer is simple: I'm just really, really bad at thinking of blog titles. My previous blogs were called It's a blog! and Aaaaiiiqqqaahhh!!!, so, yeah...

Don't be surprised if I change the title at some point.

I wanted to try writing a blog again becasue, as I struggled to come to terms with my gender, I benefited tremendously from blogs written by other trans folk. They showed me I wasn't alone. I'm also hoping that writing about it will help me to continue figuring this stuff out, as I'm still a long way from fully understanding it. However, I'm hoping this blog will be about more things than just tomgirl stuff, as I am a lot more things than just a tomgirl. For starters, I'm an amateur musician, an aspiring scientist, and a generally barefoot hippie too. So I don't intend for every single post to be gender-related.

I mentioned that Tyler is my boy name. I would like to have a girl name too, though I haven't 100% settled on one. It's between Tiffany and Ashley at the moment.

And that, I suppose, is the obligatory introductory post! Yay!